Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Marble Fireplace Reveal!

Ben's parents and brother came out to help us on the 28th of February.  Since Ben's dad is a professional contractor, we saved our two hardest projects for him to solve.  

1. Install the marble fireplace

2. Switch the weighted swinging door from upstairs to downstairs
(between the kitchen and dining room)

Neither of these seemed possible with our skills.  I imagined that the swinging door had a counterweight (like our windows did, I'm not just making things up) that was installed in the wall or floor.  It doesn't, it's all mechanisms contained within the door.  So they did that in about 5 seconds.  

But no one expected the fireplace to be easy.  Firstly, it's over 100 years old.  It had been rotting out in some guy's backyard with tree roots growing on it.  At some point before we got it, one side piece had broken.  At some point after we got it, the same side piece had broken again in a different place.  It's made out of statuary marble, which is pure white with occasional veining in lightest grey.  Lovely, but extremely fragile.  This thing is so powdery and soft that it's basically heavy chalk.

Plus, all these little, broken, powdery sidepieces had to come together to hold up a 200 lb mantel top and a carved frontpiece.

I would have thought it was impossible if they hadn't done it 100 years ago with far inferior glues.  Optimism!

So the guys hauled all of the 9 pieces upstairs and started dremel-ing the ancient glue bits off of them.  At this point, I left the house because I was pretty sure I was making everyone nervous, hovering around saying "Please don't break it."

Instead I went to the mailbox and pulled this adorable pug card out of the mailbox!  So cute!


They built a frame out of wood to support the pieces.  (This is OK because the firebox is not usable anymore, chimney is long gone).  Then, they shoved a bunch of insulation inside.  The fireplace does make the room warmer after all!  Then they glued all the pieces to each other and to the wood frame.

For about a week, everything was held in place with reinforcing boards as well, but we finally took the reinforcements off when we were sure that it was dry.  Then it was time for touch-ups!  Here I am, straight out of bed, Saturday morning, sanding the fireplace with fine grade sandpaper to clean it.  It does a great job of removing old stains that we on there from its time outside.  


Then we painted the wood that still showed.  I used a little sample pot of ACE paint, color-matched to Benjamin Moore "Onyx" which was promised to be a true black that never looks blue, and so it is.  We installed our antique summer cover from New Orleans on the front, put up the mirror we got for $60 in Grand Rapids MI, and voila!


I think it makes the house look so stately.  (Even though we need to finish up our trim--- the work is never done...)


1 comment:

  1. That fireplace is looking rather regal. It certainly looks storied there, with the marble work and the classical pallete. I just hope that it fireplace delivers enough to deserve all the attention. Thanks for sharing that! All the best!

    Lindsey Mckenzie @ Buchanan Fire & OutDoor

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