The heat of the moment

The heat of the moment
by Kate Watson-Smyth of the Financial Times of London, UK.

Room-heating options are broader and bolder than ever.

Nowadays heating says as much about your design credentials as your choice of wallpaper: from fireplaces made with metal coils to radiators shaped like animals, the latest creations look more like works of art than practical solutions to warming a home.

A traditional hearth may seem an anachronism in the age of underfloor heating, hi-tech insulation and climate-controlled homes, but the appeal of huddling round a flickering flame on a winter’s evening remains as strong as ever.

Such is the human desire to while away the hours by a fire that even in the sun-baked Middle East, where average temperatures are around 30C, some of the most exclusive hotels have installed working fireplaces, in spite of the considerable environmental costs. David Bloch, of Bloch Design, created a fireplace for the restaurant of the Sheraton Hotel in Oman.

“We had to construct an extra large vent, so it’s not actually very effective at heating the room. And obviously the air conditioning has to be on full power when the fire is lit,” he says. “But there is something so intimate and convivial about a real fire.”…