FIREPLACE REDO: Style vs. Function
Oh how excited I was to buy a house with two fireplaces. I love fireplaces. It was obvious that the fireplaces were last used with wood stoves, but certainly if I opened up the plaster covering the opening, a wonderful firebox would be revealed. Oh how I love discovering hidden treasures, like a beautiful porch railing or trim that has been covered with plywood or drywall or like a fireplace that has been closed up.
How wrong I was. Brad told me before I started demolition that I wouldn’t find the firebox that I dreamed of. Of course, I told him to stop being such a pessimist. Hmm.
I even went so far as to pry some of that lathe off and peek inside. Still no firebox. Obviously, these chimneys were put here for wood stoves. I needed a new plan!
It was easy to tell that water was coming down the chimney and it was also obvious from the outside that the chimney was showing the beginning signs of water damage. Time to call a chimney guy. Maybe I could put in a firebox?
Before he came out, I decided to clean out as much of the chimney myself as I could. At least maybe I could keep more filth from oozing out of the hole. After pulling out lots of pine needles, bird nests and bird skeletons, I figured that the chimney guy could at least see enough to tell us what our options were.
Our options turned out to be not so good. We needed two chimney caps, which would have to be custom made because the chimneys are an odd size and the flues were too narrow to be lined and still be to code. Fantasy destroyed.
So what did we do? First Brad made some simple chimney caps himself and he re-pointed the chimney bricks where the mortar was worn. The new caps aren’t as fancy as what we could have bought, but it saved us hundreds of dollars per chimney. No pictures of those, because I am not going up on the roof to take pictures! I draw the line there.
Now, to make the fireplace look prettier. I decided to drywall and tile the front and change the trim just a little to make it look more finished. My Mom and I went shopping and finally selected a mosaic tile that was a mixture of cracked glass, marble and small metal pieces. It fits perfectly with my neutral grey color palette. It is contemporary, but the marble in it honors the historic roots of our home. And it was Mom’s treat. Thanks Mom!
I haven’t given up hope completely on that fireplace. I am keeping open the option of a direct vent fireplace someday when we have more money. Brad put the trim on in a way that we could easily remove and it pop out the tiled drywall section without breaking any tiles. That way we could always use it in another room if we put in a gas fireplace.
I still need to caulk and paint the trim, but you get the general idea. I am also dreaming of replacing the beat up wood mantle top with a marble one. Keeping my eyes open for a deal in a flea market or antique store for that!