Do you have a stone or granite hearth in front of your fireplace? You might have decided that’s not necessarily the look and feel you want for your room, but actually, hearts are about safety as well as design. Open fires tend to spit out sparks occasionally, especially with certain kinds of fuel. If you’re not careful, a tiny speck could damage your flooring, burn the carpet, or even cause a fire. So it’s well worth thinking about your hearth and taking steps to reduce the risk. A fireplace rug could be something you should consider.

Nothing takes the place of keeping a careful eye on your fire at all times of course, but take it from us - it’s far better to be safe than sorry when it comes to additional safety measures. Stray sparks and embers can quickly cause a black charred spot on your carpet, and you’ll notice it for years after even if the damage is minimised. A fireplace rug set in front of the fire will give you an extra layer of protection for your carpet, and if the rug gets damaged, it’s much easier to replace.

A fire retardant rug isn’t actually fireproof, but it can slow down the danger by being designed to withstand high temperatures and is made with materials or coated with chemicals that resist sparks and charring. The sizes, styles and designs of fireplace rugs are endlessly varied, so consider whether you’re after something like a Persian design, an artificial animal skin, a geometric shape or whatever.

When it comes to comfort and style, everyone loves a woollen rug, but these can be a hazard in front of an open fireplace unless they’ve been specially treated. A fire retardant woollen rug is much safer, so always check the label to ensure your rug is enhancing the safety rather than heightening the risk of fire.

If you’re wondering about the environmental issues with fire-retardant rug treatments, remember that there are green alternatives. Environmentally friendly options are available, so you don’t have to compromise on your ethics or introduce unhealthy chemicals into your home to have an effective and beautiful fireplace rug.

To summarise the practicalities, in theory, you don’t need a fireplace rug if you have a hearth, but you’re still advised to get one that protects your carpet from sparks that fly out unexpectedly. Choose one with a fire retardant label. And if you don’t have a hearth, consider getting one. A stone or marble surround gives extra peace of mind and can really enhance the look and feel of your fireplace.

Make sure any rug you use is flat and can’t be tripped over when the fire is lit. But when it comes to ambience, we reckon a decent fireplace rug can’t be beaten. It brings the warmth of the fire into the room and invites a sense of domestic cosiness even when the flames aren’t burning. For some people, the whole point of having a fireplace is so they can justify having a fireplace rug.