Friday, October 09, 2009

UPDATED: A Fireplace Journey: The Newest Coolest Thing!

(UPDATED) View missing pictures here...Picasa isn't loading!
Sometimes it takes a lot of tries to get something just right.
Take our fireplace for instance...
Above is how it looked when we purchased the house.
It looked OK, but the glass doors made it almost impossible to reach the gas valve inside the doors. And I had a lot of work to do to get rid of all those hearth stains.

Getting the door off was a good thing.
But...I didn't like the fake logs that came with the house. You can see them in the first picture; they looked like old dry bones to me.
So over the summer when we weren't using the fireplace I put real logs in the firebox, which looked better to me.
I figured I'd go shopping for new fake logs come autumn, when stores would likely carry a good selection again.

Surprise, surprise.

The usual "big box" stores didn't carry replacement logs...they only carried entire "kits"...logs plus the gas fittings.


So I dropped by a swanky fireplace store, where they did have artificial logs, ranging in price from $160 for a very ordinary set and up to $600 for a "Smokey the Bear's Nightmare" huge burnt log set.

While I was mulling my options, a totally different fireplace arrangement caught my eye.

Glass rocks instead of artificial logs!

At first I was a bit turned off...too commercial, too "Disneyland" I thought. Too modern for my tastes.

But I kept looking again...and again...and found myself rounding up a sales guy to find out more.

Turns out glass rocks (special glass, not just broken up bottles and such...) produces 30% more heat output while using less gas.

Installing was a simple as choosing colors, cleaning out the fireplace, (and usually painting the walls inside the box black or white or some other solid color) and then pouring a layer of sand or volcanic rock, and then pouring or arranging the colored glass until the fire box is as full as desired.

In our case, we had something called a "coal carrier" that linked to our gas line, so we just had to fill it up.

I did a bit of research, as the fireplace store said they could give me samples of glass, and then they would order it for me.

I'm sooo impatient...I wanted the glass NOW!

So I did some calling around, and some research on line and discovered a glass rock company about 20 minutes from my home.

I put some elbow grease and soot cleaner to work on our firebox, touched up the coal pan's black paint, and raced out to buy glass.

Color mix #1

(Too even of texture...1/2 inch rocks. Plus not enough glass rock to fill the pan. Bernie wasn't crazy about the red "jellybean" shaped pieces and the ambers. I headed back to the glass shop.)

Color mix #2

(Better texture and height, but too pale of a mix for our lively colored living room. I might want to use the mix in springtime. I decide to make another trip to the glass shop.)

Color mix #3
(Better color mix...but still too low, and not enough texture and contrast. Time for another trip to the glass shop. They really should give me my own parking space by now...)

(Above: Color Mix #3...different view.)

Color mix try #4

(Better chunky texture, color gradation, contrast, and height. I added a bit of black and some deep teal and more red stones.)

Me on the road to buy glass for try four.

As you can tell by my blog...I just love color...and hats....and this 1950's feathered half hat is warm and fun. It deserves to be worn don't you think?

In the end, (not including the cost of gas for all those runs to the glass shop) the glass cost me about a third of what the least expensive artificial log set would have cost. Plus the living room is warmer with glass than it was with the artifical logs.

The neighbors are insisting on knowing where they can get the glass for their fireplaces.

And for the traditional moments, I still have a natural wood burning crackling fire option in the fireplace downstairs.

I love that the living room fireplace now looks like jewel box instead of an off-duty incinerator when the fire is turned off.

(And naturally we will not use the fireplace lit with little ones around. The glass is tumbled, and there is no danger of getting cut if touched, but we will plan on having a screen should it ever be needed to deter little fingers that might want to try to pick glass up for a taste.)

Here are links to companies that provide the fireplace glass:

The first is the company here in SLC that I used: (slow loading but amazing pictures!!!)

I could spend hours looking at fireplaces with glass! Love this corner fire place and "diamonds" glittering away. The third link has reflective glass...with a mirror like substance so the glass twinkles even when the flames are not lit.

How about this traditional fireplace?

Isn't this a great option?

Warmer too...much warmer, and the heat continues even when the fire is turned off. I am totally hooked on my fireplace now. Just in time for fall...and in the spring I may just select another collection of colored glass to suit the season!


Sara said...

Something new! I like it.

Lovella ♥ said...

I really like what you did Jill. It suits the rest of your style perfectly. I can almost feel the warmth of the room.
I had to smile at your pointing out that you would screen if necessary .. since the first thing I thought of was that we could never leave a fireplace unscreened like that. . .but the grandkitties will have the sense to stay back... .I'm sure.

Vicki said...

I really do like it.

I just stepped back and looked at my fireplace...the surround is dark green hearth, just more of the marble on the's not a gas FP, though...strictly wood-burning...I can visualize candles nestled among some of the reflective glass. get rid of those dated polished glass doors and get the box cleaned up. How hard would it be to remove and replace that marble? Hmm, it seems I'm not as near the end of the renovation as I'd hoped...

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

That's the first of I've heard of glass rocks instead of logs...but they suit your room perfectly!

Anonymous said...

I have not seen glass used in a fireplace before, but just love what you did to yours - it's a great change from the traditional logs and looks beautiful.

My husband and I were just talking this week that we should consider doing "something" with our fireplace and I love your idea - so I will definitely show him this blog. We have no grandkitties or grandkiddies, so no problem here!

You did a fantastic job in choosing your stone combination - it looks so good! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

Lori T (Abbotsford)

Anonymous said...

Now I know where my hat went - I had one just like that in the year 1969 !!! Loved it then - would still like to have it
PS Love the fireplace - wish I could convert our woodburning to gas
From a friend of Lovella's

Julie said...

I'm intrigued, Jill. I've never heard of a glass fireplace..but how pretty!

Sara said...

Hi Jill. I keep coming back to see the missing photos, but all I see are little empty squares...blogger seems to be giving you a hard time!

I do love this idea of glass rocks for fireplaces. Very unique and pretty too.

jill said...

Oh my goodness Jill - I love it!!! I am a glass lover and have a large assortment of glass jars all over my home. That is fantastic and I am going to look into it for my fireplace. Thanks for the great idea. Thanks also for all the comments on my blog - I always enjoy hearing from you.

KarenG said...


I would never have thought of using fireplace glass, but you've got me thinking! We have only one fireplace and we burn the compressed product logs, but not having to clean up intrigues me.