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My Fireplace Update

by James Wagner last modified Feb 17, 2008 10:22 AM
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My Fireplace Update

Posted by James Wagner at February 01. 2008
After skimming info from these forums for a while, I thought I'd give back a little if someone is interested in doing something like I've done. I drywalled over a brick fireplace years ago, and gave it a rough concrete coat that did the trick for a while until we did our major renovation. I didn't go up to the ceiling for two reasons. One, I didn't want to have to patch the drywall to the ceiling and paint the entire ceiling, and I wanted some indirect ceiling lighting, so there are lights pointing up from the hollow space above the old chest height mantle. The tiling is black porcelain tile, with a stripe of randomly cut and broken slate, which was recycled from our shower install. Keeping with our asymmetric theme, it is off centre, and provides a bit of texture to the generally black monolith. The fireplace unit is the one we originally put in ten years ago when we moved into the place - fake logs and everything! The green cast aluminum surround was chucked. We sourced Fire Stones from to replace the fake logs. They were tricky to place to keep the flames looking good and not have carbon deposits on the rocks, but I think they look much better than the fake logs. The final bit was a wrap around powdercoated steel facade to cover the controls and gaps between the unit and the opening in the old wood burning fireplace. The wrap around provides some visual interest, and helps tip the steel back so that it is safer when removing it - it weights about 200 lbs from what I can tell. I designed it in Sketchup and had it fabricated locally. The aluminum "buttons" are from CRLawrence, and are really intended for standoffs for glass countertops etc. The controls are now wired remotely as part of my Insteon setup, because I didn't want any visible switches on the unit. Cheers, jw

Re: My Fireplace Update

Posted by Gregory La Vardera at February 16. 2008

That looks really great - well done. 


Now tell me about this insteon system? what is?

Re: My Fireplace Update

Posted by James Wagner at February 17. 2008

Insteon is an evolution of the X10 home automation system.

I use the Indigo software made by

It's very easy to configure scenes, timers, linking switches etc

For the fireplace, I wired up an AC switch and linked it to a control panel on the wall, which is the same size as a standard contemporary switch with 8 buttons on it. 

The AC switch is activated when the control switch button is pressed.  The AC switch is wired into an AC relay (eBay) that closes the contacts wired to the fireplace switch.

This provides a super clean look the the fireplace - no switches, remote controls, or opening panels required.  For cleaning, I remove the fasteners and tip the cover down to the floor to access the glass for cleaning, or shutoff in the summer.  Powder coating should help limit scratches and marks.

I'd encourage people to look into Insteon. Although not cheap, it cheaper than other systems and provides infinite flexibility.  I can even control things with my bluetooth phone, or over the internet.  The Indigo developer is very active in the forums and there are plenty of examples and community support.



Re: My Fireplace Update

Posted by Gregory La Vardera at February 17. 2008

Ah, fantastic. I always liked the X10 system. I'll read up about Insteon. Thanks for the links.

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