As you might be able to tell from some of my previous posts, we just really don’t know what we’re going to do when it comes to the farmhouse. Renovate? Rebuild? Run away? Who can tell? We’re waiting to find out right along with you. But there are a few things we will make happen no matter what, no matter where, and I thought I’d share those with you in a new series to run through the winter called, appropriately, “Things We Do Know.”
A Wood Stove in a Fireplace Surround
Besides reading (and my family, I guess), cozying up to a warm fireplace is one of the greatest joys of my life. There is nothing that says comfort, relaxation and peacefulness better than a cheerful fire crackling away on a dreary winter evening.
That said, the traditional open, brick and mortar, wood-burning fireplace of my dreams is highly inefficient when it comes to actually making a room warm. Most of the heat goes up and out the chimney. They are also expensive. It could easily cost $10,000 or more to build one. We could install a gas fireplace for about half that, but it wouldn’t do us any good if the power went out, and in my opinion it just doesn’t have the same comfort, heat or ambiance as a real fire.
It was a no-brainer, then, for us to decide to go with a wood-burning stove. They are incredibly efficient at heating up rooms or even entire floors. They are relatively inexpensive, costing $2500-$5000 to purchase and install. They work when there’s no power. And best of all, we will save a ton of money once it’s up and running, since we have a pretty much unlimited source of free fuel.
My only problem with them is that they’re just not that pretty to look at. They don’t anchor a room; rather, they usually just fit awkwardly in the corner. There also has to be a good chunk of fire-proof material under and behind them too, which would negate the charming farmhouse flow I’m going for. I won’t lie. I was feeling a little disappointed with what to me is the most important feature of our new house.
Enter that most British of ideas: The Wood Stove in the Fireplace!
It’s the best of both worlds, good heat and an attractive focal point for the room, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find it MORE charming and cozy than a plain old fireplace. I can already picture my winters spent curled up in an armchair next to it, pretending to be in some old country manor in bonny old England (obviously!).
Now, what we want our fireplace to look like is another matter entirely. I’ve always been drawn to white mantels, but at the same time I find myself in love with having a natural wood component as well. I also like the recent trend of adding ship lap above the mantel to the ceiling. I love the classic style of brick, but in its natural state it’s just a little too red for me. I think I’d prefer whitewashed brick.
So there you have it. I do know this at least: That we will have a wood-burning stove, that it will be in a fireplace surround, that there will be whitewashed brick and white painted wood, and a natural wood mantel, and maybe some re-purposed original 1895 ship lap. And that one day any worry and anxiety I have about the farmhouse will be over and done with, one way or another, and you will find me there by my fireplace in my favorite chair with a good book, warm and cozy.