It was the second week of December 2010. We just came home from a fabulous week long vacation in Mexico where we were beyond spoiled…
…only to realize we had t-minus three weeks to re-do two fireplaces, build a display box and a TV wall box before the big 4-0 birthday bash at the house. We knew it would be close, but we had the in-laws here to help! Here’s the before shots (sorry these aren’t better – didn’t think I’d have a blog):
Brick fireplace with pellet stove:
The built-in shelves (Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. There is a sliding glass door in the middle of our house.):
Of course, months before taking on this project I researched like crazy and then came up with this sketch.
No more daydreaming about the warm beachy weather and five star meals, we’ve got work to do! First, came the demo.
Pellet stove out
Next up was the demo of the bricks. First, we enclosed the fireplace in plastic drop cloths taped to the ceiling, walls, and floor so we could contain some of the brick dust. We also protected the hardwood floor just in case bricks fell. With masks on, the hubby and his dad went in. Not knowing if they’d make it out of the dust cloud we hoped for the best. After a good few hours of pneumatic hammering and diamond blade circular sawing, at last, success! (Sorry, no pictures of this stage.)
With the bricks removed down to the level of the hearth we had to close up the exposed framing and back side of the exterior wall. Since the house was built in ’54 there wasn’t any insulation in the wall so that was our first job. Once the insulation was in, we closed up the wall, and used Liquid Nail to secure wonderboard on the brick face to accept tile.
Then, the frame for the storage seating was built. Mind you, I give the hubby my sketch with some basic measurements like how tall it should be and then he and his dad figure out the rest. We’re a great team that way! I design and they do the math and build. The real reason the hubby does all this is for the new tools!
The back and rails and stiles were put on next.
The mantle went in next and that was a huge job! We picked up an old beam from my favorite re-use store for $20. It was sanded, beat up, sanded some more, and several coats of polyurethane later, it was ready. Five holes were drilled in the back and rebar was epoxied in. The hubby drilled level holes in the brick utilizing a template he created from matching up the holes in the mantle. He then placed epoxy in the brick holes, and it was time to fit the rebar in. That was a chore! After much pushing, shoving, and pounding the mantle was in. Supports were placed under the mantle for 24 hours to be sure it stayed level while the epoxy was hardening. On a side note, I researched code for the proper mantle height/distance from the fire box, and also researched whether a wax or polyurethane finish was better for a wood mantle taking heat from the fire. There were many opinions, but in the end, it appeared a poly finish would be better.
As you can see in the above image, we built the seating to rise up to the level of the brick hearth. It was important to do so because the new hearth and seat cushions were the same height as well. This made for easy math for the worker-bees.
In the next image you’ll see a concrete hearth (I absolutely love) that we made using the Buddy Rhodes system. We lucked out with the fact that the brick was level so all we had to do was carry in the concrete beast from the garage to the kitchen and lie it in place. Prior to bringing in the hearth, the inside of the fire box was painted with a high-heat white spray paint (found at any home improvement store), and we also tiled the face with a (discontinued) mother of pearl I got a screaming deal on from this place! We didn’t feel comfortable plumbing the gas line, so we hired our usual guy to do it for us.
The wood seating was primed and painted with no VOC white paint. On the left hand side of the fireplace, I spray glued a 1/8″ padded fabric so the new cushions wouldn’t snag on the old brick hearth. On the right hand side, I spray glued ‘grip’ shelf liners to the top of the storage lids so the cushion wouldn’t slip around. On the right hand side you can also see the on/off valve for the gas. It’s handily covered by the seat cushion so you don’t see a giant silver circle staring at you. We filled the bottom of the fire box with a small, almost crushed, lava rock and then Starfire fire glass atop.
The last project for the seating was to make the cushions. We took exact measurements, picked the foam density and had Bob’s cut our foam. The seating and circle pillow fabric is from Calico Corners. The floral pillow and valance fabric is from Jo-Ann’s. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, was sicker than a dog and sewing away up until the day before the party. She was a trooper and got two large cushions and seven pillows with contrast welting done. I hopped in at the end and did the valance.
These finished pictures were taken without the mantle decorating complete, but you’ll forgive me, right? Tomorrow I’ll show you how I made the mirror for $5!
This project really was a team effort! If this sounds like too much work in three weeks time (with Christmas and New Year’s in-between), keep in mind we also did the living room fireplace and two wall boxes at the same time just for a challenge. Ha!
The total cost for this project was $1040. Here’s the breakdown (tools and various supplies included):
Mother of pearl tile $75
Wood for the seats $30 (we had some wood left over from another project)
Grey paint for the wall $20 (we had the primer and white paint for the seating left over from another project)
Wall texture (to blend the old wall with the new wall) $5
Padding and grip liner for under the cushions $12 (I had spray glue on hand)
Jo-Ann fabrics $25
Calico fabrics $175
Pillow Forms $40
Seating foam $225
Gas line parts and labor $225
Lava rock and Starfire fire glass $60
High-heat spray paint $3
See you tomorrow for the DIY mirror project!