One of the things we really love about Gray Gables is that it has a fireplace! Our last home didn’t – although we thought it did when we bought it. Imagine our surprise when what we assumed was a fireplace in our minds was just a exposed brick wall….someone wasn’t paying attention!
But regardless my romantic self imagined quiet chats with friends around a fireplace, a Christmas tree with a fire crackling in the background, roasting smores with handcrafted artisan marshmallows, a little romance, etc…and plus I really super wanted a mantle to decorate, darn it! So a fireplace was definitely on our “must have” list. And while we definitely have one…it wasn’t so pretty.
I had been brainstorming for awhile about what to do with it. Part of me wanted to paint it white, part of me wanted to cover it and make it a stone fireplace, and part of me wanted to make it more modern and cover it with concrete or something to tie into the countertops. While all of those are still viable option, the old fashion part of myself really likes the bricks. There’s just something warm and cozy about it but the red had to go. After a good amount of research we decided to whitewash the bricks. I think this has been the cheapest, easiest high impact project we have done yet!
We started by pulling off the mantle and the gold screen on the fireplace- neither of those shall be joining us again. RIP. 😛
We then made the whitewash mix- I read online about several ways to do it, some people used lime and salt (??), some people painted and then wiped off paint while it was wet and some people painted, then sanded the paint down to get a desirable effect. I decided to go with the easiest way I saw which was to mix equal parts of paint and water, mix well and apply 2-3 thin coats. Done and done. Luckily we had a quart of white sample paint lying around and a leftover halloween candy bucket so we washed the bucket, dumped the paint in and added a paint can full of water to the mix- and stirred that sucka up! Before we painted we dusted the fireplace really well and I ran a shopvac over the entire thing.
The painting part was pretty easy. Scott started on one end, I started on the other and we met in the middle. It was definitely a lot more runny then regular paint- especially on the second coat. I am assuming the second coat was so much more runny because the first coat had filled the pores of the bricks in? Sounds good to me!
We ended up doing two coats and I’m really happy with it! Our next step is to spray paint the inside of the fireplace with high heat black spray paint and to get a new mantle. We’re thinking a chunky wood rustic something. Excited to figure that out!! Maybe in time for Christmas?!?! Add it to the list 😛
I decided to try the new fireplace look out with our flooring, just to make sure I liked the look of it. I really loved how the reddish undertones were drawn out by the red undertones in the wood. So pretty! Can’t wait until this is everywhere and I can dance/walk barefoot/ roll around on the ground without worrying about stepping on nails.
Now that we are really liking the look of the fireplace we figured we would tackle the shelves besides it. From the beginning I knew I would convert the top from cabinets to open shelving (for my “pretties”) and keep the bottom cabinets for storage. Scott was helping me prep the bookshelves for painting and we decided we didn’t like the scalloped edge, so he used a pry bar to pull it off. Then we decided we didn’t like the trim, or the pieces in the middle….and after prying off a ton of wood (and a sad chunk of drywall accidentally, boo) we decided we reallllly liked it! You can see in the photo how much bigger the shelf on the right looks! We will end up trimming out the shelf to make it look more finished as well as fixing the drywall of course, but for now things are looking good!
So here’s the before-before (before we even finished drywalling), before (after drywall, before whitewashing) and present (can’t call it after because it’s not done yet!)!! I’m loving it! What do you all think?