What to do with an existing fireplace when dropping a floor?
kruzer00
January 4, 2014 in Design Dilemma
I don't know if anyone has had this issue but I have a very low ceiling in a library and so I am definitely dropping the floor 18-24". What I am struggling with is an existing fireplace. Do I leave it sitting 2 feet above the floor, effectively lower the existing bricked firebox area or enlarge the opening extending height of the fireplace. I know enough to know I am not going to mess with a 200 year old chimney behind it. Anyone dealt with this before? Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
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PRO
Barbara Krai Interior Design
Leave the fireplace in its place. Create a raised hearth that extends on either side of the fireplace that is 18" deep. Typical seat height is 18" so that would work out perfectly creating a bench all the way across. Many new fire burners are being hung on the wall at that height, so you would be right on trend. Good luck with your project!
January 4, 2014 at 5:20am     
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rredpenn
My favorite seat in the LR is on the hearthstone, right next to the warm fire. It's funny how many of our guests also choose to sit there with me! Go for it.
January 4, 2014 at 5:29am     
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kruzer00
Thanks for the idea. I never thought about it but started perusing pics on the site. It looks like it will lend itself to a very cozy library.
January 4, 2014 at 5:33am   
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PRO
Dytecture
Agreed with leaving the fireplace as is, and perhaps update the bookcases by removing the details on top.
January 4, 2014 at 5:40am     
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kruzer00
I was going to pull out the bookcase since it isn't original to the house and the floor is dropping anyhow. Then I will figure out whether I can afford a replacement. :)
January 4, 2014 at 5:45am     
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apple_pie_order
Just curious: what's below the library floor? And what is the process for dropping it down?
January 4, 2014 at 6:16am   
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kruzer00
This room is part of the original house and has no infrastructure underneath other than pipes to the steam radiators. The floor beams sit on posts a couple of feet above the ground (literally dirt with a barrier material on top) so my plan is to remove the floor, beams and supports, poor a cement floor with proper drainage and then figure out what to do. I won't have to extend the foundation itself but I suspect the hassle will be sheetrocking the bottom and resetting all the floor molding, etc. I do have a contractor and structural engineer helping me on this though.
January 4, 2014 at 6:28am   
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apple_pie_order
Thanks for the info. Please post photos when you are finished.
January 4, 2014 at 6:37am   
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sunnydrew
Wow are you ambitious. I hope this is not a DIY project. I would not want to see you on "Renovation Realties" holding up your chimney! Sounds like a perfect/great idea to create a raised hearth around the fireplace.
January 4, 2014 at 7:16am   
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kruzer00
Definitely not DIY. I will have to watch that show though. I have a structural engineer involved as well. I actually couldn't ask for a better set-up. As you can see you can remove the floor and potentially leave the supporting beams while pouring the floor. I will defer to the engineer on that one. And this particular room is in the middle of the house with concrete and foundation well below the level on both sides.
January 4, 2014 at 9:09am   
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excanuck
I vote for the extended hearth, too. Of course I also am biased.

As original owners, the (floor level) fireplace in our living room was one of the features that attracted us to the model first. But as our family grew in size, we found ourselves spending more time in the kitchen/family room area (on the other side of a wall), in order to keep an eye on our kids as they played. So we hired a contractor to replace a stationary window with a similar but raised fireplace. . . and hearth that extends from the kitchen counter to the point where the wall reaches a set of French doors. It's been a focal point of our entire home ever since.

Also, after burning, wood in it for years and loving the scent it produced while the logs crackled — the recent switch to an electric insert has made the fireplace even more enjoyable — with no more ashes to carry out . . . no lingering particles in the air to stoke allergies and just the click of the remote control needed to take the chill off early morning air in the room.

Don't have a photo of the fireplace handy, but will be posting one soon in conjunction with the thread I started recently regarding a lighting fixture for the adjacent dining area, which I hope shows how the various elements in multipurpose room almost "accidentally" now seem to complement each other. (At least to me).
January 4, 2014 at 9:51am   
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kruzer00
Well here is the floor removed. Looks like we can add 2.5-3' with the slab poured. I think a pair of window seats on either side of a new extended front door will look nice. Fireplace is problematic though. Too high to leave as is and I don't think I can extend the fireplace economically.
February 20, 2014 at 8:14pm     
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apple_pie_order
Wow. Quite an undertaking, no pun intended. What are your options with the fireplace? Is it on an outside wall?
February 20, 2014 at 9:06pm     
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PRO
OTM Designs & Remodeling Inc.
build a skirt that will look fantastic
February 20, 2014 at 9:10pm   
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Allison Konwinski
I don't have any advice for the fireplace (I agree to try and salvage it somehow though....) but I was curious as to if your living room is going to be sunken? There's a door that enters into it. Will you be having steps there or regrading your front yard? Quite an interesting concept....I definitely wouldn't have thought of it but if it works it's great!
February 21, 2014 at 12:00am     
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kruzer00
I am not going to regrade the front as it has historic brickwork out front but it is actually lower than the original floor (originally you had to walk up a couple of steps entering that exterior door) but I will clearly need a couple steps down so it will be "sunken". I am hoping the original floor to ceiling windows (now simply really big windows) combined with the longer door will limit the "sunken" room feeling. More importantly, it takes the lowest ceiling height in the house (6.5') and makes it the tallest (9') and I am hoping it will double as a grand entry for formal entertaining and nice library for daily use. I have two other entries for everyday use.
February 21, 2014 at 5:31am     
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