Let me guess…you can’t get those sweet 70’s fireplaces out of your mind since my last mention? Me neither. I’m pretty much ALWAYS thinking about them because very few things in life are better than strange old fireplaces that look like they are going to eat you up. So, what’s left to do but covet more for every room? (You’ll find my unsolicited buying tips at the end and you can check out my Preway here and my Malm here!)
I have a vintage Preway and Malm, two of the most common brands, but Majestic is another brand to look for. Malm fireplaces are actually still in production, so if you are filthy rich and/or want to buy a Malm new you can! Shop like it’s 1975 at the original Malm, like it’s 2015 at Design Within Reach, or the future with a bio fuel version on Amazon (sooo expensive but NO installation required to fire!).
Otherwise, your options are eBay or Craigslist (or the comment section on this post is turning into a mini fireplace classifieds!). I suggest Craigslist all the way on this one. They sell on eBay in the $500-$1,000 range. Skip that. If you have the patience to comb through every “fireplace” and “fire place” listing your local Craigslists you will be rewarded. If you don’t have that kind of patience, keep an eye out for common listing titles like freestanding fireplace, wood stove or even a chiminea (and various misspellings of the word). Other often used terms are cone, retro, 60’s, 70’s, groovy, and even ugly. Don’t be offended: The brand is usually not listed because sellers have no idea what they have and are just looking to clear these things out of their space for their generic remodel. Personally, I would never pay more than $400 and would only pay that for the exact model and color I wanted in perfect condition. I found my perfect condition with all parts Preway for $75 and my Malm for free.
Preways, as far as I know, only come in one shape. The orange and green fireplaces in the photo above are Preways. Their screens have a handle on each side and they should have a metal band around the flue that sometimes says Preway. There are several different leg/base configurations. Vintage Malms come in all kinds of shapes, as do the new ones, including the Preway shape and the smaller, taller cones. Majestics, less common in my experience than the others, are usually identifiable by their gold knobbed screens with a “Majestic” nameplate. They also make the taller cones and some other interesting shapes. I believe they are the only maker of the square shape, like that tapered legged beauty in the first picture.
We use our indoor Preway as a nonfunctioning focal point. We have another fireplace that hosts fires and I didn’t want to mess with the cost or hassle/worry of install so I put a pile of string lights inside and called it a day. I LOVE it and think it is 100% worth the space it takes up, but I’m crazy and know this isn’t practical for most homes. I’ve heard that you can burn cans of clean fuel inside (it seems like these new Malms are basically doing that) without chimney or ventilation, but I haven’t researched that option enough or tried it to recommend.
If you are thinking of installing the fireplace in your house, I would place a priority on finding one with all parts intact. Replacement parts can be hard to find, if not impossible, and expensive. And I would certainly pay a professional to install. Burning down your house down or carbon monoxide poisoning is never worth the cost savings of a DIY fireplace install!
If you are just looking for a place to burn logs in your backyard, you don’t need to be so picky. Though, you may want to lean towards the junkier ones out of vintage-stuff-moral-obligation…DWR recommends buying their stainless version for outdoor use because the enameled ones will rust. I imagine this is the same with older models. I was planning to put my Preway outside originally but it cleaned up so nicely that I felt guilty destroying its finish with weather. I see lots of rusted specimens on Craigslist in the $50 and less range.
I know it’s almost summer and all. But winter is coming, so better get on it! Thanks for reading!