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DIY Fireplace Makeover with Venetian Plaster – With Video

I am so excited to share this makeover with you. This is the first major DIY project we’ve done since having a baby, and I have been itching to do a project for months. This is quite possibly my favorite makeover in our house, and it’s absolutely my favorite fireplace makeover of all time, although it was more labor-intensive.

This post is sponsored by Modern Masters

This one was especially exciting to me for three reasons. First, this project allowed me to partner with one of my favorite brands, Modern Masters. Particularly, I got to try my hand at Modern Masters Venetian Plaster (more on that in a second!).

Secondly, the DIY fireplace makeover let me check a major babyproofing item off my list—remove the hearth. It’s like a magnet for Lily—she wants to climb on it, play with it, try to slide down it, and inevitably bang her little head into it. I’m not saying everyone needs to remove their hearth, but I had an opportunity to do so and took it. I have an upcoming post showing how we did it!

Third, our fireplace is literally the first thing you see when you open the front door. We’ve worked really hard to create a certain Cali-casual vibe in our home, and while the rest of the living room definitely falls in line with that, our outdated, fireplace did not. Not only was the brick an icky, sickly color, but the fireplace is MASSIVE. It’s literally 12 feet long across, without any bookshelves or anything to break up the brick. It seemed like a very ugly waste of space, TBH. Like…check it out. Ew.

Modern Masters Venetian Plaster Review

We had talked about doing a fireplace makeover for a long time. However, we couldn’t quite figure out what we wanted to do. I’ve done painted brick before and I really wanted to do something different and more interesting. When I had the opportunity to work with Modern Masters and choose a product from their line to showcase, I immediately knew I wanted to plaster the fireplace.

Full disclosure: I am not an expert with plaster. This was literally my first time EVER working with plaster. So, would it look better if you hired a professional? I hope so! But I truly am thrilled with how it turned out. I did learn some tips and tricks along the way, so I’m here to share it all with you! 🙂

What is Venetian Plaster?

Venetian plaster is a thick putty made with ground limestone and water. The Modern Masters Venetian Plaster is also low-VOC, meaning it is safe to use in your home around children and pets. It has no detectable odor (that I could smell), so this makes a pretty safe pregnancy project as well.

How to Tint Venetian Plaster

Another major perk to the Modern Masters Venetian Plaster is that it is tintable. There is a base for light-colored tints, and then a base for darker colors. You can theoretically tint the color any shade you would like, BUT I would highly, highly recommend you find a paint store that sells the Venetian Plaster and have it tinted there.

The plaster is definitely different than paint, and there are special instructions to follow for tinting. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Have the store shake the plaster for two minutes prior to tinting
  • Create a vortex in the base to add tint into
  • After tinting, shake for two minutes
  • Open the can and use a stir stick to pull any undispersed tint back into the plaster
  • Shake for another five minutes

If you choose a light to medium color you will use the VP100 Venetian Plaster Tint Base and adjust the formula by using only half the tint called for.

If you choose a deep color you will need the VP200 Venetian Plaster Ultra Deep Tint Base, and ask the store to adjust the full tint by eliminating the white in the tint.

I thought about doing dark charcoal. I also thought about doing white. In the end, I decided to go for a light gray—so glad I did. I had ours tinted in Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams, which is a warm (but not too warm) light gray. It’s beautiful!

How to Apply Venetian Plaster

Applying the plaster was EASY. However, what was not as easy was getting the fireplace prepped and ready for the application. In our case, the fireplace had deep grooves in between each brick. For the plaster to go on smooth, and not crack, the surface needs to be as smooth as possible. Here is how we got the plaster on from start to finish. Some of these steps are easier to see in person, so I created a video for you to watch as well!

  1. We filled our holes and imperfections with mortar to create a smooth surface. The mortar will need to be dry—like a thick concrete paste when you make it. If it’s too wet, it will dribble down the walls. Make sure you purchase high-heat mortar, or it will literally crack and melt under high-heat (aka when you use your fireplace! The mortar will need to dry fully before you can use the plaster, so give it about 5 days. Another option is to cover your fireplace with a concrete board—had ours been a smaller fireplace, we would’ve gone that route!
  2. Dust off the surface. After you do the mortar, you will likely have some film or dust on the fireplace surface. I used a shop vac and then a tacky cloth to remove it all.
  3. Gather supplies the Modern Masters Venetian Plaster. To do this, you will need a trowel. Modern Masters sells special Japanese trowels that are made specifically for plaster application, but I grabbed a couple from the local hardware store. You will also want a smaller trowel to scoop the plaster out of the bucket and onto your big trowel with.
  4. Apply the plaster with an upwards motion. It helps to work in small sections – push the trowel up and get plaster onto the surface.
  5. Pull the trowel down. Then, you will want to thin out the plaster. It is best applied in thin layers, so make sure you scrape off the excess using the edge of the trowel, then start back and step four until the are is covered in a thin layer.
  6. Let the plaster dry. 
    This is how things looked after one coat…not great! Don’t worry, it gets better…keep going!
  7. Apply the next coat. In our case, we did four thin coats, because after the first two you could still see the brick outline.                        
                    This is after our second coat – you could still see lots of little imperfections. We covered it two more times to get a smooth finish.
  8. Let the plaster dry.
  9. Put your fireplace back together. In our case, we had removed the hearth, so we added tiles. We decided to take the tile pattern up the fireplace a bit as well, simply to help the firebox not look so tiny in the giant wall. We also added a floating mantle.                     
  10. Admire! 

I will also mention that there’s a way to polish the plaster. You can see the technique in this video, starting around 2:20. We opted not to because we really like the texture it has now. Plus, Modern Masters doesn’t recommend doing this technique for lighter colors or pastels.

Because we have a small child, I spraypainted the glass screen black and reinstalled it. Here it is all finished. 

Fireplace makeover with venetian plaster and blue patterned tile, with a floating wood mantle.

So there you have it! Our DIY fireplace makeover with Modern Masters Venetian Plaster—isn’t it gorgeous? Check out this crazy before and after!!! I can’t get over it.

By the way, if you aren’t sure if plaster is the route you want to take, check out these 10 easy paint-based fireplace makeover ideas instead!

Brick fireplace makeover with venetian plaster and blue patterned tile, with a floating wood mantle.

Thanks to Modern Masters for sponsoring this post and helping our fireplace dreams come true! 🙂

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Tania Griffis is an accomplished writer, blogger, and interior designer with a Journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. She started her popular blog, Run to Radiance, in 2011, demonstrating her design expertise through the personal remodeling of six houses to millions of readers across the globe.

Tania also owns The Creative Wheelhouse, a respected ghostwriting agency for bloggers, further showcasing her talent for creating engaging and informative content.

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