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Design ideas for obsolete fireplaces

Fireplacebookcasewapost_2A proposal to limit fireplace use, reported here last June, became reality Friday as the South Coast Air Quality Management District board voted unanimously "to impose hefty fines on homeowners who burn wood in fireplaces on high-pollution days during winter months — usually about two dozen days," according to the L.A. Times.

Plus: "Builders will be banned from installing wood-burning fireplaces in new homes, and it will be illegal to buy and install one when remodeling a home. Gas-burning fireplaces will be allowed."

But let’s look at the design opportunities here.

What can you do with an increasingly obsolete fireplace?

• Make a book nook out of it
• Burn a few soy candles inside (very romantic)
• Put a cozy dog or cat bed in there
• Display your collection of short statues (Buddha anyone?)
• Take it out and allow the sun to warm the house (check this out)
• Take it out and get views of your garden
• Take it out and free up wall space

Any more ideas?

(Photo: Washington Post)

36 Comments on Design ideas for obsolete fireplaces

  1. lil_gaucha // March 8, 2008 at 10:00 am // Reply

    They’ve had similar regulations in the pollution-swamped San Joaquin Valley for a while.
    And I can tell you, as much of an inconvenience as it might be to some people, it really, really does help. Really.
    The reduction in particulates in the air means your elderly parents or neighbors might not be home bound on quite as many days — maybe not at all. If they need a gallon of milk, they won’t have to worry about whether or not the pollution in the air will make them sick as they sit waiting for the bus.
    Your kids might have fewer asthma attacks — or not get asthma at all.
    It sucks, but that’s life in the big city.

  2. sorry, but attacking less than 1 percent of the problem, which 1 percent enhances quality of life far more than the other 99% (largely in the form of trucks which could stop emissions but won’t have to because they have lobbyists who bribe the government), is as stupid as saving $9 million to close all of CA’s state parks while letting yacht owners spend $20 million and not pay sales tax.
    they seriously hope we all just sit, drooling in front of commercials on our giant screen TVs, and ceasing all unpaid forms of conversation and personal connectivity. then we become even more brain-dead sheeple who will accept every government intervention in our lives with a shrug and a sigh, if that. i’m so sick of it. spying on us, lying to us, devaluing our votes to nothing, monitoring our bodies, selling our personal information – it’s all part of a bigger, orwellian nightmare.
    i am totally, totally opposed to this ridiculous restriction on our enjoyment of life, even though it will not affect me, personally. they need to go after the 99+% of particulate emissions first, then see if there is still a significant asthma problem from fireplaces. bet you there won’t be.

  3. As much as I can appreciate a wood burning firepleace, try living with a family member who has a chronic pulmonary condition (not emphysema) when neighbors chimneys are spewing smoke 24/7 (we are not in the mountains), and then talk to me about the 1% of the problem. The key is proximity to the source of the smoke. Our neighbor relies on a woodburing stove for heat in the winter and any time the conditions are not favorable, my husband coughs until he is gasping. While I can understand the need for ambience, a gas burning fireplace can look great–we switched over last year because of his condition. European countries have had bans on wood and coal burning stoves for a very long time. Protecting the air we breathe is not a new concept.

  4. Antoinette Boulet // March 8, 2008 at 11:17 pm // Reply

    Great! I know that’s what I want most in this life is to be just like the Europeans. Next I’ll stop shaving my arm pits and refrigerating my dairy products like them too. That makes perfect sense.

  5. Jason Hoppe // March 9, 2008 at 12:29 am // Reply

    Yes, one more attack on our freedom. The restrictions need to be on trucks, ships, trains, and power plants. Not on a fire place!

  6. Igor Kagan // March 9, 2008 at 1:22 am // Reply

    We have the worst air quality in the nation in the southern California and with all the people suffering from lung disease every little bit of pollution we keep out of the air helps.
    Also, this rule does not ban ALL fireplaces. Natural Gas fireplaces are allowed and they have the same cozy effect as wood burning ones do.
    As for banning large polluters, let’s have all these folks that are yelling about their personal rights come out and support those rules as loud as they oppose insignificant infringements on their “personal rights” such as this one. You want personal rights? How about the right to breathe clean, healthy air!

  7. Elizabeth Davies // March 9, 2008 at 7:56 am // Reply

    This reminds me of the ballyhoo when everyone was forced to stop using our backyard incinerators (perhaps 40 years ago?). Somehow, we all survived that one, though we’d feared we couldn’t live without the convenience.
    Fireplaces are great heat-wasters, so I’m hoping no one is trying to warm their houses with one (a nice tight wood stove works beautifully–too bad these are banned as well).
    If you want that special ambiance that only a pretty view of fireplace flames can provide, you might consider videotaping your very last fire and turning it into a loop to be viewed on a monitor you have built into the fireplace.

  8. C’mon people…you’re not living in Wisconsin for God’s sake!
    It is a farce that my little HONSA ACCORD had to be smog checked every other year, but the HUGE SUV across the street was EXEMPT.
    Did you know that in the early 90′s pollution in LA had actually DROPPED and I don’t think we were even in the top 10 worst cities. Thanks to the SUV’s everyone has to drive to pick up their kids at kindergarten, we’re back on top.
    When we had a gas fireplace, we burned it ONE day (Thanksgiving) for a few hours for ambience, and our gas bill spiked $30. The same thing happened the next time we used it. Gas is going to be an expensive alternative, HOWEVER, the truth is…I remember reading, the LA Basin has been collecting dust and smog since the dinosaurs (sand blowing in with the winds way back when).

  9. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  10. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  11. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  12. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  13. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  14. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  15. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  16. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  17. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  18. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  19. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  20. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  21. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  22. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  23. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  24. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  25. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  26. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  27. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  28. Kirk Buchanan // March 9, 2008 at 8:45 am // Reply

    But I’m wealthy and I’d like to buy a carbon offset that will allow me to burn wood in my fireplace and feel good about doing my bit for the environment while poor people, who can’t install gas conversions, stare at the hole in their wall.

  29. Yes, another government intrusion into our private lives that we will live to regret.
    First they came for the cigarettes…then they came for the fats….then they

  30. Rather than convert an existing wood-burning chimney, repair it and use it.
    It’s a feature that will only become more and more valuable.
    After all, gas can be added to wood burning chimneys, but wood can’t be burned in new ones.

  31. In Yosemite, they have banned camp fires for over a decade because of air pollution on certain days. If you have seen the smoke in the valley during high volume camp fire days, then you would realize that wood fires do cause significant air pollutionn.

  32. We still have the initiative process, a rather stronger one than in most states.
    Some variant on “Not withstanding any other law or regulation prior or present, no agent or subordinate body of the State of California shall have any authority to regulate or legislate the residential use or construction of fire places or wood stoves, saving the Legislature of the State of California met in regular session, such body reserving all legislative and regulatory authority on this matter unto itself.”

  33. I believe anything to keep air quality clean and fresh is a long time coming. However, why pick on something that is natural to life on this planet, burning wood. IT IS THE BURNING OF FOSSIL FUELS THAT SUFFOCATES OUR AIR QUALITY. Unfortunately for wood their is no powerful lobbyst associatio! So, now homeowners burn more fossil fuel becuase you can’t see what it does to our air quality. Remember the LA smog isn’t from wood burning pizza ovens. It is from burning of fossil fuels.

  34. Where’s the crisis that brought this on? I’ve lived in this city since birth, and remember the late ’70s when we had to curtail our stickball games due to burning lungs.Our air is cleaner despite the SUVs and poulation growth.
    It seems the AQMD is making busywork for itself over marginal changes in air quality that are unlikely to make any real difference.
    Budget crisis, cuts need to be made, bureaucrats without much to do, hmmmm!

  35. My neighbor’s fireplace fills my house with pollution in winter, even with the house locked up tight as a drum. She likes to burn yard clippings, her excess trash, including things with plastic – I can smell it. I’ve gently let her know that this is toxic and polluting, but she thinks she’s being frugal. I suspect a lot of knee-jerk opposition to the fireplace ban is the result of similar parsimony, now disguised as the more fashionable zeal to protect individual liberties.
    No catalytic converters or scrubbers atop her chimney, which means she pollutes the air far more than probably a couple of hundred cars nightly. Carbon particulates, anyone?
    Get a grip, people. Your freedom stops where my lungs begin. Why should your desire to burn anything trump my need for clean air? We regulate industry, we need to regulate fireplaces.

  36. Don Boatman // April 13, 2008 at 5:32 pm // Reply

    I would like to drop something down my neighbor’s fireplace chiminey witch would cause his house to smell as bad as mine. any ideas?

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