Flip phones are making a come-back. Some are 4G enabled, but you won’t have access to apps and social media. They’re mainly for calling and texting, and maybe you can do some basic browsing and share images and video. The resurgence is driven less by a desire to disconnect and more by our growing longing for the past. It’s making retro style pop up in the most unexpected places. For instance, as much as we love the convenience of a one-button fireplace, we’re also buying more wood-burners than we ever did.
A gas fireplace or electric stove has all the benefits of a traditional heater. It looks and feels real, but doesn’t smoke, spark, spread ash, or take forever to light. Yet we still prefer the real thing. So if you’re willing to risk a few coughs and sputters and some reddening in your eyes, you can still make a style statement with these old-school, newly built fires.
Fortunately, technology has reduced smoke and other hazards. Some wood fireplaces are fitted with a gas-powered spark that can light up your wood just by pressing the button. Glass panes installed in front of the firebox keep any ashes or sparks safely inside the furnace. And you can now order a firewood basket delivery as easily and reliably as you can order pizza. Some services will even chop and stack the wood for you.
Cook and keep warm
In the old days, the hearth had a dual purpose. It warmed up the house, but it was also the primary cooking centre. These kinds of heaters were mainly pot-belly stoves. They had a cooktop, and the side-loading flames could be manipulated to raise or lower cooking temperatures. Today, Esse offers a delicious way to replicate this lifestyle with a modern touch. It offers a line of wood-burning stoves for kitchen use.
When they’re off, these stoves look more like vintage shelves or traditional safes than fire sources, so they add greatly to the aesthetic of your kitchen. Esse units are available in multiple colours and styles, from glossy black to matte teal, and they’re as economical as they are pretty. Esse started making stoves in 1854, and they still build each one by hand. The stoves can be used individually or paired to access extra features.
An Esse for every mood
They cook using hotplates that heat up by conducting heat from the wood-burning chamber beneath them. Below the furnace, there’s an oven for baking, roasting, and grilling. The Esse Plus 1 has a single oven, while the Ironheart has a side-by-side orientation, positioning the oven beside the fire-pit rather than below it. It can use wood or coal, and like other Esses, you can have a boiler attached to the stove as an added option.
The lateral configuration of the Ironheart means it’s raised off the ground, so you can stack your logs in the gap between its legs. Its widened hotplate can hold up to six pans, and you can use the cook surface and the oven simultaneously. Meanwhile, the Esse El 13 has a power share system that distributes energy between its two ovens, grill, cooktop, and plate-warmer. While the other Esses have optional boilers, the 990 CH has an inbuilt water-heating unit.
What if your wood burner could spin? That would be something … but your next best alternative is a cylindrical fire that you can walk round for a 360° view of the fire. Alpine offers this exact feature in their Carousel line of wood heaters. They have a cone-shaped dome atop a glass cylinder that surrounds the fire-pit. You might worry that the glass will get constantly dirty from soot, but the Alpine was designed to prevent this.
Above the heater there’s a baffle that raises temperatures, so your wood burns more thoroughly, reducing smoke and emissions. The cylindrical portion has an air current flow path that keeps darkened particles flowing up and away from the glass. The Imperial carousel stands a metre high and wide. The Summit is a little smaller at 865mm x 850mm.
These heaters are made from vitreous enamel, and they come in red (or rather, burgundy) and black. You can also opt to have the heater embellished with brass or stainless steel for added pizzazz. Their heat extends 15 to 17 square metres all round the furnace. The central theme of this furnace is curves and circles, from its base to its upper flue. Said base is made of two cones inverted and stacked to form a fire-pit and a support stand.