I was chatting to my mum on the phone the other night and telling her about our new fireplace, and it got me thinking.
When we lived in the Yorkshire Dales it was cold - really cold....your ears would tingle kind of cold. When I catch myself complaining about the temperature drop here I remind myself what cold really means...
I remember going for Sunday walks along the canal and everything was frozen solid and the ducks and swans were skating! We would head home for milky coffee or hot chocolate and thaw out in front of the fire.
This was the scene at the back of our house.
We had central heating in the form of radiators but during the real Winter months what I really wanted was a real roaring fire.
In one living room we had a gas fire that was supposed to look like a real fire and in the other was a fireplace that was just for decoration.
I couldn't believe my luck when I came to look around the house that we eventually bought here in Queensland and noticed that it had a real open fire. The previous owners told us that they hadn't used it in over ten years, but I wasn't perturbed - it was a fire, a real fire!
Isn't it ironic that I move the other side of the word, to a different hemisphere and to a warm sunny country and I get my sought after fireplace?
We moved into this house during Winter and for some reason or another didn't use the fire that first year. I actually think that Winter came and went before we realised...
The other reason might have been that we had some possums living in the chimney. They would sleep there during the day and then in the evening would emerge. Most of the time they knew that the way out was up, but occasionally we would have a visitor in the room. A little snout would appear upside down and then if he felt brave he would come in to see if there was any chance of food. After we bought the place we found out that the previous family had tamed one of the possums and he would join them for supper each night - honestly! It took some thinking how to discourage this and we eventually put a grate on top of the chinmey. Not as easy as it sounds when possums are nocturnal and going up a ladder after dark was not an appealing thought!
Anyhow, our fireplace is now complete and this year we're really enjoying it.
Here's some before, part way there and after photos.
When we moved in it was grey walls and a brick fireplace. We considered painting the bricks but they weren't in great condition so we plasterboarded instead. Yes, that is a yucky brown wall....one of those painting mistakes...it was worse when you saw the whole wall in all it's muck brown glory, it was such a flat colour (whatever was I thinking?)
As we wanted to actually use the fire, the plasterboard soon proved a problem as the smoke was making it dirty, the plastic trim melted and there was only so much cleaning I could do before the paint began to disappear.
So this year we have a rather traditional cast iron fireplace and mantle. The brick is still there as a hearth and I quite like it as it takes away from too formal a look.
These were some of my insprational shots when I was looking to see if keeping some bricks would work. The fireplace opening was too wide to be able to fit just a mantle so we had to buy an actual insert.The third shot is from the old favourite "Somethings Gotta Give" house, but I'm afraid I can't source the other two.
Some years ago I would never have imagined that I would be living in Australia and sitting in front of a real roaring fire wrapped up in a wollen cardigan with ugg boots on my feet....who would have known??
Linking up with Sarah at A Beach Cottage