Malmo & Moss House: Adding Hygge to the Living Room
As regular Malmo & Moss blog readers will recall, when we moved into our house 7 years ago one of our first decorating steps was to paint the previously sanitary pad purple front room Farrow & Ball Wimborne White. However, the white combined with original sash windows that looked great but which were about as energy efficient as a pair of your granny's moth eaten pants, meant that we actually rarely used the room or at least not without our winter coats on. To up the hygge factor and reduce the freezer aisle at Tesco factor we laid a carpet, got shutters and went over to the dark side (on the walls) to create a cosier space that we actually wanted to spend time in without an electric blanket. With those changes complete it ceased to be #SittingRoomSiberia' but there was last change I had been hankering after making: installation of a woodburner.
We had inherited a gas fire when we moved in which, when lit, gave off about as much heat as a mouse's fart and when unlit had fake stones which our toddler was fond of stealing and then throwing around the living room cackling like a contestant at the Highland Games who has drunk too much Iru Bru.
However, just as I had started to throw myself into some serious woodburner research, a slew of headlines hit the Daily Mail which basically suggested that the sole cause of global warming was not cows, energy intensive industries or the rapid growth of the Chinese economy but too many middle class people installing woodburners. It turned out that the Daily Mail story was not actually 100% accurate. In fact it was not even 1% accurate and they had needlessly caused the kind of middle class panic that ensues when Waitress runs low on olive oil or pomegranate molasses. Sadiq Khan had expressed concern about particulate emissions from woodburners in a letter to Michael Gove but not from stoves manufactured in accordance with the latest Ecodesign standards which are designed to destroy a huge amounts of those nasty particulates meaning more of the warmth is emitted to your front room instead of vanishing up the chimney. So when you are choosing a stove just make sure it is one which complies with the Stove Industry Alliance's "Ecodesign Ready" label and you are all good. If you want to read more about it all our installers Stoake Ltd have produced a really handy Q&A.
Having reassured myself that my woodburner would not be plunging the Capital back to the Great Smog of 1952, I got to work on the fun stuff, choosing the tiles and stove of my dreams. My main dilemma was whether to keep the existing marble mantlepiece and go for some statement tiles or replace it with a more rustic looking surround and keep things more au natural in the hearth. In the end Option 1 won out because I just couldn't get these Grey Santona tiles from Bert & May out of my head and I wanted to experiment with having a bit of pattern in the house so it was either getting the tiles or getting Mr Malmo to get a huge chest tattoo of them.
I wasn't quite sure what installing a woodburner actually involved. I had visions of Bert from Mary Poppins scampering around on my roof singing chim chimmney chim chim chicheroo as he dropped a flue line down our chimney pot. Luckily this is where the lovely guys from Stoake Ltd (a local North London business) came in. The first step in the process was for them to come round a do a site visit and they then followed up quickly with a written quote setting out the installation process and how much each stage and the associated materials would cost. They are able to arrange scaffolding for you or you can do that bit yourself. We did it ourselves as it worked out a bit cheaper although that meant dealing with a guy who punctuated his conversation with farts rather than commas *Apologies to any more #SophisticatedScaffolders out there*
With the scaffolding finally up, the process of removing the existing fire surround, capping the gas supply and rendering and tiling the new opening took just 2 days. We decided to keep our existing hearth stone to keep the costs down which also saved time.
2 weeks later, just as the Beast from the East blew in, Nigel and team returned to install the stove itself. By the time I had battled the beast to and from work (which sounds dramatic but in reality just involved me walking to the station in wholly impractical shoes squeaking "gosh it is windy" every now and again) the stove was in.
I chose a Skye stove from Charnwood in a lovely cream colour which is handmade on the Isle of Wight and, in Charnwood's own words is "a new state-of-the-art stove with a remarkably efficient combustion system. It’s innovative burn technology ensures efficiencies of up to 86% and exceeds the new Eco Design standards and Defra exemption limits; allowing wood to be burnt cleanly in smoke control areas". If you have space in your hearth there is also an option to chose a version of the stove which has an integrated log store adding to it's rustic good looks. Charnwood are a family owned British company and can help you to find a trusted local installer in your area.
I am no boy scout (I look terrible in Khaki for starters) so I was a little bit worried that I would struggle with the lighting the fire aspect of having a woodburner. However, the Skye is honestly so easy to use that it renders Ray Mears completely surplus to requirements. You literally just assemble a mini pile of kindling wood around a firelighter, strike a match, shut the door and within seconds you will have a blaze ready to chuck a log on. My biggest challenge now is stopping #chriswaddlecat from blocking out all of the heat by plonking himself in front of the stove whenever it is lit and embarking on an epic clean of his feline nether regions.