Nothing says classy like having a fireplace to warm your feet during the winter. But is having a fireplace with a chimney worth the trouble? Do you want to sweep your chimney every couple months, or risk your family’s safety by creating a gaping hole where fat, jolly men with rosy-red cheeks and a bag of coal could just pop into your home once every year?
If you answered not to any of the questions above but would still like a fireplace, then you’re in luck: electric fireplaces exist, and they’re practically maintenance-free. The Ameriwood Home Chicago Fireplace is one such model that’s inexpensive, beautiful, and strong enough to support a large TV. Available in five color options (black, dove gray, espresso, natural, and rustic gray), this mantelpiece will easily become the most eye-drawing feature of any living room. But is it as good as it looks? Let’s find out.
Perfect Size for Small- to Medium-Sized Living Rooms
Before purchasing any fireplace mantel, you’ll want to determine how much space you can allocate to the furniture piece – a task that won’t be too hard if you get the Chicago. Fully assembled, this fireplace mantel takes up only 47.24 x 15.87 inches of floor space while standing 31.77 inches tall. This is far from being the largest electric fireplace-media console, making it perfect for small- and medium-sized living rooms.
Fireplace Top Supports 50-inch TVs or up to 70 pounds
The top surface of this fireplace mantel is large enough to support large 50-inch flat panel TV sets or any item(s) with a maximum weight of 70 pounds. If you keep your TV mounted on wall brackets, the space on top of the Chicago can be used to store whatever sound-enhancing equipment you may have.
The distance between the top of the mantelpiece and the top of the electric fireplace is more than 12 inches, so anything you store there will be safe from the fireplace’s heat.
18-inch, 4,000-BTU Fireplace with Optional Heat
The main attraction of the Chicago mantelpiece is the 18-inch electric fireplace. It is rated at 4,000 BTU, the optimal amount to noticeably increase the temperature of a 400-square-foot room in about an hour. If it’s summertime and you’re looking to increase the romance rating of your living room without the unbearable heat from a fireplace, turn the heating feature off and enjoy the soft LEDs as they glow like soft embers at night (last up to 50,000 hours). On the top-right corner of the fireplace are two power switches that control the LEDs and heat.
Lots of Storage Space
Surrounding the 18-inch fireplace in the Chicago are four amply sized storage compartments – two above and two on either side of the fireplace – to place gaming consoles, books, DVDs, remote controls, and any other items you have laying around. The two shelves on the left and right of the fireplace are protected by a swinging glass door with detachable horizontal partitions.
No Remote Control
In this day and age, it’s not uncommon to find normal appliances with controllability via smartphone or remote control. Unfortunately, the fireplace in the Chicago mantelpiece has none of these features. The only way to turn the fireplace and heating feature on and off is by leaning down and flipping the two switches.
This may seem unimportant, but many customers have been “duped” into buying this product with the belief that it comes with its remote control. So this is your final warning: the Chicago fireplace cannot be controlled using a smartphone app or remote control.
A Pain to Assemble
There’s no way to determine how easy a piece of furniture is to put together before buying it. The best thing you can do is to listen to other customers’ comments on the matter. To it up for you, most customers, both happy and unhappy, have complained about how much of a hassle it is to put the Chicago together. Luckily, the supplies needed to assemble it is available in the box, but you’ll have to have your power drill and glue gun since, for whatever reason, the pre-drilled holes of the Chicago’s MDF and particleboard components were put in the wrong spots.
The biggest mistake is the location of the pre-drilled holes on the swinging glass doors. Without a bit of tampering, the doors will be flush with the fireplace. If you know your way around a drill, then assembling this mantelpiece is nothing but a minor convenience. If you don’t, then good luck getting the Chicago to stand without wobbling or the shelves to line up correctly.
Inconsistent Construction Quality and Finish
You might think that large furniture manufacturers would know to not use boards with unsightly blemishes, but apparently, Ameriwood Home uses whatever spare boards they have on hand. Many customers have complained about their Chicago coming with ugly knots, cracks, and even unpainted spots.
If these mistakes were found on the underside of a shelf’s vertical partition, we wouldn’t complain, but if it’s on top of the mantelpiece and in plain view, then we’ve got a problem. The only fix to this problem is by repainting the entire mantelpiece since you most likely won’t be able to find the right color in a single paint can. This is truly a shame since the Chicago’s looks is its biggest selling point.
If you read this review in its entirety, then you’ll understand why the Ameriwood Home Chicago Fireplace TV Stand is less expensive than many other models. It’s not because of cheaper materials which we could get behind, but rather the problem lies in the product’s manufacturing plans and the company’s quality control.
There are two things that happy and unhappy customers can agree on about the Chicago. First, it looks beautiful from afar and the right color option can tie a room together. And second, putting the mantelpiece together puts your patience to the test.