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We have a fireplace that is currently in the kitchen. I would like to close it off in the kitchen but open it up in the family room. The rooms are divided by the wall the fireplace is currently located on. It seems to be simple to just reverse it? Can this be done?

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    Do you know what kind of fireplace it is? Woodburning or gas? A site-built masonry fireplace, or a factory-built zero-clearance unit? I don't think the question can really be answered without knowing more about it.
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 19, 2022 at 19:39

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Can you reverse an interior fireplace?

Sure, time to dip into that rainy-day fund though...

I have high doubts that you personally have the skills to pull this off let alone obtain the permit and pass an inspection.

I've taken on plenty of projects that were outside of my wheelhouse but I will absolutely never "f*** around and find out" with a brick fireplace. I enjoy having my hypodermis stay where it belongs.


Observe this fine image below.

I would say that recreating the smoke shelf, damper, lintel, and firebrick does not fall into "simple" territory.

There is a science behind the need for all these components and if they're not recreated then you're just asking to burn down your home.

enter image description here

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  • Wow!!! Thanks for the very detailed response. You are right I had no idea what was involved. Not quite so simple after all. Youve saved me from burning down my house
    – Sonya
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 4:16
  • @Sonya if you'll take the tour, you'll note that the appropriate way to say "thanks" is to click the up arrow next to all answers that help you and the check mark next to the one that helped you the most.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 12:35
  • @Sonya Glad I could help you see the true nature of this endeavor. You never provided a picture of your existing fireplace so my answer was based on worst-case scenario with a full-fledged brick fireplace. If you actually have some sort of electric fireplace instead then my answer is invalid.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 13:03
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"Simple" is a relative term....

The kitchen side would have to be bricked over (I'd recommend a mason who knows how to build fireplaces) as the back side of the new firebox. Then the back of the brick would need to be covered/finished to match the kitchen. That's the "simple" part.

The somewhat less simple part is breaking open the brick at the back of the current firebox and supporting the weight of the back of the chimney (which would probably take a steel or concrete header). This would be the new hearth side of the fireplace facing the family room. It's possible/likely that some engineering would have to be done to ensure that the sides of what was the back of the firebox could bear the full weight of the chimney (supported by that new header beam).

Additionally, it's possible that some work might need to be done on the side walls of the firebox. If the walls are square to the existing hearth then they'd be square to the new hearth when the fireplace is reversed. If the side walls are slanted (meaning the hearth side of the firebox is wider than the back wall), then at a minimum, the side walls would need to be reworked to be square, or possibly slanted at the reverse angle (so the wide side now faces the family room).

All of this work would need to be done with temporary bracing holding up the chimney. Is it a one-story house or two, or possibly three? Even a one-story chimney (made out of brick) is going to be extremely heavy and will require a lot of temporary bracing to prevent the chimney from collapsing on your poor mason. Oh, and destroying the middle of your house.

TL;DR:

Can it be done? I'm sure that you'd be able to find a mason somewhere who was willing to do the work, but the work, along with the engineering analysis, wouldn't be cheap.

If you really have your heart set on it and are willing to pay the cost, go for it. Just be sure to be seated before you start getting estimates.

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  • Whew!!! Much much more work and cost than anticipated. Thank You
    – Sonya
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 4:20

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