February 4, 2015

Recovering Our Fireplace


Back in June I shared about uncovering our hidden fireplace.  We take our time on a lot of projects.  It saves our marriage, stretches out our project budget, and really life just happens.  It can be a pain to live in the mess but if we were not willing to live in it, we would never get these projects done.  This is where we left off:


So six months later, 4:00 pm Christmas Eve, we finished.  This has been the process...

We started out by purchasing the brick.  Please take note of the wheels on our jeep.  Those bricks were mighty heavy.  Let's just say we drove home very slowly.


After months of styling an unfinished fireplace we finally had brick.  It just took us about another month before we actually did anything with that brick!


Around Thanksgiving time we finally started laying down the brick.  Before committing, we put down a trial run to get an idea of what we wanted.


Like a jigsaw puzzle, we had to get all the pieces right which required some cutting and strategic placement.


Once we were ready to commit, we finished taking down the existing brick that was going to be replaced.


This gave us a better idea of where we wanted to place things.


Then we cleaned everything up preparing the fireplace for the new brick.


I don't remember what Brent was un-dusting here.  But that cloud of dirt was pretty much what our entire house was filled with all December.


Once clean, we got down to laying brick.


And lots and lots of cement.


Oh what fun it is to be in the middle of a project during the holidays!


I literally was decorating while we worked.


The first two layers of brick for the hearth were our trial runs.  The only important pieces were what you could see from the front.  It gave us a chance to decide how we wanted the top row to appear from above.


Just for fun, we left our mark on one of the bottom bricks to forever be remembered.


Here our first two rows are finished.  We wanted a hearth that was tall enough to comfortably sit on but was as short as possible.  We found three rows, with the first row being half way below floor level, to work best.


With each level of brick we tried things out to make sure it was coming together as we wanted. 


 And we even tried our very first teeny tiny fire just to see if the chimney was working properly.


Our final line up of the top of the hearth.


And then we finished.  A small celebration of the reality that the fireplace was finally coming together!


By now we were about a few days before our annual Christmas party.  


We worked into the evenings getting as much done as we could.


 The yellow fire bricks started getting installed creating the foundation for the rest of the fireplace.


Our porch in the backyard served as a working place.  Our entire patio was filled with red dust from all the cutting of brick!


And this was literally hours before our holiday dessert party


By the time guests arrived we had about half of the fireplace finished which was just enough to throw up the mantel for temporary decor.  A friend of mine was getting her fireplace mantel replaced due to water damage so she had the top of her old one left in great condition.  The night before our Christmas party she offered to give us the old one!  What a gift and blessing to have such a beautiful FREE mantel!  One less thing we had to try to cram in before our party!  Thank you Deb!!!


The weeks following we finished putting in the fire bricks.


Slowly but surely another layer of brick got put in.


Brent built this metal piece that would help support laying the brick in the center.


The first layer got glued on.


Then we filled in the rest with cement.


In order to support the top layers of brick, we reinforced the foundation with some wood and a screen and built up from there.  (Please excuse my very non-technical terms here!)  


Getting closer and closer to being finished Brent had to climb into the fireplace to finish the inside brick.


Brent and his dad then swept the chimney.


As I watched all the black ash fall through.


He then swept it from the inside.  It was like taking a giant bottle brush to the chimney.


Of course this resulted in a very messy husband.


We started singing Chim-Chim Cher-ee from Mary Poppins.  My little chimney sweeper. 


With a final sweep, we were finally finished!  Literally at 4:00 pm on Christmas Eve.  Best Christmas present ever.


Since the house had been remodeled with a garage conversion, the ash box was not located on the outside of the house.  It was hidden behind a closet that was installed in our laundry room.  Out of fear of not wanting to catch our house on fire we pulled out the closet to find the back of the fireplace.  We have hopes of building a garage one day which would free up our laundry room for a future office/craft space.  Let's just say I have already dreamed of incorporating this exposed brick wall in my decor.


It was a long road to get to finishing our fireplace.  But all the time and hard word has most definitely paid off.  Though this was not the hardest project, it was definitely very time consuming and monotonous.  It literally felt like it was never going to end.  My poor husband put in a ton of hours to get it perfect and I am so grateful for it.  

So since this has been the longest post of pictures ever (anyone still reading???) I will come back tomorrow to show you the finished fireplace all styled up and free of dirt!  

Such a tease. 


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