I’ve neglected this poor blog for a very long time. Not because I have nothing to write (oh, trust me, things are movin’ around here…), but purely because I haven’t taken the time. I’m not too busy. I’m not too exhausted. I just haven’t made it a priority.
I often think of entire paragraphs when I’m in the shower or snapping a great picture with my iPhone. And then, once the little goes to bed, I spend entire hours reveling in the silence and solitude of being alone at home. It’s really quite wonderful.
BUT… as many of you know, in May of last year, Redneck Husband and I bought a house. After a long and grueling process of looking at house, after house, after house, we finally found one that had everything we wanted.
In the last year, we’ve done many DIY projects that deserve their own posts. But two weeks ago, Redneck Husband and I were spending a rainy Sunday afternoon on the couch. He was watching hunting shows, I was staring at this ugly monstrosity.
After about 30 minutes of Pinterest searching and coming up practically empty-handed in a search for fireplace tutorials, I decided I was going to spend the next few hours doing something about the ugly fireplace. I knew I wanted to whitewash instead of paint, and I knew the gold had to go.
At about 3 p.m., I walked out to the garage and got started.
Since I’ve had a couple of my blog friends ask, here’s what I did:
1. Tape off all areas you would like to protect in the whitewash process. For me, this included the floor, tile on top (see picture), and walls. I wasn’t worried about the mantle or doors since I knew those were going to be painted next.
2. Pick the white paint you would like to use. I used an old gallon of off-white paint I had in the garage. It’s called Churchill White from Lowe’s, but any white will work.
3. Test a brick, then debate for way too long whether or not you want to take the plunge. But trust me, you want to take the plunge. If you need to call my mom and hear the words “it can’t get much worse than it already is,” I’m sure she’d be okay with me giving out her number on the internet.
4. Mix your white paint with water in a 2:1 ratio in some kind of disposable container. I used a coffee container. At first I started using a 1/4 cup measuring cup (2 – 1/4 cups of paint, 1 – 1/4 cup of water). After doing that twice, I increased to using a 1 cup measuring cup ( 2 cups paint, 1 cup water). Regardless, 2:1 ratio was the best.
5. Grab a brush (I used a 1″ brush), and get to painting. I started light, and was wiping off with a t-shirt after applying like I read in many tutorials. This was too light for me, and I wanted to avoid having to repeat the process too many times.
6. Put on your big kid panties and started straight painting and not wiping off. I kept the t-shirts handy to soak up drips. I also used a flat cardboard box on the floor to keep drips from getting on my wood floors.
7. It takes a while to get in a groove, but once you do, you move pretty quickly. Dab the paint on pretty thick. It soaks into the brick, and you may still end up going back for a second coat.
8. Once finished covering the entire brick surface with your 2:1 whitewash (without wiping down after), you can decide whether or not you want a second coat. I did, so I went back to the beginning and knocked out the second coat while I was covered in paint drips.
9. Give yourself a break after all that painting. Painting my fireplace took about 3 hours total for 2 coats. Really… once you get moving, it goes pretty quickly. The beauty of whitewashing is that it doesn’t have to be perfect or exactly even, just be sure to get in all of the cracks. Anyway, my break lasted an entire work week. I know, some break, right?
The next weekend, I took on that ugly brass and gold that I had been staring at all week. I mean, yuck.
10. Pick up some high heat spray paint from your local hardware store. I didn’t want a shine, so I used Rustoleum’s high heat spray paint in black matte. Be sure to use high heat paint if you EVER plan to use your fireplace.
12. Generously spray your high heat spray paint on your brass fireplace doors.13. Allow time to dry before assessing the need for a second coat. If you want to sufficiently panic about messing up your fireplace like I did, go ahead. Because when it’s drying, it will look like this:
14. Once dried, take off the newspaper. You may not need to give your ugly gold mantle a makeover, so you may be able to enjoy your beautiful fireplace at this point. If you need to touch up the brick around the edges of the doors, do so. If not, get to work on your ugly gold mantle.
We opted to sand our original mantle down because it had custom cuts for our mantle lights. This seemed like a great idea at the time, but I did the sanding, and I’m ashamed to admit that my arms are still sore from about 2 hours of sanding. Oh well. Our plan was to sand down the original and add molding, and that’s what we did.
15. Anyway, regardless of your plan, take your stripped or fresh wood mantle, and cut molding according to size. I didn’t take pictures here because Redneck Husband did it while I was at work. He used 40 degree angles.
16. Attach the molding using liquid nails wood glue and clamps. Cuss in front of your three-year-old because the damn liquid nails doesn’t hold it right, then resort to using tiny nails at each end of the molding. Or learn from our mistake and skip the cussing part. I still recommend the liquid nails AND the nails at each end though.
17. Mount your mantle back to your brick fireplace. We are lucky, and our mantle sits neatly on top of our fireplace with little attachment.
18. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sit on your couch, and admire your beautiful modern whitewashed fireplace that went from drab eyesore to beautiful living room focal point in a matter of hours.
Although we spread our project out over two weeks, if I would have had the motivation before 3 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, I really do think it could be easily done in a weekend. It was, by far, the easiest DIY project we’ve completed thus far. Few cuss words, few threats of divorce, and huge payoff in a matter of hours. Right now, I’m sitting on my couch and staring at my beautiful new fireplace that lightened up my living room more than I would have ever imagined.
I can’t stress enough how easy and quick this project was. What are you waiting for? Say goodbye to those hideous brick fireplaces with those ugly brass doors!