My mom was in town last week and helped me get a ton done. (Thanks again mom! This house wouldn’t be anywhere near this done without you!) She tore down tons of wallpaper. I got some other stuff done too. But the biggest change for the house last week was the fireplace’s new look.
This was our family room’s fireplace on the day we bought the house.
And now…This is my view!
It’s a long room with paneled side walls and un-matching brick on either end.
The brick opposite the fireplace is the house’s original exterior brick, since this room is an addition. I actually really love the original brick -- it has lots of character. (Gotta be honest, this picture makes it look creepy -- in person it just looks nicely weathered.) But when they built the fireplace they didn’t try their hardest to match the brick to the fireplace -- the brick is redder and darker, with nearly black mortar. The original brick has grey mortar. I didn’t notice this for nearly a week of living here. But once I noticed it, it bothered me. A lot.
After I got the room painted it was driving me batty! I HAD to do something about it. I mentioned before that I want to basically cover up most the brick on the fireplace later on. But I just couldn’t take living with the unmatchingness until then.
I thought about it long and hard. Considered just painting it white. But then thought no, it still won’t match then. So I thought white-wash.
I being me, I researched. Most people just used watered down white paint. (Makes sense.) But me being me, and hoping to get both bricks to tie in together, I wanted to use some color, not straight white. I went to Lowes grabbed endless paint chips and held them up on both walls for like a week.
Eventually I picked the color “Gray Beige” by Olympic because I thought it would bring in the best chance of coordination, especially in the mortar tones. I knew I’d never achieve matching. But I wanted coordination for sure.
(I personally like Valspar’s paint, the price point is pretty good and the quality is great. So I always get the colors I pick out mixed in that brand of paint. I buy it at Lowes.)
I got the eggshell finish -- I didn’t want any real shine - since I wanted a natural look. And since this is paint plus primer kind of paint I used something like a 1:4 paint to water mix, since this paint is very thick undiluted. (Most tutorials I’ve seen say they do 50/50 mix -- I’m betting my mix is close to what half paint and half water would be like in standard paint that isn’t paint+primer.)
If you are nervous about this process, just make your mix very watery and then your bricks won’t change as dramatically. Then you can always go back and do a second, or even third coat.
I wasn’t sure I was going to like my washed bricks, so as a fallback I knew I could just completely paint them. I seriously hated them as is, so I knew I would feel good no matter where I ended up.
My other obstacle was not ruining the carpet with the really runny paint/water mix. Young House Love said they used rosin paper during their process. So I picked some up at Home Depot (it’s in the paint section) and crossed my fingers.
It took forever to get everything prepped. (I wrapped the mantle up in the paper too.)
I took off the fireplace doors. That one took google’s help. I thought these might be somehow permanently attached, but there are screws up at the top and bottom you can loosen. (See the black rectangle near the top of the inside-brick? The screw’s in there.
Then I finally got to start.
I didn’t do anything special. I just painted the watered down paint on.
I had to really get into the cracks between the bricks because I did not want my mortar color to remain.
I would start by going around each brick fully coating the black mortar. Then I would fully coat each brick.
I did not wipe anything off at all.
It’s actually very straightforward and not tricky at all.
It will look pretty white (I should say, grey-beige) at first. And as the brick soaks it in, the brick tone will show through.
After it dries, if you want it to show less and looked more dramatically lighten go back and give it a second coat.
I stopped after my first coat, I was happy there.
I don’t know why, but all the bogs I read that did this white-washing process said it went really fast, but for me it took FOREVER!!!!
Maybe because I am really picky and therefore slower? Or maybe because this is a huge full wall of brick plus the out-jutting and threshold? Maybe because they weren’t trying to change the mortar like i was? (I think a lot of people have lighter mortar and don’t need to focus down in there.) Either way it took me a full evening into late night, and then the most of the next day too.
I also should say this white washing brick really ate up my paint brush.
R.I.P first Prudy brush, you served me well.
Use a cheap brush for this. NOT your Prudy.
That Rosin paper kept all the paint on it, and non of it seeped onto my carpet.
I may have ruined that chair in the process. (I was planning on getting rid of it anyway. But I’m kinda annoyed I did that, I should have just used the ladder right next to me.)
For reference -- this is the brick across the room. I think we are pulling it all together! Not identical or anything, but friends for sure.
Ok so I finally got it done, and didn’t feel happy.
The mantle looked too orange now. I stuck some stuff up there to see if it would help. But it just didn’t seem right.
After talking to my mom and debating painting it white or something, she voted staining it dark. I was kinda gun shy since my botched stained floor incident. But I told myself, if it turns out horrible I can always paint it later.
So I got out the not-used-up stain from the floor (which is Minwax’s Dark Walnut) and took a deep breath.
I wasn’t sure about it all until it was done. I was still super nervous. All said and done, I think it was an awesome choice.
The top and sides were no problem, but doing the underside was hard. I ended up using q-tips to get close to the brick without staining them!
Last step was spray painting that fireplace door. ( Did that a day or two later.)
I lightly sanded it and then covered all the windows on both side (that was kinda time consuming) and then took it out to the back yard. I sprayed both front and back because I thought when I open the doors I didn’t wanna see gold on the back of the doors.
Let it dry all day and reinstalled it.
Then I found a bunch of unused decorations and set them up on the mantel.
Its starting to feel like a home in here!
I told Blake it used to seem more like a camp than a home.
Here’s a (poorly done) pano of the room after being painted and before the fireplace makeover.
It just felt horrible to me.
Now it feels great!
One more flash back -- for full effect:
(Not sure if that dresser will stay there -- it was a freebee that I just set in a free spot -- but I’m liking there now that I don’t hate the wall behind it.)
As good as it looks, it did take me a couple days to really accept it.
It was a big change. And I’ve lived here long enough now that I’ve gotten used to the stuff I first hated. So changing it feels a little hard now. (Make me understand how people get into design ruts.)
it did make the room feel smaller.
The brick used to make the wall feel far (far!) away because it was so dark.
It made the room seem endless.
The white brought the fireplace forward quite a bit.
This is a big room -- so it’s fine.
And before it felt like a endless hole of a space -- so it’s actually nice now.
It feels finished, instead of endless.
I just had to get used to it.
After a couple days, and styled mantle I love it. I love it more every day.
It really does feel like a place to live now instead of a room to exist in.
And some close ups:
Let our life here move forward in prettiness!