Monster in the Living Room

Okay, so it's not a real monster but it is a painfully ugly gas fireplace insert.  I'm sure it was useful in the past since the previous owners really had no other means of heating the house (That's right... no furnace, no baseboard heaters... nada!) but this fireplace is not our taste. 

Not only, does it not fit with our decor, but it is so deep that it actually eats into our living room space.  Those little "legs" at the front also make me feel like one day, this fireplace will climb the stairs and eat us!  Yes, I'm a horror movie fan with an active imagination and I also happen to have spiders on my mind right now because I found one in the basement.  I actually drew a picture to help you see what I see:

Ugly and super scary, right?  Anyway, it's gas... and that's on our list of "things we don't tackle on our own" so we asked our furnace guys to unhook it for us a few weeks ago when they were here.

It occured to me that not everyone would think it's as ugly as I do so I posted an ad on Craigslist.  Don't worry, I posted a serious ad too, although I actually got an inquiry from the "monster" ad.

Unfortunately, when we tried to remove it we discovered that it would not come out in one piece so I don't think we can sell it at this point. 
So here's the open space we're working with now:
The gas line is no longer connected so we'll need to rip it out and patch the hole.  The mess in the picture is actually from another project that we're currently working on.
What do you think of faux fireplaces?  I debated just ripping the entire thing out but I also sort of like it.  Corey and I were talking about tiling the back in a fun colour and I've also seen people paint the interior in chalkboard paint or place pillar candles in the opening.  In the end, we decided that we just love wood and so we are going to embrace the trend (which I'll admit is a little silly and really makes no sense when you actually think about it) of filling our faux fireplace with wood.  I liked this example from Apartment Therapy:
While we still have trees in the yard that need to come down, it would take forever to cure the wood.  We're thinking of just getting lumber and fumigating it before cutting it to size.  Any tips?

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