Uncovering the chimneys

· Exploring is fun! *says TV shows where everything works out perfectly* ·

Jan, 10, 2022

We’re *almost* finished with the upstairs bathroom – we still need to paint the trim and door and get a doorknob, and we’re waiting for the backordered (the most-used word for renovators during Covid) curtain rod to hang the more decorative shower curtain – so I’ll be posting that soon. I hope you liked the sneak peek on Instagram or Facebook. Also in a future separate post: the Top 10 small details you don’t think about in bathroom renovations.

On to today’s topic: more demo! When walking through any old house, one of my favorite things to do is imagine how people used to live in it. Of course, my perspective is a middle income white woman, so it’s a pretty romanticized version of living. Except in the winter. I wouldn’t have bathed once for probably 6 months because I wouldn’t have been able to stand the cold water. #gross #buttrue #brrrrrr

So speaking of winter in the late 1800’s, this house has two beautiful chimneys that were originally the way smoke left eight fireplaces – imagine a two-story four square, so four fireplaces downstairs and fireplaces in the rooms directly above those. When we moved in, only two fireplaces were open and being used with propane gas (downstairs, on the right side of the house), and the two located upstairs above the two open ones, were covered. Here they are:

In what is now the TV/game room upstairs
In what will be the guest bedroom.

I’ve watched enough HGTV to be ITCHING to see what we could discover.

Behind the wallpaper was a plaster-like finish. So we took a hammer and chisel, and started the “chink-chink” process (it’s hard for me to write this without hand-gesturing the movements and making a clinking noise). It is a deeply satisfying job to see chunks of plaster fall, but it’s also tedious at times and the repetitious movement is tough on middle-aged hands.

I will say that, out of all the decisions we’ve made so far, doing this part of the project before we moved in was SUPER SMART. *pats myself on the back* (really it just because of impatience) The amount of dust generated could make anyone asthmatic and it gets EVERYWHERE.

Underneath that plaster, though, was super-awesome (do the kids use that word these days?) original brick, set in a limestone grout. Both the grout and brick are pretty soft and we believe the brick was handmade from the local Little Tennessee River clay. But SO.PRETTY. And so special.

In the guest room, my hands had had enough, and I also didn’t want it to look identical as the adjacent room so I’ve decided to put an antique mantle around less of the brick.

The fireplace hearth in the TV/game room is brick, but the guest room and both of the kids’ rooms upstairs all have cement as the hearth. If you have any ideas about what to do with that cement, please comment!

Cement lays here

The success of these projects got me so excited for the two covered fireplaces downstairs, located in the dining room and the current kitchen (which was originally a bedroom).

See the white circle covering where the stove used be? There’s a chimney back there!
And there’s a chimney behind that wallpaper! Which also really get in the way of a new kitchen design, but that’s a totally other post.

And one day – after we had moved in, so DUST EVERYWHERE again – I started ripping drywall down to uncover what I expected was beautiful brick like upstairs. Sadly, while still cool, they have not been as successful and will require another project. More on that later.

But tell me, what do you think of the brick so far?



  1. Reply

    Theresa Ramsey

    January 10, 2022

    I love the work you are doing!! We were always told the bricks were made there or at least nearby locally. I will give more thought to the concrete and post later. I like the exposed brick and even if you choose to not use as a fireplace, you could modify and use as n accent in the rooms.

  2. Reply

    Beverly Devier

    January 11, 2022

    Hate to admit this but this is the first blog I’ve ever read! I can hear your dad giving me grief that. So proud of this project of yours. You all are doing a fantastic job. Am going to send your blog address to my niece and her daughter in Shenandoah Valley of VA where she has renovated an old house too. It never had indoor plumbing previously. But it’s so worth the effort. Keep it going.

    • Reply


      February 10, 2022

      I love it! I am definitely not doing it “right” but am trying to enjoy the process, including the frustrations. Thanks for following along!

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Molly, lover of history, old homes and wine (maybe not in that order). Discover our journey of renovation and restoration of an 1870s farmhouse in Southern Appalachia.

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