Back Portal Redesign Phase 2

The Portal gets an Outdoor Fireplace!

Before the fireplace...

With fall approaching, we started dreaming about how we could make the space more of a year-round living area.  Another disclaimer here – when we dream up ideas, we start big! Our first thought was “I wonder if we could have those great retracting glass doors installed?” We had no idea how expensive those are, not to mention how difficult it would be to retro-fit them into the space, plus the minor detail that even if we were able to enclose the space, there wouldn’t be any heat!  But dreaming big serves a purpose – it’s fun, it gets your creativity flowing and helps you envision how you’d like to be able to use a space, and it often gets you on the path to an idea that might not have occurred to you otherwise. 

Our idea became an outdoor fireplace - we just had to figure out how to make it work!  A fireplace would really anchor this outdoor living space, and would be both warm and welcoming, making the portal a destination, not just the space between the house and the back yard (which was awful, but that’s another story for another post).  If you’ve had a chance to read the About Us section of my website, you’ll know that Andy and I have been DIYers for decades, but this project was way beyond our scope, and it was time to call in the pros. 

We had met a local builder at a recent Parade of Homes, and he came out to our house to listen to our ideas and give us his thoughts.  Turns out that our plan for a corner fireplace would be prohibitively expensive because the column in the corner was holding up the roof for the entire portal, so it would require a structural engineer to make any changes.  But the builder had another solution – we had a very wide opening on one side, and there was room to build a fireplace and still have enough room on either side to access the flagstone patio in the side yard (which, thankfully, was much better looking than the back yard!).  An added bonus was that a fireplace in that location would block the main view of the side of our neighbor’s house as well.  We decided to go forward with the project, and were so excited!

We had a few things on our wish list – we wanted to have a hearth the right height for people to sit on, we wanted a mantle, and we wanted the finished fireplace to look like it was original to the house.  When the craftsmen arrived the next week, I showed them a few photos I had seen on-line and they got started.  What a fascinating process to watch - with only my description and a few photos they created our fireplace in less than two weeks! 

I admit to being nervous when I saw how big this seemed during construction...but once it was finished the scale was perfect for the portal's twelve foot ceilings!  

This was the first time we had ever hired someone to do a home renovation project for us, and truthfully it was a bit surreal.  Over the years we have painted, repaired appliances, removed and installed wallpaper, replaced flooring, built fences, decks and pergolas, torn out walls, done minor plumbing, turned a carport into a garage and even installed an in-ground swimming pool – mostly because we came up with great ideas, but didn’t have the budget to hire out the jobs.  We had to figure it out as we went along!  We still love to do projects, and I’ll share many through these blog posts, but in this case we enjoyed being spectators!

If you missed our earlier posts about this project, you can catch up here... Intro and Back Portal Phase 1

If you'd like to chat about a design idea for your home, please give us a call!

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Deb Tisler

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