Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A New Fireplace for The Basement

First of all, allow me to apologize for the long time between posts; it has been a busy year with no shortage of distractions both at home and at work. For now, let me begin anew by recapping some of the progress I have been making down in our basement.

As you may recall, I have already enclosed the area under the stairs for a wine/beer cellar, almost finished a bar-height counter/island, built in some storage closets and enclosed my electrical panel. Across one side of the main room I have constructed a fireplace with two cabinets on either side, which are used not only for storage, but to hide two very large, vintage Pioneer speakers that are part of the music system.

The fireplace. The mantel is extra deep, as the wife likes to decorate it  during the holidays. While the paneling above is nice, it will be covered by a larger, mounted TV in due time.

I had some of the paneled bi-fold doors left over from my island project, and used some of these in the structure above the fireplace mantel; I used two more on the side, which are hinged to open for some extra storage space. The fireplace structure is all framed with 2" x 4" lumber and plywood, as are the cabinets built on either side. For the doors, I simply framed them with 1" x 4" pine and covered the open spaces with an off-white burlap, which allows the sound from the speakers to go right through.

One issue that had to be addressed was access to my water meter and main shut-off, which is located at the bottom of the wall directly behind the fireplace. Our city uses an electronic remote-read device, so we don't have a reader coming into the house anymore, but if they ever replace the system, or I need to shut off the water supply to the house from the inside, I still need to get back there. Since the fireplace is electric (a rustic-looking Duraflame unit that heats and looks rather convincing, if I do say) this was not an insurmountable problem.

The firebox and its decorative frame are separate from the rest of the fireplace surround and can be rolled out to access the water meter and shutoff valve.

What I did was build the firebox as a separate unit that rolls in-and-out on hidden casters, fit into the fireplace opening with a decorative frame attached to it. When in place, it looks permanently attached, though it only take a second to pull the whole thing out and access the meter behind. I covered the inside of the firebox with some leftover floor tile I had from another project, and finished up the fireplace surround with some corbels and a length of decorative exterior molding I had on hand. All in all, my carpentry skills are just passable, but I am happy with the result; it is certainly up to snuff for a basement entertainment space.

One happy footnote to the project was the effect it had on my sound system. My two large speakers date from the mid-1970s; they are 6-way designs, with huge 15" woofers. They weigh a ton, and while they are very, very efficient, they sacrifice some true bottom end as a trade-off in this respect. However, I found that inserting them into an even larger cabinet significantly extended the bass response, to where the sound is more reminiscent of the old Altec-Lansing Voice-of-the-Theater speakers that are so legendary. Combined with the smaller rear speakers I use in the back of the room, the result works for everything from sporting events on the TV to a symphony...or a disco dance party.

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