So before I get into the bit of this blog post about the fireplace I should really point out the beautiful toy kitchen Ashley built for our son this last Christmas (2013). Pretty cool what you can do with an old TV stand, magnet board and some imagination. Practically no money spent as well! Great Job Honey!
Now onto the fireplace stuff… And don’t worry we didn’t burn down the house or cause any fire damage. The title of this post is referring to the functional design of our fireplace, which was the real accident. That and the fact that it took us so long to figure out. When we put the toy kitchen in front of the fireplace we discovered a killer draft, sucking all of our warmth out and making the immediate space freezing. In terms of energy efficiency, the typical suburban type fireplace that’s built on the outside of the house is a joke. A pitiful design by all logic. If the fire isn’t happening in the house, how is the heat supposed to get in? In reality, a typical suburban home setting doesn’t use a fireplace to heat the home anyway. It’s a novelty that for the life of me I can’t figure out where the value is or how builders continue to justify it. Some improvements can be made with no vent gas heater inserts that will plug up the draft at the same time. Not a bad fix if you can afford it, but right now we certainly can’t justify that up front expense. We also didn’t want to add any more ongoing expenses by adding another gas burning appliance into our lives. So what do we do? We plug the hole.
After some research we decided on a DIY solution that so far seems to be eliminating the draft, and we think it looks nice too. All of the commercial options were just not going to be worth the price tag. The challenges of determining a good DIY plug solution was due to the many different layers involved, including fireplace doors, tile and trim. All of these elements didn’t leave for a solid place to make a seal, so we just sealed them all with a big sheet of foam decorated with some fancy burlap.
First I used my favorite project glue, Weldbond to attach the foam and fabric together, making sure the design pattern was level. I used 1.5 inch pink insulation foam you can pick up at any big box home improvement store. Once dry, the foam was cut to shape based on the inside measurements of the fireplace wood posts, mantle, and the floor. The cuts were actually about 1/8th of an inch proud of the inside measurements to insure a good seal. Then we just punched it into place being careful not to dent the foam. All and all it cost about as much as the toy kitchen… very little.
UPDATE: I originally wrote this article for my old blog nearly 3 years ago now, February 2014. Without a doubt this method has still remained effective. We are no longer fighting off the chilly draft in this part of the house and the complements from a design standpoint just keep coming. I wish all home improvement projects were this easy. The Stoli family even duplicated this method in their fireplace to eliminate an equally annoying draft. You should try it! Oh, and the toy kitchen is also holding up real well too!