Considering the aesthetic and energy consumption of our wood burning options. 

fireplace collageCredits: 1234

When it comes to interior design, my husband and I are almost always on the same page. I’ll say “I want our kitchen to look like this…” and he’ll say “I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing”. Or he’ll say “I want our bathroom to be like this…”. You get the picture. So it was surprising when we wanted very different things for a very central part of our Tour: the hearth.

He wants to install a new but traditionally made fireplace in pierre de Caen. Something classic like the examples above. However, with all our apparent stone walls, I wanted more of a juxtaposition of materials to give our Tour a cozier feel. I want a cute wood stove.

wood stove CollageCredits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

There are 4 fireplaces in our Tour, but only one that is worth anything. Unfortunately, it’s in the space that will probably become our daughter’s room, so no fires there. We will strip the paint and restore the natural stonework on this one, but it will remain inactive.

fireplace2Left: Our fireplace in pierre de Caen. Right: Fireplace in raw pierre de Caen by Conraud Doye

The other fireplaces in our Tour like the one shown below are just cache misère. That’s not marble there, just some funky plastic resin. We haven’t tore the casings off yet, but we don’t expect to find much behind them. The chiminey structure looks a bit like the one below (minus the brick) and we’ll work with it for whatever option we finally choose.

fireplace3Left: Main fireplace in our Tour. Right: Fireplaces new and restored by Conraud Doye

There are a lot of amazing tailleurs de pierre like Conraud Doye in the region who restore or make new fireplaces with traditional techniques using  pierre de Caen. While I absolutely love the look of a traditional stone fireplace, our Tour has NO central heating, and I think a wood stove would be more efficient. After several heated discussions (pun intended), I sent my husband several articles like this detailing the  energy consumption/loss of both options. I think I’ve convinced him. Maybe.

I also kinda like the idea of having a fun colorful wood stove in enamel or tile:

new woodstoves1. Wood stove VENDOME blue enamel / 2. Wood stove LUNA enamelled red / 4. Stove chimney BOHEME all from Invicta / 3.  Wood Stove Morso 3112 from Morso

Or what about this awesome steam-punk looking wood stove from Marinemine? Estonian sculptor Mati Karmin makes furniture and wood stoves from old Russian mine shells. Now that would be some style juxtaposition!

mine-furniture 06 Marinemine
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  1. Geraldine Barklie

     /  March 9, 2016

    Very interesting read.! Can you tell me where you bought your Inviicta Boheme stove in Normandy please? I have a maison secondaire just south of Flers near Domfront and would love this stove. Thankyou.

  2. Btw, several of the wood stoves we looked at come available as free standing OR fireplace insert. So you might be able to create something unique with pierre de Caen AND cast iron. Win-win?

  3. @Zeno: Yes, I didn’t even look into pellet stoves because I don’t like the following: 1. You need pellets, if there is a shortage you’re SOL 2. You need electricity. If there is a power outage you’re SOL. 3. I don’t like the noise the pellets make when they drop. 4. There are some combination wood/pellet stoves out there but they are expensive!!
    @Elle Belle: I really like the design of the Marinemine, it’s like being in a submarine!

  4. Elle Belle

     /  March 13, 2013

    Modern wood stove may very well work out too.

  5. Elle Belle

     /  March 13, 2013

    Marinemine? no…
    there is so many beautiful simple elegant wood stove on the market and when you shop for the wood stove make sure to check efficiency… #1, we prefer wood stove for heat efficiency. #2 it is more economical. #3 more practical (meaning, there is some stove can burn up to 12 hours, that means when you go to bed, put one log in and in the morning there still is coal left in the stove, so you just throw one log in ” et voila ” you have continuous heat for 24 hours with not much hassle, won’t that be nice for cold winter days Normandy in the stone building?

  6. I vote for a “newfangled” wood stove in the common area. Then you are locally diversified for efficient heating — hopefully wood will always be available in Normandy. I am partial to the retro/timeless look of black cast iron. Enameled gives you lots of color choices, but makes them look slightly “foofy”, plus enamel does chip. Newer design stoves burn very clean and you can load one up and it might burn 12 hours. You probably want one that takes 18″ logs. A wood stove has to be properly sized for the space it heats. Better a smaller one run hot and clean, than an oversized one damped down to where you get a poor burn — bad for your heating budget and the environment. I don’t like pellets because, unless you can make them yourself you are beholden to a market which may or may not exist in the future. Wood must be properly cured 1-2 years to 8-12% moisture to get a clean burn. Nice to put away 3-4 years worth of wood and use/rotate in new every year.


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