Desperate for help..this is UGLY!

twositFebruary 24, 2014

I'm also posting this on the decorating forum.
We are doing a long distance renovation of our new very small lake cottage. We have a huge stone fireplace, when we removed the ceiling to open things up we exposed a slanted brick chimney.

We found a picture of something we thought might look good and our contractor started working on it. This was the inspiration picture http://www.pinterest.com/pin/550283648191028041/

The contractor just sent a picture of the fireplace partially done. I know he plans to add trim etc., but I don't see any way for this to look ok.

Right now I am considering removing all the beadboard and just leaving it naked.
Any ideas on what to do to fix this? How do you think it would look if we did the whole upper part in beadboad across where the ceiling would have been.
Any and all ideas would be really appreciated.

Here is a link that might be useful: other pics in Wilson Way project

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snoonyb

There is more to this story and it has resulted in the contractor differing from the picture.

I wonder, at who's direction.

The "picture" could have been easily replicated with plant-ons.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 12:39PM
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snookums2

No one with a reasonable amount of skill and experience would execute something like that. I would not continue with this loose and long distance reno/person.

Good rule of thumb is to never leave the aesthetic decisions up to your contractor.

And never proceed with a project like this without some drawings of how it will be built, the quality of materials used and what it will look like - from all angles, and room perspective. You approve beforehand. A lot of problem solving goes on with the drawings. Don't leave the details open for later. Work through the problem in its entirety first.

Another big mistake here is, contractors are construction people not designers.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 15:39

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 3:31PM
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twosit

I am not sure what you mean snoonyb? One reason i is different from the picture is because he had not completed it adding trim etc. The other reason is that it does not go down as far as the picture.
He suggested framing in the upper chimney with a box and we sent the picture and said how about this? This chimney is also much taller than the inspiration photo I'm just trying to figure out where to go from here.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 4:02PM
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snookums2

Listen to Casey. He is a master craftsman who loves houses.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 5:34PM
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raee_gw

The box is too large and out of proportion to the fireplace and chimney. Then, being white, it stands out against the stone and wood as this awkward thing. I can't tell if some of the joists and beams are placed so that it is impossible to make a visually balanced structure.

I also can't really tell, is that white painted brick behind the stone? Is that part of the fireplace structure? If so, I would try painting the rest of the brick chimney. You would need some kind of detail to give the transition between stone and brick a finished look.
Could you encase the brick portion in artificial stone that would match (like is used on exteriors) My neighbors did this to their chimney outside and it is very natural looking -- no one would guess that it is fake stone.

HTH

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 5:58PM
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twosit

You are right about the drawings. I had been lucky to work with a fabulous craftsman when we were in southern Maine. We also had someone here who was great, but he did have a little problem with scale. In fairness to him, I know our contractor did not think he was finished with this--but it does have me really concerned. We are going to have him take the beadboard down. I think the crooked brick would look better.
This is a really tiny cottage that can't be expanded because it is so close to the lake. We thought opening the ceiling up would at least give us a sense of more space. The fireplace is way too big for the house and I dislike the dark mortar or grout.
Below I am linking a picture of a combination white and wood cottage that is one of my inspiration pages.

Here is a link that might be useful: another inspiration photo

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 5:58PM
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live_wire_oak

Put the ceiling back. Did you consult a SE before removing it? I don't see that you added a ridge beam.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:02PM
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snoonyb

"One reason i is different from the picture is because he had not completed it adding trim"

Seriously?

The stone in the picture and the originally pictured are not that dissimilar.
What is pictured as progress and the picture are not in the least similar or proportional.
You've covered over a perfectly good thermal mass with painted beadboard, which will cost you K's to replace as a heat source.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 8:10PM
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twosit

"The stone in the picture and the originally pictured are not that dissimilar.
What is pictured as progress and the picture are not in the least similar or proportional.
You've covered over a perfectly good thermal mass with painted beadboard, which will cost you K's to replace as a heat source."
Sorry, I am being dense, the stone is the same..what is thermal mass? all we did is remove the ceiling and attempt to do something decorative to hide the crooked flue.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 8:43PM
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Sophie Wheeler

What type of permit was pulled for this? Who did the structural calculatios that told you tht the ceiling could be removed without adding additional structural support? The whole project needs to stop until you get a designer on board. And an inspection from a structural engineer. And maybe a new contractor.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 8:56PM
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twosit

Hollysprings-thans for your input, we've pulled the appropriate permits. It is a hip roof so it doesn't need as much support as some other roof styles. They've added to 3 large beams going across..sorry I don't know the correct term..

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 9:11PM
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snoonyb

"Sorry, I am being dense, the stone is the same..what is thermal mass?"

Google is your friend.

"all we did is remove the ceiling and attempt to do something decorative to hide the crooked flue."

Thats not what the pictures show.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 9:34PM
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snookums2

Sorry but that is just one sorry chaotic mess. As far as what you can do other than put it back together, if you prefer it open, redesign a new fireplace for the new space. I think you have to choose between keeping either the open beams or the existing fireplace.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:33PM
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greg_2010

The box is too large and out of proportion to the fireplace and chimney. Then, being white, it stands out against the stone and wood as this awkward thing.

Agreed!

Why is the box so big? It should continue up at the same size as the top of the stone part.
And the white draws too much focus to it. It would probably look a lot better if it was the same wood colour as the beams and ceiling. Or maybe the colour of the mortar between the stones. I don't know ... just something that doesn't make it the focal point.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 2:17PM
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twosit

Greg--the box is so big because of the slant to the chimney. I agree the beadboard is coming off and we will live with the fireplace this summer to determine how much we would use it and what to do. I hope I can somehow lighten the mortar and we'll go from there.
Thanks to all who took the time to respond with suggestions.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 8:19PM
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greg_2010

Even with the slanted brick chimney, that box seems too big. And that would only explain the left side. Why is the front and right side out further than the stone? I could understand if the guy was trying to make it symmetrical, but it isn't.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:39AM
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greg_2010

It may be the perspective of the photo, but drawing a line straight down from the leftmost part of the brick chimney would hit the stone fireplace maybe a foot or so below the original ceiling.
Maybe boxing it in at that point wouldn't look so bad. (But not white)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:06AM
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greg_2010

Is this a cottage that you'll be using in the winter? Are you going to be insulating the roof? Just curious if that's the finished ceiling or if something else is going to be covering it.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:11AM
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twosit

Wow Greg, What a difference just the change in color makes. This is shown lower than the white box but looks so much less intrusive. I will definitely be removing the box and taking a step back.
We really don't plan on using it in the winter. This is how the ceiling will look in phase one--this year. We will likely insulate and do something to the ceiling in the future--just not this round.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:17AM
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greg_2010

Well, even if you don't do the ceiling now, you should at least know what you plan to do. Because whatever you do to the fireplace to make it look good in this setting might look bad if you then threw up a white drywall ceiling. But if you plan on putting up tongue and groove wood planks, and leaving it a similar colour, it should still look fine.

I just went over to the decorating forum and read through the thread you started there. Lots of good ideas and I'm sure they have a much better clue on design than I do. :)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:37AM
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greg_2010

Just a quick and dirty modification to the other photo you posted to show a darker colour, thinner box that extends down further. Plus another mantel like your existing one to create a transition.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:52AM
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twosit

I will definitely be sending this link to my husband..just so he has hope. Another thing I am really disliking is the back of the beadboard wall. We are placing cabinets on the back side of the fireplace, but something will have to be done with that wall.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 12:20PM
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greg_2010

I can't really tell what's going on to the right of the fireplace, but I think I'd continue the style of the wall to the right to behind the fireplace, with the drywall on top and the beadboard on the bottom.
It might require you to make the beam above the fireplace as big as the one to the right too, so that the continuity is maintained.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:02PM
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greg_2010

And remember that symmetry is your friend. Try to center the fireplace on that partial wall. If it's two feet from the fireplace to the right wall, then have the wall stick out two feet on the left as well.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:19PM
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snookums2

I think if he could have gone straight up he would have. He enclosed some of the surrounding joists and cross braces that interfere with or obscure the fireplace. You can't solve a 3 dimensional problem 2 dimensionally.

Were any of the joists removed? It seems so in the after shot. You don't want to be messing with things like that.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 16:10

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 3:42PM
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greg_2010

I think if he could have gone straight up he would have
Possibly. Or maybe he just did what was easiest and saw nothing wrong with it. As you said, contractors are not designers.
My suggestions may not be possible. It's hard to tell from the pictures exactly what's going on behind that giant white box.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:11PM
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greg_2010

If the chimney does in fact go all of the way over like the pic below, then my ideas won't work. But I hope that it at least got the creative juices flowing and maybe an alternative option could be found. Sometimes it just takes looking at a few examples to get over the mind-freeze that can happen when presented with a problem.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:21PM
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snookums2

My point is that there appear to be some structural members in the way. Worse yet were any removed.

You are right, path of least resistance is how a lot of these guys work. The aesthetical component is not something they can see or think is that important.

I think the beams are in the way and he might have thought they would look better covered up, or had to be.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 17:23

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:24PM
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twosit

I really appreciate your help Greg and Snookums. I'm posting a picture of the beams before any were removed..just the ceiling removed.

and a better photo with some of the beams removed with some strengthing to those that remain. It also shows the box closer before it was enclosed.

I think below is a link to the whole album.
Thanks again for the help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wilson way photos

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 6:31PM
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snookums2

Well, I think you need to get a structural engineer in there to approve this work. Please check out the link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Holy crack

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 8:22PM
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greg_2010

Hmmm. That pictures perspective makes it look like the chimney goes over further than I thought. You may be able to squeeze the box in a little, but maybe not enough to make enough of a difference.
One of the suggestions over on the the decorating thread was to knock the brick part out and replace it with a chimney pipe going straight up. Again, it may not be possible to go straight up since there must have been a reason that the brick is angled, but maybe the smaller pipe could go straight up.
I think that could look good.

(And hopefully a structure engineer was somehow involved in this whole process)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 9:18AM
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twosit

The good news is that, hopefully, we will be spending so much time enjoying the lake that we won't have time to focus on the crooked fireplace ;)
The went crooked with it so it wouldn't go right through the peak. Apparently with a hip roof that is where the support is.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 9:46AM
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snookums2

It doesn't look like the brick extends past the edge of the fireplace.

Cottages can be quirky. It's part of their unique charms.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:45PM
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snookums2

Duplicate.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Thu, Feb 27, 14 at 13:54

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 1:50PM
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mateo21

I am amazed at the comments on this thread referencing a structural engineer and the assumption that the OP didn't pull the proper permits.

The OP is looking for opinions on aesthetics - not a lecture on a tangential topic not relevant to the intent of this thread.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 3:33PM
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snookums2

See the thread link Holy Crack above. It's dangerous!! It's not like the guy looks like he knows what he is doing. That is a big red flag. Responsible people warn of a train wreck coming, they don't just watch.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2014 at 4:02PM
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erinsean

I think it was mentioned that the brick chimney went crooked so that it didn't go straight up to the peak in the roof...right? How about leaving that brick chimney like it is, but adding to it by putting a dummy brick chimney going up to the other side of the roof? Like a double chimney but one is a dummy going up to the roof and the other is the original chimney? Would look sort of like \_/. Would be more simentrical than it is now. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 3:50PM
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Trebruchet

mateo21:

Sometimes posters don't know what they don't know. No one is being malicious. Everyone helps in their own way.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 10:12PM
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