The State of the Living Room

In our living room we have a gas fireplace that is frankly dreadfully bad at all the things you might want a fireplace for, so after several years of having not used it at all, we decided it was time to finally just pull the thing out and replace it with an electric unit that would be more efficient and aesthetically pleasing. This would necessitate tearing up the wall to get it out, and redoing the carpet (because it would otherwise have bare spots where the fireplace used to be. So as long as we were going to have to do that anyway, we decided that now is the time to redo the whole damn room.

So: Here it is, the first day of the renovation, with (most of) the former carpet torn out and a big ol’ hole in the wall where they’re going to haul out the fireplace. After which we’ll patch up the wall and put up shelving and a wall mount for the TV and we’ll have a nice, cozy kinda-home theater setup. It’ll be great! When it’s done. Right now, well. It looks like my house is torn up. And it’s confusing the hell out of the cats. I guess we all make sacrifices. I will say I’m happy I woke up ridiculously early and hit my word quota for the day before the contractors arrived, because they are not the silent type.

In any event: This is what the next few days will be like around the Scalzi Compound. Whee!

37 Comments on “The State of the Living Room”

  1. I’m thinking of doing the same thing with our unused gas fireplace. What make and model are you getting?

  2. I feel your pain. We are about halfway through a complete gut-and-rehab of our bathroom (the only one in the house – yay!) and our cats are not the only ones who are seriously discombobulated by the process.

    I will say that we’ve gotten to the stage in the process where we can see daily improvements, and it’s clear that when it’s all done, it’ll definitely be worthwhile. But that frisson of anxiety on the first day they start cutting holes, smashing plaster and ripping out flooring is not a pleasant one under any circumstances.

    Here’s wishing you competent, ethical and efficient workers, sir, and a vastly improved living room in the very near future.

  3. I know what it’s like for the cats to go through something like this. We just had our HVAC ductwork cleaned and our cat spent the entire day cowering in the corner of my son’s bedroom closet. He (the cat) doesn’t like strangers in the house all that much but especially noisy ones, and duct cleaning is about as noisy as it gets! I would also be interested in what type of electric unit you’re considering.

  4. Update/remodel of our kitchen starts October 10. Finish October 26. It will be wrenching, but so much better when finished.

  5. We’ve just gotten our bathroom completely redone. Once the new bath and toilet and basin were in place, the plumber told us not to use or even touch them for a few days, to make sure that the glue set properly. Later that evening, we went into the bathroom to admire it – it’s so lovely having it fresh and clean and new! – and found muddy cat paw prints all over everything.

    Rules don’t apply to the cat.

  6. I’m hardly sure whether I should be offering sympathy or congratulations– how about both? My sympathies for what you and the cats are going through now, but congratulations on the room you’re about to have!

  7. Quoted from somewhere: the most dangerous words in home improvement are “while you’re at it” and “might as well”.

  8. Oh no, the dreaded “As Long As We’re At It.” Watch out, it spreads. Malignantly. Before you realize it, you’re looking at a new east wing and an Olympic sized swimming pool. Because you wanted a new fireplace.

  9. While you’re at it, that ceiling fan needs to go. Google “modern ceiling fans” for something more befitting a major science fiction author.

  10. On Monday my wife and 6 month old son are being sent to her parents whilst our kitchen is ripped out, replaced, the old outside door blocked up and a new one cut into the new utility room. Lots of dust, no washing machine and no hot water as the water and gas pipes are being re-routed. Whilst I’ll miss them loads, I will have some peace and quiet to catch up on books:-)

  11. May the renovation be swift, may the complications be few, and may the tradespeople be competent and sensible. Here’s hoping your new room comes in on time, on budget, and without drama.

  12. I was going to say what Hugh57 said: – get it done whilst away in Hawaii.
    But then I thought about it. Renovations really do need the Man-of-the-House around to supervise.

  13. My husband bought this house while I was still four states away selling the old one. All I wanted, I told him, was a front or back porch, no carpet, and a fireplace. In a tight housing market, the only thing from my list that I got was the fireplace – in Texas, in an area that gets cold weather for about one week a year, and with an enormous live oak overhanging the chimney. So even if it ever stayed cold long enough for us to want a fire, I wouldn’t have one for fear of killing the oak. I keep thinking of tearing out the fireplace and putting in something else (more bookcases!), but the picture of your living room is why I sigh and just use the mantle for my rock collection. Good luck!

  14. Ha, I somehow read “word quota” as “sword quota” and was briefly but ridiculously impressed. As for electric fireplaces…well, before your next project I might suggest a mini-split heat pump, the indoor units come in all shapes and sizes. Way more efficient. But yes, more expensive etc.

  15. We have wood-burning fireplace inserts both at home and in a mountain cabin, and find the cheer and warmth of a wood fire well worth the minor additional effort. Both are so-called 7-gram units (i.e., no more than 7 grams of particulate emission), stack up favorably against either gas or electric in terms of carbon footprint, and both are cheap to run–we’re lucky enough to have an excellent source of good cheap firewood at home, and unlimited free deadfall in the mountains…plus the health benefits of cutting, stacking, splitting, etc.

    That said, best of luck with your remo, and don’t forget Cheops’s Three Laws of Construction:

    1.) It will cost more.
    2.) It will take longer.
    3.) Jewish subcontractors can be troublesome.

    Also–if you’re thinking of wood flooring, consider bamboo. Beautiful, lasts forever, ecologically responsible…and around $2/sqft for solid (not laminate!) 3/4″ T&G at our local “orange big box” place.

  16. Cats are always fond of having strange, noisy people come in and mess with their spaces. When we had our carpets replaced a few years ago, one of my cats spent the entire day hiding under my mother’s bed. Which was fine – until the installers went into her room and lifted the bed out from on top of him. Poor cat was completely nonplussed.

    Good luck with the renovations.

  17. In our house of 10+ years we started with a fireplace that was from an earlier era. You know, huge logs and lots of them, so deep and wide. With three or less medium-sized logs it was pretty pathetic. We rarely used it and only for visual effect, to be honest. We installed all gas (except for electric ovens) and that included a gas fireplace with remote on/off. I have to say I love it. During one lengthy power outage in Seattle it was the difference between lots and lots of blankets and not. In winter it’s warm, add that nice ambiance to the room and with a press of a button is either on or off.

    My question is why wasn’t yours used very much?

  18. Thank you for coming to visit us here in Hawaii; it’s rare we qualify for significant celebrities, even if it’s a con footing the bill. On the home remodeling front, you truly do want to be around in case the contractors have questions, like ‘How do you feel about being without hot water for a week?’ (the answer is ‘Hell no, unless it’s at the beginning of August in Miami.’) Getting answers to your questions is equally important, like ‘Will you need to run a whole new circuit for that thing?’ Luckily, over the last decade, the only contractors we have had to call in were for the reroofing/ solar panels, and installing the custom kitchen counters.

  19. When I bought a 1927 house in Cincinnati it had a terrible little gas fireplace. There was a fake log, with rows of little holes, so the fire didn’t look even remotely natural.

  20. I’ve been contemplating installing a gas fire place. I had thought they would be efficient, fun, and easy to run.

    Do the Scalzis have a particularly crappy gas fireplace, or are they all crappy?

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