Richmond Fireplace Shop
Victorian Fireplace Shop - Your Richmond Fireplace Experts
Owners Michael & Karen Duke have been in the fireplace & chimney industry since 1979. We entered the hearth industry during the Iranian hostage era, when Jimmy Carter went on tv, fire blazing in the Oval Office, and advised Americans to put on sweaters and light their fireplaces as a means of fighting the outrageous cost of home heating oil. Karen went to work at a Buck Stove store and Mike joined the team a few months later as an installer. In 1984 they opened their first store selling wood stoves and running a chimney service business. Mike has swept, lined and repaired countless chimneys, and we've sold and installed thousands upon thousands of all types of wood, gas and pellet stoves in the Richmond area over the years.
In the 1990's we developed a special interest in the fireplaces in Richmond's historic neighborhoods. These fine old homes were being bought up and renovated in droves, and a special appeal to them are the numerous fireplaces present in turn-of-the-century homes. Mike worked out special methods for addressing the unique needs of the little coal fireplaces in these old homes, and happy customers helped us build this business by referring us to their neighbors. In 2000 the original owner of Victorian Fireplace Shop was ready to retire and asked us to buy the business from him, which was a great way for us to have a specialty showroom devoted to historic fireplaces and to showcase the products we were selling.
These little old coal fireplaces are so small that there are, at any given time, only a tiny number of products made to fit these fireplaces. Most are made in the UK, but they're only able to be used in the US if they've been modified to work with our gas pressure, to have our gas piping connected, and to work with our electric current and wall outlets in the case of electric fireplaces. We've made it our business to find and offer all categories of hearth products that fit small fireplaces. We've also been fortunate to work with manufacturers to develop ourselves the products that fit our historic fireplace niche.
IT ALL STARTS WITH THE CHIMNEY
The first concern with old fireplaces is the chimney. It's rare to find a lined chimney in homes built before 1916. The first liners were clay tile liners, which were mortared in place as the chimney was built. While chimneys without a liner are grandfathered under building codes and you can use them to burn solid fuel (wood or coal), it's rarely smart to do so. Old chimneys often have deteriorated mortar joints and scaling bricks, and cannot adequately keep fumes from penetrating the walls and entering your home. If you opt to burn solid fuel fires then it's just imperative that you have the chimney inspected YEARLY and cleaned when needed. And keep in mind, even though you're "allowed" to burn solid fuel in an old fireplace with an unlined chimney, it's just not advisable to do so.
It's actually quite rare for us to find a homeowner that wants to burn wood any more. If you have to buy your firewood, natural gas is actually cheaper to burn while also being cleaner and easier. For the small fireplaces most common in the Fan, Church Hill, Oregon Hill, West of the Boulevard and in some homes in Ginter park, a gas coal burner will be the best choice for an open fire. These fireplaces were originally designed to burn coal so not only is it the best choice aesthetically, the burners are much smaller and are the only appliance that will usually fit.
We offer gorgeous gas logs to simulate an open burning wood fire; these will require a larger fireplace opening such as those found in much of Ginter Park, Windsor Farms, Northside and most other homes built after 1940.
The type of chimney liner required for a gas liner is determined by the type of gas appliance you opt to install. An open fire, like a gas coal basket or gas logs, will require you to line an unlined chimney with stainless steel or equivalent, because this type of appliance is ONLY allowed to be used in a masonry fireplace capable of burning wood.
In the case of an unlined chimney, the conversion to gas will cost less if you opt to install a gas insert. A gas insert is a self-contained appliance designed to be installed with a chimney liner. You're allowed to use aluminum liner, which costs approximately 1/10th what stainless steel liners cost. Even when the chimney is suitable for use with an open gas fire, a gas insert is a far superior product in terms of heat output and appliance efficiency. Most people are able to heat most or all of their homes with a gas insert.
Often an existing coal fireplace is too shallow to fit even our smallest gas inserts, but often we're able to deepen the fireplace to accommodate the insert by removing the rear row of bricks. Doing so presents no structural or fire safety concerns and enables a considerable upgrade to both with the new gas insert. Homes built after 1940 rarely need modification to fit a gas insert into the fireplace.
We offer a wide variety of gas insert and gas fireplace styles, from reproduction cast iron styles that burn logs, coal, stones or glass as well as larger models to fit standard fireplaces in both traditional and contemporary models.
And if have a room in your home that needs a new fireplace, we have just the fireplace you're looking for, with a variety of venting options that will suit any need. We can finish off the look with any wall and hearth material and mantel, handling the project from start to finish.
Homes with multiple fireplaces don't necessarily need a gas fire in every room. An inexpensive alternative is installing an electric fire. We carry the small products to fit coal burning fireplaces as well as larger models to fit standard size fireplaces. Electric fire technology has come a long way, and is an option worth considering. Stop by the store and we'll be glad to show you what's available. While you can see all of our electric inserts here on our website, seeing them in person is definitely recommended!
COMPLETE DESIGN SERVICES
If your fireplace needs more of a makeover than simply installing a new gas fire, come to us with your design needs! We can help you with new facings and hearth of all types: tile, slate, marble, granite, cultured stone and more. Finish off the look with a new mantel in a wide variety of styles. We also design and install glass fireplace doors to perfectly suit your decor.
We have a small and specialized local business. Karen will give you expert product advice and sales help in the store with the aid of her mom Carole and some seasonal retail help. We're content to take on only as much local work as Mike is able to handle personally, opting not to hire and try to train work crews in what we do. In this way we know you're getting the very best care and attention, confident that your fireplace will safely keep you warm while looking exquisite.
Please drop by the store for a visit. It's helpful if you bring your fireplace measurements and a picture of your fireplace.