Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Fireplace Project

One of the other projects that we decided to start was the fireplace project. We really enjoy starting projects, we start them all the time. Finishing them is a completely different matter but I'm not going there right now.

Here is the fireplace last week, before we started this project.

The fireplace dominates our tiny 12' x 15' living room.

It's absolutely huge!

The hearth stretches from one side of the room to the other... Yes, I know I missed a spot... leave me alone.

It sticks two feet out into the room. With this foolish thing, our living room is 13' x 11." SO tiny...

So about a year ago, I decided to hack off the sides of the fireplace to make room for bookcases. I hate to lose an entire wall to a 1970's era fireplace.

So Kerry, our carpenter, came over and we rented a masonry saw. He cut off the sides and stuck them in the dumpster. All of the brick from the new cuts to the wall on either side is coming out. I only cleaned half of the hearth and stove for this pic so you can see how much brick dust there was. It was EVERYWHERE!


I've mentioned in the past, that as we are remodeling the house, we spend a lot of time asking "Why?" The fireplace was no different. When we took part of it down we saw that there is a huge space between the firebox and the outside wall of the chimney and it was filled with rubble... "Why?" Maybe it's for storing treasure? Roger suggested a "Cask of Amontillado" scenario but that's slightly disturbing...

We also discovered daylight coming in from both sides of the chimney. Doesn't everyone see daylight through their chimney?

Yep, you can see trees through that crack.We never actually wondered why the living room didn't hold the heat, we always knew something was up, this just confirmed it.

Last year our carbon monoxide detector went off. When the fire department arrived (after I asked them not to come, this is the second time that happened but that's a story for another day) they said that they couldn't see daylight through the flue, and why would you? After all you can see daylight through the crack in the wall, that should count for something, right? Yeah.

Anyway, when we opened the other side of the fireplace, we saw this:

That's right, that's the other flue. It looks like it belongs in a Tim Burton movie. Yes, Jack Skellington called and he wants his chimney back. It would probably be fine for him, since he's already dead and can't be killed by carbon monoxide.

I have it on good authority, AKA Dan the South Gardiner Postmaster, who knows everything that's going on in town... Have you ever stopped to think about how much your mail person knows about you? Well now you will. Any-hoo, Dan mentioned that the chimney was falling off the side of the house at one point in time and the guy who built it had to stick it back onto the house. Yep, good to know.

My dad suggested that we clean the flue by tying a couple of ten-pound weights to a rope and dropping it down... I'm taking that under advisement.

The next "why" came when we removed the sides and saw this:

I know you can't really tell what that is so I'll tell you. That is the space between the brick above the fire box and the wall, which means..... wait for it.....

It's barely attached to the ceiling. I kind of want to take the maul to it and smash it down with one fell swoop, but Hun has suggested that action might be more destructive than anticipated.

The upside to that discovery (yes there is an upside) is that we'll be able to put a pretty mantle over it. Eventually we want to put a fireplace insert in there so it will heat the house and function like a real fireplace.

Here is the quick and dirty sketch of what I want the bookcases to look like:

Fancy huh? I'm thinking of doing semi-built-ins using IKEA Billy bookcases fitted with crown molding. It'll be pretty when we're finished... in ten years or so.

I have one more started project to show you this week. We've torn out the bathroom... We've been busy.

See you soon,


  1. Oh. My. Gosh. I laughed so hard when you talked about nothing supporting the fireplace! If you don't laugh, you'll cry. Our house is like that too! lol You go girl!

    Don't feel too bad. I've been trying to finish moving the stuff to my studio for four weeks now. And we're not done yet. {sigh}

  2. Oh, Heather! This story scared me and frustrated me! Why, oh why, don't people make things right the first time? Perhaps they do it this way so that home renovators have extra-exciting times in the future? When we pulled out our daughter's built in shelves to remove the carpet (which was cleverly layed underneath the shelves), we found all sorts of builder's rubble underneath - apparently it's easier to hide the rubble than to carry it outside when you're building something...

  3. Oh Heather, I'm so happy you have your sense of humor... :-) someone didn't know what they were doing in the past.

    Is it your only bathroom your torn out?

    Love Maria


Welcome! I'd love to hear from you so please comment, it would make my day!

Note: Home Again Jog is a troll-free zone, nasty comments won't be published, period.