Follow along as we document the removal of an ugly mantel, small gas fireplace and installation of a beautiful Esse Ironheart woodstove in our own home.
When we moved to Anchorage we spent a long time looking for a great house for our family, and while there were many 'interesting' choices, very few met all of our criteria. Anchorage has a faily homogenous housing stock that is easily dated to various time periods of construction- trends seem to proliferate for a decade or so then the market switches gears to the next big thing. Having moved to Alaska from areas with 250 year old farmhouses, we had to reset our expectations both from a personal standpoint (like any other client) and an architectural standpoint (much harder for a design professional to do). In the end we selected a fairly new home, on a nice quiet street, a heavily wooded lot and a fairly typical floorplan (at least for Anchorage). Finishes, are, as expected of average quality, and some design decisions are, well questionable.
The 'H Mantel'
The 'H-Mantel.' Great for teaching our young children about the alphabet, hard to reconcile with the thought process behind it's design and implementation. In the course of replacing carpeting in our living room, we decided it's time was nigh. Good riddance.
While removing the existing mantel, we decided that the existing gas fireplace, while convenient, lacked any sort of charm and decidedly missed the point of an Alaska experience. While we had originally planned to utilize the Esse Ironheart in an addition to our home, we were not immune to it's siren call as it sat waiting in the garage; it was time to install and enjoy. The Esse Ironheart is not only a beautiful woodstove, it also has a bake oven and cooktop surfaces. It's made in England, and while we don't have a drafty old stone farmhouse, it should look right at home here in Alaska. For more information, visit their website here.
Like any other project, I don't recommend proceeding without a good design in place. While the new location for the woodstove hadn't been on our minds, I spent some time over the Thanksgiving Holiday giving it some thought. A quick sketch shows the woodstove, a stone mass behind (to occur in the future) and a place for storing firewood (mostly decorative). Additional timbers, boardwall and windows shown are also future ideas. For the present, we just wanted to make sure the idea and composition were solid before moving forward.
Stay tuned for Part 2- Installing a Hearth