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Modern Fireplace Redo

Breathing New Life into a Midcentury Fireplace

A few years ago we discovered the fireplace flu in our 1964 ranch home was unusable. Cracks in the flu pipe allowed smoke to leak into our attic– and eventually the living room. Yuck.
This discovery was followed by a quote for more than $3,000 to repair it! Double-yuck. Time to explore some options.
The first suggestion was gas logs. The idea of fake wood didn't really thrill us. We decided to go with a more modern-style burner called Loft made by Empire Comfort Systems. These can be spruced up with fire glass, beads or even stone. They are available in various sizes with heat outputs ranging from 8000 to 40,000 BTUs. But we soon learned the most important decision isn't the size or look.
Click to learn more...Fireplace inserts like this are available in vented and non-vented styles. The cost and installation involved vary widely between the two. Vented models are essentially self-contained boxes that require venting to the outdoors and a supply of fresh air. Non-vented (also called ventless, vent-free or unvented) install more like a set of gas logs that just sit inside your fireplace. There are advantages and drawbacks to both.
We were interested in the "look" of a fire, but also wanted to gain some warmth benefit. I learned the non-vented burners run so clean there is no need to open the damper. So the warmth stays in the room instead of rushing up the flue. Plus the installation is a breeze compared to the enclosure and vent pipes required for a vented unit.
Once lit the heat can be felt in the room almost immediately.
The unit has a pilot so turning on/off is merely a flip of a switch. Optional remotes and thermostats are also available for the gadget hungry. But so far we haven't found it that burdensome to walk over and flip the switch.
Shop for a Loft Vent-Free Burner on Amazon.


The Recent Past

The Bruce Goff House in Vinita

We were recently surprised to learn about a Goff-designed home just an hour away from Tulsa in Vinita, Oklahoma. Vinita is probably best known to OK Mod readers as the home of the Glass House on I-44, also known as (shudder) the World's Largest Largest McDonalds . Anywho, turned out the Goff house was on the market, and the owner was more than happy to let us have a look around. We took a short drive up the turnpike one Sunday afternoon to meet the realtor, snap some pictures, ask some questions and enjoy another one of Bruce Goff's unique creations. The home is known as the Adams House and was built in 1961. The 3,700 square foot home is arranged in a circular floor plan with a large sunken "conversation pit" at the center. Rising up from this pit is a large metal fireplace, its chimney surrounded by skylights, which dominates the entire house. Rooms surround the perimeter with folding accordion doors acting as walls. To maintain some semblance of privacy an inner

The World Museum

The widening of I-44 through Tulsa will soon claim another mid-century building (see Modern Homes Make Way for I-44 ). This unusual landmark near Peoria, once known as the World Museum, is being emptied in preparation for demolition. The concrete complex was built in 1963 by the Osborn Ministries as a museum and "Interstate Temple." Self-proclaimed minister, T. L. Osborn, and his wife, Daisy, traveled the world as Christian missionaries and collected art and artifacts on their journeys. The unusual La Concha-esque building housed their partial collection and distracted motorists touring along the new Skelly Bypass (aka I-44). The exterior of the building is adorned with maps of the world's continents. In its heyday there was a good deal more- a giant outline of Jesus was on one wall. The inscription below it, "REX," provided one of my earliest Latin lessons when I asked Dad why that building had my name on it. There was also a large globe that once stood out fr

Oklahoma State Capitol Bank

On the Trail of Julius Shulman: Stop 2 "This is a bank," the sign outside the futuristic building read. According to legend a prankster added a strategic question mark and echoed the sentiment of many passers-by: "This is a bank?" That was back in 1964 when it opened. Today the Arvest on Lincoln Boulevard looks a bit less Jetsonian, mostly due to replacement of structural glass below the "saucers," but it's still an unusual bank. Designed by Robert Roloff of the architectural firm Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson & Roloff, the State Capitol Bank caused quite a stir in Oklahoma City when it opened. Heck, it's still pretty shocking today! Originally the flying saucers appeared to hover above the building (as seen in this vintage postcard). All the glass that made that effect possible also made heating and cooling an expensive proposition. Security concerns also mandated replacement of those windows with solid materials and small square portholes