Excerpts From Our House

When you buy an old house you naturally assume you’ll get a fireplace. Not in our case. Oh, we did have a wood mantle with a brick surround and bookshelves on both sides but it was all for a plug-in log set! Yes, a plug-in log set. Somehow my husband and I neglected to notice this on our two visits to the house. Then, before we knew it, we got involved in a bidding war for the place and didn’t check it until after we moved in.

The surprise of no fireplace was the least of our worries. We discovered we had bought a turn of the century house in dire need of help- faulty electrical, plumbing and structural issues had to come first. Sixteen months later, we addressed the living room’s design and the lack of a fireplace.

The original position for the fireplace facade (above) was too close to the front door. We debated what to do and finally chose to relocate it in a corner on the opposite wall of the room. At that point we were set on a real working fireplace. But the floor joists wouldn’t support the weight of fieldstone and wood mantle I had designed along with the fact that all our electrical connections were just below that corner in the basement. Not to mention the price tag for it all! Plan A was out.

Enter Plan B. Use a gas fireplace with a tile surround.

I still wanted to add some history to the house and tried to find an antique mantle. For some reason or another- size, price, design, kept me from purchasing one.

So, I had a friend build a simple Craftsman style mantle in oak stained two different tones (dark on the vertical pieces and light on the shelf) which complemented the nearby stair newel post.

We ordered custom colored tile from a company in Oregon.

The Woodblock Series by Illahe Tileworks depict the four seasons of gardening.

Related Nibs post-

Excerpts From  Our House #7

4 thoughts on “Excerpts From Our House

  1. What a beautiful solution to the problem. Were you able to keep the stained glass windows on either side of the original facade?

    1. Lara- Oh, absolutely! I was crazy about those two stained glass windows and determined to use them somewhere else in the house. At first I thought I’d place them in the master bedroom but at the last minute opted out and installed them in the dining room instead.

  2. I love seeing how you solved this problem, partly because your new fireplace is actually more lovely than what you started with and probably more appropriate to the style of your house. The tile and wallpaper pairing is stunning. We changed our fireplace to gas and I have to say it is the smartest thing we did; we use it so much more and I don’t have to wait for Mark to build a fire. It’s really great now as the season changes and you want just a bit of a warm-up in the morning.

    1. Linda- This was a tough call. The ‘romantic’ in me wanted a real wood burning fireplace…the crackle of the fire and the smell. Somehow the gas fireplace can’t come close to that. But I know what you mean as far as convenience…with a flick of a switch you have a fire. And when we experienced a big storm in March that left us without heat/electricity for a week we were so thankful having the gas fireplace.

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