Just to get it out of the way – yes, I live in Texas where everyone thinks we ride horses to work and drill oil wells just for fun. While those statements might be true, the one thing that most people who don’t live here get wrong is that it never gets cold here. To be more accurate, it doesn’t get so cold that people intentionally add a layer of blubber to their bodies and start wearing “practical” clothing so that certain tender bits don’t freeze off. For three months out of the year, the average temperature is in the lower 30’s … I know right!?! That’s almost freezing!
Say what you will, but when the average summer temperature is in the high 90’s, the lower 30’s feel cold enough to want to have a fire. We put fireplaces in every single project we design – at least I think we do because I can’t think of one that doesn’t have a fireplace.
So this is my fireplace – at least this is one of them. It is obviously original to the 1967 house. I have scanned a part of the construction drawings in to show you that with the exception of a few things, what the original architect had intended is what was built.
(sorry for the poor quality scan but this drawing is oooo-old).
One thing about these fireplaces that might be normal to others but different than what I’m used to seeing is the setup for the gas starter. Normally we see linear gas lines with a series of slots cut into it so that you can get an even wash of fire across the width of the fireplace. Mine has a circular cup with a conical-shaped insert to it so that when the gas is started and ignited, the flames come up around the perimeter gap. The main reason it still works is that with little effort, this “gas ring” looks like the tail end of the “Batmobile”!
Say what you will but that ring is the coolest thing about my fireplace and it works incredibly well (like if you rubbed two Leprechauns together while sliding down a rainbow on the back of a unicorn while listening to Tom Jones).
.So we don’t use gas vents like this anymore despite the fact that they are awesome. Most of the time, we typically specify some combination of pre-manufactured fireboxes like:
For the rest of the fireplaces we are using on that project, we are using Monessen Fireplaces – in an example seen below:
Another pre-manufactured line that we have had great success with is Lennox Fireplaces. We haven’t used them often but they are starting to show up more often as cost-effective alternatives to some of the other units we specified. Sadly, I don’t have any finished pictures I can show you – the most recent house where we used a Lennox brand fireplace, the owner is very particular about images of his house showing up in public, which is really too bad because it’s an amazing looking house full of great details and spaces – but you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
When we are putting in a real wood-burning fireplace, we really like the size and feel of a Rumford-style fireplace. Although we don’t always use them, Isokern Fireplaces are pre-manufactured wood-burning fireplaces and are made out of volcanic stone. They come to the job site as a kit of parts, ready to be assembled and you can finish them out just about any way you can think of. The image below is a pool-side cabana we did a while back and there is nothing pre-manufactured looking about it.
I know there are many options available to consumers out there and these are just a few – except they are the few that we specify for our own projects which should count for something. In the meantime, I am going to continue looking for a circular fitting for the end of the gas line just like the one in my own house.
Just because it’s cool … I mean haute.