Saturday, October 13, 2007

Light My Fire

The fireplace is finally installed. When I first started planning the house, I thought I wanted a wood burning stove, something clean and modern like a RAIS. They're beautiful units that I've thought about for a long time, and they're a lot less expensive than a full-blown fireplace.

A RAIS is what I thought I wanted, that is until I visited the local dealer who also represents Tulikivi. Made in Finland, these beautiful wood-burning "machines" are seductive. Encased in soapstone, they're a much more substantial fireplace...and (surprise) more expensive. The good people of Mountain Flame in Arkville, New York don't have to say a lot about Tulikivi fireplaces. The models in their showroom speak for themselves. They offer the hypnotic allure of dancing flames as the wood burns in combination with a soft, soothing heat that radiates from the fire-warmed stone. I was also particularly impressed and interested in how safely they operate. Tulikivis are designed to burn with their glass doors closed. So I can have a fire with out worrying about leaving it unattended if I need to leave the house or head back to the city before the fire is completely burned out.

I confess that the switch from RAIS to Tulikivi wasn't without few panic attacks. The night after I mailed in my deposit to get the order started, I woke up at 4 am in a sweat thinking I'd lost my mind for deciding to spend about three times more than I had set out to spend on a fireplace. But, the good people of Mountain Flame helped calm me. When I look at the newly installed Tulikivi, though, there's no doubt that I made the right decision. I like clean lines, and Mountain Flame designed a fireplace the is perfect in scale for the house with a simple, solid shape. . It's positioned in the living area of the first floor on the corner of the half-bath that projects into the room. There it's now a visual anchor and an axis for the core of the house.

I love the subtle variations in the markings of the soap stone, but I did have a second panic attack when I noticed (immediately) after installation that the center stone of the mantel was significantly different in shade from the colors of the surround stone. It's just the kind of thing that can drive my Virgo nature crazy. I contacted Mountain Flame last night and owners Brian and Marcia came by the house first thing this morning to double check the installation and ease my concern. I learned that these fireplaces are very much alive—by that I mean the stone might and will change to various degrees over time as the fireplace heats and cools and even from the repeated touch of hands. This is why it comes with a maintenance kit for occasional cleaning and light hand-buffing of any stone that might change shades of color over the years. A few simple wipes of the stone around the mantel with the provided sandpaper and Brian easily blended the shades of the mantel stone.

I haven't lit a fire yet because Mountain Flame can't install the last pieces of stone around the flue until the beaded board is installed on the ceiling, which I'm hoping will get done in the next couple of weeks. I can already see the fire glowing in the fireplace. Visit the Tulikivi web site to read more on these amazing fireplaces. If you're in the market, I believe you'll be seduced like I was. I don't think there's anything else quite like them.

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