January 31, 2013

Things Are Finally Heating Up

We've been doing a whole lot of yacking about getting started on the Family Room lately, but not a whole lot of working.  And in a surprise change of events, the Hubs has been the one that's itching to start swinging a sledgehammer again, while I'd prefer to cuddle on the couch with my babies.  Part of our hold up is that we don't really know what we're getting into.  After nearly two years of living with the big wooden feature above the fireplace downstairs, we've finally made the executive decision that this doesn't work with our lifestyle. 

We've been pondering the dilemma since just a few months after moving in, when we bought a TV and had no where to put it.  Since then we've been playing Hide the Fireplace.


But it's colder than a witch's milk machine down there, and we could really use the additional heat source.  So yes, we're not huge fans of the TV above a fireplace, but in our set up, it just won't work any other way.  And while we liked how the rounded wood element tied into the fireplace directly above it:

 it's something we're willing to give up.  Especially since painting our kitchen cupboards upstairs brought the kitchen from a golden oak museum:

 to a bright and modern happy place:

and we're itching to do the same thing downstairs.  So after talking about it for ages, we finally decided that the only way we're going to know what we're dealing with, is to just start taking things down.  Cue the Hubs and his sledgehammer:

Which quickly left us with this:

And that's where things have stalled.  We've found that what we assumed was a typical masonry fireplace, is actually just a wood burning fire insert, that vents through a 8" vent tube through the chimney.  I mean who bothers to build a chimney, that's a pretty major focal point of the home:

but the chimney is really just made out of wood with a metal pipe in it?  It's crazy town I tell you.  We've been all over the interwebs and to a handful of fireplace stores trying to figure out what to do next.  Our options at this point are:

A. Stick with the old, dated wood burning fireplace.  But it's not exactly easy to use for a quick heat source, or kid friendly.  Plus, we've been told that our ancient insert could malfunction, and we'd waste all the money we are going to spend putting in new rock/tile when we eventually have to tear it out.
B.  Tear out the whole thing, and replace it with a new gas burning fireplace.  The benefit here is that we can start from scratch and get exactly what we want, but it's not going to be cheap. 
C. Place a gas insert into the existing wood burning insert that vents through the existing chimney.  We have fewer choices here, but it could save us a load of cash.  

So that's where we are right now, and hopefully by the end of the week we'll make our decision on how to move forward.  Then it's time for a lot more demo.   It's all I can do at this point to hold the Hubs and "The Persuader" back, so I have a feeling we'll be adding to the dumpster pile this weekend.  Wish us luck!


  1. I love the things that you discover when you start remodeling. There have been some real doozies in our house. Things I have just absolutely shaken my head about.
    Good luck with your fire place! The inside of ours is in such bad shape that it's not even fire worthy. We're considering an electric insert.

  2. OH, man. Those kinds of decisions. It's like a secret surprise--let's take this down and then find...oh, crap..underneath. Look forward to seeing what you guys do!

  3. I just want to say I love your house. The end.

  4. There was a wood burning fireplace in our house when we bought it and after 3 years of messy wood and ashes, we put in a heat and glow natural gas insert. Best thing we ever did. Absolutely love it.