Radiator design has evolved at a rapid rate over the last ten years, yet many of us are oblivious to the extraordinary amount of choice that now exists.
Most homes still sport the bog-standard white versions that do the job but often spoil the appearance of a room.
Contrast those with Cliff. He doesn't come cheap – prices start from £886 – but he looks sensational while throwing out plenty of heat when needed. He comes with the stone-faced finish of your choice and can also be made with a concrete veneer.
Then there's Arteplano whose heating tubes are concealed behind a beautiful etched brass or copper front plate. The model pictured here is £1,760, a price many are willing to pay for style and individuality.
All the above are available from Bingley-based Feature Radiators, which was one of the first to specialises in design-led radiators at a time when heated chrome towel rails seemed exotic.
Their best-seller is Ron, which takes its inspiration from 1950s aircraft technology and traditional school radiators. It comes in shiny aluminium, gold, white and a selection of RAL colours and looks especially good when mounted on legs. Prices start at £720 plus VAT.
He is thoroughly modern, but radiators that echo those from the early 20th century are almost as popular. Cast from an original found in a Parisian bordello, Rococo is a favourite with those who have period homes or favour industrial style. The one pictured comes in central heating and electric versions and is £681 plus VAT. It's in burnished gold, a finish that Helena Gerwitz, of Feature Radiators, says reflects the current trend for gold with matt black accents.
Helena says radiators are a hot topic when it comes to interior design. If your plumbers mutters about BTUs – British Thermal Units – there should be no concern. “Style and practicality are no longer mutually exclusive and the majority of design-led radiators have heat outputs comparable to or better than bog-standard panel radiators.
Helena adds: “We now offer a huge range of stainless steel models and these now out-sell chrome when it comes to towel rails; the factories didn't used to be able to make so many shapes, so customers had to go for chrome, but stainless steel offers better heat outputs.
“Domestic heating has changed with increasingly efficient boilers and heat pump systems running radiators at lower temperatures and this has in turn influenced the market. Heat output calculations have been altered to reflect this change and radiator designs have adapted to suit.”
Aluminium is now the material of choice for many. It is very lightweight, making installation easier and consequently cheaper. The choice of finishes has also expanded. “You can now get everything from rusty steel, iridescents, mottled paints to lacquered bare metals and wood veneer. Paint colours range from jet black to outrageous orange and we can offer paints from top manufacturers such as Farrow & Ball,” says Helena.
If you can't afford a design-led radiator, there are still some reasonably priced upgrades to the ordinary.
Interior designer Bess Sturman, of Ilkley-based Sturman and Co., recommends the Avoca column radiator for those on a budget. You can find them at B&Q and Screwfix and they start at about £140.
CHOOSING YOUR IDEAL RADIATOR
Here are some tips from Helena Gerwitz, of Feature Radiators, Bingley, www.featureradiators.co.uk
Check your heat output requirements are met, but don't go too big and spend more money than you need to. By speaking to a radiator specialist, you can ensure you get the right heat output for your space.
Measure the space. You need to ensure that the radiator will fit into the space for practical and also aesthetic reasons. If you don't want to move the pipes, then measure the distance from the centre of one pipe to the centre of the other – this will give you the “pipe centres”. A radiator specialist can then find you something to match nicely.