OK, so Bossy bought this house right? And the house didn’t have a fireplace in it, which was fine until it wasn’t fine and then Bossy and her husband took out a home equity line of credit and landed in the soup line. Shall we begin?
This was the wall before the fireplace. Bossy kind of hated to lose this wall since it was the only one in her house large enough for a sofa, even though Bossy’s mom the decorator was the one who pointed out that Bossy’s front window wall is large enough for a sofa, never mind that now when sitting there, Bossy’s chi flies out the back of her head and through those windows into the dark night.
The first thing Bossy and her husband did was peel away the layers of wall and floor, and when Bossy says she and her husband peeled away the layers she means her husband:
The next thing Bossy and her husband did, which means her husband, was remove the floor beneath the fireplace:
Meanwhile, Bossy and her husband hired a mason to build the brick chimney on the exterior of the house. Here it is in the beginning stages:
And then Bossy got bored of this story. Do you know what else was happening when this fireplace was being built? Bossy’s son was nearly 16 and on a baseball team:
Bossy’s daughter had just completed her first role as a townsperson in the local production of Music Man, and as a celebration she pierced her ears:
Bossy’s house didn’t have a proper porch and the shutters were green:
And Bossy was playing the cajon in a band with her brother and her husband and her friend Don the architect of the entire ballpark:
Anyway. With the brick chimney in place on the exterior, the remaining layer of cinderblocks could be removed, which exposed Bossy’s house to the outdoors. But only for the amount of time it took the mason to install the firebox within the chimney confines.
The firebox is where the fires get built, which funnels the smoke up the chimney in a draft and can you tell Bossy didn’t bother to look up how this actually works?
At the time, though, Bossy and her husband did exhaustive research about what kind of firebox to invest in, and when Bossy says she and her husband researched she means Bossy did.
They settled on a Rumford fireplace design, because Rumfords are tall and significantly more shallow than average fireplaces, which means more heat is reflected back in the room — and their streamlined throats eliminate turbulence and carry away the smoke with little loss of heated room air, and can you tell Bossy not only just looked up how this works but cribbed the explanation down to the last syllable?
Here is the installed Rumford firebox, which in this photo is represented by the pale brick area:
The next step was to cover the remaining opening with fire-safe cinderblocks. And then Bossy’s husband painted the Rumford firebox bricks black while Bossy sipped a margarita in the center of Mexico but that is a totally different story. Trust her.
During the final stages of construction, Bossy’s husband and Bossy’s friend Geoff were busy in the basement experimenting with concrete and forms and pouring concrete in forms, until they produced the slab which would act as the raised hearth.
And one day that backbreaking experiment had to be lifted up the basement steps and put in place:
And then oy is Bossy sick of telling this story Bossy and her husband applied concrete to the sides of the slab all the way to the floor, which means Bossy’s husband did it.
Not shown is when Bossy and her husband plastered over the cinderblocks which define the walls and mantel area of the fireplace, where Bossy and her husband means Bossy plastered, thank you very much. But of course there’s no photo of that, because. Why again, Bossy’s husband?
The Cheap Chick saysMarch 11, 2009 at 11:02 am
And thus, the Chick bought a house with a fireplace already installed because OH MY GOD does all that work sound exhausting. You should go BACK to Mexico for another vacation, because telling that story must have worn you out a second time. And I should go with you, because READING it has worn me out and wow are we all tired now at the beginning of the day? Let’s nap, shall we?
P.S. You did excellent work, and should be very proud. Tired, but proud.
Jenn saysMarch 11, 2009 at 11:24 am
You are AMAZING. I would never have the guts to put a hole in my house. I have a fireplace that draws imperfectly – and by imperfectly I mean, before the chimney is all heated up you could smoke a turkey in the living room – and so, we just don’t use it. Sad, no?
corrie saysMarch 11, 2009 at 11:28 am
I was so impressed when I read on a previous post that you and your DH installed your own fireplace, so I was thrilled to see all the details now.
It must have been exhausting to write, but I enjoyed the ‘transformation of this house’ … just like HGTV!
P.S. I especially liked the retrospective pics of the kids.
Stacey Ball saysMarch 11, 2009 at 11:31 am
One of the saddest things for my husband is that there is no fireplace in the house. Since we rent we can’t put one in. One year many many years ago I did make him one out of cardboard. It was in the house for almost a year. We didn’t have fires in it for obvious reasons.
dexter saysMarch 11, 2009 at 11:32 am
I feel so inferior. IM proud when I hang a picture straight.
Lotta saysMarch 11, 2009 at 11:39 am
That looks really lovely!
mrs. g. saysMarch 11, 2009 at 11:57 am
You tickle me. Beautiful fireplace. Bossy’s husband is a dear.
Jillian saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:05 pm
That is a beautiful fireplace!
Golden saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm
Wow. Just wow. You lost at removing the floor and putting a huge hole in the wall. I would sooo love to do this. Although, like you, that wall is the only wall a couch would fit on. Our windows are way too low and would leave a couch facing a hallway – not a wall where a TV could be or that fireplace!
I sure wish we had one though every night from Nov-March here in MA.
Great job bossy and bossy’s husband!
pamela saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm
I am so exhausted from just reading that story about all the work Bossy and that other guy did that I need to go take a nap for the love of all that is good and pure.
Tuli saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:12 pm
Tuli thinks that Bossy’s house looks like a kit house from the early 20th century. Is this the case, Bossy? Tuli’s boyfriend lives in a kit house and it has made Tuli fall in ? with kit houses.
Tuli saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:13 pm
That second question mark was supposed to be a heart. Gah those alt characters!
Momo Fali saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:17 pm
He was busy playing his guitar for very thirsty children.
Reeb saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:24 pm
I’m intrigued that you chose to eliminate possibility of buildup of clutter on the mantel by making yours a mere nod to one.
Bossy, I appreciate all your photo-documentation talents, and BH gets props for mixing concrete slabs in the basement if not for being an ace reciprocal photojournalist.
Enjoyed seeing the now-displaced Dunlop grocery sign in the front window.
Bellamomma saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm
Holy crackling fire that was a lot of freakin work!! You are so very very brave to create a hole in your floors … I would have passed out in fear right as the saw hit the floorboard.
Dude, your husband can make concrete slabs in the basement … Bossy’s future son-in-law-prospects should fear this.
heyjoe saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:39 pm
I would appreciate it when, and by when I mean IF, heyjoe and his wife ever get any money with which to decorate, if Bossy would come out to CA to act as our interior decorator.
heyjoe saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:40 pm
And Bellamomma – lol
Half Assed Kitchen saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:44 pm
Good story! Though I’m ready for more Barbies and tampons.
Lauren saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:46 pm
I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS!
I have such trouble with home improvement projects and I only have a CONDO. Not even a real house, and I can’t mount a ceiling light properly. Arrgh!
Also, you look good in a band. Couldn’t help but notice the Wawa advertisements! Wawa coffee is what got me through the Bossy Redesign!
Lauren saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:47 pm
Also, I want to hear more about this Mexico trip! I don’t care if it was years ago. I want to see pictures of Mexicooo!!!! Please??
Cactus Petunia saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:47 pm
Beautiful! This Old House has extolled the virtues of Rumford fireplaces for years. They can actually heat a room. Unlike the fireplace here at Camp Cactus, which while it’s actually large enough to roast a pig in, has a tendency to suck all the heat in the house out the chimney when in use, kind of defeating the whole purpose of a fireplace.
And, I just have to ask: Bossy plays a drawer (cajon) in a band called the Wawas? (or do I just need more coffee?)
donna in mid michigan saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:48 pm
Wow BOSSY. Reading this made me all hot and bothered.
Rachel D. saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:53 pm
Wow That was a story
I think it is time for a nap!
The only thing to do in -10 below
David saysMarch 11, 2009 at 12:55 pm
Way too much work. I’d have saved fireplaces as a special treat to be experienced at whatever vacation place I stayed at.
aj saysMarch 11, 2009 at 1:14 pm
Bossy, I live in Houston where all exterior walls are apparently made of wood with maybe a brick facade over them so I want to be sure–your exterior walls are made of cinder blocks?
cynthiagirl saysMarch 11, 2009 at 1:20 pm
This impresses me so much.
Nice and thoughtful improvements are too few and far between.
The Domestic Goddess saysMarch 11, 2009 at 1:27 pm
Goodness. Glad i already had a fireplace!
well read hostess saysMarch 11, 2009 at 1:32 pm
Where were Bossy, I mean Bossy’s husband, and Geoff when I wanted concrete countertops?
MamaMo saysMarch 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm
I SO want a real fireplace in my house – this is inspiring; I can’t believe y’all did it your selves. Thank you for re-kindling my dreams!
Emily saysMarch 11, 2009 at 1:58 pm
You fireplace is amazing. And you kicked ass at the plastering. 😉
justjuli saysMarch 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm
lovely! just looking at this makes me feel warm. 🙂
Baby Favorite saysMarch 11, 2009 at 2:07 pm
That is so beautiful.
The only part I could relate to was sipping drinks in Mexico.
AnnP saysMarch 11, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Wow, so cool! I never knew you could just add a fireplace! This just opens up a whole new way of thinking for me. Excellent, Bossy!
Domestic Goddess (in training) saysMarch 11, 2009 at 2:36 pm
That is just DIY-fabulous! Who knew you were witty AND Bob Villa in disguise! And, just a lil’ bit crazy for not just hiring it done… but I dig that about you.
Hokie Deb saysMarch 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm
–>I love the color of your walls post-fireplace. You did a great job with it. The part about your chi going out the window made me laugh.
kate saysMarch 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm
and then BOSSY’s dane slept in front of it for a hundred years.
Grandma J saysMarch 11, 2009 at 2:59 pm
Boy, does that project ever give new meaning to the phrase. “Labor of Love”.
Andrea's Sweet Life saysMarch 11, 2009 at 3:03 pm
You guys. You’re just too cool for words.
BH saysMarch 11, 2009 at 3:14 pm
OK… The floor was removed, and then a reinforced form was built, into which the mason poured the concrete hearth base. The base covers the space from the hole in the floor all the way through to the back of the chimney, creating an extremely strong, monolithic platform that supports the entire structure.
I realize this is somewhat of a finer point, but the firebricks are STAINED with a special heat resistant, simple to apply firebrick stain.
The charcoal pigment is actually added to the concrete as it is being mixed, and as a result is all the way through the slab.
Making a fire now… mmmmmmm… Fire is good.
Lee of MWOB saysMarch 11, 2009 at 3:20 pm
That was nothing less than totally awesome. Everyone wants to hear more about Mexico and that’s cool and all, but I want to hear about Bossy playing in a BAND!! I love it!! My favorite pic.
And oh yeah, that gorgeous fireplace ain’t so bad either.
Victoria saysMarch 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm
Did your living room wall change color as the concrete slab was coming up the stairs?
Reeb saysMarch 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm
BH, I totally enjoyed your detailed explanation of the parts that either mystified Bossy or she just glossed over as Magical in her description.
Lori saysMarch 11, 2009 at 4:14 pm
That Mason ass…. not as bad as the most recent home improvement project here….complete with plumber and hiscrack!
Smalltown Mom saysMarch 11, 2009 at 4:16 pm
Totally worth it!
islaygirl saysMarch 11, 2009 at 4:19 pm
talk about the walls, please! is that stencil at the end? or paper? and does it magically match the pattern from the beginning before the fireplace wall disappeared?
reen saysMarch 11, 2009 at 4:26 pm
Clap-clap-clap-clap! Nicely done, Bossy and BH! I had one house without a fireplace…never again!! Yours is fabulous.
Dawn in Austin saysMarch 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm
Beautiful fireplace. I love home projects!!! Everybody else’s home projects, that is. Thank god for HGTV, where I can watch and “supervise” all day long and not get dirty.
joeinvegas saysMarch 11, 2009 at 5:03 pm
Wow! And BH even came on board for more technical details. Very nice.
But, the porch and shutters, what of them? (or was that a previous post – have to go look)
We had fireplace in San Diego, but had to open the front door when we burned stuff (usually only at Christmas) because it made the place too warm, and it was usually 65f outside anyway. Same here in Vegas. Nice fireplace, but we just use the sawdust logs for effect not heat.
Jodi Anderson saysMarch 11, 2009 at 5:31 pm
Wait. Bossy’s Fun Fair has an HERB SALE?!
Whoa! I could stock up on weed for the whole year! I kid, I kid.
Or, do I?
rebekah saysMarch 11, 2009 at 6:20 pm
Beautiful! In envy and admiration…
karen l saysMarch 11, 2009 at 6:42 pm
I am SO impressed. Not only did Bossy and Bossy’s husband complete a HUGE home project (Bossy had the very important job of testing margaritas in Mexico), BUT their marriage survived and they lived to tell the tale! Hubs and I can’t do any projects together – anything that is done I do alone while he’s at work – hence my darling son’s nickname for me – “Bobette Vila”.
We have the lovely fake gas log fireplace – no heat really, but how much heat do you need in the tropics of Texas?
Bush Babe of Granite Glen saysMarch 11, 2009 at 6:43 pm
Holy Moly Bossy!! That was wicked (do they still say ‘wicked’ in the USA?)… adore the end result. I can quite sympathise with running away to Mexico mid-reno – so really we should say CONGRATS to Bossy’s husband, no?
Whatever, whoever… awesome job and funny commentary. And now I need a cup of tea and a good lie down…
Sparx saysMarch 11, 2009 at 7:35 pm
Wow and OMG and I’m sure there are more letters I could use to express my amazement – holy crap that was a lot of work but very, very impressive. Holy wow. I’m going to stop now.
swistle saysMarch 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm
It’s funny you would write about this today, because JUST YESTERDAY my husband and I were talking about how awesome it would be to have a fireplace.
Now I am even more sure that it is awesome. And that there is no way we will ever have one.
Also: TOTALLY HILARIOUS POST.
Chesapeake Bay Woman saysMarch 11, 2009 at 8:41 pm
Lawd have mercy, I was so worn out reading this that I misread “ma son ass” entirely and somehow got that confused with the picture of Bossy’s son and I have to stop now due to laws in almost every state of the union excepting west virginia and kentucky and perhaps the highlands of virginia, but i’m not in the highlands and The End. No pun intended.
Bossy\'s Friend Martha\'s Sister saysMarch 11, 2009 at 9:19 pm
I want one. In true debt diet form… tell us the cost of such a do it yourself project!
dgm saysMarch 11, 2009 at 9:31 pm
Well, that was instructive. We have two fireplaces and I’m thinking of getting rid of one, but then I think I like them both, but getting rid of one would open up to the outdoors and that would be awesome. Of course, I would have to go to Mexico and drink margaritas while all that happened.
Wendy saysMarch 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm
wow! that was like magic online! we can assume they lived happily ever after with s’mores every night?!
Bonnie saysMarch 11, 2009 at 10:34 pm
Bossy – can you post a picture of the chimney? I found this fascinating!
Joie Weiher saysMarch 11, 2009 at 10:41 pm
Hmmm, I want to test my marriage in the fire’s of hell by trying to add a fireplace to our home. It’s unfair, our house is over 100 years old and what do we get at the end of a day full of adding insulation, weather-proofing doors and windows, praying the master bedroom floor doesn’t fall through into the dining room? Well, we don’t get to sit in front of a fireplace since the old chimney is defunct and walled up! Dear BH, would it be possible to describe in a little more detail how the slab of the fireplace is supported in that hole you put in the floor? Are there pictures? I am just having trouble seeing it.
Eloise saysMarch 11, 2009 at 11:33 pm
What a wonderful addition to your home that fireplace is! I loved seeing the pictures of the work in progress.
PS I was greatly relieved that the shot of your front porch was the *before* picture. Those columns – yikes.
Kristin saysMarch 12, 2009 at 12:24 am
Am I stupid for not knowing a person could add a fireplace? Probably.
Debby saysMarch 12, 2009 at 9:13 am
That is truly incredible and turned out gorgeous. But better yet, my son’s name is Mason and I will now haunt him for weeks taking photos of his ass and telling him Mason Ass. LMAO
janny226 saysMarch 12, 2009 at 10:18 am
Very cool. I’m so glad you persevered and told the whole story. I get bored halfway thru sharing stuff like that too — but I’m delighted you told the whole story, and the asides as well. Funniest is the “Wawa” banners in front of the band. Oh and I liked the green on the “before” exterior, but agree with you on those posts.
kerry saysMarch 12, 2009 at 10:41 am
Bossy is Brave!
Luann saysMarch 12, 2009 at 10:54 am
You do know they sell free standing fireplaces that don’t require major home renovation? And they are like $300?
Lance saysMarch 12, 2009 at 12:55 pm
Jerry is the man! I am way impressed. And a Rumford type too….my parent’s house in VT has one. I’ll bet you have to wear sunscreen when that thing is stoked. You two aren’t afraid of anything are you? You blow Martha Stewart, This Old House, and Pimp my House off the map with that one.
sista #2 saysMarch 12, 2009 at 9:33 pm
So, I am reading your wonderful fireplace story and happen upon the rock band part……It is there I see a WaWa sign and get homesick.
Do you know how hard it is to get by, day after day with no WaWa within 1000 miles? Only on the trek up North to visit #1 when we hit Virginia do we get our WaWa fix.
Thanks for making me homesick.
And thanks for the lovely story…..your fireplace rocks.
Kelly saysMarch 13, 2009 at 1:29 am
That’s awesome! Wow, alot of work! I better not show my husband or he might not do it for me! I’ll have to convince him how easy it is!
Shelley saysMarch 13, 2009 at 8:10 am
Wow, looks fantastic! Makes me appreciate the fireplace we have just a little bit more – even if we’ve never actually started a fire in there after 8.5 years of house ownership.
Love your posts, always.
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