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Painting the Fireplace

I’ve been talking about redoing our double-sided faux brick fireplace almost since we moved into this house. Someday I’d really like to rip the brick veneer off entirely and maybe tile it, but when it comes to actual construction we have many higher priority projects waiting to happen. So I finally decided to just paint the sucker. I figure that I actually kinda like the look of painted brick, so if we never get around to tiling I’ll at least have something that I don’t hate. And painting is a fairly easy project to do by myself, and I can start and stop it fairly quickly for those times when the baby’s naps are shorter (or longer!) than expected. As a refresher, here’s how the fireplace has been looking, as seen from the front door:

Fireplace before

And here’s the dining room side:

Fireplace before 2

I snapped these shots during the late afternoon, thus the weird sunlight pattern going on…

Anyway, the urge to get rolling on this project came over me somewhat suddenly, so I grabbed the primer and a discarded paintbrush that we had sitting in the garage and slapped on the first coat over the course of maybe three Dakota naps. Then I did a single coat of semigloss latex paint, the same stuff I’ve been using to ever-so-slowly repaint the beige trim and doors all over the house. I think it ended up taking about a half a gallon to completely cover both sides, in a single thick coat. I tend to actually paint coats on too thinly when doing walls, but the brick is so textured that after the primer coat it was easy to see that brush strokes really wouldn’t stand out at all, even with semigloss. So I really loaded up the paintbrush and did my best to get paint into all the nooks and crannies. The paintbrush was kaput by the end of it all:

dead paintbrush

And even with all the smooshing,  there were still quite a lot of dark crevices that really stood out once the whole fireplace was white:

painted fireplace with cracks

See the black spots around some of the bricks? Since these weren’t real bricks stacked on top of each other, there were a bunch of spots that had gaps between the brick veneer and the backsheet thing that they were attached to. So I picked up some paintable caulk and went to town caulking the worst looking cracks. Here’s that same angle after caulking:

caulked fireplace cracksI quickly discovered that the caulk blended really well. It has a slightly different finish, but you basically have to have your nose an inch or so away from the bricks to see it. So there isn’t even any need to paint over the caulk, and I can just caulk over a spot or two at a time as the mood strikes me.

Anyway, here are the finished shots!

Painted fireplace 1

And from the other side of the living room:

painted fireplace 2

and from the dining room:

painted fireplace 3

And even from the kitchen!


painted fireplace 4

It’s amaaaaazing. Especially from the living room, which is on the north (i.e., dark) side of the house. The room is just so much brighter.

Now of course I need to decorate the darn thing. I have the perfect framed photo for the living room side ready to go. For the dining room side I’m thinking some sort of mirror, since there aren’t any mirrors over there and the room is a bit on the small side. I’d like a non-rectangular mirror with a cool frame, but Dave has vetoed any and all “sunburst”-style mirrors, which is cramping my choices a little. 🙂 I think he saw way too many of them in the staged homes we visited while we were house-hunting. He’s otherwise almost always open to my weird decorating inclinations, so I’m okay with him having this one hard veto, no matter how much I like sunburst mirrors. I’m also debating whether we should build a mantle… I like boring straight lines anyway, so we could almost just mount a single chunky piece of lumber without any adornment and call it “modern” and/or “rustic”. That would mean figuring out what’s going on behind the brick veneer though, so we’ll probably just leave a mantel on the wishlist for now.

My final to-do on this would be to install a gas fireplace thingy in there. The gas line is actually already set up, but there just isn’t an insert at the moment. Along with that I’ll probably want to replace the covers on both sides, since the one on the living room side is a bit too ornate for me, and the one on the dining room side is really beat up and kinda ugly in general.

Anyway, since I promised to my family members that there would be Dakota pics in all my posts, here’s Dakota enjoying (ignoring) the new fireplace color:

Baby's view


Holiday Decorations, Part 1

Since it was just the two if us, we kept our Thanksgiving celebration pretty minimal: chicken, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, kale, and wine. It was a bit heavy on the sweet side (our preferred kale recipe uses dried cherries and apple cider, among other things) but the whole dinner was easy to make and we finished off all of the leftovers in the next two days.

(Wooo macro shot.)

Anyway, I’ve been way too excited to get some xmas decorations up. Last year we bought a few decorations and, feeling feisty, we decided to go with a blue and silver theme instead of the traditional red and green. It wasn’t until later that we realized that those were pretty much Hanukkah colors, which is just fine with us. 🙂 We had gotten some blue and white outdoor LED light strands and had haphazardly strung them up last year. This year I wanted to frame our house oh-so-nicely, so we got some gutter clips and I started obsessively switching out LEDs so the strands would alternate blue and white:

(A glass of wine makes the work go faster.)

Dave had never hung xmas lights from gutters before, so while he didn’t really need any help, I went up and directed him. And when we got to the end we didn’t have quite as much lights left as I wanted for the appropriate hanging effect I wanted, so I went all the way back and shifted everything over a few feet. Dave just sat back and let me do that part, he can tell when I’m getting obsessive. 🙂

(I look pretty precarious in the shot, but I'm a big wimp so trust that I'm actually pretty far from the edge...)

We also bought a nifty light-up decoration for our front patio, but I didn’t get a picture, so too bad. Well, I’ll do a separate post for it, and you’ll just have to wait in suspense until then.

The last thing we did was hang the stockings. Actually, first we hung a mirror over the fireplace, because the lack of mantle made the stockings look pretty weird. Having a mirror there balances things out a bit.

(Dave, me, Loki, Callie, Pollux, Castor. Good thing the little stockings were super cheap.)

We’ve had that mirror forever, and now I have the strong urge to either paint it white or stain it really dark. We’ll be replacing the faux-brick… someday… so I guess I should wait until then before deciding on the mirror. Anyway, there are more decorations in the works, so i guess I’ll take more pictures and post them soon.