It’s Getting HOT in here! :)

1 Mar

As I prepare for a “last-minute trip down the mountain” to (gasp!) Colorado to do battle with a bevy of Beasts (both Corten and Equine) lounging in the middle of field…

I’m going through the mailbag, looking for a victim… 🙂

Ah… here’s one!


Dear Ronin,

We’re planning on building an ISBU home in the mountains. It’s more “cabin” than mountain fortress (like the one you’re building for your own family) and we’re struggling with “fireplaces and wood heat”.

Where do you put the wood? How do you do it so that the wood doesn’t just look like an organic junkpile?

Incidentally, that consulting call we did with you was incredible. You walked us past the posers and got us on track and saving money, from day one! Thanks again!

We’re doing the “offset ISBUs” that you rave about, using (4) 20′ High Cubes set 24 feet apart and set 8 feet apart to form “steel arctic entries”.

(BTW – Thanks again for walking us through that! It’s EXACTLY what we wanted!)

Gable roof, loft at each end… It’s gonna be Corten Coolness for sure!

We dig the whole “burning wood” vibe. But we’re looking for some “Ronin Influences” to make it less “rustic and boring” and more “wonderful and inviting”…

Any suggestions?


Wooded and left wanting…


Dear Woodies,

First, thanks for all the praise. Note to other readers;

If you want to get your questions answered on the blog, apparently the key is to butter us up! It’s hard t o look past an email asking for help, when they coat it in honey! LOL!

One of the things that I LOVE about ISBUs is that they can provide a wonderful place to easily tuck a big fireplace or woodstove.

One of the things I HATE about the current crop of “alt home designers and architects” is that they continue to do things “the same old way” and one project looks like another. It get’s boring and I suspect it’s what has our “woodland pals here” so nervous.

When you’re dealing with small spaces, incorporating that “WOW” factor is really important.

I want my families to move their eyes from one WOW to another, so that it sounds like they’re chanting; “WOW… Oh WOW!… Wow!”

In fact, we want their guests to experience that same feeling! Nothing says; “See, we ain’t nuts!” like getting hit right in the face with a major dose of Corten Coolness!

When we build  ISBU homes with fireplaces, one of the things that we strive to do is to incorporate some cool wood storage into the mix, to make that fireplace easy to use, even in the harshest environment. Nobody wants to get up and get dressed in several layers of clothing, to go out into the elements to collect enough wood to keep that fire going…

Lately, we’ve been looking at several solutions that are not only attractive, they’re efficient.

Try these on for size;

Wood Storage Ideas - 18in deep hearth seatNote the 18 inch high “bench seat”… in front of the fireplace. It’s a perfect place to warm your butt after a long day cross-country skiing. That is… if you can pry the CAT off that stone bench. 🙂

Wood Storage Ideas - Hidden Wood!

Got Wood? I love this one because you don’t SEE the wood. What you get is a nice place to hang artwork with your wood hidden behind it. Do this on both  sides for a long spell of “I ain’t going outside! It’s COLD!” weather!  We’re currently working on a project where we’re planning to do this with a double sided fireplace that will have a pass-thru on one side. COOL!

Wood Storage Ideas - Log Pile - you will need a ladder!

Looking to make a statement? Pile your logs into this “alcove” and it’s ART until it’s time to stoke the fire. Note that wood is harder than drywall, so you need to clad the interior of ANY wood storage area with something that will resist break-out and scratching.

I love this new crop of long slender fireplaces set at “viewing” height, but I question their real “measurable” efficiency.

Personally, I think I’d do this one with wood on BOTH sides, or possibly some incorporated storage shelving, instead of that inset window.

Or, I’d build WING WALL extensions that allowed you to tuck wood into the SIDES of the fireplace enclosure, and run windows on BOTH sides.  THAT would be styling…

And, if you’re going to “aim for the sky” with your wood storage, you’re gonna need some kind of cool ladder or stool to “reach way up there for the good pieces”!

Wood Storage Ideas - Wrap Around Wing Wall

Here’s another example of those “hide the wood” extensions I talked about.

This allows you an ample wood supply, especially when using High Cube Containers as you get some increased ceiling height as a by-product.  You’ll still need a stool to reach the wood at the top, until you start working your way down through the stack.

Incidentally, all these images came from a neat architectural collection site called  “HOUZZ.COM“. I like them so much as a resource (thanks to Timmie for turning me on to this cool site – you ROCK, grrrrrl!) that I’m gonna give them a free plug.

On their website, they say;

“HOUZZ is an online platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality.”

Hope this helped and gave you some cool ideas for fireplaces and wood.

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4 Responses to “It’s Getting HOT in here! :)”

  1. Tex Arcana March 1, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Wouldn’t a free-standing stove be more efficient than inset fireplaces? Akin to that one in the movie captures I sent you awhile back?

    • Renaissance Ronin March 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Of course a free standing stove (at least a well built one) would be more efficient. However, in the case of “weekend cabins” like this one… I suspect that it’s more about creating atmosphere and SOME warmth… and less about BTUs… Only when you start pushing into colder climates does that distinction really get critical. I do get projects where that fireplace is literally written in stone. I’d opt for an efficient woodstove or even a wood gasifier, personally. In our new digs, it’s wood gasifiers all the way. But I’ll be living there 24/7 in Montana and not “spending a weekend a month at the beach”… Capische? 🙂

    • Lorin March 7, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

      Right on! Great post. Hope to be offgrid in my little castle of Corten and glass by next winter… take a quick look!

  2. timmie67 March 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Love the site!!! And love love love the vertical wood storage look.

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