Home Renovation: Building A Log Fireplace

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How much do you like logs?

How much do you like big old beams of wood?

I hope it's a fair old amount because today's post is coming to your from what I can only assume might be a woodcutter's paradise.

If you're following my renovation progress posts so far, you'll know that we're bringing new to the old. Bursting out of it's dated shell, this little butterfly of a home is coming up modern, but we're not aiming for the clinical kind of modern, you know? We're holding on to a little rustic charm, but bringing it along some sharp, clean edges.

Heading back for a recap on what the fireplaces used to look like in this property (a few good visuals here). They really made an ill fitting impact on what we were aiming for everywhere else, so they really had to get a huge smack with the transformation mallet.

So! With the old gas fire removed from the dining room chimney breast, the builders uncovered the old flue opening, and plastered us up an empty space to do with as we pleased. After a wash of white paint (as mist coat on fresh plaster) we were ready to get to work on a fancy new creation.

'Reservoir Logs'

We'd seen a few log filled fires before and made the decision pretty early on to go with this kind of idea for the dining room. They create a really stunning impact (if you're a fan of wood) with very little effort needed actually. Here's how if you fancy having a go at one yourself!

Firstly we had to source ourselves some logs, and what sane person wouldn't consider buying from a company called 'Reservoir Logs'? Seriously. I mean you have to be a Tarantino fan or at least be aware of his film history but if you are then you're going to have a little celebration over the branding, right?

So yeah, Reservoir Logs are an online supplier of...well...pre-chopped, kiln dried logs for your convenience! You can use them for mini design projects of all kinds, like building things, decorating things, and stacking in a fire! You can even source your kindling from them too if you need wood to burn.

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Handily, RL make it pretty easy to figure out how many logs you need to fill a particular space with their own product measurement taker thing. You basically fill in the dimensions of your “space”, and the widget will work out how many boxes of logs you need to fill it.

As an idea, we wanted to use “Decorative Full Round Ash Logs” for this project. The dimensions were entered, and it turned out we needed to purchase 6 boxes. At £31.95 a box, the total cost for the log filling part was around £190. In addition to entering your space dimensions (all sound s a bit sci-fi doesn’t it?!) you can also choose what style log you want; be it split, round, or chopped in half (we had split and round for a more rustic look), as well as what type of wood you want; like birch or ash (we chose ash).

Delivery took around a week, which was pretty awesome.

So when the log boxes arrive you have no need to worry about wiping them down or anything (Am I weird in thinking we needed to? I honestly thought they would be just…logs…you know? Like WILD logs), they are literally good to go as soon as you get at them. The logs themselves are pristine, with all lumps and bumps (within reason) filed off them so that they stack straight as they are!

They’re so beautiful with the visible rings (I mean obviously, but I just had no idea what to expect at first if I’m honest) and texture, and the fact that they are all completely random in sizing too makes fitting everything into a square space really satisfying with said differing sizes dotted about together.

On occasion you may find, like us that some logs seem to fall forward a little and face toward the floor slightly if they aren’t sitting flush on the top of another. This happened very rarely, but to fix them so that they sat more proud Lloyd simply popped a little masking tape deep between them, and it goes completely unnoticed.

It takes a bit of an artistic eye to ensure that the log sizes aren’t replicated too often in the space. We didn’t want too many of the same size all bundled in a corner together, for example, but that’s all part of the fun! And I hope you can also see how accurately counted the number of log was for us based on our given measurements.  They could not have filled the fireplace more perfectly! Genius!

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‘Traditional Beams’

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So as lovely as a log filled fire then looked, there felt like there was something missing; A cherry on the cake of sorts. Not all, but most fireplaces tend to be crowned with either a fire surround of at least a mantle. Maybe I’m being a little old fashioned in thinking that, but in my opinion…I do look a good mantle.

Going for a full surround, I thought, might be slightly too “woody” or “90s” for the kind of vibe we were going for with the logs, however inspiration further struck when I was shopping for ‘floating shelves’ actually.

I found ‘Traditional Beams’ whilst tapping shelving into Google. At first I was only taken to the shelving part of their site, but then thankfully decided to stick around for a bit and see whatever else they had on offer, and that’s when I stumbled across their Oak Fireplace Beams.

They work in exactly the same way as floating shelves do on the wall, but are enormously heavy duty “sleeper style” bad boys which go over your fireplace space. Like the logs you need to provide accurate dimensions on site as to which length beam you would like, and also your choice of finish. We went for a ‘Rustic Aged Oak Beam’ at 3.5 ft long, in a ‘Rugger’ finish (a slightly darker, caramel coloured oak). The rustic aged oak comes almost “distressed”. Not rough in texture (actually very smooth), but with natural cracks to it. For ours, you can see there’s a gorgeous crack running pretty deep through from one side (I adore it), but don’t be fooled, this isn’t a flaw, these things are MEGA TOUGH! The weight alone was impossible for me to lift even a little bit, which is why Lloyd is featuring pretty heavily in this post right now.

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The beam took around 1-2 weeks to arrive, and when it does you can’t get too excited straight away. The wood has to sit in the room that it’s intended for, for two weeks before installation. I still to this day can’t see on the sales page where it informs me why this is, but I can only assume it’s because wood is prone to changing shape slightly in new climates. Perhaps it needs to adjust and stabilise in shape somehow, before you go hanging its enormous self on your wall.

With the beam comes all of its fixings ready for your to drill them in (the size of those bracket, screw, things!!), as well as pre drilled holes in your beam. DO check though. Some larger sized beams in the range do NOT come pre drilled, but it is stated if that’s the case

You’ll also find a very simple to follow instruction sheet on setting in place your new beam, and the tool list you’ll need for the job. DEFINITELY have yourself a good spirit level for making sure your mantle is fixed straight, a pencil for mapping out your measurements and intended drill positions, as wells as a reliable drill.

The long and short of it though is:

  1. Make sure you make a good note on the wall of where the holes are going to hold the screws for the beam. You want to ensure that there is an equal amount of mantle either size of your fireplace “gap”, right?
  2. Make sure your lines are straight! We drew a line from each mark we made on the wall to represent where the screw holes were going. This just gave us additional reassurance that we hadn’t got anything planned out to be on the wonk!
  3. When choosing the right drill bit for drilling the holes, always go 1-2 sizes smaller!! A 10mm drill bit was recommended for this job, HOWEVER for us that would have been way too big for the plugs! Some bits are different to others (they shouldn’t be, but they can be), so better to go from small to big, than too big to…nowhere.
  4. Deep breath, it’s heavy! Once the supporting screws are in the wall, have a little lean on them. Don’t go doing pull ups on the things, just ease your body weight onto the guys a bit to make sure there’s no movement or anything scary suggesting the beam might have a hard time staying up.
  5. The instructions say “Slide the beam on to the supports”. It sounds easy, but don’t panic if it isn’t. Ours needed a big old “heave-ho” at first to get the beam moving along. Once it was halfway on though, it travelled to its final resting point nicely.
  6. Decorate beautifully and admire!
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Finished!

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At a cost that’s worth every flipping penny for the beast, this particular beam came in at £105 total which brings the fireplace cost in full up to a grand total of £295. If we were to have installed a faux fire in here/log burner/kept the old one, we’d have had either something which just looked naff with the rest of the décor, and if it was a functioning fireplace then it would have cost a darn sight more in general, as well as having additional running costs (unnecessary ones seeing as the dining room gets snugly warm with radiators alone).

If I had more fireplaces to fill, then mark my words I would definitely use 'Reservoir Logs' again for sure, and as for 'Traditional Beams'; I will absolutely be popping back to their store at some point soon to pick up some matching floating shelves! I just hope they hold in a partition wall, haha! Happy housing!

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3 Comments

  1. 12 May, 2017 / 11:06 am

    What a great article! We’re trilled you were pleased with your beam. Your fireplace looks fantastic!

    We’d love to feature in another of your blog posts!

    Freddie.
    Traditional Beams.

    • 12 May, 2017 / 11:14 am

      You are so very welcome, Freddie! Please feel free to use any photographs you might like from the article too! Very glad we found your shop!

  2. 13 May, 2017 / 5:44 pm

    Love how this turned out…. WILD LOGS?? I choked on that one, tickled me completely.

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