Keeping the Home Fires Burning

When we bought this place a few years back, the only heat source was a heat pump. Our previous home had a wood burning stove in the basement so our first winter here was quite an adjustment for me. I like to be warm! After your body has been conditioned to wood heat, electric makes for a poor substitute.

That first winter our electric bill averaged $350 a month.  It was a shock to the body and the bank account!  I knew this was something I wanted to change.

When we moved in, the downstairs consisted of two bedrooms, a bath, laundry and an over-sized, one car garage. 

From the very beginning I wanted to convert the garage to a family room, but now with the sub-standard heating issue, I knew my chances of getting hubby to go along with it were improved.  This would be the perfect place to add a wood burning stove.

Once he was on board with the idea, we found a wonderful contractor,  Jerry Lewis, of Lewis and Lewis Construction in Teays Valley.  Jerry and his wife Rhetta came out and framed in the garage door opening and installed an entry door.  They also did the electrical, drywall and drop ceilings.  Due to budget restraints and my love of a good DIY project, we had them leave the concrete floor bare, and in one corner, the block wall exposed.  This is where the fun began.

I knew I wanted a raised "hearth" type look for the wood stove to sit on.  So I purchased cinder blocks and placed them in the shape I wanted the hearth to be.  Then hubby mixed concrete while I poured it in the holes of the block, bucket by bucket.

After allowing the concrete to cure I was ready to install the stone veneer chosen for the walls.  I went with a precast, concrete veneer (this is just concrete,mixed with color, and poured into a mold to look like cut stone).  With mortar and a little bit of patience, the stone veneer is a fairly easy DIY project.  The idea is to start at the bottom and work your way up, creating a random pattern.  It's like working a really big puzzle!

You'll notice the concrete pad is a deeper gray color than in the first pic due to the application of concrete sealer. 


You can buy the sealer at any hardware store to give your project a more finished look, while helping to prevent stains.  The bottom of the hearth, beneath the lip, is left bare until after the flooring is installed.

The next step was to install a wood stove.  We had purchased a gently-used stove but my parents blessed us with a new, more efficient stove as a Christmas gift (truly the gift that keeps on giving!). 


Fireside and Patio in Cross Lanes helped us select a Jotul cast iron stove and installed it.  The folks at Fireside did a great job and were easy to work with.

For the flooring, we chose a dark, hand-scraped, engineered wood.  My dad graciously volunteered to take a day off of work and help install it using a glue down application.  It's messy and time consuming but the result was awesome.

After the floor was down, I installed baseboards and the stone around the bottom of the hearth.



Thanks to hubby, and all his hard work splitting and stacking wood, our electric bill is now hoovering around the $100 a month mark in the winter. And I am warm and toasty!

Our dog, Tug, is a firm believer that we did it all for him. It appears his only job in the winter is to guard his spot in front of the stove.

After all never know when your family might adopt a mini pig that tries to get in on the action.  ;)