Today, we’re tackling more decisions for the new house – how to finish the fireplace.
Here’s what it’s looking like right now – after installation and framing. The ductwork was running up the side so we framed the other side as well to make it look symmetrical.
One of my favorite details? This little cubby on the dining room side.
Instead of closing it off, my dad suggested making it into a little shelving area. This is the only wall space we’ll have in the dining area, so I can use it for a pseudo-hutch. Plus, it’s the perfect spot for my Roomba to live in peace and harmony.
It’s amazing how many different ways we could finish the fireplace surround. Amazing, as in – KILL ME NOW. Because I love so many different finishes and it’s impossible to narrow down and decide.
What we know:
We chose a unit with a wood burning with rounded top
The fireplace is a wood burning version we purchased locally and had installed. (Locals: We used Fireplaces Plus and highly recommend them.) It’s an RSF Energy Pearl wood burning fireplace and it has an integrated blower. My favorite part of this fireplace over other versions is that the blower is integrated into the design. Many wood burning fireplaces require a separate blower installed above the insert. It’s just a preference but I don’t like that look.
I’m actually counting the fireplace as a compromise between Ryan and I because he liked the rounded top and I didn’t really love it. But I also didn’t care or love any other options more. (Okay. That’s not really a compromise, but stick with me. I need to count every tiny compromise because I’m pretty sure Ryan believes he does all the compromising. Which may or may not be true.)
The wood burning was a non-negotiable from Ryan. We had and used a wood burning fireplace in our last house so we know what it takes and means. But there’s something special about a fire in a wood burning fireplace so we went with it.
We installed a chair-height hearth
Having a raised hearth seems to be out-of-the-ordinary in homes today, but both Ryan and I deemed it necessary.
I like that you don’t have to bend over to add wood to the fire and you can sit on the hearth to warm up with a hot mug of cocoa. Or, let’s be real. Wine.
Also, future photo opps for Henry and space for pretty little holiday vignettes.
We are adding storage below.
A big bonus of the raised hearth is that the area below can turn into storage for logs and other fire-stuffs. That is a huge bonus for me because our last fireplace always felt cluttered and dirty from all the wood and tools and paper that were needed.
This fireplace via BH&G a gist of the idea of storage – it’s the perfect way to eek out some extra storage space for wood and not have it all over the ground around the fireplace.
It seems like a natural way to get the most out of the space. And I like the idea of having a few “cubbies” to separate wood from paper or matches, like this storage inspiration from Hearth.
Finally, this fireplace from Portola Valley Builders has drawers below the fireplace. This is brilliant, right? It looks really sleek and modern.
And that’s pretty much all we know. Now it’s deciding about the finishing details.
I’ve been all over the place with what I want. But it’s time to start narrowing it down and you are here to help. (What, you didn’t sign up for that? You are hilarious. Moving on.)
Here’s my original toddler sketch to show Ryan what I was thinking: There will be three “cubbies” below – the middle for wood and the sides can each hold a basket or bin for extra stuff.
Originally, I was considering stone for around the fireplace, paired with a barn wood mantel and stone hearth. It feels like it could fit in a rustic farmhouse and would have a classic look forever.
I’m especially inspired by the fireplace in my in-laws’ basement.
But, I don’t know? Is it too “lodge-y?” Is that a thing? There won’t be stone anywhere else in the house.
So then I started thinking about planks.
I love planks. Not like, legit planks. That you’d do to get in shape.
No. Just hand me a cookie and plank a wall or around a fireplace.
Planked fireplace via Design Sponge
Barnwood surround via Kristi Murphy
But, due to the fact that our fireplace is wood-burning, we can’t surround the fireplace with wood. Because. Um. Fire. Even the barn wood mantel would have to be really obscenely high above the fireplace.
And then, Lori from Redo Home & Design blew my mind. She wrote a post about planking (or ship lap) around heat sources using cement board siding. This is the same stuff you’d use on your exterior (Hardie Plank) and can be painted.
Cement board fireplace surround via Redo Your House
It’s waterproof, washable and non-combustable. (Sarah of Thrifty Decor Chick also just posted about this same solution for a kitchen backsplash and she makes me want to plank the walls in there, too.)
As an aside, I’m also looking for a mantel solution since I don’t think a legit barn beam will work in the space because of the heat and space requirements.
I’m looking at Magra Hearth Mantels – it’s the look of a wood beam made from non-combustible materials. They look exactly like wood, but you can avoid the space restrictions with wood.
Finally, I have to consider what material the seat of the fireplace hearth will be.
Originally, I thought a huge limestone slab. But apparently I would actually have to sell myself on street corners to be able to afford this. I’m not totally against this, but who really has the time?
Also, stone is a pretty porous material and I’m concerned about it turning black with soot and ash from fires.
So, I was alerted to the option of concrete, which I love. Maybe we could do it ourselves? It would be smooth, simple and clean. It’s noncombustible. It’s pretty cheap.
Sigh. Do you see how every decision suddenly becomes a problem worthy of full binders and spreadsheets and back room deals?
What would you choose?
I feel the need to add a disclaimer that I really do care what you think, but may not listen to your advice. Ask Ryan. He knows. But please tell me anyhow. I want all the information so I can ignore it. Love. You.
Did you like this post?
We'd love to send you more inspiration and encouragement for your home. When you sign up below, we'll send you our free guide to save thousands on your next home project. Because your home shouldn't own you.