Finding a fireplace

As with most things related to the firehouse renovation, the living room fireplace has evolved as we became acquainted with the space and started looking for options. The one thing that never changed was our desire for a wood-burning fireplace. We both love the warmth (literal and figurative) that you get from a wood fireplace.

As usual, Pinterest was a great spot to save some inspiration, as evidenced by Aaron’s extensive Fireplace board on Pinterest. Not all of these were contenders, but we thought it would be interesting to walk through our thought process.

When we signed the papers on the firehouse, we envisioned a floating fireplace situated in the middle of the room. Something like this:



Side note: When we bought this place, I wrote a long letter to our future selves detailing all the plans we had for the place. We printed it out, trashed the electronic copy and stored it with a bottle of wine that we’ll open on our 5 year anniversary. We picked 5 years because we would (obviously) be close to finishing this place at that point. Ha Ha HA! Oh, pre-renovation Aaron and Heather, how naive you were. I only mention this because the floating fireplace was definitely a detail included in the letter that clearly won’t be happening.

But, I digress… Floating fireplaces are cool. I’ll also take that tree. Please and thank you.



After we moved in, we got a better sense of the space. This room is actually on the small side. We always talk about how BIG the spaces are in the firehouse, but if I could add square footage anywhere it would be to the kitchen and downstairs living and dining rooms. The living room clocks in at just 135 square feet, which has to include a sizable walkway to get to the bathroom and stairs.

A central floating fireplace was definitely out. This ultra modern beauty caught our eye next, but was eventually ruled out because of the configuration of the flue.



We planned to bust out the glass block window to allow for the vent/chimney.


A fireplace hanging from the ceiling would require busting through the upstairs living room and roof to add the requisite smoke removal. No bueno.

The piece had some mid century modern charm, which we we love. That sent Aaron looking for a retro inspired piece. This Malm was the next thing to catch our eye.



The simplicity was nice and the price was good, but I don’t think we were ever terribly in love. It mostly hung on as a good, economical back up.

This guy though… this guy is just cool.



BAM! Fireplace! Unfortunately the multi sided configuration didn’t make sense in our design plan.

Part of the problem we kept running into is that all the cool, minimal, wood-burning fireplaces are made in Europe. Because European design > American design. While we could (and would) ship one over, differences in the fireplace code and the sheer cost made it prohibitive. So I did what anyone does when faced with this problem: poured a glass of wine and pulled up Pinterest. That led me to the Stuv brand, which offered stand-alone fireplaces AND sold versions in the United States.



We loved several of the cladding options (the material that wraps the exterior of the fireplace) but overall the cost was more than we could spend.

Stuv also offered this really sleek option.



It comes with a really cool “face plate” that makes it look like a super hero (or villain considering the fire) when it is closed. Plus, you can order a grill kit and actually make food on it. Aaron was basically sold… until we found out it was even more expensive than the other version of the Stuv. Womp, womp.

Around this time we completed our refi and with the prospect of actually having the money needed to do this project, Aaron kicked into high gear. That man can source materials like nobody’s business. Seriously, is that a job? Professional Sourcer?

He turned up these sleek beauties from Wittus.



We didn’t like that the firebox was so small, and they were extending past the budget we hoped to hit.

With stand-alone fireplaces (except for the Malm) seemingly out of reach, he focused on fireplace inserts. Which led him back to the original Stuv, which was available without the cladding.

Aaron reached out to Stuv to get pricing and see if they would sell direct. They would, but the insert was STILL out of reach. The fireplace is such a focal point, that we decided to crunch the numbers again. After pulling up the spreadsheet, Aaron realized he had money set aside to remove the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Because we can’t tackle the kitchen right now (more on our plans here), that wall is staying in place, and the extra funds put the Stuv insert within reach! Huzzah!

We ordered the Stuv 21/85 sf (single face).


We absolutely love the minimal design. A slim 1-1/2″ frame is all you see. The glass door slides up into the model and the track is hidden. The unit is fully insulated, which makes installing it to code much easier. This was important because we thought we would be tackling the whole job ourselves. More on that in the next post…

A few Labor Day scores

We spent Labor Day weekend like most other red-blooded Americans: hanging with friends and buying things. Except in our case we were hanging with and hosting some newbies to St. Louis: Kim and Scott from Yellow Brick Home. We thoroughly enjoyed being the first stop on their epic Route 66 vacation and touring them around a few St. Louis highlights… including the firehouse. There are two ways to my heart: chocolate and an intense interest in the firehouse. Kim and Scott definitely brought the latter, soaking in every last detail in every room (and if you know them you know they love details): where we’ve started, what we’ve done, and what we’re planning.

Their only request for their stop is that we do things we would normally love (aka good vintage shopping) and fill their bellies with yummy food. I gave them a few spots to check out while we shot a wedding on Saturday, and Sunday followed thusly:

Kim and Scott were traveling light (thanks to a cross-country road trip and a flight home) but we weren’t so we picked up a few scores at TFA. The first was this record stand.


We happened upon it first and stopped in our tracks. The shape of the shelves and the wood toppers are just cool. Our initial reaction is always “where can we use it?” and it’s especially crucial right now because we are trying not to hoard any furniture as we look toward the living room/dining room redo. It seemed like a good option for the awesome bathroom (now that we’ve decided that this metal locker is headed for the workshop) as part plant stand/part extra towel and toiletries holder. Plus at $34.50 it seemed like a steal.

003Sept2015buys 004Sept2015buys 005Sept2015buys

We walked on, which is usually a sign that we’re passing on something, and ended up finding 10 of these Pyrex glasses in the clearance section for just $7.50 a piece.


We bought our first set at TFA several years ago and they are our go to glasses for brown liquor (which if you’ve seen our bar cart, you know is a substantial part of the collection.) We have snagged a few here and there, but when you live with a klutz (ahem… me) you can never have too many vintage glasses. So the only question was “How many do we buy?” My response was, “Well, it depends if we buy that shelf,” at which point I turn to see Kim and Scott ogling it. When they heard of our interest they said, “You HAVE to buy this!” Ha! Sold. So we scooped up the 4 glasses with the least scratches and the shelf, leaving the building just $70 poorer… which may be a record.

(It’s Hank approved.)


After sleeping in the next day (P.S. House guests that love to sleep in are my FAVORITE!) I whipped up some brunch at home. (I know a few of you are still mourning the loss of my food blog. If so, make this for breakfast this weekend: Food and Wine’s Brussels Sprout, Bacon and Gruyere frittata and Dessert for Two’s Cinnamon Rolls. We’re obsessed with both. You’re welcome.) Kim and Scott went on their merry way and we checked back in with the interwebs as you do when you’ve been unplugged for 24 hours. Then Aaron (nearly) shouted “Oh my god” in a tone that is either meant to convey “We are about to die” or “Listen to this really great thing I’m about to tell you” … or maybe that’s just me? I tend to be a little bit of a fatalist. I once thought he had been killed by prospective wedding clients as evidenced by this post on the defunct food blog.

In this case, the “OMG” was joyful because he stumbled upon not one, but TWO Craigslist posts for chairs that match chairs we already own. Too confusing? Let me back up. When we scored the desk and the dresser and the other dresser at South Jefferson MCM, we also walked away with 6 pristine, mid century Chromecraft dining chairs.


If you do any MCM shopping you know finding sets of things is rare. More often you’ll see one bedside table when you need two or three dining chairs when you need four. We walked into South Jefferson, tallied SIX chairs and they zoomed to the top of the wishlist.

008Sept2015buys 009Sept2015buys 010Sept2015buys 011Sept2015buys

These beauties are destined for the dining room and because we’re not sure how many people that will seat having extras on hand seemed like a good idea.

One set of chairs was available with a table at a new to us antique mall, so we tossed on some clothes, grabbed some Starbucks and hopped down to the General Grant Antique Mall. After inspecting the chairs, we asked whether the seller would be willing to split them from the table. The lady at the desk said a woman asked yesterday and yes he would. We instantly claimed them. (Sorry not sorry lady who initially asked.) And now we are the proud owners of TEN chairs at the staggering price of just $320. #dealoftheyear

012Sept2015buys 013Sept2015buys 014Sept2015buys

We’re not ones to let the rest of the antique mall go to waste so we wandered the aisles and picked up set of three Pyrex bakers for just $10.50. They match a set I already have and are perfect for individual cherry crisps!


We also got lost in a booth chock full of St Louis and Missouri memorabilia, eventually walking away with “Thias’ Pencil Sketches of Missouri” for just $12.


It’s a sweet book filled with sketches and a little history on each scene.

017Sept2015buys 018Sept2015buys 019Sept2015buys 020Sept2015buys

So those are our finds from the long weekend. It’s pretty funny that half of the items we bought are just extending collections we already own. We’re nothing if not predictable…

021Sept2015buys 022Sept2015buys

Labor Day feels like SO long ago. Such is our life when we’re in wedding season. What are you scoring lately that you’re excited about?

A dresser for the captain’s bedroom

New furniture was not on the list for the captain’s bedroom makeover. But when everything was painted (walls and floor), new duct work was hung, and a cool light feature was added, the miscellaneous furniture that was occupying this space looked… even more miscellaneous than it did before. (Perhaps the orange walls were blinding us?)

When we visited South Jefferson Mid Century Modern to snag THE desk, we took a look around and spotted a Broyhill Premiere dresser that would be perfect for this space.


The dimensions were great, and while it had some wear it was in spectacular condition. I hope I have as few dings as this piece when I’m 50+

Also we are majorly in love with real wood furniture. It’s so durable and classic, and don’t you just feel like an adult when you buy it? I do. It feels like an investment… even though the pieces at South Jeff MCM are rarely a splurge.

002captainsroomdresser 003captainsroomdresser 004captainsroomdresser 005captainsroomdresser 006captainsroomdresser 007captainsroomdresser 008captainsroomdresser

The surface had a few scars and the legs needed some help.

009captainsroomdresser 010captainsroomdresser

So we consulted the interwebs and landed on an overall cleaning with Murphy Oil Soap. This stuff smells SO good!


The legs got some glue and a little clamp action.

012captainsroomdresser 013captainsroomdresser

Originally we tried rubbing it down with Danish Oil, but when that didn’t give us the results we wanted, we opted for a coat of Restor-A-Finish.


It’s not perfect, but we think the imperfections adds to the charm.

015captainsroomdresser 016captainsroomdresser

It’s a great spot to store our extra linens. And that wood against the Pantone walls! Just stop. Love it!

017captainsroomdresser 018captainsroomdresser

We were waiting to get this piece in place to decide on art, accessories and plants. (We would love something with some height in that sun-filled corner.) Once that’s done, I’ll call this space 85% done. We’re still on the hunt (albeit a slow one) for matching side tables for the bed, a side table for the Mr Chair and maybe a lamp for that nook too.

Mr chair and some better shots of the captain’s bedroom

THE desk wasn’t the only thing we bought after seeing it on Instagram OR the only new purchase for the captain’s bedroom. Allow me to introduce Mr. Chair.


But, really guys, that’s the name of this chair. Mr. Chair® is a plycraft lounge designed by George Mulhauser.

I noticed this guy on The Future Antiques Instagram feed and it popped out at Aaron on Facebook. You might remember that we picked up this Eames lounger last year from TFA with plans to redo it. Since then, Aaron fell in love with the look of the Mr. Chair. So when this one came up for a good price, I agreed on the condition that the Eames chair finds a new home. One house only needs so many loungers.

Between you and me, I like this chair a lot more. I think it has more style and the condition is top notch. There’s a small tear near one of the buttons in the seat, which we may be able to repair ourselves. Either way, it’s a piece of furniture that can be used immediately… in contrast to the dressers we’re planning to refresh that have been hanging out in the studio. (More on those in a future post.) That alone makes it a winner in my book!

We’re not sure where it will ultimately live, but it looks at home in the captain’s bedroom. Once we removed the closet, we figured this corner would be perfect for a comfy chair and this definitely fits the bill. This corner still needs a lamp, small table and art to cover up the electrical box cover.

002mrchair 003mrchair

The room is starting to come together. We still have a dresser to add. Once that is in place, we can work on art and accessories.

004mrchair  006mrchair

We’re also on the lookout for matching side tables for the bed. The typing cart, which we still love and will have a home somewhere, is looking a little “shabby chic” now that it’s on a rug. The round table on the other side is so old it was surely a Bed Bath and Beyond purchase many moons before we realized what kind of aesthetic we really enjoy.


So that’s where things stand right now. It’s SOOO much better than the orange and blue hodgepodge we lived with before.


Yeah. That. It hurts my eyes.


Ahh! Much better!

In fact, this room looks SO good, I sometimes want to move our master. It’s not functional enough for that (closet space, adjacent bathroom, etc) but it makes me happy knowing our guests will stay in a place that I’d be thrilled to inhabit on a daily basis.

A new desk for the captain’s bedroom

Has anyone else started buying things off Instagram? Or is that just me? Ok, it’s not just anything from Instagram – specifically it’s things from South Jefferson Mid Century Modern. We chatted a little about this cute, hole-in-the-wall spot that boasts great finds and great deals when we snagged a table base at the end of last year. I love following their IG feed because Todd, the owner, is great about including dimensions and prices. I think I spotted THE desk on Instagram first. On our first trip to the shop, the desk was hard to miss: 9+ feet of walnut that was in superb shape. We gave it a cursory glance, but dismissed it due to the lack of a place to put it.

Then it was there on our next trip… silently staring at us. We mulled it over and even measured a few walls in the captain’s bedroom – specifically the one to the right of the door (as you enter) and the one next to bathroom (turned closet). The walls were too small. We briefly considered the the wall to the left of the door, but it was SOOO dark in that corner that we nixed the idea and tried to banish the desk from our thoughts.

Time passed and we started to think through our plans for making over the captain’s bedroom, which included removing the closet and adding light. And that desk was still haunting us. Suddenly the wall next to the right of the door seemed liked a real possibility. We finally measured and it was long enough! I jumped on Instagram to confirm that no one had snagged the desk… and I think you know where this is going. We bought the desk and it is nestled in it’s new home.


I love it so much. It feels like it was meant to be here, like it was just waiting for us to realize.

It was in such good condition that it just needed a wipe down with Restor-a-finish to get it looking great. The walnut really pops against the green paint.


Thankfully, it’s modular so getting it home was not as arduous as it could have been. The left side, right side and top are all separate pieces. In fact, it was set up in the reverse at the store, but we thought this layout worked better in our space. The left side has a small drawer and file cabinet drawer.


The right side features black sliding doors on one side and more drawers on the other.

003captainsroomdesk 004captainsroomdesk

It’s nice to have some storage space in the room and will offer a good landing zone for guests.


Because the top was a separate piece, we were able to slide it all the way to the wall. This allows the door to the room to open all the way and minimizes the new soffit.


The soffit is something we added to the room to cover up a random plumbing “feature.” It’s been hiding behind the things we stored in the room, but with everything cleared out you can just see it below.


Here’s a better shot.


Why is it here? We have no idea.

What was it used for? Your guess is as good as ours.

We didn’t try to turn it on. The main goal was to make sure no one else did. So Aaron built a simple soffit that we painted green to help it blend into the wall. Our only regret is that we would have made it bigger if we knew THE desk was coming.


Once the desk is staged, I don’t think you’ll notice it less.


We paired the desk with another Instagram find from Anew Nature. They have an awesome mission of providing vocational training to unemployed, at-risk men. Plus, they  turn out some really beautiful work, including tons of custom pieces. When they showcased a set of 3 white rolling chairs on their Instagram feed for a steal, I sent the picture over to Aaron and he was at the shop in a matter of hours to claim them. One lives here, one lives at my desk in the studio and the third is a back up.

009captainsroomdesk 010captainsroomdesk 011captainsroomdesk

This corner of the room feels like it is coming together. Art is still TBD because we have another score from South Jefferson MCM to add to the room. Once that’s ready we can start layering in some other things. I’ve been holding off showing a real “after” of the room, but I’ve realized that we’re just not the type of people/bloggers who can go all in and decorate a room top to bottom in a few weeks. We’re totally OK with letting things settle into place and having space for fun random finds. So next post, I’ll show you (yet another) piece that is calling this space home and some better overalls of the room. In the meantime, tell me what you’re seeing and buying off Instagram or who you love following on there. I’m always looking for pretty things and interesting people to fill my feed. Feel free to follow me there if you want to see what we’re up to in real-time… or really like pictures of a couple of adorable Great Danes.