Tuesday, March 2, 2010

To Build a Fire


We live in a home with an electric heat pump. Those of you whom have them know what I'm talking about when I say that we are never warm in the winter. Never mind that we keep the thermostat set at 62 F. We decided to install a ventless propane log fireplace, not only to supplement the heat pump, but to give us heat in the event of a power outage. On February 5th, the corner of our dining room was empty.



And then the framing started. We're big do-it-yourself-ers here. You learn by doing, and believe me, we've learned. Sometimes that means doing things more than once, but it's all a part of the process.


Not only do we benefit from these projects, but our children do, too. I'm thankful that Verne and I both had parents that did the same. I learned an immense amount just from having to stand at the ready to hand my dad tools or hold a flashlight.

Some of the children enjoy these projects more than others. Collin is ready to help as soon as he hears about the project. He's a great help, really. He and I figured out how many rocks we would need to face the fireplace, and we were right on. This is such a great way to demonstrate the practical aspect of math! Autumn is a huge help, too, and doesn't mind getting her hands dirty.


Framing took one weekend. When your walls aren't perfectly square it creates problems.



The next weekend after all of the framing was up, Verne installed metal lath, and then placed a scratch coat of cement over that. I didn't get pictures that night. I was tired, and went to bed while he stayed up all night to finish.



You might remember that I woke up to this.



Truth be told, I thought it was beautiful, and hated to cover it up.


Verne rested most of the day since the scratch coat had to dry for 24 hours, and then we started again the next evening. Time to hang the rocks! We had never done anything like this before, but did tons of research before we started. We were amazed when the stone actually stuck to the wall.



This turned into an all night party. Verne, Collin, Autumn, and I laid out the patterns of rocks, and took turns buttering and placing them on the wall. It was fun! We sang, we danced, we snacked, and got entirely goofy.


We couldn't believe how pretty it looked, and that we had actually done this ourselves. Abigail was a big help, too. We finished around noon, having been up all night. There was cement dust everywhere. She, single-handedly, cleaned up, while the rest of us went to bed. I was so thankful to wake up five hours later to a perfectly clean house, with the table set prettily for supper. Never underestimate the power of a young person! Oh, how we praised her, and she beamed!

Next, came the grout. Who knew that it would be so much like cake decorating? Turns out I was very good at this, and so I ended up being the one to complete the job. I wasn't strong enough to squeeze a contractor's grout bag, so I ended up using disposable Wilton cake decorating bags, and they worked beautifully. While I'm happy with the way it turned out, it was a job I didn't enjoy. We tinted the grout, and I think I was allergic to the dye. My hands felt like they were on fire even though I wore gloves. I'm glad that's done!

Verne and I had visited a local Mennonite man about making a mantel. We told him exactly what we wanted, and he explained that he was very busy and probably wouldn't get to it for about 8 weeks. He thought the mantel would be $300. I was shocked, and encouraged Verne to try building it himself. I knew he could do it, and I knew that he wouldn't take 8 weeks.

We bought the lumber last weekend, and Verne got all of the pieces cut. He fastened them together and sanded everything smooth. Over the weekend, he primed and painted everything. Total cost? $110.



And last night, he hung it up.



Start to finish, we did it all. (Tonight he gets to put the baseboard back on!)



24 comments:

Terri said...

Oh my word!!! That is gorgeous, Tracy. You all did an AWESOME job!

Lindy said...

Wow! Tracy, that is amazing and it looks terrific!

Mrs.Rabe said...

It is beautiful! The stone looks great and so does that mantle!

That is a special project you will all remember. Now you can stay warm!

Becky K. said...

I read what you said about heat pumps to Warren. I am always telling him how cold heat pumps are....he's still not buying it, but I feel vindicated. lol

That being said, your fireplace and mantel are awesome! I am so impressed that you did it all yourselves!

Becky K.

Danielle said...

Looks Amazing! My parents were always taking on projects like that too. I learned a lot! What I learned mostly was that you can learn to do almost anything! Enjoy your beautiful heat :-)

Bonnie said...

Wow! It is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful!! And how wonderful to have been able to do start to finish on you own!!! And be warmer too!! :-)tammyp

Anonymous said...

Tracy, The lack of saftey on the "construction site" concerns me. Your blog often inspires others and the example you have set lacks basic safety elements. There are bare/socks only feet in the area just waiting to step on a dropped nail. No safety glasses to keep eyes safe and I can't tell for sure but is the gentleman on the ladder using a phone while attempting to measure/mark/write something. Please set a better example for do it your selfers.

Rebecca said...

amazing job!!! You guys are awesome to get right in there and get your hands dirty ban, confident in learning as you go. It looks amazing.

Always wanted a fireplace....and a mantel.

gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Wow, it turned out so well! You and your family did a great DIY job!

Momma Roar said...

It looks awesome!!!

randi said...

This is awesome, tracy! My hubs does this stuff for a living and even he is impressed!

randi

Tan said...

It looks great! well done!
Tania

Nel said...

That is beautiful... wow!

until next time... nel

Amanda said...

What a fantastic job! Nothing looks cosier than a stone fireplace. Well done, all of you...

Beck said...

That looks gorgeous!
I remember living in a house with electric heat and even though it was TECHNICALLY warm enough, we were cold all the time. Even though we keep our thermostat set lower here, we're much warmer feeling. STrange, eh?

Full of Grace said...

Your fireplace is AWESOME :) The best part is your hubby (and you) did it yourselves! :)

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Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! I wish your family could come and build one for me. :) Enjoy!

Jodi said...

It's beautiful, Tracy, and my, how you are going to enjoy it! I also agree with you that it is a comfort knowing that you have backup heating in case of a power outage. Kudos to Vern and crew! :o)

Tully Family said...

WOW- very, very impressive! When we buy a home, maybe you all could visit?

Vanessa Cole said...

I LOVE it! Now you all can curl up in front of the fire with a cup of tea or cocoa and stay warm! :-)

Vanessa

amulbunny said...

We have a fireplace that is gas or regular. We've found that burning logs warms up the house and the gas just doesn't put off enough heat. But then we live in Southern CA so it doesn't get that cold.

I am so happy to have a fireplace to warm the room up though when I am on the couch reading or watching TV.

Congratulations on your achievement.

~Karen~ said...

It looks so good! Isn't it great how much you can accomplish when everyone works together? Great job!

Kimberly said...

That looks awesome!! What a great addition to your home! Enjoy!