Have you heard the proverb "crooked logs make straight fires" before? I just came across it this morning, it really caught me at an appropriate time! I think the point is that something flawed can sometimes be just as useful as something perfect. So, just use what you have and make the best of it you possibly can.
As some of you may know, we've undertaken a house renovation for our first home which is turning into a colossal effort but the main structural work is now complete so our fragile little 17th cottage will hopefully continue to stand for a few more hundred years.
Without ever questioning it, the general consensus was to put a log burning stove into the large inglenook in the sitting room. I think this is because they are so efficient? Perhaps safer too? I never once properly thought about it. But the house I grew up in and love dearly I might add, has a huge open fire in the ground floor sitting room and a small open fire in the cosy sitting room directly above it. I've been fretting for a few weeks now about how we're actually going to be able to afford to put a log burning stove in when there is still plastering, flooring, insulating blah blah blah to be getting on with.
Money is such a big problem when you're doing these projects because you basically haemorrhage cash on a daily basis. You want to level that tiny area of uneven floor? You'll need 8 bags of high performance levelling compound, a drill paddle (didn't even know they existed), some other bits and it will cost you £177.56. A sorry tale of woe if ever I heard one.
So, I'm now thinking - why are we so focused on a log burning stove? Why can't we just have a normal open fire like I had when I was growing up? My parents still use them, and actually, one of my favourite sights over the Christmas holidays was watching Alfie pug lying practically comatose in front of the fire and so hot you can barely pick him up to move him (why do pets do that?)
This room is roughly the same size and layout of the sitting room in the new cottage. Our walls will all be plastered and our flooring will be nowhere near as beautiful as this stone laid floor but it's given me some idea of what it could look like.
Back to the proverb, I think maybe we'll just go with an open fire for now. I guess we can put a log burning stove in at some point in the future if needs must. I definitely need to do some more research and check our brand new flue liner will be up to the task, but I'm thinking go with the crooked logs. We'll make a nice straight fire.
I've just posted over on the Nest Egg blog the progress photos of the inglenook - it is quite amazing actually how far it has come. If you have any experience of open fires vs log burning stoves I would really love to hear from you - please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!