We've been working on getting gas inserts into the fireplaces since we first moved in. For this fireplace we wanted to get a sealed gas insert. It turns out that because of the design of the fireplace (i.e. note the lack of a uniformly flat surface due to the bricks on the side) an insert wouldn't be possible unless the bricks on the side were removed. After going back and forth for a while, we just decided to demolish everything and rebuild the surround and mantle ourselves.
I was curious to see how long it would take our handy-man to bring down the whole thing. He managed to do everything and clean up the subsequent mess in under 2 hours!
Now you can see what is left behind. It wasn't until the old brick work was demolished did I realize just how much of a eye-sore it was and how much I disliked it. Now comes the interesting part of designing the new fireplace. The gas insert was ordered yesterday but it'll probably be another month before it comes in and they can come install it.
Technical Specs: Canon 5D, 35mm f/1.4