Friday, February 15, 2019

Fireplace Makeover: Before and After

When we first moved into our house about two years ago, it was pretty much perfect. And not just because it has five bedrooms when my family of four had previously been crammed into a one-bedroom apartment in Paris. (But mostly because of that.)

The most perfect part? My Photoshopped grass.

The house had recently been flipped, so we have a new kitchen, new bathrooms, fresh paint, newly refinished original hardwood floors, and lots of other nice stuff for a house that was built in the 60's.

A shiny new kitchen!

And a shiny new bathroom!

The fireplace, however, is not one of those things. While the exterior of our house has this pretty, classic red brick, the fireplace brick is dark red and brown, and the mortar is dark gray. Add to it the dark mantle and it really brings down the whole room. But that's not the worst part, oh no. The worst part is the unfinished concrete hearth. And not unfinished concrete in a trendy, hipster loft way but rather in a did-they-forget-to-finish-this way.

To make matters worse, the black doors of the fireplace are attached to this contraption that you plug in, which then cycles the heat from the fire throughout the room. Let me tell you something. Ever since the time back in Paris when our brand-new microwave caught on fire and our hot water heater went on the fritz (meaning we had to manually light it every time we needed to use it), I decided I was done with anything to do with gas, matches, or fire. We will not be using this fireplace anytime soon. So that weird contraption? Don't need it. Ugly concrete hearth? That needs to be covered up. Really, the whole dang area needs to be lightened up.

Here's a closer shot of the "before" fireplace

And so we embarked on a very quick, very inexpensive, very satisfying DIY project. We did the following:
  1. Removed the funky heating contraption from the doors
  2. Whitewashed the brick (which involves painting it with this special white paint, then spraying it with water and wiping with a washcloth and repeating until it's the shade you want it)
  3. Painted the mantle and hearth white
I already had a paintbrush and white paint, so I only had to buy the supplies for whitewashing, which were less than $50. Then I dropped another $50 at At Home for the décor on top of the mantle.

And voilà… the result:

It's a little hard to read but the big wooden sign says "Every Hour is Happy Hour" which is part homage to the room the fireplace is in (we call this room "The Pub" because of the pub-height table in it) and part homage to my general love of happy hour (hello, have you read my books?). The smaller metal sign thingy says "love." And the plant is the realest-looking fake plant I've ever seen, which is great because all my real plants are the deadest-looking real plants I've ever seen.

So there you have it! Extreme Home Makeover: Fireplace Edition.