Although your interest in fireplace stand alone screens may be decorative, they serve an important function you should think about too.
Fireplace Stand Alone Screens - The Basics
If you have an open hearth, it really isn't safe to build a fire in your fireplace without adding a fireplace screen. Fireplace stand alone screens are self-supporting, usually via legs occurring at each of three or four panels and a network of hinges and posts that allow the panels to fold slightly, creating a stable, upright profile. Screens are often made of glass, metal, mesh, and even wood treated with fire retardant paint. When you're in the market for a fireplace screen, there are a few things to take into consideration.
If your fireplace isn't strictly decorative, then first and foremost a fireplace screen should providing a reliable barrier that keeps, flames, sparks and shifting logs from making contact with flammable materials in your room. This is typically the purpose for which screens are crafted, but not always. Some trompe l'oeil screens are painted artistic works designed as decorative elements only. The paint used isn't fireproof, and employing them for protection can be dangerous. Often these screens are solid and don't offer a way to view the cheery fire burning behind them. They're designed to be used in the off season to cover an empty grate and add a pretty scene where otherwise a sooty hole in the wall would be the only view.
When shopping for a fireplace screen, always check labels to make sure that they are functional screens and size them to cover the opening of your fireplace completely with at least a one inch overlap on the top, bottom and both sides.
The screen you choose should also be sturdy enough to make a reliable barrier but still be light enough to move when you need to clean the hearth.
Fireplace Screen Designs
Once safety issues have been addressed, you can employ fireplace screen designs to enhance the look of your room. Whenever possible use a metal that matches other metals in the room. This could be wrought iron, brass, steel or pewter. Whatever the metal and finish, blending this accessory to match light fixtures, mirrors or other elements is a good idea.
An effective way to employ a fireplace screen is to choose a design that works well with the light coming from the firebox. Stained glass screens are very popular for obvious reasons, but they're not the only dramatic option. Even beveled clear glass or etched glass can make a very powerful statement. They also let the drama and uniqueness of the fire show through clearly. Sometimes these features are added to elaborate screens that include mirrors, scroll work, studs and even beading.
Because screens are relatively large, they should reflect the overall architecture of the room as a whole. Screen shapes can vary from graceful fans to shadow boxes. You should also keep in mind the appropriateness of the design relative to the rest of your décor. A Victorian era screen festooned with roses will probably look silly in an ultramodern room; in the same way, an elaborately faceted glass screen may look cold and out of place in a room decorated with warm earth tones, plaids and nubby textures.
Another thing to consider is the area around the fireplace itself. Red brick can look dramatic and warm, but may clash with fussy screens, like multi-colored Tiffany glass. Specialty mantles, surrounds and other fixtures can create complexity that should be taken into consideration when choosing a fireplace screen too. A simple rule of thumb is to repeat themes in the room and avoid elements that fight with nearby styles or fixtures. When in doubt, sticking to a simple screen with a clear view of the fire and a solid support frame is always a good choice.