Monday, November 19, 2012

Living Room Fireplace: Before & After

Most of the projects we have been working on around the house since we moved in have been "necessary" by some stretch of the imagination.  The carpet needed to be replaced, the work on the kitchen has improved the flow and usability of the space, and adding another bathroom upstairs will justify itself next week when Jady's family comes to town!  But every now and then you just *want* something, and you want it bad, even when it won't count in your "needs" list.  For me, this was a living room fireplace.  

Here's an old photo of the living room from when the house was on the market.  It's a lovely, simple square room with a big window to the front of the house and wide openings to the hall and the dining room.  Before we moved in, my mother mentioned once in an off-handed comment that it would be if there had been a fireplace in that room, but I thought, oh well.  You either have one or you don't.  Right?  

After researching this very question, I found out that you can actually build a fireplace from scratch to use with vent free gas logs (the type you use if your chimney is blocked or smokes)-- no bricks, pipes or chimney required.  Still, I assumed that this type of project would remain relegated to my wish list with so many practical projects still to be finished.  The thing is, I couldn't stop thinking about how wonderful it would be to have a fireplace in that spot in the living room.  I always feel that, especially for a formal living room, even just the existence of a fireplace even without the fire makes a room feel cozier, more intimate.  Visually it would help give the space a focal point, some order and symmetry.  And most of all, I started remembering our long, cold winters in Pennsylvania and how much we loved sitting by the fire then.

After weeks of trying to put the idea out of my mind, I was clearly losing the battle when I came home with this mantelpiece from Habitat for Humanity's store, "just in case!"  I told myself I would sell it again if we didn't go through with the fireplace construction.  

My parents, who could sense I was pining for a fireplace, surprised us with the announcement that they wanted to help with the project as a housewarming/Christmas present to the both of us.  How amazing is that?!  They are so thoughtful and generous, and without them we probably would have taken the sensible route and never had a fireplace to cozy up to.

First we had the simple wall framed out and drywalled to prepare for the fireplace surround to be installed.  Then we primed and painted the walls and installed the mantel, making sure to follow the safety specifications to keep from burning the place down.  

And here it is!! It's still definitely a work in progress, since we need to extend the mantel's legs to the floor with blocks and come up with some kind of hearth in the floor to complete the look.  But how amazing is it that we're sipping our coffee by the fire now??  It looks like it's always been there.  

Happy Monday!  Can you believe Thanksgiving is just three days away?  




  1. Truly amazing. I continue to feel like the laziest person on earth!

  2. What a fantastic turn around on that space. I can't believe how beautiful it turned out. Great idea L!!

  3. Liza, this is amazing!! You have a gift. Wish I could have visions of "what this room needs is a (fill in the blank)" like you! Hope you're doing well.

  4. very sweet blog and it content very useful information also so it is the right combination of information ....

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