Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fireplace "Fun" Part One

I'm starting with an inspirational picture. This is a beautiful fireplace makeover from The Pear Tree Cottage that I might want to emulate someday. Go have a look at the before and after. They give comprehensive instructions on how they did this. It's fantastic!

Image from The Pear Tree Cottage.
I started with the lovely picture because next I'm going to hit you with this:

That's our wood stove from our basement. Yep, it's big, it's bad, it's ugly and it's now in our living room... Why? You may ask. To answer, allow me to begin at the beginning.

I've always wanted a working fireplace. I've had three so far, one in our first house in Peterborough, NH which came with a candy-apple red Vermont Castings wood stove in it. It had a pretty white mantle and it was lovely. Our first apartment in Montpelier, VT had a cool fireplace with a mantle made from river rocks. It was closed off because insurance companies don't want to insure working fireplaces in rentals. Our second Montpelier apartment also had a lovely (non-working, same reason) white-mantled fireplace. All three were the centerpieces of our living rooms. Even it they didn't work, they were still nice.

So, when I read the real estate listing for our house and saw that there was a fireplace, I thought AWESOME! Finally a working fireplace! Then I walked in and saw this:

and I wanted to (weep and then) tear it out. OK, first of all, it's ugly. That is authentic 1970's tract-house brick right there (classy right?). Second, it wasn't just the centerpiece of the room it DOMINATED the room. Below you can see that the hearth sticks out about two feet into the room.

Pfft, couch-schmouch, who needs a couch in the living room when you have this fabulous hearth? (It seemed to say) Oh, and THEN we heard that the chimney had started to fall off the side of the house at one point and had to be repaired. Needless to say, it wasn't in great shape when we bought the house. 

Yep, there are no two ways around it, It's an ugly behemoth. I wanted to tear it out and put a window there. However, there was a problem with that plan. (There's always a problem with the plan). That chimney was the one that all of the heating systems were hooked into. We looked at replacing it but that was expensive. We probably would have ignored the problem for a while longer but then we experienced the following series of events:
  • Our furnace started to give out so we started running the wood stove in the basement (pictured above). 
  • Then the flue to which the stove was hooked broke, 
  • Causing the stove to back up, 
  • Causing the carbon monoxide detector to go off, 
  • Causing me to have the "You don't need to come here but what should I do?" discussion with the fire department for the second time in my life*, 
  • Causing the fire department to decide that they did INDEED need to come to our house, WITH ALL OF THE TRUCKS AND THE AMBULANCE*, again, for the second time in my life, 
  • Causing several fire-fighters to traipse through my very messy house,
  • Causing me to follow them apologizing for my messy house,
  • Causing us to abandon using the wood stove in the basement.
  • Leaving us with a question about how we were going to heat our house.
Short story long, it was more cost effective to fix the living room flue and stick the wood stove in there. The really, really ugly wood stove in the really, really ugly fire place as the centerpiece of my really, really small living room. Oh Joy.

So I'm going to leave you until tomorrow, with the image of that stove, in that fireplace, in my living room. You're welcome. Tomorrow I'll show you what I did with it.

Until then,

* The first time the entire fire department came to my house was in Peterborough when our dog turned the gas on. I had opened all of the windows and called the main number, not 911, and said "You don't need to come here, just tell me what to do." The next thing I know the entire fire department, including the hook and ladder truck and the pumper truck, were on my tiny street. 

The upside: My son loved it and it gave the neighbors a lot to discuss, so that was good. Being entertaining is always a goal. Anyway, I love the fire department for the fact that they come when you need them. Even for the small things :-)

* For the record, small town fire departments always come out for the smallest call. Not much happens for small town fire departments there so any call is pretty cool.


  1. Oh my gosh, I can't wait to see what you did with that stove and fireplace!

  2. It's up! Let me know what you think :-)


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