I’m so happy to share with you a project we did a few years ago that created a real feature in our home. We don’t have a fireplace for the usual focal point but we have the next best thing, a beautifully cast Harmon pellet stove that brings a lot of warmth and a little bit of another century into our house.
Our home was built in the late 50s when mid-century modern was just in it’s infancy. From the outside it looks like an Eichler home with windows under the peak (you can see the windows in the mirror reflection above) and a low sloped roofline.
It even had a floor-to-ceiling window and a jalousie window in the living room creating that window-wall effect of that style. We could only wish it was built with the same quality of a true Eichler. Not that mid-century is our style but the modest bones of the house fit with our tastes.
This wall always looked blah no matter what we did and a piece of trim molding that ran up the wall (a long story for another post) but off center made it very difficult to decorate around. When we redid the roof and added some insulation between us and the outside world where none existed we decided to relocate our pellet stove. It’s original location really cramped the TV area so it didn’t take much convincing of the hubby that it was worth the extra work and expense.
The wall needs heat protection but the dilemma was creating a pleasing balance without dividing the wall into thirds. In the end we decided to cover the entire wall, and we are so glad we did. We visited a stone yard intent on buying fabricated stone because it was cheaper and lighter. Once we got there we found it didn’t weigh much less, and the best part is it only cost about $100 more to upgrade from fabricated to stacked quartz for the entire wall.
It’s intimidating but easier than you might think. It require some planning, some strength, and maybe a free tutorial from your local Home Improvement store and that’s about it. Below I’ll show the process but please excuse the pictures; no idea I would be sharing them on a blog one day.
You can see part of the before wall and where that trim board used to live. Before we got to this point hubby put some concrete piers under the joists directly beneath the wall to ensure the extra weight wouldn’t make the floor sag. Then he prepped the wall for the skim coat with plywood sheets.
After applying tar paper to the plywood base our daughter helped him install hardware cloth so the skim coat had something to stick to.
The skim coat created a rough surface so the mortar on the back of the stone had something to grab and hold onto. What a mess that was, thank God for tarps.
We let the skim coat dry for a day or two and it was time for the ‘fun’ to begin.
Here’s hubby buttering the back of the final piece on the 4th row. We made sure to stagger the pieces so there was no obvious pattern (just like hardwood flooring). We minimized waste by using pieces we trimmed to start another row.
I tried handling and buttering the stones and was able to install a few but they’re big and heavy and my hand strength, or lack thereof, just wasn’t cutting it. So I prepped the wall, hubby buttered and applied, and I cleaned the excess inspecting and adjusting as we went. We ran into a few issues and had to pull off an entire row early on; but that’s better than finding an issue you can’t fix because it’s too late and it bugs you every time you see it.
It took us most of the morning and into early afternoon to get the first half up. You should let everything at the bottom set before adding more weight to the top.
We were back at it early the next morning and made pretty good progress in a few hours to get to the final row. We have a lot angles in our house and at the top of the wall is a shelf that’s about 10″ deep. It’s actually the top of the closets that open into the spare room. We still aren’t sure what we’re going to put on that shelf. Any ideas?
It turned out so much better than we imagined and one day when we finally get hardwood floors it will look that much more fantastic.
We installed tile for the pellet stove and made due with rough carpet until we could hire someone to patch where it used to sit and tidy up the edges around the new location.
Here’s what it looks like today with new chairs. The chair on the right I bought at a Home Goods grand opening (for only $200) and is the inspiration I needed to update the Living Room. The chair on the left is one I bought for $25 from a Facebook Treasures site and my mom (81 years old, remember?) upholstered for me. I wish I had chosen a different fabric but the beautiful pillow that I got at Marshall’s helped a lot and ties the two chairs together. More on that project in the next few months!
I hope you like it and will be inspired to try this in your own home. I really love how the light plays off of it throughout the day. One of these days we might even get around to doing some downlighting to really kick it up a notch.