rizwan malik fireplace

How to upgrade the cosy factor in your space with the right fireplace

HGTV's Hot Market star Rizwan Malik covers all your needs from indoor to outdoors, houses and condos

Rizwan Malik is a real estate expert who currently works at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada as the senior vice president of sales. He appeared as one of the hosts on HGTV Canada’s Hot Market, which premiered earlier this year. 


As the months become cooler, everyone is looking to cosy up by the fire for some much-needed warmth and comfort. And if the holiday log on your TV screen simply isn’t cutting it for you anymore, it’s worth considering adding a fireplace to your living space — no matter what that space may be.

Here are some options for indoor and outdoor fireplaces whether your home is a house or condo.

Go with gas

If your house has a pre-existing mantle but not a chimney — and you don’t want to invest in a chimney — put in a gas insert. Gas inserts ventilate directly to the exterior of the home, so no chimney is required (and therefore no extra modifications need to be made). This is a very effective and cost-efficient method with minimal disturbance to the home, which is a definite plus.

For those who do not have a designated fireplace area, a gas insert is still feasible. Once you’ve chosen your gas insert, frame a feature wall around it and complete that wall by installing a floor-to-ceiling natural stone, preferably with slabs to minimize grout lines.

For a more budget-friendly installation, use eight-foot tiles to create the same polished look. This feature wall can also be the home for your TV. Cut an opening in the stone or tile and hang your TV so that it sits flush for a clean look.

Keep it easy with ethanol

In condos, gas inserts may not be an option because many condos are not equipped with gas lines and it isn’t realistic to upgrade the entire fire rating of the building. If you still crave that live flame, though, consider an ethanol fireplace.

With an ethanol fireplace, you’ll still get warmth and flame, and it’s completely safe for indoors with no need for exterior ventilation. The fireplace can be a small stone bowl with a lid, which you’d fill with ethanol fuel. A great factor about this type of fireplace is that it’s portable, so you can bring it onto your balcony or anywhere else in your unit.

As an alternative, you can opt for an ethanol burner, which comes in various lengths starting at one foot up to four or five feet long. Depending on the size of the fireplace or burner, the flame can last up to six hours. To extinguish the flame, simply put the lid on top and it’s snuffed out!

To create a more elegant and permanent look with the ethanol burner, build a firebox around the burner and have it framed and wrapped in a natural stone or tile creating a feature wall.

For the great outdoors

If you’re missing the fire pit from the cottage, or want to utilize your outdoor space for small gatherings while respecting COVID-19 restrictions, an outdoor fireplace is the answer.

Outdoor fireplaces can be outfitted in a backyard or on a condo terrace (after speaking with your property management to ensure it falls within the rules). An easy option is a portable fire pit that can be moved to different areas in the yard. A fire pit will typically use traditional grey river rocks, so add a punch of colour by including other varieties of rock and completely elevate the look.

For a simple solution that will fit right into your current outdoor setup, try a fire table. The tables come in stone, slate and various metals. Though the tables can be used by hooking up a propane tank, a cleaner design would be to run a gas line directly to it. Bury it underneath the patio stone to make it seamless.

For those looking for a long-term, big budget project — create a two-way fireplace to help define your outdoor spaces. One side can face your dining zone, while the other will warm up the lounge space. If you’re looking for an elegant vibe, use natural stone or tile to surround the fireplace. And for a more rustic look, frame the fireplace with logs.

What’s most important is to follow all rules and regulations and ensure all safety measures have been implemented whether it’s a house, condo or backyard. And of course, never leave a flame unattended.

Article exclusive to TRNTO