I am writing this post midway through mortaring on ledge rock for the fireplace bump out I’ve been working on. But before I lash out my frustrations regarding having to be a mason once again, let’s take a stroll down memory lane….
It was a cold, dark night in the winter of 2015. My husband and I were in the midst of building our house and we needed to decide on a fireplace. Our house is 100% electric as we wanted to be able to utilize solar panels in the future to make our home net-zero (we get just as much energy from the sun as our household consumes = no electric bill!) In fact, we don’t have a furnace! And yes, it can get to -40 degrees Fahrenheit….and the mortgage company told me in the nicest way possible, “you’re crazy!” Sorry for the digression, but I could hear everyone reading this saying to themselves, “oh I would just love a gas fireplace!” Well, no dice here folks. So, instead, we could choose between a wood burning fireplace or an electric one. My husband vetoed the wood burning fireplace immediately for fear of wafting smoke back into the house and having our home smell like a trapper’s shack. I totally understand where he was coming from, but…..in our next house (don’t tell him this), I have plans for a beautiful Hase wood stove or another similar brand/styling. Okay so electric then!
We wanted a modern look and my husband preferred the longer fireplaces to the shorter, more compact designs. We ended up settling on the Napoleon Azure 50″ Electric Fireplace. It is wall mountable and the heat blows from the top front, which meant we would be able to hang our television above the fireplace without it melting. It also came ready to plug into an outlet! However, the mortgage company wanted it hard wired as to provide a heat source due to the lack of furnace. So, $300 and a hardwired fireplace later😡, we hung the fireplace on the wall and there it has sat for nearly 8 months.
It was nearing the fall season and I figured it would be nice to have a finished fireplace that I had been procrastinating to complete, so I set off with a plan. The plan was to put carrera marble tile in a subway pattern around the fireplace and tv. This tile would match the kitchen backsplash and I thought it would mesh well together. I framed up a wall to place over the fireplace and to house the tv.
After building it in the garage, I begged and batted my eyelashes at my husband and asked him to help me carry in the 6’x9′ “wall”. We got it in the house and realized it was too big. So back outside we went so I could cut the studs to make them fit. This ensued 3 more times!!!! Seriously you guys, the wall is 109.25″ and once we got the wall to fit, I remeasured the entire wall again and it was 107″. How is that even possible?! And so the frustration began……
After getting the wall installed, I posted to Facebook asking what material looked the best as I was having doubts about the carrera marble tile and I just needed my people!
Not to my surprise, both the white ship lap and the reclaimed wood slat fireplace surrounds got many votes. I knew going either of those routes would be the easiest for me (I am a woodworker after all), but I couldn’t help but feel like they weren’t contemporary enough to fit our current house. Sometimes you just have to buck up and do what’s right for the situation, even if it’s not what you prefer. So that left the stacked stone or the marble tile. Zero, and I mean not a single vote was cast for the tile. Thank goodness I consulted you guys before settling on the tile. You’re opinion is invaluable, seriously.
Stacked stone is the winner! Awesome…..now I need to take the wall down that I just spent an entire day on and rebuild it because the current wall is too deep.
I took the entire wall apart, ripped the studs down to 3″ wide, and reconfigured the tv setup. I then reinstalled the wall. It should have fit just perfectly now that I knew 109.25″ = 107″ but oh I was too hopeful. I forgot that I left 2 screws sticking out in the top of the wall. I had meant to screw them all the way in…………😖 so my ceiling has a few gauges….I’ll fix them later.
Wall installed – ✅
Now I needed to bring the outlets behind the tv forward 3″ so that they would attach the to bump out studs.
After I made a drywall dust mess, I was able to fit studs behind the tv and attach the electric boxes to those. (Sorry I don’t have photos of the finished set-up….I hate drywall dust and was busy cursing).
I installed Hardiebacker board next.
I am using MS International Arctic White Ledge Panels. I cut all of the veneer “tiles” over 2 days and mocked up the layout under the fireplace to make sure I had cut the tiles just perfectly. This is when the fun started. 36 corner pieces need to be cut, twice. I also have an outlet on each side of the fireplace that I had from moving outlets from the wall to the bump out that I needed to work around. I also had 18 flat tiles to cut for the middle. Let’s just say it was monotonous and very dusty. And my neck still hurts from bending it to concentrate on the cutting.
I started laying the tile last night after having a disagreement with the mortar. It wanted to be the consistency of pancake batter; I wanted peanut butter. After I won that debate, I started placing the tile on the wall and was able to get all the “hard” aka more time consuming parts completed before cleaning up and calling it a night. Today I WILL finish tiling and I may even be able to patch the ceiling where the screws gauged it….the possibilities!