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Old to New: Time is Right to Update Your Fireplace

A local expert suggests now is as good a time as any to upgrade the look and performance of your old fireplace.

If you’re considering a fireplace makeover in your home, now is as good a time as any to act with the arrival of cold weather looming and manufacture cost increases due to take effect by next spring. At least that’s the opinion of one expert.

John Ivancicts, vice president of operations at Southwest’s Fireside & Patio store in Aurora and Southwest Fireplace’s two locations in the Southland—one in Frankfort, the other in Palos Park—said manufacturers traditionally raise prices right after the burn season ends.

And, because the burn season is just beginning now, he is seeing an uptick in walk-in traffic, seeing more customers looking to turn old fireplaces into new-look heating systems.

“More traffic, for sure,” Ivancicts said. “People are interested. We as Chicagoans are very immediate people. Spring and summer are just as good a time to do it as fall, but most of us—we don’t want to think about our fireplace when it’s 95 degrees outside and we’re out on the patio with our feet up.

“We begin to think about our fireplace once Labor Day hits, leaves begin to fall and the weather gets cooler. We go, ‘We’re going to use that for another year and I’m kind of tired of looking at it. Let’s go see what we can do with it.’ ”

Ivancicts said the options are almost limitless.

“Some people do like to mount a flat-screen television above the fireplace because they’re either limited on space or they’re searching for that single focal point,” he said. “What’s great about a shelf-mantel of the proper depth—it will give that television some protection from the heat and cause the heat to roll into the occupants of the room rather than straight up the wall on the TV.

“Most often those who do the mirrors—and we see it every once in a while—it’s usually people with smaller rooms trying to make the room look a little bit larger or somebody who is looking to have that reflection into another room that may be adjacent to the fireplace.”

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