December 20, 2013

Brick Fireplace Makeover

This is how our family room looked like when we first moved into our house six years ago.  I was in love with the general layout of the house - it's nothing fancy but a good solid house.  I wanted to change some of the details though, to make it our own.  Like this family room...

The room was way too dark for my taste and we needed to brighten it up.  We spend a lot of time here as a family and we also use this room as our kids' play area (at least for now).  We wanted the room to be light, airy yet cozy. 

I painted the paneling Simply White in eggshell and the trim and molding Waynesboro Taupe in semi-gloss, both from Benjamin Moore.  I loved the way it turned out, but there was one problem.  The brick fireplace looked redder and more dated than ever against the freshly painted white walls! 

I needed to do something to the fireplace quick and without breaking the bank.  Painting or whitewashing the brick were the only options with our teeny tiny shoestring budget.  

But I wasn't quite ready to paint the whole brick white (what if I didn't like it??), and whitewashing seemed tricky when it comes to controlling the amount of wash.  So I came up with my own way of treating brick: Painting the mortar joints using my trusty Annie Sloan Calk Paint (ASCP).  

What?  Did I say Calk Paint?  Yes, I used exactly the same cans of ASCP I used for my Trumeau Mirror Makeover.  ASCP is a bit pricy (about $37 a quart), but you can paint on almost any surfaces and it creates such a beautiful chalky texture.  Since I used the paint and rags I already had at hand, this project didn't cost me a penny. 

You will need 
- ASCP in Paris Grey
- ASCP in Old White
- A plastic container
- A paint stick for mixing paint
- Paper rags 
- Drop cloths 

I used Old White as a base (it is a creamy white), and adjusted the color by adding Paris Grey until I got exact the shade of white I wanted.  As you can see, my "white" ended up more like a light gray in the plastic container.  

This is what I did.  I wrapped my index finger with a double layered rag, and dipped it in the paint and traced the mortar joints.  I made sure to cover the entire concrete part, but I didn't care if the paint went over the brick. 

I smeared the extra paint that got on the brick to have sort of a whitewashing effect.  I used a clean rag to do this task.    

I worked a small section at a time so the paint won't dry before spreading.  It required some time and finger-strength to complete this project, but it was all worth it in the end.  

Did I tell you we took that ugly mantel down, hoping there would be brick underneath, and ended up with a huge hole?  Oy!  

It's okay.  We temporarily covered the hole with my $75 Craig's List nautical painting.  Nobody would notice the hole unless I tell them, right?  Some day we'll fix this problem but covering it up will do the job for now.  

It's been six month since I treated the brick fireplace, and it's held up well. 

I hope you find this tutorial helpful.  

Wishing you all a cozy weekend filled with hot cocoa and good naps!


  1. I really like the change to your fireplace. I would never have thought to do that, but now I am! Found you in the comment section of "for the love of a house" Merry Christmas

    1. Robin - So glad you found me and my blog! Hope you'll come back for more. Merry Christmas to you and yours ox

  2. I'm not sure if my last comment went through.. but I loved reading this tutorial and I think its so creative. Can't imagine how such a stark fireplace could look so warm! You did a great job.


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