In the past, fireplaces were a functional means of keeping warm and cooking food. As society became more affluent, fireplaces became (in some cases) less functional and more aesthetic. The energy crises have created a need for more energy efficient fireplaces. The fireplaces started off using wood and as people became less interested in the fireplace as a heat generator, and were more interested in the aesthetics and less maintenance, natural gas and propane replaced wood. The exterior became a primary focal point to houses and a place to accentuate the style of the house. Now fireplaces have moved into yet a new category with electric fireplaces that generate the "look" of a "real" fireplace.
Here's some examples of fireplaces from projects we've designed.