Dreaming in front of a crackling fire

A couple of Saturdays ago, while my father-in-law and Matt assembled some deer stands with Baxter’s help…

Baxter "helping"

I took advantage of the log splitter my FIL had brought with him and cleaned up some firewood that had been lying around.

Never mind that we still don’t have a working fireplace. Tree management is ongoing here.

Splitting wood

In the category of wishful thinking, let’s take a minute and talk about this fireplace, though, shall we?

1970s fireplace

I have always wanted a wood burning fireplace. When we moved to our little house in the city, the fireplace in my parents’ family room was one of the things I missed most. Redoing our fireplace has been on my list since we moved in. But it’s been delayed due to finances.

We discovered quickly that making the fireplace what I envisioned wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought. I wanted to pop out the insert so that we had a beautiful open hearth. And I wanted to reface the whole thing with fieldstone.

Unfortunately, the chimney won’t accommodate an open hearth. I don’t understand exactly what’s wrong with it, but it’s not entirely right, even for the insert that’s there.

Fixing the chimney means rebuilding the whole fireplace as though we were starting new. Great for getting exactly what I want. Not so great for the wallet.

Matt, my wonderful, accommodating, frugal husband, thinks that we will be able to scrape together enough money to do the fireplace this year. I’m a little more skeptical.

But let’s not let a little thing like the budget derail this post. Let’s talk about what needs to be done.

Fireplace fixes

The biggest question is the location of the fireplace. You’ll notice in the picture above that it’s off centre (look at the beam at the apex of the ceiling). This actually isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion. By centring the furniture arrangement on the fireplace, we have room to walk around the edge of the living room to the dining room. If we shift the fireplace so it’s centred, passage to the dining room will be a little tight.

What do you think? Should we centre the fireplace?

My plan for the new fireplace is roughly the same location, roughly the same dimensions. The biggest change will be to make the fireplace itself symmetrical. One continuous wide hearth across the bottom. No weird bump out on the left side. A rustic wood mantel (I have some great old beams in the barn) at one continuous depth. Fieldstone face. Open hearth.

I know the insert is more efficient and is a great way to heat the house. However, we are not going to heat this house with wood. Our geothermal system works really well and costs us very little. This fireplace is more about ambiance and appearance than function.

What would you do with the fireplace if it was yours? Are you a fan of the ’70s asymmetry? What would you face it with? Brick? Tile? Stone? Plaster? Would you keep the insert? Or would you get rid of the fireplace altogether? What’s your opinion on centring the fireplace versus leaving it where it is?

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12 thoughts on “Dreaming in front of a crackling fire

  1. Funnily enough I do like the asymmetry, both of the fireplace itself, and the location. When I looked at the picture, I didn’t see a weird bump-out, but rather an elegant shape. Is it the 70’s? I’m not usually a 70’s child, but maybe I am in some things! I like your plans for it though, it will be lovely. I wouldn’t center it on the wall, especially if that would impede the flow of the traffic path. I think the fieldstone will be gorgeous! It will be a high-octane reno, that’s for sure.

  2. What a coincidence. We just tore out and sold our insert. We are replacing our wood burning fireplace place with a gas burning and resurfacing the red brick with stacked fieldstone. Great minds……

  3. I have wanted a functioning fireplace forever! The house I grew up in had a really neat fireplace but the chimney was poorly designed and my parents were advised against actually using it. Steve had been made aware, repeatedly, that our next home will have a fireplace! 😉

    At first glance I think your current fireplace/hearth is beautiful, but I am really really a fan of symmetry. If I was going to be changing it anyway, I would go with a symmetric design.

  4. Cole and I vote that you should centre it. I like things to be symmetrical and then I think any future changes to the house, room, furniture etc. will be easier if the fireplace is centred.

  5. When a room has vaulted ceilings like that, I generally like a fireplace to be centered, but the only ones I have seen that aren’t are either (1) corner fireplaces or (2) ones that are like that but just completely on one side of the center…this one isn’t EXACTLY centered but it’s close – and I think for this one the placement works just fine.

    I love fireplaces and your plan sounds great! Practical or not, once I buy a house, having a fireplace pretty much exactly as you describe will be pretty high on my priority list.

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