Cosy modern fireplace update for Edwardian Villa
15 years ago, when Greg and Kathy purchased their Edwardian villa in Dunedin’s Belleknowes, they were drawn to its character, sunny north facing position, interior layout and child-friendly section.
Over the years the couple have renovated quite extensively, always in keeping with the character of the home. Kathy, an interior designer and owner of Inspired Interiors, describes her style as “a combination of vintage and contemporary with hints of industrial and an exotic tropical feel.”
Recently Kathy turned her attention to the living room and bedroom, which featured back-to-back fireplaces, both original and unused with modifications from the 1950s-60s. The couple chose to modernise both fireboxes with Escea DF700 retrofit gas fireplaces.
The home already had heatpumps but they wanted to add cosy warmth, ambience and a look that suited the character of the home. “We chose Escea because we loved their look the most, along with their features and efficiency,” says Kathy.
Kathy and Greg chose an Escea DF700 gas fireplace and retrofitted it into their existing character fireplace.
The living room makeover included creating bespoke white joinery with LED lighting to house Kathy’s collection of coloured NZ art glass.
Initially Kathy and the installers were concerned the cavity was not large enough, and the original chimney structure not sound enough, to handle the retrofit.
“There was a lot of ‘outside the square’ thinking involved. We wanted to retain the arch-shaped surround plate, but were going to have to cut into it in order to accommodate the fascia of the DF700,” Kathy explains.
The original arched surround was a key feature of the fireplace that the couple wanted to retain.
The breakthrough came when they worked out they could install the DF700 behind the surround. They then secured a wooden bead to the surround with screws, to keep the cast iron plate in place.
Keeping the arch was important for achieving the authentic look that Kathy was after. She also kept the existing wooden mantle and didn’t get it refinished to retain the authentically aged look. Wooden logs were chosen for their traditional look and to reference the other timber elements in the room.
For the hearth tiles, Kathy repeated the quatrefoil pattern in the pressed tin ceiling. “This combined the colours of soft grey and white in the room, with the black of the fire frame.”
The wall surround was covered in a linen textured wallpaper in deep taupe grey with shadowing and metallic detail. “We chose to enhance and draw attention to the fire, mantle and abstract artwork to create a focal point in the room,” says Kathy.
The living room makeover also included new curtains with sheers behind to add privacy, plush new carpet and walls repainted in a custom tint of Resene Karen Walker Taupe Grey. This colour was used in various softer strengths throughout the home, including the bedroom. “I chose it as it tones well with the wallpaper and adds warmth in an earthy grey tone.”
An Escea DF700 with River Stone fuelbed takes the chill out of the bedroom during the cooler seasons.
As the coldest room in the house, it made sense to update the fireplace in the bedroom (the fire cavity is back-to-back with the living room one). “We had always wanted to get rid of the ugly existing mantle and firebox which we had never used as a fire,” Kathy explains.
“The old fire had been modernised with a concrete block and tiled mantle with raised hearth, which we demolished with sledge and jack hammers. We found that the firebox and mantle had been installed in front of the original much larger cavity and then behind the modified firebox it had been backfilled with loose gravel and rubble.”
Once they removed the facing mantle and unbricked the modified firebox, it exposed the original cavity, requiring them to shovel out the huge volume of gravel and rubble that was backed up.
The feature wallpaper in the master bedroom is a black felted paisley patterned paper which Kathy chose to add pattern and a strong focal point in the room. It also links well with the black fascia on the fireplace.
“We’re very pleased we invested in both fireplaces as they make the rooms so much more enjoyable to be in and change the look and feel of the rooms,” says Kathy.