oh the all-important hearth, what to do with you

The closing was supposed to be today but is apparently delayed. 
The title is coming out of an estate so they say that might be the reason.
But I think somebody just forgot to put it on the lawyer's calendar. 
Dern lawyers.
It really doesn't matter, except I can't do it tomorrow (doc appt.) and 
I'm anxious to get to work!

So here is the current state of the hearth at Violetcroft.
Poor neglected hearth.  

Although they did leave her complete with a Holy Bible, a gourd Santa, several books,
family photos, crocheted potholders, and a stapler.

The options seem to be:

a.  Unbrick her and try to work with her as an open fireplace.
Pros:  ambience, purity to period
Cons:  lack of heat

b.  Unbrick her and add a fireplace insert with a blower
Pros:  good heat by most accounts,
although one friend has one and says hers sucks on heat.
Cons:  serious uglification unless major bucks are spent, 
visible power cord from blower (even more ugly)
  quite expensive regardless

c.1  Unbrick her and add free-standing woodstove
Pros:  much more attractive, could get the soapstone I'm loving
Cons:  we lose space, need a hearth pad

c.2  Leave her bricked and add free-standing woodstove
Pros:  possibly simplest, could install ourselves?
Cons:  I think we would lose the most living room space 

I would totally welcome hearing other thoughts and experiences.

But.  I just saw the most amazing blackbird activity I've ever seen.
A mighty horde, swooping from the ground to the trees and back again
encircling this place.  I think it was a Starling dance
right here in our very own woods.  


  1. My mom took her fireplace and had it converted to a pellet stove. Not quite purist enough for me [I like real wood] but at least it's using up a by-product. It's also fairly easy to keep clean. How's the condition of the chimney? That's always a concern for me when I see old fireplaces.

    So excited for you and your big move!

    1. the chimney seems to be alright although i haven't had a professional look at it yet (and not sure if i need to?) i'm all about the DIY if possible!

  2. I would leave it bricked up but perhaps put some sort of "frame" around the inside brick to dress it up a bit. Clean the soot off the brick. Buy a hearth pad and set it in front of the fireplace and then buy that soapstone stove you want! We LOVE our soapstone stove and heat our house with it exclusively. You might be able to use the existing chimney for venting the wood stove, which would mean that you would need to unbrick it But with brick behind the stove, you wouldn't need the heat guard in the back.

    Here's a link to a place that sells the hearth pads - just to give you an idea: http://www.woodlanddirect.com/Wood-Stove-and-Accessories/Hearth-Pads?gclid=CKztscnOgbUCFYpFMgodDiMAFQ

    Sorry the closing is delayed. I hope you are able to close SOON so you can get started on fixing 'er up!!!

    1. thanks Brenda! how else would it vent but through the chimney? they have some great looking hearth pads! what kind of soapstone woodstove do you have, and how many sq ft are you heating? i love the look of them. the one we have here is cast iron and fabulous, but now i've fallen for the soapstone...

  3. we have a built-in woodstove that does a good job of heating the house.. forget the brand though.. Scandinavian something something. we also have a nice pile of slate left over from our floor that you are welcome to if you go the hearth pad route. free for the taking. xo

    1. i may take you up on the slate! thankies!! i wonder if your scandi something is Jotul, which is what we have at this house. they kick ass.

  4. We had a bricked up fireplace years ago that we had lined and added a Vermont Castings stove. A small one, but boy did it heat our little home. Here, we have 5 fireplaces, all but 1 bricked up, and the open one needing re-lined to use. It's a hard decision to decide what we want to do with them.

    1. five fireplaces! that would be a hard situation. at least you have one open and ready to plop a stove into when you can get it relined!! too bad these things are rather specialized and expensive...

  5. Oh Yay! I get to tell my opinion again!

    I grew up with a wood stove insert. We heated solely with it. It sucked sh**. Blew not so hot air. I think free standing wood stoves rock the house. Because a) there's somewhere in the house where you can get really warm and toasty for a minute. b) you can cook on it if the power goes out -Oh. that might not be relevant for you.

    You could put some tiles over the brick to integrate it.

    I will say that my Dad trashed the chimney over the years because it was not originally designed to handle the rigorous use we put it to. I dunno know how much you know about wood but DRY (cut and stacked and left for 1 year) is your best friend. Wet wood creates creosote that trashes chimblys.

    1. thank you! you are the 2nd person to tell me that an insert sucked, which is exactly the opposite of what the installer is telling me, so i'm really glad!!! i love the free-standing wood stove that we have here and may move it to the new house or else get another one... and i swear i'm going to cook once we no longer have a wolf in the kitchen. xo

  6. Unbrick it and put a stove in there. It'll be worth it in terms of looks and heat. Just remember to get a throat plate at the both of the chimney/top of the hearth, to stop cold air drifting down around the stove.

    1. Mr. X! Who knew that I'd see you if I blogged about wood? Thanks for coming by! And yes, good reminder about the plates necessary so as not to have cold air coming in...