Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On Fire With Choices

Today, after chatting about the day's work with our GC, he mentioned that we need to decide whether we want a gas or electric fireplace by tomorrow morning. I (Jen) was taken by surprise, because I didn't know we had to make that decision already. I have a general idea of what I want, but it's one of those times when I don't know what I don't know. It's hard for me to make a final decision before I've had time to really think about it and consider my options. I learn by seeing and experiencing, so when making decision about our home, I need to visit a store, look at the product choices, ask questions, think on it, sleep on it, ask more questions, make a decision, sleep on it, then feel good about my choice. This is definitely the hardest part of building a house with a brain injury. I don't make quick decisions!

So, our choice is that, while we are learning toward electric, we'l have a hole cut for the the gas line tomorrow morning to buy us a little more time. If we do end up getting the electric, we'll re-seal the hole. Not the best way to go, but the only one we can make tonight.

This leads to tonight's entertainment. Niels and I are scouring the internet, our inspiration images and polling our Facebook friends as we decide what to do. I should point out that we currently have a wood burning fireplace. It's messy and a bit dangerous, especially with a toddler around, so that was definitely out. So, thoughts on gas v. electric.

One of the many, many reasons I love Niels is that when my brain stalls, he can help break down decisions into smaller mini-decisions. As we talked it through, we realized that first I needed to be able to articulate what we wanted the fireplace to look like, then we could decide if gas or electric would best meet our needs. To figure out what I want, it helps me to collect pictures that catch my eye, without thinking too much about what I like. Just collect pictures. Then, after I have quite a few, look for patterns. When I see what I keep coming back to, I can better articulate what I want. All during this process, of course, Niels is giving his own input, and researching the eco-friendiness of each option.

Here's what we have so far:

Early on, this fireplace caught my eye. I love the long box. It's a beautiful focal point for a room. However, I did not like the price tag of this option!
I really like the glass on this fireplace, with the seating all around.
Close up of the glass. They go with gas, which Niels is pushing against, and these rocks run about $40 for a ten pound page, and you need about $60 pounds. That's more than I want to spend.

The next one to catch our eye was this one, from a shop in Grand Rapids. We like the traditional mantle  (for a family photo) and the tile surround. We didn't realize that transitional/modern fireplaces often don't have a hearth, so we especially like the curve of this one.
So now I was on a mission to find modern/transitional fireplaces with hearths. I really didn't want to give up the seating for entertaining and I'm rather sentimental about Christmas family photos in front of the fireplace.
Another wide insert, and no fake logs.
I love the curve of this one, which doesn't work with our layout.
This cement hearth is kid of fun, and gave us the idea of  extending the hearth all along the  wall to serve as window benches under the two windows bookcasing our fireplace.
Same idea, with the hearth extended on one side.
We love the statement look of the tile up the wall, but guessing that will be more than we want to spend, too. But the mantle and narrow surround is pretty modern.
A more traditional option, which Niels nixed.
I like the look of this, but I don't think we can get inset into the wall anymore.
Another more modern hearth and surround.

This one is the closest to our actual layout, with the fireplace in the middle of the room, and windows on either side. Our  great room is 14' with four windows total. We like the surround but not sold on the floating vanity.

I like this substantial hearth.
A fun take on the hearth. I like the rocks, too.

A bench-like hearth could work, too.

As this process went on, I realized that I really don't care for the fake log look. Who are we fooling anyway? I started to also realize that I like the look of wall mounted fireplace inserts, but I still like the overall look with the mantle. No wonder I'm having trouble.

Here are a few inserts and wall mounted fireplaces that caught my eye:
Soho Wall Mount Ethanol Fireplace
Dimplex Sahara Sand Wall Mounted Electric Fireplace. I think this is my current favorite. I really like the sand.
Devco Chelsea
I see that the fine folks at HGTV had the same idea. I found these instructions for a very, very simplified version of what I have in mind.

I think our carpenter is either going to love us or hate us!

These are probably closer to what we envision, if we can find someone to do it...
Substantial, but simple.

With windows on either side, like we will have.
Extended hearth idea, but we want a mantle too. Not sure about the floating hearth.
Another take on the extended hearth, with subtle mantle.
And another extended hearth.
Scaled down version.

Funky lines.

Textured cement.
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