Making Eco-Friendly Choices for Your Home

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At Custom Home Interiors, we consider it our responsibility to act as responsible global citizens and do our part to ensure that we reduce the environmental impact of the work we do and products we create, and also to actively promote brands and partners that practice sustainable development and environmental protection.

EDC_logo (1)As Earth Day Canada marks its 25th this year, we are celebrating by sharing some of our favourite ways to make a home more eco-friendly.

FUN FACT: Did you know that Earth Day is the largest secular observance in the world? Celebrated by more than a billion people every year, it is a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

As environmental issues become increasingly urgent, the task at hand can seem overwhelming and insurmountable. While we wait on governments to make sweeping policy changes, there are choices we make as consumers on a daily basis that on an individual scale might not seem like much, but en masse can make a substantial impact on the world we live in.

Programs like the ENERGY STAR Initiative make it easy to identify high-efficiency products on the market in Canada and the United States, including major appliances, room air conditioners and some heating and ventilating equipment. Certified products must meet strict technical specifications for energy performance, and save energy without compromising performance in any way.

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We use many ENERGY STAR certified Whirlpool and KitchenAid appliances — from dishwashers and clothing dryers, to refrigerators and microwaves — in our projects because they are superior quality products, and top of their class for energy performance. We feel good knowing our choices will save our clients money, and reduce their impact on the environment.

FUN FACT: Today’s refrigerators are designed with better door seals, improved insulation and more efficient compressors. They use at least 70 percent less energy than models produced in 1990.

While that may be true, North Americans still have the biggest refrigerators in the world. They became a status symbol of sorts in the 80’s and used to store a week’s worth of food for families of all sizes. The sad truth is that refrigerators consume more energy than any other household appliance because they run day and night. Reducing the size of everyone’s fridge alone can impact global warming. Imagine what we could do by reducing the size of all of our household appliances.

extraordinary-dimmable-led-light-bulbsEGLO is one of the global leaders in decorative lighting solutions. Their products are made using only recyclable and environmentally friendly materials and as little packaging as possible.

We choose many of their LED lighting products in our work because in addition to being beautifully designed, they save on energy and money and avoid using hazardous substances like mercury.

FUN FACT: The average Canadian home has 30 light bulbs. That provides a lot of opportunities for consumers to take advantage of the latest technologies and models available.

We believe that supporting quality Canadian furniture manufacturers is the best way to ensure that we deliver well-made, long-lasting products. The less often you have to replace your furniture, the more money you save in the long-run. It is definitely worth paying a bit more upfront and it will keep more items out of landfills.

The Canadian manufacturers we work with have great environmental initiatives:

Canadel hand-assembles and hand-finishes furniture made of locally-grown solid birch. All of their cardboard packaging is made from recycled fibers and they distill and reuse all paint residues in their production.

Bermex also uses North American birch exclusively in the manufacturing of their high quality solid wood casual and formal dining furniture, bars and stools. For every tree used in the manufacture of their products, they plant a new one. Bermex understands the crucial role of trees in their business.

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Trica uses recycled steel, aluminium and plastics to build their furniture, which require less processing and resources. The paints they use are free of lead and volatile organic compounds that have been linked to cancer and birth defects. And, all of their products can be disassembled and recycled.

For us, supporting green companies and initiatives is just good business. We believe that in doing so, we are able to offer superior products that give our business and clients a competitive advantage, while dramatically reducing our collective carbon footprint.

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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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Fabrics for High-Traffic Commercial Spaces

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by Diana Delaney

Designers face unique challenges when choosing fabrics for commercial spaces. These high traffic areas not only tend to experience a lot of wear and tear but they also have to appeal to a broader audience while still creating a distinctive style statement.

So how do we determine the right balance between style and practicality, comfort and durability? When selecting products and material for a commercial design, there are several key considerations that I immediately take into account, as they may affect the rest of my decisions. It can be quite different from my approach to residential projects.

Commercial buildings often have special requirements in order for a project to meet building codes and various regulations. In terms of fabric selections, consideration must be given to abrasion resistance, lightfastness, fire-retardancy and antibacterial or antimicrobial requirements (most often required in healthcare settings). While we may occasionally use these standards as a guiding principle, they are not often a defining requirement in a residential setting.

_D3_9844Once we have established the general rules, objectives, and budget for the project, the next step is determining what type of furniture components are needed and how they will be used. Most clients have specific requirements for the life cycle of products they are purchasing, so my job is to ensure that the pieces we specify and fabrics we use meet the expected life expectancy, and this is notwithstanding any guarantees and warranties.  After all, once a project is installed and completed, the last thing anyone wants is the hassle of repairs or replacements.

Usage scenarios for each piece also helps us to determine how durable the fabrics need to be, whether they need to be spill and stain resistant or fade resistant. For example, consideration for things such as much natural light enters the space and whether it will be coming into direct contact with the fabric; where will window treatments be used and whether they need blackout options or adjustable shades. If we are putting an ottoman in a seating area, will people actually be sitting on it, or is it perhaps more likely food and drinks will be placed on it like a coffee table?  All of these things come into play as we move forward in the design process.

For contract furniture specifically, I like using faux and bonded leathers for sofas, then perhaps throwing in a bold or playful fabric on any accent pieces or in the accessories. Bonded leathers look great, are easy to clean and can be found at reasonable price points. Wearability is paramount here again due to the fact that they will inevitably be abused through daily wear and tear.

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For commercial bedding, I am a fan of clean, white linens. They can be washed at high heat and with bleach so it is a simple and classic option that never goes out of style and will be relatively easy to maintain. You can always update the look with various weaves and patterns that are still white-on-white. I recommend bed-ends or darker quilts to protect the linens, as one of the first things people do when they enter a new bedroom or hotel room with a freshly-made bed is jump on it and put up their shoe-clad feet!  Coming up with creative methods to meet practical requirements while maintaining the integrity of your design is sometimes a challenge, but is certainly a welcome one for both the designer as well as the clients and those who eventually end up enjoying the space.

Although the design process is often built upon inspiration, the project parameters and fabric application ultimately determine the final selections. You work backwards from the point of that inspiration; meaning, you may find a fabulous colour, piece of artwork or fabric that originally inspires you and although it is not practical to apply that fabric to a high-traffic hotel lobby chair (for example, that custom silk you fall in love with), you may still use the pattern or colour which may lead your design in a direction that is indeed suitable for that space and that project.

The universe never falls short on inspiration; it is simply keeping your eyes (and mind) open enough to receive it.

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Diana’s work with Custom Home Interiors over the past five years has largely involved creating design concepts for model homes, condos and lobbies, as well as developing corporate housing programs for our sister company Corporate Housing Interiors Ltd.
 
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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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Meet the CHI Team’s David Skinner

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David SkinnerName: David Skinner
Job title: Operations Coordinator
Number of years working with CHI:
1 year in April 2016

What did you study in school?

I am currently completing a Computer Science degree at Carleton University.

What is your favourite room in a home and why?

My favourite room would be the living room or entertainment room because I love sitting down with family or a group of friends and having a shared experience, whether it be watching a movie or playing a game.

If you could only have one appliance in your kitchen, what would it be and why?

My one appliance would have to be a dishwasher because without it my roommates would fill our kitchen with dirty dishes. I don’t mind doing dishes, but without a dishwasher it would be like a second job in our house.

What is your most memorable CHI project to date?

I have been working with CHI for a little less than a year now as the Operations Coordinator. The first large project that I was able to work on from start to finish was the Minto 185 project. I was partially in charge of the installation team, so in addition to installing the appliances, I was assisting in project management. It was a great learning experience for me, and I look forward to working on more projects from conception through to completion, then being able to step back at the end and appreciate all the hard work that went into the final product.

Minto 185

After we completed our installations at Minto 185, it was very rewarding walking through a finished suite and seeing the appliances shining in their new homes. With the addition of the window coverings, which CHI also installed at Minto 185, I believe we really helped the suites stand out.
 
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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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Things We Love at Custom Home Interiors

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To get into the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we asked some of the team at Custom Home Interiors to share some of the things they love about their work at Custom Home Interiors, and here is what they had to say:
 
David's desk
“My desk is one of my favourite things at CHI. I can see and talk to almost everyone in the office from where I sit, but it also gives me some privacy for when I need to focus on my work. I have a view of the window from my desk and I am nice and close to the coffee machine. I also enjoy having enough space on my desk to house my laptop and a second monitor, store all of my paperwork and still have plenty of room to work with.”

David Skinner
Operations Assistant
Custom Home Interiors by Obvious Advantage Inc. & Corporate Housing Interiors Ltd.

 
Diana's Colour Fan Deck
“One of my favourite things is the ambient lighting at my desk – lighting is such a necessary and crucial aspect of design. Oh, and I love my colour fan deck, of course!”

Diana Delaney
Design Coordinator
Custom Home Interiors by Obvious Advantage Inc.

 
Andrew's Pens
“I have come to love these pens as has the rest of the team, but it comes at a cost; I no longer like using any other pen in existence. When we run low on these pens, they become a very hot commodity in the office until the replenishment shipment comes in. Even the old worn out ones have a place when stock gets low.”

Andrew Emmans 
President
Custom Home Interiors, Obvious Advantage Inc. & Corporate Housing Interiors Ltd.

 

Sarah's Passion Planner
“I use my Passion Planner to keep track of appointments to a degree, but I predominantly use it to plan and strategize business actions. I’m able to plan blog posts, keep track of days that my junior is with me, keep focus on daily, weekly and monthly tasks and reflect on the past month at the end of each month. It’s been really helpful in keeping me more organized but also on track of steps I need to take to achieve business goals.”

Sarah Kidder
Certified Interior Decorator, Sarah Kidder Design
& Partner, Custom Home Interiors by Obvious Advantage Inc.

 
Tyler's Control Centre
“I love my 3 screen ‘control centre’ because I can be working on a logistics spreadsheet on one screen, an email response on the second and putting an invoice together on the 3rd.  It has made my job so much more efficient, plus I get to have my cute son staring at me from both screen savers.”

Tyler Dren
Director of Operations
Custom Home Interiors by Obvious Advantage Inc. & Corporate Housing Interiors Ltd.
 
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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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Sarah Kidder Takes on the Ultimate Upcycling Challenge for Charity

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Our colleague Sarah Kidder, the founder and principal of the award-winning Sarah Kidder Design was invited to participate in the Ultimate Upcycling Challenge and the Ottawa Home & Remodelling Show last weekend. The Challenge involved sourcing a pre-loved door from Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and ‘upcycle’ it using Rust-Oleum Consumer Brands Canada products to present a brand new piece ready for a second chance at love.

Upcylcing Challenge

The Ultimate Upcycling Challenge was clearly a perfect fit for Sarah who strongly believes in donating her time and talents to worthy causes, and is no stranger to upcycling. In fact, she identified it as one of the top new trends in a previous blog post Sarah Kidder Talks Top Trends from Ottawa Fall Home Show 2015. In it, she discusses her approach to upcycling and where the you are most likely to see it.

Sarah chose to start with a pair of golden oak cabinet doors with similar grain and only a bit of moulding detail that she estimates would be worth $10-$15 if sold ‘as is’. For the upcycled piece, her vision was to create a vintage-inspired set of coat racks that would look great in a bedroom with a vintage or country feel, or in a bright bathroom or walk-in closet, and as soon as she saw the cabinet doors, she knew they were the ones.

Her first step was to select the hardware, which she wanted to be the focal point of the pieces. Sarah sourced all of the knobs and hooks from Yardley’s, a local antique store known for unique and authentic pieces. Yardley’s gave her a great deal on the hardware, which was originally $75, because it was for charity. However, Sarah faced a dilemma in using what she described as the perfect hardware for her vision. She realized the weight of coats would be an issue, and so rather than sacrifice style, she reclassified her piece as an accessory rack for jewellery, scarves, and the like.

Antique Jewellery RacksTo evoke a Victorian-esque feel, Sarah used traditional colours ─ smoky blue, soft sage green and buttery yellow ─ in matte Rustoleum chalk paint; and then distressed the edges slightly so that the wood peeked through. They have colour and character without being too much. A matte clear-coat was applied to protect the finish while maintaining the soft milky look that chalk paint is known for.

Sarah’s accessory racks sold for $100 at auction as part of the Ottawa Home & Remodelling Show’s Ultimate Upcycling Challenge with all proceeds going to support of Habitat for Humanity. Other causes that are dear to Sarah include children’s cancer, hospice care, and guinea pig rescue. She often donates consultations to charities like Project Jenga and Ottawa Fur Kids, and she is also happy to help out others in any way she can.

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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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Why Using a Professional to Design Common Areas is Just Common Sense

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A building’s lobby is a welcoming area for visitors, potentials buyers and renters. It often serves as an introduction to the interior esthetic of the property and should reflect the quality of the units. As such, a lobby and other common areas like party rooms or lounges can add value to a property or detract from it depending on its overall appearance and how well it is maintained.
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As the expression goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Think about the last time you checked into a hotel or visited a friend’s condo. It is likely that you formed your opinion of the suite and the service as soon as you walked in the front entrance. Businesses that take the opportunity to put their best foot forward on common space design are at a clear advantage over their competitors.

Common areas usually serve a specific purpose, whether it is to check in with concierge, wait for a friend or colleague, grab a coffee and read the paper, watch a movie, or host a family gathering. With a clear goal for the space in mind, identifying furnishing and décor elements that are functional and durable while also being modern and à la mode is key.

High traffic areas can pose unique challenges because elements like chair fabrics, wall paint and area rugs may wear long before a table, lamp or wall art go out of fashion. This is where the help of a professional interior designer can help you to make strategic decisions that will help extend the life of certain purchases and update others so that you can maximize your budget while always delivering a fresh and inviting feel to your common spaces.

Whether you are looking to completely redesign your hotel lobby or breakfast bar, or update a condo party room or retirement home respite suite, Custom Home Interiors has the people, the products, and the solutions to deliver a vision that will make a positive and lasting impression on guests and tenants.

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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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Advantages of Buying Smaller Euro-Style Appliances

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In Europe, where living spaces in major cities are smaller, generally, so too are appliances. They not only reflect a long tradition of shopping in the markets daily, cooking fresh food, an hanging laundry on a line, but also more recently a continent’s response to increasing energy prices and global temperatures.

North America is catching on, and although we may not all have the time to shop and cook fresh every day, there are still plenty of other reasons to go euro when it comes to appliances.

Save Money

Smaller appliances usually mean a smaller purchase price and less taxes, especially when compared to larger models of the same brand. The money you save on reducing the size of your appliances could be spent on upgrading to a better model, or on additional furnishings and offerings that increase the appeal of your home.
KitchenAid 24- Fridge

Conserve Energy

North Americans have the biggest refrigerators in the world. They became a status symbol of sorts in the 80’s and used to store a week’s worth of food for families of all sizes. The sad truth is that refrigerators consume more energy than any other household appliance because they run day and night.

Reducing the size of everyone’s fridge alone can impact global warming. Imagine what we could do by reducing the size of all of our household appliances.

Create Space

With the size of living spaces shrinking due to population growth in and around urban centres, it will become increasingly important to design homes with furnishing and appliances that maximize every inch of space so that comfort and functionality are not compromised in any way. Euro-style appliances are smaller and sleeker than traditional North American counterparts. They fit perfectly into a single or dual occupant space and lifestyle, which are now the two largest household segments in Canada.

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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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Six Energy Efficient Ways to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter

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The cost of heating a home can often be more frightful than the weather outside. Instead of letting rising energy costs send a shiver down your spine this winter, consider some of these energy efficient ways to keep your home warm this winter.

  1. Move Furniture Away from Vents

If your furniture is in front of or on top of heating vents, it is likely that your rooms are not getting the maximum heat potential. Take a tour of the house and rearrange any pieces of furniture that could be posing an issue and see if the flow of heat improves and the room feels warmer without having to turn up the thermostat.

  1. Snuggle Up in Quality Linens and Blankets

1498aaUsing the same sheets year round might not be the best approach for the climate you live in. Materials that breathe well might be perfect in the summer, but when the temperatures drop, you want to make sure your bedding traps enough of your body heat to keep your warm through the night without having to employ a hot water bottle. Working with our team to create fine custom linens and blankets for your home will ensure style is not sacrificed for comfort when designing any room in a house.

  1. Electric Fireplaces

Electric fireplaces can be installed in minutes, often on the same day as purchased. Installation and operating costs of an electric fireplace are a mere fraction of their wood burning and gas counterparts. At about $0.18 per hour at maximum output, you can heat a room for about $50-$80 a year. We choose Dimplex® for our projects. They carry a wide carry a wide array of top-quality designs with an unparalleled selection of styles, accents and finishes to suit any style and application.

  1. Cover Wood Floors and Tiles with Area Rugs

According to the National Energy Foundation, uninsulated wood floors can account for up to 10% of a home’s heat loss. Using area rugs not only prevents this loss of energy and keeps toes warm, it is also an easy way to pull together the look of a room, muffle the sound of heavy heels and talking.

  1. Reverse the Ceiling Fan Direction with Heat

If you have ceiling fans that your normally use to circulate cool air it the summer, try reversing the fan direction when you have the heat on in the winter. Since warm air rises, this will push the warm rising air back down to the floor where you still need it. You will waste less energy and require less of your heating system.

  1. Keep Heat in and Cold Out with Premium Window Coverings

hunter_douglas_shades_architellaWindows are known to let drafts in and heat out; and with it your money goes wafting through the cracks. Choosing the right window coverings can save a homeowner plenty of money by keeping heat inside and cold out. Hunter Douglas’ highly energy-efficient Duette® honeycomb shades can make a big energy savings at the window.

These energy-efficient tips will do more than save you money each winter, they are a great way to update a home with new technology and modern designs that give a home fresh appeal.  Ask one of our experts about custom solutions to warm up your home or project.

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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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The Benefits of High Quality Home Furnishings

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The home furnishing industry has started trending towards high-end, locally-made furnishings once again. Over the past several years, free trade agreements with low-wage markets and big-box stores have created a speedy shift towards fast furnishings at lower prices. Although these products and partners still have a role to play in the overall mix of interior design, Canadian businesses and customers have learned that the initial investment in high-quality furnishings really pays off in the long term.

skyline_wandcord_livingroom_3Custom Home Interiors has always purchased our core items from local manufacturers. High-quality upholstery, furniture, appliances, and accessories from great Canadian manufacturers like Trica, Huppé, JLM Furniture, and Superstyle help us to deliver the quality that our clients and partners have come to expect, all while offering competitive pricing.
 
Frankly, for us supporting other Canadian companies is just good business. We believe that offering superior, locally-made products gives our business and our clients’ a competitive advantage. We are able to maintain quality control that just isn’t possible with suppliers overseas, ensuring the best in modern design, materials, as well as adherence to national building requirements and standards.

Well-made products also last longer, which is more cost effective than replacing cheap ones every couple of years and sending the used ones to landfills. Purchasing locally-made, quality furnishings also has another environment benefit in that the distance the final product has to travel is dramatically reduced thereby decreasing its carbon footprint.

All of this enables our clients to deliver a consistently superior experience with furnishings that actually increase the appeal of the space, and clearly demonstrate that they value their customers, which is the key to turning them into repeat business and referral sources.

To find out more about our leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation and fittings for commercial and residential projects, contact our team. Whether you are working on a restaurant, a commercial lobby, a retirement home or building a neighbourhood of custom homes, we can provide innovative solutions and award-winning customer service that will exceed your expectations.
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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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Top Reasons to Choose an Electric Fireplace

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There is an electric solution for every fireplace

 
blfo_brickThe fireplace has long been a focal point for the home. A place to gather with family and friends on a cold winter’s night and enjoy the comforting glow of the fire, it provides ambience, as well as light and heat. Wood burning and gas fireplaces have fallen out of favour in recent years due to challenges like safety hazards and high costs. More and more home builders and home owners and turning to electric fireplaces, and with the development of newer and better electric models, there may never be a need to chop firewood again.

Electric fireplace design has come a long way since the early days of the dancing paper flame. Whether you are looking for a wall-mount, mantel, media console, firebox, insert or stove, there is a top-quality model in a traditional or contemporary, sophisticated style with accents and finishes to suit your space. The latest innovations produce the sights and sounds of a true burning fire for the ultimate virtual fireplace experience.

Electric fireplaces can be installed quickly and easily in almost any space. Since they do not require a gas line or chimney, there are few limitations on where you can put one. In fact, with a wall-mount, you could move it into a different room whenever you feel like redecorating, treating it more like wall art. Electric fireplaces can be installed in minutes, often on the same day as purchased. And, the installation and operating costs of an electric fireplace are a mere fraction of their wood burning and gas counterparts.

The technology works with or without heat and allows for control of the background lighting and speed of the flame. An electric fireplace can heat an entire room efficiently; and yet it remains cool to the touch and emits no smoke ‒ making it safe for children and pets, and in hotels and condominiums. Insusceptible to rust or erosion, home owners and guests will be able to enjoy an electric fireplace all year round for years on end.

We carry a wide array of top-quality designs by Dimplex with an unparalleled selection of styles, accents and finishes to suit any style and application. There is an electric solution for every fireplace. Contact us for a consultation on how to redefine your space with a beautiful electric fireplace.

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Custom Home Interiors works with industry professional to provide leading edge furniture, appliances, home automation, fireplaces, window treatments and fittings for commercial and residential projects.

We publish a quarterly newsletter containing links to bi-monthly blog posts & other relevant industry news. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter.

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