The Heat is Not On

Long time no update, mostly because nothing much has changed. The leaky chimneys and resulting drywall damage have been repaired, so I am back to status quo ante bellum.

Now that our lovely summer weather is winding down I can turn my thoughts back to house projects. My neighbour in the Sixth Apostle is tackling some interesting projects himself and every time he invites me over to take a look, I am inspired all over again. His place has a lot of exposed, unpainted brick and he has a nice urban loft look going. The living room is spare and modern with well proportioned furniture. I admit that I am filled with envy. Here is a shot of his living room fireplace:

Living room fireplace at the Sixth Apostle

My living room is still coated in primer and contains unpacked boxes, mismatched furniture and unhung pictures. It is driving me crazy, but clearly not enough to do anything about it. I have been fixated on how to maximize storage space while simultaneously paring down my possessions. My main concern is the living room where I currently have a couple bookcases arranged on either side of the chimney.

My living room “fireplace”. Notice the mantel. What mantel? Exactly.

Instead, I would like some sort of built-in storage cabinet on the floor and open shelves above with room for my currently non-existent TV. In a room this small, I think the TV should be modestly sized and inconspicuous, so a 50-incher on the mantel is out of the question. I also would prefer to avoid custom cabinets that are made for a certain size TV, we have all seen how that works out five years down the line. I like this:

This is a good solution to the TV problem.

Or this:

I think a low horizontal cabinet like this will make the narrow, tall living room feel wider.

The chimney breast is sort of weird because there is no actual firebox just a small clean-out door. Given that the slate mantel was smashed off many years ago, it is not very visually interesting.

The alleged fireplace.

I have thought about rebuilding the mantel and visited a stone supply shop recently and discovered that it is not so much of a big expensive deal as I thought it might be. They told me that it is unlikely the mantel is local slate; there were no slate quarries in the area until about 30 years ago and most slate prior to that was imported from Vermont. The supplier can provide whatever I want in slate or very similar looking black granite, cut and polished. So that’s great news. Now I just have to decide what I want.

I was thinking about building out the chimney and incorporating some sort of heat source for quick warm-ups and some sexy sexy ambiance. You know what I am talking about – the three Bs of fireside seduction: bearskin, brandy and backgammon. At least that is what I learned from watching Dynasty in the 80s.

Bearskin rug not included.

Some of the apostles have little woodstoves installed and that is a nice idea but not very practical due to the clearance required, the poor condition of my chimney and the pain-in-the-ass factor.  It’s too bad, because I discovered this adorable little marine stove called The Sardine, formerly made nearby in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, now made in Washington State. A wood burning stove on a sailboat sounds like an all around Bad Idea, but it must have been the only option at one time.

The Sardine’s big brother The Little Cod installed in a cabin.

So then I thought about installing an electric fireplace. Yes, I said electric, as in fakey-fake flickering flames. I hate to admit it, but it makes sense and is not quite so appalling when you consider that the house is heated electrically already.  They make some decent looking fireboxes and until someone can shake some sense into me I haven’t discarded the idea entirely yet. I would also like to raise the hearth in order to incorporate some sort of storage bench into it so I can eliminate chair seating to save space.  The closest thing I can find to this idea is something like this:

All these ideas in one package, except for the mantel.

If you’ve followed my disjointed screed this far, it may be obvious that I am all over the place with this and no closer to making up my mind. Wikipedia describes the problem as analysis paralysis but does not offer any solutions. Maybe I need to do more research?

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