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from Patio and Hearth Products Report

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European Home Burns Brightest at the HPBExpo 2017

Any foodie with a Kamado style grill will tell you the key to good BBQ is cookin’ low and slow. Any designer with a discerning eye will tell you that the key to a beautiful fireplace design is simple, clean lines.

Both were on display at The HPBExpo (Hearth Patio and Barbecue) earlier this month in Atlanta.  If you happened to stop by booth #2819 you would have seen much of the latter as European Home rolled out some new fireplace designs as well as some iconic favorites.

To those fireplace retailers, architects, and designers who stopped by the booth — a sincere thank you!  We were honored to have so many amazing conversations. Please scroll through the images below and see what the people at European Home have been up to.

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FusionFire from Modern Flames is Gaining Steam

Buoyed by enthusiastic responses at industry trade shows, including a 2017 Vesta Award for best electric fireplace, the FusionFire from Modern Flames is making its mark in a competitive landscape. Using “clean steam” technology, the Phoenix, Ariz-based company is making plans to roll out its FusionFire later on in 2017.

Patio & Hearth Products Report (P&HPR) recently sat down with Kris Richardson, president of Modern Flames, to learn more about the development of FusionFire.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.45.15 PM.pngP&HPR: What can you tell me about the development of FusionFire?
Kris Richardson, president, Modern Flames: Basically about two years ago, almost exactly, we started developing this new product with an engineering team. We originally thought it was going to take a single year, but it is now on year two.

The better part of the story is we met with a company in California that used to work for Disney, and they developed special effects or Disneyland. I started working with them to see if their technology could work in our industry, but realized very quickly that it could not, because their power requirements were way too much for a residential house, and the amount of water being used was way too much for a residential standard commercial application. So we had to completely redesign and redevelop the technology to offer the correct applications for our industry, and at the right cost.

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 2.41.24 PMP&HPR: Where did you go from there?
Richardson: That type of technology was very interesting to us. We realized we couldn’t use their technology because they had a patent. So we had to first get an exclusive licensing agreement with them, in order for us to spend money on development, and to hire new engineers. We got that done, and then we got some very talented engineers to start the development of this project.

P&HPR: Where does it stand now? Can specialty retailers buy or sell it?
Richardson: They [FusionFire units] are going to be available in the fall, and I know that’s kind of broad. Fall means September or October of this year. We are past the development phase, and we are starting production.

P&HPR: What was the goal when you began this journey?
Richardson: The goal of starting the company was to create the most realistic flame image in the electric fireplace industry. We saw a big opportunity because there is no one else who is doing it. In the last couple years, as we developed our products, we realized that we were very limited with our current technology. With LED lighting and a screen, we always had a two dimensional flame.

For us to achieve our goal of making the most realistic electric fireplace out there, we had to change the technology, and that’s when the search started. Having a three dimensional fire, we are able to create the same type of characteristics as a gas fire. We don’t have a two dimensional flame. That was why we started the search and ended up landing where we landed. The future is very bright for this technology. We have the hard part figured out. We can do almost anything with steam as you can do with gas, because it has the same type of characteristics.

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Not In My Backyard™ Insect Repellent Products are Ideal Accessories

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-18-02-amEven customers who have the best outdoor cooking and leisure features can have their good time ruined by too many bugs. Savvy retailers can capitalize with the right insect repellent products on hand. The Not In My Backyard™ collection has several different sales-boosting options.

Insect repellent products are a natural accessory, but proper marketing is essential. Patio & Hearth Products Report sat down with officials at The Companion Group to get a better sense of how retailers can succeed with these products.

Patio & Hearth Products Report: How can retailers maximize the sales of these kinds of accessories?

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-18-23-amThe Companion Group: We love this line because it’s easy to cross-merchandise. The products can be displayed in a garden center, in a camping area, or in a grilling section. They could be in any of these areas.

The wearables (like the silicone band and the fabric band) could also be displayed by check-out because they’re priced and packaged for last-minute purchase. Retailers would also benefit from sharing the whole brand with customers since these products really complement each other. Customers could purchase the tabletop diffuser and place it on their porch table, while also wearing one of the bands to increase repelling power. There are so many ways to merchandise these products and boost sales across categories.

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-19-26-amP&HPR: What is the biggest misconception (if one exists) about selling/marketing insect repellents?

The Companion Group: Many customers believe the only way to repel insects is by using sticky sprays or sprays containing DEET. That’s simply not true. We have a proprietary mix of geraniol, citronella, and peppermint oils that fights bugs in an all-natural way—and without coming into contact with your skin. For the wearable bands and the silicone clips, the essential oils are included in an insert that can be placed inside the band or clip. It’s one of the safest ways to protect yourself and your family from bug bites.

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-19-05-amAnother thing we noticed while developing these products was that customers are used to buying bulky insect-repellent products. There are plenty of large, clunky insect-repellent candles out there. We wanted to offer something that gets the job done first and foremost, but also fits into the environment where it’s being used. Our tabletop diffusers come in a range of appealing colors and enhance whatever outdoor space they’re placed in.

P&HPR: You mention a virtual reality experience “around the brand.” What is that?

The Companion Group: Innovation really runs in our blood, and we believe in innovating in every aspect of the business, including how we promote our products. We’ve had our eye on virtual reality and discovered that it’s perfect for promoting an outdoor line like Not In My Backyard™.

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-19-52-amFor our trade shows, we will be offering a VR experience to anyone who’s interested in learning more about Not In My Backyard™. The experience will give people a sense of what you’ll get out of using the products as compared to venturing outdoors without any bug protection. We don’t want to give too much more away, but if you’re at HPBExpo, the International Home and Housewares Show or the National Hardware Show, please stop by and see for yourself!

screen-shot-2017-01-30-at-8-18-39-amProducts under the Not In My Backyard™ banner are:

  • Travel Handheld Folding Bug Zapper with Protective Cover
  • Tabletop Diffuser Lantern with Essential Oil Inserts
  • Citronella Sticks / 15 pack
  • Filled Galvanized Pails with Essential Oils / 2 pack
  • Outdoor Tealights with Essential Oils / 20 pack
  • Silicone Wristband with 6 Refills
  • Go Anywhere Silicone Clip with 6 Refills
  • Silicone Wristband and Go Anywhere Silicone Clip with 6 Refills
  • Fabric Wearable Band with 6 Refills
  • 6-Pack Essential Oil Insert Refills
  • 12-Pack Essential Oil Insert Refills
  • 6-Pack Essential Oil Slow-Release Insert Refills
  • Silicone Wearable Band and 12 pc Refill Pack (Shelf Display)


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How to Design the Perfect Fireplace Surround

Choosing the perfect fireplace is only half the battle.  Like a painting without a frame, a beautiful fire without a fully considered fireplace surround can look incomplete.  A well-designed surround is your opportunity to let your personal style shine through.

First things first, you may be asking yourself: what is a fireplace surround?

A fireplace surround is an architectural element(s) that quite literally surrounds your fireplace adding aesthetic style and safety to your installation.  In this article we will look at three styles of fireplace surrounds: Traditional, Minimalist, and Contemporary.


Picture a stone hearth, the mantle is lined with family photos, and large flames are dancing to the sound of Christmas carols.  Many of us have a nostalgic memory of a fireplace similar to this (or at least you saw one on TV!).  Perhaps you love the look of a traditional hearth but want to take advantage of the ease and efficiency of a gas fireplace.  Look no further!


Humanity has been building beautiful things out of stone even longer than we’ve been building fires.  The designer for this project decided to combine the ageless beauty of natural stone with a modern three-sided gas fireplace for a cozy feel in this luxury Northwoods cabin.


Gas Stones is a great product because it can be easily placed in an existing wood-burning fireplace cavity.  DYI idea: add a crown molding mantle and a coat of white paint over your old bricks to give your space a new clean take on traditional.


With an uninterrupted viewing area, realistic log set, and the use of anti-reflective glass, this modern gas fireplace is the perfect fit for a traditional surround.  Here a simple white mantle is added to give the surround a touch of added elegance.


Minimalism was an artistic and architectural movement born in the 1950s but it has persisted in interior design because of the inherent beauty and sense of calm this style evokes.  Like all things in life, with fireplace surrounds, sometimes less is more.


Subtle grays and whites make for the perfect minimalist surround for this customizable gas burner.


This 8’ long linear gas fireplace creates a dramatic horizontal, hole-in-the-wall effect.  Equilibrium is achieved by two symmetric black panels running vertically on either side.


Contemporary design is always changing, however the design of today no doubt draws from the clean lines of minimalism and ads in lush materials and textures to create truly dynamic spaces.  With the development of new materials, the possibilities for your fireplace surround are endless.  Just take a look at these three contemporary examples.


In this urban loft, raw materials like brick and exposed metal give the space a contemporary industrial feel.  This modern peninsula fireplace is surrounded by panels that may look like patina aged steel but are actually printed ceramic tiles.


Vision is the only example on this list that comes with its own optional surround.  These surrounds are available in many different colors and materials.  It is pictured here with a clean and contemporary stainless finish which transitions nicely into a muted grey stone wall tile.


These textured tiles are sure to turn some heads.  The choice of a geometric pattern is particularly interesting when paired next to something as organic and natural as fire.






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The Live-Fire Cooking Trend is on Fire

posterWhat do you call an innovative fire-pit and mobile camp-fire cooker in one? Kevin Dusold calls it OPENFIRE.

In large part the OPENFIRE product line is the answer to a larger US trend evidenced by the following:

-Bon Apetit Magazine named Live-Fire Cooking the technique of the year 2015

-Francis Mallmann is fast becoming a household name in American culinary circles after the release of Chef’s Table on Netflix in 2015 (he is a Live Fire chef and one of the biggest food stars in South America)

– Man Fire Food is one of the highest rated shows on the Food Channel

– and it is focused on Live-Fire cooking methods.

of-roasting-hotdog-copyThis trend has becoming quickly embraced by the American public who celebrate it through the aforementioned magazines and television shows. However, until the OPENFIRE line of products there has been no practical product that is both affordable and quality that allows admirers’ of the trend to become participants. OPENFIRE allows participation.

OPENFIRE is also the answer to an American barbeque industry that is becoming hyper focused on technology and convenience. These two things have all but stripped the beauty from original grilling technique and any cathartic process that makes being outside and cooking so enjoyable.

of-cooker-product-pic-copyThe OPENFIRE Pit’s origins are an integral part of its appeal. Central Europe is celebrated for its deep metal working and blacksmith roots. Following this tradition, the OPENFIRE Pit is hand-crafted and manufactured with a strong focus on detail and keen sense for design.

The OPENFIRE Pit is made from industrial grade alloy steel. The fire pit/bowl is ¼ inch thick, and able to accommodate many years of fire and inclement weather.

The OPENFIRE Pit is finished with a double coat of black paint that resists temperatures up to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The paint is applied using Electrophoresis. This method is used for two reasons: to produce an even, sleek, and modern esthetic, and to evenly protect the entire product.

rajc-making-ofThe OPENFIRE Pit’s recommended fuel source is wood, however, charcoal is often a sufficient substitute (if the single objective is cooking).

OPENFIRE is steadfast in its philosophy to make great products by never compromising quality and longevity. This product was designed with a structural integrity that is becoming less prominent in the marketplace. The quality in which the OPENFIRE products are made is fast becoming their identifying characteristic. In the development process, the first step was to establish a substantial foundation giving the product a remarkable lifespan. The process of innovative design began shortly thereafter.

camp-fire-fun-copyThe OPENFIRE Pit was designed to provide the customer with an experience of their choice. Other products dictate what the customer’s experience should be (e.g.: fryer’s are made just for frying, smoker’s just for smoking, and so on). This product has discretely manufactured, optional features to be used if and when desired.

The sheer amount of features relative to the OPENFIRE Pit’s size and esthetic is incredible. All features have been designed into the unit, so it maintains a compact display, while keeping its supreme versatility.

Kevin Dusold of Bimex Corp. has exclusive US importing rights to all OPENFIRE products. For wholesale and retail opportunities please contact him directly at his office: (570) 992-4418

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Sky Adler Speaks with European Home on his Contemporary Kona Grill Design

photo_1As the North American Distributor of the Element4 Dutch fireplace line, European Home recognizes beautiful designs. From time to time we get the pleasure of having conversations with the brilliant minds behind some of those designs. This month we sit down with Sky Adler.

Sky Adler is the Senior Director of Architecture and Design for Kona Grill, a fine dining restaurant specializing in sushi and an array of handmade cocktails.  Sky cut his teeth in design while living in LA and working in the film industry as a production designer for over a decade.

One of the first things I noticed when I walked into the new Kona Grill in Minnetonka, MN was how theatrical the whole experience was.  A giant blue LED bubble wall greets you for your red-carpet entrance.  Over by the bar, the sushi chef is cutting sashimi on his illuminated stage.  Finally, as you turn the corner, you are treated to an Element4 eight-foot long see-through gas fireplace which brings drama and warmth to the entire scene.

photo_2How did you get your start in architecture and design?

(Sky) After completing my studies many years ago I picked up and moved to LA and found myself in the film industry as a production designer for 12 years.  While there I worked on all kinds of  projects even some associated with Steven Spielberg and Wolfgang Puck.  It wasn’t the path I had in mind while I was in school, but when in Rome… you know?

[Eventually] I moved back home to Colorado and bought and old three-story Victorian House.  I was working on that for about a year, while simultaneously working on a number of other rehab projects, when I got a call from Marci Rude (VP of Development for Kona Grill) who offered to bring me on the team.

I’ve only been at this for about 5 years now but already we’ve done about 22 new restaurants and seven remodels.  The crazy thing is, for the first three and a half years it was just me and about three other people.  Now we’re up to a team of 19.

photo_3Did you like to design things as a child?  What would you design?

I grew up in the era of crayons, and while other kids were drawing stick figures or flowers, I was sketching out full on floor plans.  By the time I was 9 or 10 I started building model houses with intricate roofing and very specific details down to the upholstery patterns.  So, yeah, I was kinda weird.  (laughs)

My father was in construction and he would design a new house for us to live in just about every other year, so I had a close relationship with construction and design from an early age.

What has influenced the Kona Grill design aesthetic you have helped develop?

When I came in we wanted to create a complete update to Kona’s image.  I completely re-imagined the color palette – bringing in blues, grays and patina coppers to create a signature look.  I also wanted to bring in new textures, like tile, concrete, and rusted metal.  When you walk into a Kona Grill you can’t help but be reminded of the elements.  Fire and water are central to our identity.  I let these elements inform nearly all of my decisions from the fireplace to the aquarium to the specific color of the light that permeates the entire space.

Light and color seem very connected in this space.  There are lots of different light sources, the aquarium, the LED wall, the fireplace, and I haven’t even mentioned the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.  How did you come up with the lighting design for this space?

I think lighting is critical to any space.  I actually studied lighting for a whole year just to better understand how it operates.  I took a chance with all the blue lighting since it’s well known the color blue is actually an appetite suppressant (laughs) but I think it’s pretty unique for a restaurant.  You have to break the rules sometimes.

I wanted to create different fields of light for different activities.  Everything was intentional and the bar is lighted different than the dining area which is lighted different from the lounge where the fireplace really warms up the space, provides a pop and a lot of drama amidst all the blue.

And why did you pick the Tenore 240 by Element4 — a double-sided, see-through fireplace for this space?

Like I said, I like to create different dining experiences within the same space while maintaining the connectivity and energy throughout. The double sided fireplace allows more visibility between the wall and gives more bang for the buck, allowing a single unit to create two completely different atmospheres on either side. The appeal is to have division between the patio and dining room but still being able to see through to each and have the dynamic fire feature to combine the two.

Could you describe your design style in a couple sentences?

I completely don’t have one. (Laughs)  I feel I’m well versed in everything.  What we’ve created for Kona Grill in particular is something that is modern and relevant but not so modern that it will be dated in a couple years.  My style is very architectural very clean while still being warm and inviting.





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European Home – Supermodel Coco Rocha Embraces Modern Design

photo_1Last fall, international supermodel Coco Rocha and her husband, visual artist James Conran, contacted European Home because they loved our design style.  Coco and James were amazing to work with through the whole design and installation process of their Bidore 140 gas fireplace by Element4. They always made time to chat about the particulars of the design which was especially impressive because it seemed they were always on the go.

And that’s where we’ll rest for a while — in an old New York house that has been renovated into a warm modern home by this dynamic couple. We asked Coco and James about the renovation experience and the importance of good design in their constantly moving lives:

Cory: Tell me a little about your home in terms of architecture and design styles.

C+J: “It’s very much a modern home but we didn’t want it to seem cold or uninviting. We think with modern design it’s a balance, you want to keep that clean minimal look but you also want a space that feels like home.”

photo_3Cory: What originally attracted you to this style fireplace?

C+J: “We love modern design and when researching fireplaces with sleek clean lines we felt like all the products offered by European Home really hit the nail on the head when it came to our taste. The hard part was picking one we liked, there were so many.”

Cory: What does your fireplace add to the space?

photo_8C+J: “It really puts a focus into the living room that it was missing before. Now we just can’t wait for the first winters night when we can really crank it!”

Cory: How would you describe your “personal design style?”

C+J: “We are very, very particular. One of the reasons this renovation took so long was because we had to be involved with it every step of the way. Every outlet, every light was planned by us, down to the inch. It could seem a little obsessive to many but in the end, all those tiny details add up to a home we are proud of and that feels like an extension of who we are.”