Ideas on fireplace remodel, anticipating gas insert
After 5 years of hardly any fires in this fireplace because it draws every last ounce of heat from the room, we are planning to convert over to a vented gas insert. It is shaping up to be quite an undertaking. I have done some preliminary shopping around, and with the relative height of the top of the arch (37.5 in from the base) and its close proximity to the mantel, we are looking at likely having to fill in the top of the arch to convert the shape of the opening to something more rectangular or at least less tall. Though I expect budget will dictate otherwise, I have some fantasies of covering the brick with stone veneer as well.
What I'd really love to hear is suggestions on what to do with the wood storage area to the right of the fireplace. I've been told that I can't "center" our new fireplace in the middle of the mantel (can't flex the pipes for the flue), but it seems like such a wasted space. One fireplace store manager suggested getting some nice birch logs and sitting them there decoratively -- to me that seems like a last ditch idea. Would welcome any thoughts.
(PS: the dog bones are not in lieu of birch logs :) )