Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Make my life like an open fireplace.

 "I say to myself that I shall try to make my life like an open fireplace, so that people may be warmed and cheered by it and so go out themselves to warm and cheer."

George Matthew Adams

A while back I mentioned the gas fireplace that had been cemented shut by some previous owner. Well, a little bit of muscle and I found it could be worked loose and opened again. But even a good servicing couldn't help it. It was 20 years old and not safe to operate anymore, turning itself on and off at a whim and setting the newly supplied batteries to smoking. I wanted to replace the 80's tile and hearth anyway, and had acquired some reproduction antique tile for a new surround. Time for demolition!

Tearing off the ugly new mantel was easy...not sure what I will do with it but it is hanging out on my front porch now. Taking off the tile? A little poking and prying and it looked like it would be happy to come off all in one piece, but what was behind it looked a little scary....

So, I decided to get some help. If there was going to be a big huge ugly hole in my wall, I didn't want to have to deal with it alone.

Enter Martin Kujawa Construction.  Martin is a fascinating character who has been in the construction business for quite some time, and his reassuring demeanor and evident love for old houses won me over. Say hi to Martin! Looks like a bit of a rogue, doesn't he? Good guy though. The kind you'd want to sit around a fire and trade stories with.

Martin sent his awesome team over to rip out the ugly tile and hearth, and the old gas fireplace, to see what we would find. Maybe a look back in history to what had been there originally? We were kind of hoping the old fireplace was mostly intact.

I know it looks a bit of a mess here but - the hundred twenty year old fireplace was still there, but would need a good bit of repair. The question remained - in this day and age in Denver, with air quality as poor as it is, and regulations being what they are - did it make more sense to just reinstall a new gas fireplace, or should we try to take it back to a wood burning phase. 

My environmental conscience and innate practical nature got the best of me and I decided, based on the rather small space that was revealed, to not try for a wood burning function, but instead to replace the gas fireplace with a newer model that would LOOK like an antique coal stove. It would be pretty, and manageable for me as the years march by.

It should be installed sometime before Christmas, I hope. I'll keep you guessing until then what it will look like. Martin and crew have agreed to come back to put up the tile and also the antique mantel I found on Craigslist. It was pulled out of an old house so they could have something more modern. Sad for them, happy for me.

Here's a picture of it not yet installed... 

But you get the idea. Can't wait to finish this project and see the end result...
Oh - if you need a good general contractor reach out to Martin. He's proving to be honest and reliable and good at what he does. That's not so easy to find anymore.

And I found this very cool site for reproduction tile here:

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