Many exciting products and innovations have caused a buzz among builders, designers and industry professionals.

The NAHB International Builder Show has closed its doors until 2012, but many exciting products and home innovations are still causing quite the buzz among builders, designers and industry professionals. We’ve asked our IBS correspondent, Julie, to fill us in on what was big with fireplaces this year at IBS.

Julie, what fireplace design trends did you see this year at IBS?
Modern-style gas fireplaces really stole the show. We did see some traditional fireplaces, positioned near the floor with a conventional hearth and mantle, but we definitely saw more modern fireplaces than ever before.

In 2011, traditional-style fireplaces will remain the most popular choice for homeowners in the U.S., but we predict that modern-style fireplaces will really take hold this year and become more prevalent. In fact, we heard salespeople say that many times when homeowners enter a showroom and see a modern fireplace for the first time, they change their plans and purchase a modern-style fireplace, vs. a traditional-styled unit.

We’ve heard about the Heat & Glo Solaris making headlines. How was it described by those who saw it in person?
Most people would walk by the Solaris, look at it, and then do a double-take. First, when they noticed it’s a round, two-sided fireplace, and installed on a 2x6 wall, they’d stop and look at it. Then they noticed the multiple flames, which appear to move into infinity. “Wow” and “amazing” were common reactions.

Many asked about the technology and how the multiple flame illusion was created (mirrored glass and strategically placed LED lights). We heard comments like “psychedelic,” “whoa!” and “I want one.” Many attendees said that someone else at the show told them about the Solaris, and they had to come see it for themselves. It was a hit!

Can you tell us a little about fireplace trends? Any design tips we should think about for 2011?
Modern-style is the trend. Contemporary designs are pushing boundaries with radical ideas that incorporate both function and beauty. Typically, traditional fireplaces rise from the floor and are surrounded by brick or stone, then are topped with a mantle. Modern-style fireplaces rebel by being installed higher up on the wall, resembling the placement of a piece of art.

European inspired modern styles, like the Heat & Glo Cosmo SLR, are linear in shape, showcasing panoramic flames with crystal colored stones that replace log arrangements. In many ways, these fireplaces are similar in proportion to flat screen TVs. In fact, they complement flat screens beautifully, giving homes that updated, modern feel that many homeowners are looking for in 2011.

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