Living in New England, my fireplace was always a special treat to look forward to after a day outside in the snow. There was nothing more appealing than a hot chocolate or a glass of wine by a crackling fire with the snow falling silently outside.
Wanting a fire in the fireplace wasn't always a happy thought because thinking about a fire came with some realities that took the enjoyment out of it.
I knew that the fire itself would be wonderful with the heat, the sound and the glow and it would bring back childhood memories and good feelings of friends and family together enjoying each others company.
As I would think about how enjoyable the fire would be, I also would think about the hassle and the worry.
The once beautiful warm fire was now a source of irritation as its barely smoldering ashes forced me to keep the chimney open all night long.
The heat from the house escaping up the open chimney all night while we slept and the constant concern that an open fire was burning unattended made me pause.
More often than not, I would think of the problems and the aggravation and decide against lighting the fire. Over time, I began to forget how nice it was to enjoy a fire and my fireplace sat cold and unused.
Frustrated by the dilemma, I began to research options. I knew there was a way to enjoy my fireplace so I began to search.
A wood stove Insert would certainly do the trick. I could have a roaring fire and close the doors safely when I was done but I wasn't ready to spend $2,000 on a wood stove just to have a few fires.
Quite a few people had opted for the gas fireplace insert and while it was convenient, the remote control gas logs were no comparison to a real crackling wood fire and the cost was still in the $1,200 range.
The third option I found was glass doors. That seemed to solve the safety issue and the heat issue but a quality set of glass doors would still cost in the $500 range and would change the look of the fireplace and the living room.
Unhappy and unwilling to compromise what I wanted at prices I wasn't ready to spend, I went to work. I wanted two simple things: To be able to use the fireplace like it was designed and to be able to close the flue when I was done.
I needed a fireplace grate to contain the fire and smother it the same way you put a lid on a candle.
On the advice of a friend, I joined a maker's space and learned how to weld steel. I wasn't very good at it but after some practice, I was able to sketch a design on paper, add some measurements and tack together a working fireplace grate prototype that would burn firewood unobstructed but close safely.
The fireplace grate prototype was a success! after a few weeks, I now had the only one in existence and sat gloating in front of my fireplace knowing that I was the only person on the planet that could put out my fire when I was done and go to bed like nothing had ever happened.
As I was enjoying the fruits of my creation, it occurred to me that I can't be the only one with an unused fireplace and surely others would appreciate the solution as well.
I began to think about how others might use this and what might be important to them. I had to start thinking like a consumer. When people buy something, they expect it to work and be simple to use. It needed to be safe and it especially needed to look good sitting in the fireplace when it was closed.
After five rounds of prototypes, learning how people might use it and how it works, the resultant design was as simple as it could be and the target price, including manufacturing, packaging and shipping, would result in a finished, delivered product for less than half of the cost of the glass doors without sacrificing quality.
With the lid off and a fire burning, you don't even notice anything different. With the lid on and the fire out, you get a clean, matte black finish that also hides the ashes and coals inside leaving your fireplace cleaner and more appealing than without it and even cleaner looking than the more expensive glass doors.