I finally decided on a wood stove. This is the one I bought. Vermont Castings, Encore. [photo from their site]
Yes, it was expensive. But I got a discount for buying in July. I went with the enamel finish because we live on a gravel road and have you ever tried dusting one of the plain cast iron ones? I have. Never again. So we went with the more expensive, but ultimately easier to clean and therefore less stressful enamel.
It's a flex burn, which means we can do a super efficient catalytic burn or just a plain old burn. Either way, it's a pretty efficient stove so we could go with the smaller size of the Encore instead of the Defiant. I chose the brown, with a matte black chimney. It will go against slate tile about the same colors as the mat below the stove above.
With the money I saved from the summer purchase, I was able to get a heat activated fan that sits on the stove, a nice galvanized wood holder and a nice tool set, as well as a second ash pan so we can leave one to cool completely before we need to dump it.
Why this stove? I haunted forums and read dozens and dozens of reviews. There are much cheaper stoves out there and some of them are very good. I wanted to make this decision one time. Everyone that I read loved this stove and it received the highest marks in consumer testing. Also, I like the way it looks.
Still a lot of construction to go so it will be Halloween before install. I'll keep you updated.