Weekends Are For Projects: Fireplace Makeover

Project

Fireplace Makeover: Bye-bye builder grade. Helloooo, Farmhouse Chic

This project showcases how a few bucks, some paint, and a Saturday can transform a room from a bland space to a feature space.

We choose the corner fireplace wall in our living room. A plain wall employing the builder-gradest of builder grade materials for the mantel and fireplace surround. Totally unremarkable.

This picture was taken right after we put a fresh coat of Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray on the walls.

We decided to add a faux shiplap finish with some trim and coat the whole thing in Sherwin Williams Alabaster in a matte finish. Alabaster white is one of my favorites. Yes it’s white. Plain ol’ white. White like rich, velvety cream. White as the remains of a giant doomsday marshmallow man. It’s a white you want to wrap yourself up in, or sink into, or eat. In other words, you see this white and you want it to cover everything!

Since our wall was less than 8 feet wide and each ripped plywood strip of plywood is 8 feet long, we decided to go with a super clean seamless look. We cut strips to run the entire width of the wall. If you want seams, go with seams. Just cut the strips to your liking, and remember to stagger the seams all the way down the wall. Because we’re going to trim out the wall, you have a nice margin for error, so you don’t have to be super precise with the cuts. Just measure and get them close enough.

The only part of this project that even approached difficult from a skill perspective was where the wood strips met the mantel, where we had to cut a multi-angled groove to fit the wood to the mantel as tight as reasonably possible. But even here, all you need is a bit of patience, a jigsaw, and a couple clamps. Ours didn’t fit perfectly, but some caulking blended the pieces together just fine.

Excuse Josh’s delicate, slender hands. This pic inspired him to order a grip-strength squeezer thing 

 

The trim pieces are 1.75” casing cut to fit and mitered to 45° for a clean finish. No biggie.

As for painting, well, we paint. And we end up with this.

What do you think? I think the fireplace needs to kick it’s smoking habit. Gotta do something about that gross tile.

Regular paint is no good for tile, even after a good scrubbing, so you need to mix up a bit of chalk paint, find my recipe here. Once that’s done, more painting, and here we are!

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Ahhh! Pearly whites

At this point, we’re kind of torn. We love the white, and it’s such a huge improvement from where we started… but you know, we started with a plan and we’re sticking to the plan!

Check back soon to see where it takes us!

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One of My Favorites: Chalk Paint

Essentials

If you aren’t yet acquainted with chalk paint, then my friends, allow me introduce you. I just know you’ll hit it off.

Chalk paint is one of my favorites for lots of reasons. It looks fabulous, it’s durable, it can be super cheap, and it works on everything! Chalk paint works best when you want to freshen up an old piece of furniture like a dinner table or a dresser. Distressing (if you’re into that kind of thing) is a breeze with chalk paint.

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Now, if you plan to use chalk paint, there are some things you need to be aware of.

First, chalk paint is very porous, so I recommend sealing it with either furniture wax or polyurethane. It may cause a rough texture that requires light sanding between coats. Second, it is very thin – much thinner then the acrylic paint or wall paint you’re used to – so it takes a few coats to get the coverage you desire. Luckily, it dries super fast so you won’t have to wait too long (~15-20 minutes) before starting your next coat.

It’s really easy to get your hands on chalk paint. With its growing popularity, many manufacturers are coming up with their own versions, but after loads of research I decided to make my own. I scoured Pinterest to find the perfect recipe, but I never stick to recipes (with admittedly mixed results, but I still think my chicken and dumplings are just as good as my MIL’s), so I tweaked it and made it my own.  

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Here’s my chalk paint recipe:

1 cup paint (any color you want — this is a great opportunity to use up those samples piling up in your garage)

1/4 cup Plaster of paris

~3/4 cup of water

I mix the paint and plaster of paris together, careful to get all the lumps out and slowly add the water to the desired texture – like cream, not too thick not to thin. This may take a little experimenting. Add more water if it’s too thick or more plaster of paris if too thin. I tend to like mine a touch thicker than most recipes I’ve seen. I mix it and store it in an airtight mason jar and keep it until the plaster of paris starts to thicken in the jar. It only lasts a couple weeks, so you might want to have a couple projects lined up to stretch the batch as far as it will go.

I’ve used this recipe A LOT: side tables, picture frames, dining table, kitchen cabinets, and ceramic tile. My only complaint is a slight yellowing of the polyurethane on my white cabinets and dining table. I’m going to repaint these items and seal with wax rather then polyurethane.

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Here is a table I painted (no sanding before) for my kids’ room

I love how chalk paint can transform literally any object you want to paint. Metal, wood, glass, ceramics – it covers it all!  Definitely something I will keep in my arsenal for years to come.

Farmhouse My House

Project

WeddingDecor Ideas (2)

A decade ago, we fell in love with a version of our house. Most of the houses we’d looked at had white walls, tan carpet, beige tile, and no personality. This house had some creative and funky touches that made it stand out.

Kitchen

As we lived with this funky new house, we began to understand that we weren’t really in love with the specific design elements. We were in love with the idea of a house that perfectly reflected our specific tastes (did I mention we were young and dumb had a lot to learn about…everything?).

Dining area

Along the way, we’ve taken on a few projects and then quickly outgrown the preferences that inspired them. A taste for bright greens, vibrant blues, and yellows gave way to sophisticated neutrals. Chicken wire gave way to woodgrain. Burlap to shiplap.

Living room

We figured out what we loved.

This blog is about what we would like to think is our design adulthood.

This blog is also about the realistic. We have 2 young kids, a mortgage, a car note, more credit cards than we’d like to admit, and two full-time jobs. These hard facts leave us little time or budget space to beautify our home.

So how do you make a home beautifully yours on a shoestring budget and just a few days a month?

Let’s figure it out together.