Replace gas insert or convert to woodburning?!
Hi folks- would really appreciate some feedback on handling our fireplace "remodel".
We purchased a house in the mountains that was built in the 70's & originally had a stone wood-burning fireplace in the living room. The opening is 30"h x 54"w approx. The previous owners at some point in the 80's converted this to a direct vent Majestic gas insert (RHEDV25)on liquid propane that is only 25"h x 31"w with a large, VERY unattractive brass & black metal surround/trim to cover the gaping sides & top of original fireplace opening.
The "viewing area" on this old insert is minuscule in comparison to the ugly hulking trim/vent & makes the fireplace a real eyesore but it IS somehow linked to our thermostat & is quite effective at heating the main level.
SO- how do we improve the appearance of this fireplace while keeping to our NOT generous budget? We would love the look of returning to wood burning with the large opening unencumbered by trim- esp since the entire wall is stone & w/o a mantle but are not sure if that is an easy conversion & are also weary of the mess & loss of the thermostat/insert function that heats the room so well. We have been unable to locate a replacement trim kit for this older stove at our local shop- are there online resources for this? While just swapping out trim/surround doesn't change the small viewing area & ugly insert, at least it would be more innocuous than the current brass/black trim. Finally, replacing the entire insert- though most costly I'd guess- is an option, but I can't seem to find propane inserts/fireplaces that are configured to maximize the size of our fireplace opening- very wide (54") but relatively short (30"). Am I looking in the wrong places?
Sorry to be so very wordy- this certainly isn't brain surgery, but it's been very frustrating trying to find a cost effective solution to improve the looks of this dated fireplace without losing the function. Would love ANY feedback!