January 19, 2015

Remodeling the fireplace

One of the features we liked in the rock house was the fact that it had a fireplace. While the fireplace was okay, it didn't have the the rustic character we were looking for, nor did its current design act as the focal point we wanted in our living room. But, just like with the rest of the house, we used a little imagination and thought of what it could be (okay, a lot of imagination).

This is what the fireplace looked like when we first purchased the house. It had a brass frame, faux brick facing, and a wooden mantle that could easily be removed. The brick facing slightly covered some type of old venting or piping was used. We didn't hate the design, but eventually, we decided we'd prefer our fireplace to resemble the exterior of the house- which meant going with rock.
We removed the mantle and everything surrounding the fireplace by this point. We were still struggling at this point with what to do/what we were ABLE to do with the fireplace. You can see it is still closed up and we hadn't even had it checked to see if it worked. We just had hope. (Also, we hoped that the rumors of snakes living in the chimney weren't true either. But just in case, we left it closed until absolutely time to get to work.)
At first, we were thinking of leaving it as a fireplace and only making cosmetic changes. Then, Walter's cousin had suggested a wood burning insert. We called a mason, Walter brought up the idea of a wood burning insert, and the mason told us that was the way to go for efficient heating. He also mentioned it would probably be the cheapest way to go because there we didn't have a  damper. (Damper (n): a big piece of metal up in the fireplace that allows you to close the chimney off to the inside-- Walter Wahlstedt definition)

Efficient and cheaper-- Walter heard those key words. Thus, he set out on his research mission to find the best wood burning insert for us. He found some information online about Buck stoves, and went to the closest Buck stove dealer to check it out (WD Bryant in Corbin). They had a showroom in the back, but after talking to the salesman, he recommended a Lennox. Plus, they were having a sale until the end of November on the brand. They were durable, efficient, and a good price, so we went with it. (Note: It took us a few weeks to decide. We had to consider how much square footage could be heated, what size stove, and which size could fit in our current fireplace.)

Our Lennox C260 Country Collection fireplace insert. 
  We actually hired a different mason (hey, you gotta shop around) to install the rock and the wood burning insert. We didn't chance doing this ourselves. (We did learn through this once you go DIY, it is very hard to hand over the reigns of a project his big over to someone else-- even if they are way more experienced.)            

This was a fireplace in the showroom of WD Bryant that inspired our look.
We decided on a stacked rock design that was close to the color of our exterior. We also wanted a raised stone hearth instead of the flat, tile one we currently had. We purchased a keystone as well as a few accent pieces of rock to finish the design. The mason laid the rock right over the existing brick (since the "brick" was thin and flat it was fine) and then, laid 4" concrete block to push the bottom section of the fireplace out adding dimension. 
A complication arose, and we had to order on offset bracket so we could move the stove out and still connect the insert to the flex liner in the chimney. Waiting on this piece set our project back about a month. 
You can see the faux brick peaking out from behind the concrete here. Also, due to waiting on the offset bracket, our fireplace that should have been completed before Christmas wasn't able to be completed until this past week. So, this was the sad sight we looked at for about a month.

Once we received the piece, we green lighted the mason. While we were at work Monday, he came in and quickly went to work-- laying the remaining rock (Stonecraft Ledgestone Chardonnay-- WD Bryant) and set the insert in for a final fit. I was off the next day, so I was able to talk to him and remind him of the design we wanted (after all, it had been over a month since we'd talked) and ask him some questions about the insert. That was a blessing. I was able to remind him of the design I had wanted just above the insert, and he was able to address any safety concerns I had. Together, the three of us were very proud of the work. :)

The hearth wasn't as high as we'd like, but it was all that was able to work. We still like it. The keystone and accent rocks were put in to blend both the fireplace and the hearth together. 

That seems like enough work right? Well, you still have to break the insert in to make sure it's drafting properly and allowing it to go through the curing process. The paint has to cure to make sure it is used to its full potential. We had a problem with drafting at first due to the ash pit from the fireplace being completely open. That was solved by filling it in. Walter has already been building some fires trying to figure the insert out.

The only thing missing is the mantelpiece. We aren't going to use the old one (from the first picture), Our plan is to use a piece of old wood we found at Walter's dad's house and build one. I'll show you when it happens, don't worry.

For now, we have a rustic, rock fireplace that creates an anchor for our living room and HEAT so we can work even when the temperatures are freezing. I'm really looking forward to that...

Until next time! 

January 15, 2015

Celebrating snow and 30 weeks!

I've been off for three days now because it is wacky winter in SEKY again. We had frozen rain, frozen roads, frozen cars... you get the picture.  However, last year, I had only worked approximately 2 days. So, we're doing better this winter.

Fortunately, I had plenty to do on Tuesday concerning our wood burning stove insert and fireplace such as make sure everything was going according to plan and going to pick up more rock. It's still in the works, but getting closer and closer to being finished. Walter has been testing it out all evening. (I'll post pictures of it completed soon.

Unfortunately, I have a lot less energy now, so doing any errands requires at least a two hour nap to refuel.  But rather than just settle for a two hours, I've spent the last two DAYS refueling.

Yet, somehow, (like magic) when the snow started falling, I suddenly had energy to pack up my camera and go out to take some maternity pictures. (Well, I set up the tripod. Walter had to snap some pictures for me. Selfies with a DSLR camera are kind of difficult to take.) I had been wanting to take some maternity pictures this winter, and with the snow it seemed like a great opportunity. Oh-- and the picture session was short due to my limited knowledge of cute pregnancy poses. So I wasn't without my coat very long. (I know some of you were worried-- Mom and Mammaw!)

Sixteen weeks... yeah, I thought I was showing.
I guess I was, I've just forgotten what a
(semi) flat stomach looks like.

I'm finishing up 30 weeks now. Looking back at my first picture (16 weeks), I can only think, "Wow, I didn't know what big was!" Now, with ten weeks to go-- give or take a couple-- I'm realizing it's true meaning.

P.S. Some of  our photos were photobombed by our little doggie friend we've taken in (sometimes, he wonders away). Right now, however, he's always close by-- especially since we've made him a little dog house for the winter.

Now that's a belly! Enjoy the snow and stay warm!