Roger Hazard and Chris Stout-Hazard
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Grey House: Renovating a 160-year old Victorian.

Sto Very Frustrating

By Chris Stout-Hazard

State of the world this minute: I'm at our showroom, waiting to chat with some folks who drove up from Pennsylvania. Buck is at the house, probably napping on the bed. (No, he's not allowed on the bed.) Roger is in Texas, speaking at a home and garden show. I'm listening to Dosh's The Lost Take. It's especially cold and windy today.

We are living in a house insulated with nothing more than sawdust and a dream (sawdust optional)

Our house has no fireplace. It may seem strange that a home built in the 1800s and nestled between two snowtastic mountain ranges wouldn't have one, but, as a formal village house, it likely served as a secondary summer home for wealthy folks who would venture up during the balmy season and wisely dash back to the city when things got chilly.

We are not so wise.

Living in a house insulated with nothing more than sawdust and a dream (sawdust optional), we stocked up on heating oil and space heaters, and started planning where we'd put the stove when we started the renovation. The thing is, finding the right spot hasn't been easy. While it may make sense to put one in the living room, there's no way to vent it without adding a big chimney pipe to the front of the house. That has been shot down on aesthetic grounds. We considered placing one in the renovated kitchen, but realized that the only thing worse than too many cooks in the kitchen is too many stoves. So we settled on the dining room as the best location.

After spending more hours than I would like to admit searching for the right stove for our house and expanding the search beyond propane to include pellet and wood, I've come to the conclusion that the perfect option just doesn't exist. They see to fall into one or more of the following four categories.

Too big.

Jotul

The most popular stove in the world is the Jøtul 602. It's too big, but I want one just so I can say "Jøtul." Jøtul Jøtul Jøtul Jøtul! jotul.com

There isn't a good place for the stove. Even in the dining room, which will have minimal furniture, it didn't have an obvious location. Placing it on the back wall made some sense, but there was the real chance that it would end up roasting anyone unlucky enough to be seated at the head of the table. An alternate idea was to tuck it in a corner between the back wall and a brick chimney stack (it's for the furnace). While many stoves could fit nicely into this nook, most must be installed with a far larger buffer from "combustible surfaces." I would like to not burn down the house.

Too small.

SardineLittle Cod

These little guys - the Sardine and the Little Cod - are intended for use on houseboats and oh so cute. Less cute when being accompanied by the salty dog on the right. Yikes. marinestove.com

There are a few stoves that could easily fit in the nook. Unfortunately, they're diminutive. Lilliputian. Itty-bitty. I would have to buy a tiny axe to cut down logs into, effectively, kindling to fit it into the stove. And the resulting fire would burn for ten minutes. Did I mention that they don't produce enough heat to warm one room, let alone the first floor? That said, OMG! THEY'RE SO CUTE!

Too European.

There's no shortage of dumpy black stoves with dated brass accents in the U.S. market, but pretty little stoves like this? Stuck in Europe where the fashionable people live. chesneys.com, salamanderstoves.com

Heat stoves aren't very common in the U.S., which means many of the brands that are producing innovative products are based in Italy, Scandinavia, and the U.K. Many of these stoves haven't been tested and approved for use in the U.S., and even then, it can be difficult to locate a dealer that actually sells them.

Too expensive.

Check out these premium-priced weirdos. One looks like the stove equivalent of Master Blaster, and the other one looks like an iPhone dock. morsona.com, wittus.com

It's a classic joke about home furnishings: Well-made, Stylish, Affordable - Pick any two. Stoves aren't particularly affordable to begin with, but they're definitely subject to that rule. Since we're in the midst of renovating the entire house, I'm not inclined to blow our budget on a pretty stove at the expense of, oh, a working toilet.

We're still hunting.

Maybe we'll find the magical stove that combines all of our requirements and wishes into a single unit. Or maybe we'll scratch the idea and just continue strategically positioning space heaters. But at this point, I'm so sick of trawling the Internet for options that I would happily turn my focus to anything else. Guess it's time to start researching refrigerators.

Until tomorrow,
Chris

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Chris Stout-Hazard
Chris Stout-Hazard · Founder · Roger + Chris · Sharon Springs, NY
Chris Stout-Hazard leads product design and development for Roger + Chris and co-stars with Roger in Roger That. MORE ABOUT Chris Stout-Hazard

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