We’re back with the fireplace update that we mentioned in yesterday’s post about removing our old not-baby-safe wood stove.
This next step is definitely just the beginning of our fireplace makeover (as in step two of probably fifteen). We figure we’ll tackle this baby in stages (just like we do pretty much everything else around here) so the first step was to spend as little as possible to get it looking better for the short-term (since it might be a while until Phase Two kicks in). So here’s what it looked like yesterday morning:
And here’s what it looked like yesterday evening:
I know, I know – the orange paneling makes it look craZy with a capital Z. But just scroll down a bit to the dark den from our first house (which also had paneling and brick) to see just how transformative paint can be (we didn’t remove the paneling in there, just primed and painted it). So try to envision some fresh paint in a soft color on the paneled walls with glossy white beams and trim to match the same semi-gloss paint on the fireplace. Can you see it?
And now for a word about the candles and the mirror that I tossed into the firebox. Those are definitely not Clara-friendly. That was just mommy psychosis (I wanted something cute in there for the pics, even if there won’t be a thing in there for a while during Clara’s waking hours). It was such a quick little addition that it gave me some baby’s-in-bed-let’s-have-date-night ideas (you know as opposed to baby’s-in-bed-let’s-upload-fireplace-photos-and-write-the-post-for-the-morning ideas). The latter won out, so maybe I’ll break out this look for anniversaries. Me-ow.
But when it comes to the day to day stuff, l fully expect to find pillows, stuffed animals, books, and whatever else Clara decides to put in there awaiting me when I walk into the kitchen. The girl loves hiding stuff around the house, so I’m guessing that she’ll appreciate this new little nook. Maybe we’ll even be able to sneak a picture of her chilling in her not-hot-and-not-sharp-anymore zone reading a book or snuggling with Gee (her stuffed giraffe that she named herself).
The best thing about this little fireplace facelift is that it took us about five hours (on and off with drying time in between coats) and it only cost eight dollars (and three cents, to be exact). We just used primer that we had leftover from painting the guest room (Olympic Premium No-VOC primer), some white semi-gloss paint that we always have around for trim touch ups (Olympic Premium No-VOC paint) and a quart of Benjamin Moore’s Temptation in satin that we picked up from Lowe’s (color matched to, you guessed it, Olympic Premium No-VOC paint). Primer isn’t always necessary (we’ve gone without it while painting brick before) but we had it on hand so we figured we might as well use it.
You guys know we’re no strangers to painting brick fireplaces since we tackled not one but two in our first house. Remember this guy who went from this…
… to this:
And this one that went from this…
… to this:
You can check out our original fireplace-painting tutorial here, but since we’re nothing if not even chattier these days, we thought we’d recap the steps we took when it came to prepping our current fireplace for paint. First we:
- Closed the damper and declared the fireplace inoperable (we never used the woodburning fireplace in our last house and plan to either install a double-sided gas or electric insert down the road).
- Scrubbed the heck out of the firebox, exterior brick, mantel, and hearth with soap and water to cut the grease/ash (we used Dr. Bronners + water).
- Let everything dry.
Then it was time to prime and paint. Here’s what we did:
- Primed the firebox with Olympic Premium No-VOC Primer (remember, we’re not going to use this fireplace for wood burning, so if you’ll be using your fireplace either leave the firebox unpainted or hunt down high-heat options that are meant for the job).
- Painted the firebox with Ben Moore’s Temptation in satin (color matched to Olympic Premium No-VOC paint).
- Taped off the wall around the fireplace (since you have to smash a paint brush into craggy brick, it’s hard to stay in the lines).
- Caulked the big crack between the tile hearth and the firebox so it would look seamless when painted.
- Caulked other especially cavernous holes in the craggy brick so it looked less shadow-y and chipped when painted.
- Primed the brick fireplace surround, wood mantel, and even the tiled hearth (yup, the tiled hearth… more on that in a minute).
- Painted the brick fireplace surround, wood mantel, and tiled hearth with two coats of Olympic Premium No-VOC semi-gloss paint in off-the-shelf white (some folks like more contrast when it comes to mantel and hearth color, but we’ve always loved the all white look – although later when we build out or even tile the fireplace & surround we might add more varied colors and materials for fun).
- Applied three thin and even coats of Safecoat Acrylacq (a low-VOC non-toxic alternative to polyurethane) to just the tiled hearth on the floor. Be warned that certain polyurethane types will leave a nasty yellow tint so the only two that we trust are the Safecoat I mentioned above and Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic Protective Finish in “Clear Gloss.”
You think we’re crazy for painting the tile on the floor huh? Check this out. We did the exact same thing to the exact same heart floor in our first house. See the same little smashed up tile?
The whole prime, paint, and poly technique was meant as a very very temporary solution (we planned to replace the tile pretty soon thereafter). But it stuck. Literally. It still looked mint four and a half years later when we sold the house! Even with foot traffic (in shoes) and small nephews of ours ramming it with metal matchbox cars. Here’s where I’d add a close up shot, but sniffle, we don’t live there anymore. So here’s the last wide shot we took of the room (you can see that it still looks glossy and white):
So although painting ceramic tile, especially tile that gets walked on, is nothing the pros recommend, we’re totally cool with doing it as a temporary fix (although doing it in a bathroom is probably a terrible idea because it can get slick when walked on with sopping wet feet). I should mention that in both cases the tile was terra cotta which is really matte and porous (and not slick and shiny), which might be why it grabbed the paint and held the heck on for such a long time. Who knows, it could inexplicably show a lot more wear and tear than it did in the last house (you know we’ll tell ya if things quickly go south). But either way we’re pretty sure we’ll bring in some awesome new tile for the hearth and maybe the entire fireplace when we get down the road a bit (read: save enough loot to tackle the kitchen in a more major way).
Have you guys painted any brick lately? Or ever primed, painted, and poly’d tile- just to see what would happen? Has your husband ever taken terribly unflattering photos of you painting something to get you back for sharing pics of him scrubbing brick in his high school gym shorts?
It was January when we painted three test swatches of gray on our dining room walls.
It took us just days to pick the color but apparently took us, yeah, um, FOUR MONTHS to finally paint the room.
I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing – our painting laziness or my rockin’ farmer’s tan. Anyway, I searched my brain for some sort of an excuse for the dining room paint delay. Maybe we were too tired at the end of the day in January that we spent painting the living room and hallway the same color? Or we were too distracted by completing the guest room for Sherry’s mom’s February visit? Or we were too consumed with patio and party prep to take it on before Clara’s birthday? Maybe. Or we just like to bounce around randomly and come back to projects after months of dormancy. Probably that. Either way, something got into us, and the room (finally) went from this:
I know, I know. It’s not a huuuuge difference. Heck it might not look different at all online. But the soft gray definitely feels a lot more polished. And ding dong, the
witch swatches are dead! The color is the same gray that we used in the living room and the hallway (Benjamin Moore’s Moonshine which we color matched to Olympic Premium No-VOC paint) so we already had the paint on hand (we got three gallons of it a while back in anticipation). You may recall that we wanted to paint these rooms all the same color to connect and unify the spaces (and then the kitchen, which is in the middle of all of them, will have a bit more color on the walls for interest). Maybe looking at the unpainted and then painted room shots side by side will demonstrate how even a subtle coat of paint can help things like crown molding and trim have a bit more emphasis. The room definitely reads a lot more crisp now that it’s painted:
It still amazes us how much a coat of paint can do to make a room look finished – or, in our mostly furniture-less version, at least make it look a little less forgotten. Especially when it’s covering up test swatches that have been there so long that we didn’t even notice them anymore until friends would say “which color did you pick?” and we’d say “oh yeah… those” (it was the bottom one, btw).
Even this subtle addition of color to the walls has helped us notice a few things. For example, we didn’t even realize how beefy the crown molding was in here until we painted (it’s about twice as thick as any other room in the house). And the soft gray looks nice with the built-ins on the back wall. It lets them “be the star” (as Sherry would say) but still adds that light I’m-in-a-cloud vibe and makes the room feel polished and complete. Well, as complete as it can feel without curtains, art, entryway furniture, etc.
Since this room didn’t have pesky wood-toned-molding that needed a bunch of coats of white paint (like the living room), it was MUCH faster to finish (the living room also called for beam painting, which we’re thankful this room also didn’t involve). So by comparison, this project was cake. We did one coat together during Clara’s morning nap (Sherry cuts in while I roll) and then did our second coat in shifts after the three of us ate lunch (since one of us was on Clara duty while the other painted the day away). It was so relaxed that it further underscored how crazy it was for us to put it off for so long. Sherry even snuck in a phone date with her Katie B (her blogger BFF) at one point.
Oh and see those white tags in the photo above? Allow me to explain. Sherry’s “painting clothes” may look like an ordinary black sweatsuit (yes, she’s from Jersey and proud of it) from a distance, but take a closer look. It’s an inside-out black sweatsuit. Otherwise known as her pajamas when worn the right way. What Not To Wear, here we come!
We also took – and then promptly deleted – a PG-13 version of the photo below. Let’s just say I was putting the “moon” in “Moonshine by Benjamin Moore” (and my butt is whiter than my upper arms). Go ahead, I’ll give you a few seconds to picture that calamity.
Ok now stop, you’re creeping me out.
All tomfoolery aside, we’re just glad to live in a test-swatch free home. But of course, now having paint on the walls is giving us the itch to do more in there. I mean, it’d be a shame to leave these nice blank-canvas grey walls totally blank for too long, right? Especially since we’re dying to knock out a huge opening to the kitchen and hang curtains and add art and dye those off-white chair slipcovers…
Eh. Maybe we’ll get around to it in a month or two… or four. You know how we roll. Have you guys painted anything recently? Are you a fan of inside-out-pajamas as painting clothes? Have you had swatches on your walls for over four months? Tell us we’re not the only ones…
Psst again- We’re over on BabyCenter sharing how we made some swanky looking photo books for our moms (late Mother’s Day gifts are ok when you’re waiting on a book to be “published” right?).