Escea's New DF990 Gas Fire 'Steals the Show' in Peter Wolfkamp's Devonport Villa Transformation

Located on a picturesque street in the Auckland suburb of Devonport, a compact heritage cottage sat ripe, ready and waiting for a full renovation.

Although the home was in a fairly dilapidated state, the bones, character and charm were all there. All it needed was someone to recognise its potential and have the time, energy and determination to bring it back to life.

Enter Peter Wolfkamp and his wife Debbie. With Peter’s skills as a carpenter and as Site Forman on New Zealand’s The Block, combined with Debbie’s flair for interior design; together they make the perfect combination to tackle such a project.

Stoke was brought on board to work with Peter to update the cottage’s original fireplace, helping him not only choose the right fire, give advice and recommendations, but help with installation too.

The Project –

It was fair to say the heritage bungalow needed a full interior re-build. To Peter this meant re-lining, insulating, re-wiring and a full cosmetic makeover.

It was, however, the bits you can’t see that was most important to Peter. His ultimate goal for the rental home was to “make the house as warm, dry, comfortable and efficient as possible – everything that typical kiwi homes aren’t,” says Peter.

Peter would project management the renovation and undertake the building work while Debbie was tasked with adding her interior style and flair with furnishings and fittings.

The Fireplace –

There were two back-to-back open fireplaces in the original house – one in the bedroom and one in the lounge. They decided to restore both; however, the bedroom fire would remain as an open wood fire, while the living room would be replaced with a new sealed gas fireplace.

Peter engaged Malcolm and the team at Stoke Auckland to visit the cottage and talk through which fireplace options would be suitable.

Peter was after a fireplace that was “practical, efficient and easy to use”. And although he says he loves a traditional wood fire, he acknowledges they’re not exactly practical for everyday living. For these reasons, and to ensure the fireplace stayed true to his overall vision for the home, he decided to go with gas.

Malcolm recommended the new Escea DF990 gas fireplace – the largest in the DF Series. It’s also Escea’s popular retrofittable fire which is perfect for replacing open wood fires like this.

The fire’s square, slim design and large viewing window meant it was the perfect size for fitting into the existing cavity and its flexible flue system is what makes it suitable for character installs like this. The new flexible flue can simply get fed up the existing chimney.

The Escea Smart Heat app was also a highlight for Peter – the fire can be controlled from a smart phone and even be turned on when you’re away from home.

When it came to the fireplace surround, both Peter and Debbie were eager to see the orange bricks be replaced with something a little more subtle. They decided to render the bricks with Resene Rockcoat – a grey, raw textured finish which allows the fire to still be a focus of the room without dominating it.

The Process –

Malcolm visited the site early on in the process which ensured everything that followed, ran to plan. While on-site, Malcolm was able to assess the condition of the existing fireplace and recommend a fireplace to suit all of Peter’s requirements. He then was able to give Peter all the advice and information he needed to prepare for install day.

This included making sure the fireplace cavity was large enough to fit the DF990 – it was slightly larger so Peter needed to use some timber framing to box out the opening. Peter also levelled out the base of the fire to make sure it would sit straight and to spec.

They also needed to ensure the gas line, ethernet cable and electricals were in place and ready to be connected to the back of the fireplace - so this was organised well beforehand.

Malcolm recommended getting the chimney swept to ensure there was no debris to get in the way of the new flue. They also checked the chimney opening to ensure the cowl would fit. The opening was slightly larger so they worked together to get a piece custom flashing made to sit around the cowl. This would ensure no water or debris would make its way down the flue.

Come install day, it took all but a few hours to install the fireplace and have it up and running. Thanks to Peter’s planning and preparation, combined with Stoke’s involvement from the start and throughout the process, the installation couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

The finished room is everything Peter set out to achieve and more, and as he admits ‘the fireplace stole the show’.

Peter’s Top Tips & Advice for Installing a New Fireplace –

  • Prepare! If you involve your dealer right from the start and do all the prep work necessary, you won’t be hit with any last minute problems or nasty surprises.
  • If you’re retrofitting a new gas fireplace, get the chimney swept. This will ensure there will be nothing obstructing the flue come installation.

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