Laura Gaskill, Houzz Contributor
Do you use it? Do you love it? Does it even work? If you've been secretly wishing you could say goodbye to your fireplace, but thought that wasn't even an option (what about resale value?), maybe, just maybe, it's time to reconsider.
Fireplaces, while still appealing, no longer hold the same status they once did as a must-have item on all home buyers' wish lists. With some areas placing limits on burning wood, traditional fireplaces may even eventually be out. And if you could better use the space if it were a blank wall, or an extra bank of windows, or built-in storage, who's to say a potential buyer wouldn't also prefer that?
Here are eight signs it may be time to say goodbye to your fireplace.
1. It doesn't work. Especially out West, where earthquakes are an issue, it's quite common to find homes with fireplaces that are structurally unsound and unsafe to use. Why keep a feature around if it poses a safety risk and is not adding anything to your quality of life? It's true that even a nonworking fireplace can be a decorative feature, like the one shown here, but if you have the will and the means, why not put in something more useful in that space? (Unless it's a historic home, but that's another ideabook.)
2. You don't use it. Building a wood fire takes time. You have to get firewood and kindling, and store them properly, then build and tend to the blaze. Plus, you have to maintain your chimney.
It's a lot of effort, so it's no wonder many folks with fireplaces don't actually use them very often. If you rarely or never use yours, instead of looking at a roaring blaze like the one shown here, you are likely staring at a cold, black hole in the middle of your living room for most of the year.
3. You're not allowed to use it. Local bans on wood burning are becoming more common in areas where air pollution is a concern. If your area has instituted restrictions or an all-out ban on using wood-burning fireplaces, it makes little sense to hold on to one.
If you love the look of a proper mantel, and enjoy the ambience a fire brings to the room, consider converting your old wood-burning fireplace to gas.
4. Someone in the house has asthma or allergies. Even a small amount of smoke from a wood fire can be enough to cause major problems for someone with asthma or allergies. It's not worth the risk.
Why keep a feature your family can't use?
5. You need more storage. In a small space, storage trumps "extra" features every time -- even considering resale value. Proper storage space means a home looks and feels better, which is a major boon to daily life (and you can bet potential buyers are looking for it too). If you are thinking of nixing a fireplace in a home with a small footprint, think about putting floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets or shelving in its place.
6. You want more windows. Right up there with ample storage space is natural light ... who doesn't want more of that? Traditional living rooms can be dark; imagine if you removed the fireplace and put in a new bank of gorgeous windows instead. And if you ever sell your home, buyers are far more likely to fall for the beautiful sunlight streaming through the windows than to notice the missing fireplace.
7. You'd rather have the wall space. Have a living room with so many doors, windows and other openings that it's nearly impossible to arrange the furniture? Rather have the wide-screen TV front and center? I say embrace whatever will make your life easier. If getting rid of the fireplace would help and some of the other statements above are true (the fireplace doesn't work; there's a wood-burning ban; you don't use it) it may be time to say goodbye.
8. You want more warmth. Traditional wall fireplaces may look beautiful, but they do little in terms of providing heat. If true warmth and coziness are what you're after, you might be better off investing in a quality woodstove, which can generate enough heat to warm an entire house on its own, or in conjunction with another source of heat.