Since we moved in (1.5 years ago), I'd been eyeballing the brick fireplace and thinking about how permanent any changes would be. I'd thought about whitewashing, full-out painting, building out over top of it, and various other things. Whitewashing was always my go-to plan for it, but I worried about whether or not we would love it. And if you're doing something as permanent as painting brick, it needs to be a love it situation.
I'd looked on Pinterest and read through tutorials. I imagined what it would look like. I considered and reconsidered. And then I finally decided that the brick would be whitewashed. I would whitewash. Decision made.
Of course, once we decided on that, I wanted to get going right away. Buuuut, our chimney was in need of some repair, and we thought it best to wait until that was done. Then we could rip out the old fireplace screen and start from there. Three weeks ago, the chimney was finally all finished and cleaned up.
Another part of the fireplace that we talked about changing was the mantle. It was a lovely, solid, nice, wooden mantle. Nothing was wrong with it. But we wanted to change it anyway. I thought about painting it (probably white or maybe a contrasting color like the back of the bookshelves), but Richard just decided that he would build a new, better one. And so he did.
The first thing I did after the brick was free of the mantle was wipe down the entire surface. I used warm, soapy water and a microfiber cloth (that way the rough surface didn't pick it apart). I would have said our fireplace was pretty clean, but after looking at that water -- it was disgusting. Lots of red brick dust, too.
|Trusty sop vac and a bowl of gross, red, brick water -- oh, and the test-fitting of the brand new, custom made mantle!|
|While watching the Clemson game, of course. GO TIGERS!|
In this last picture (that one ^ up there), you can see where I decided to switch strategies. On the first seven rows, I did the paint-and-dab technique. I painted it on one brick and then immediately dabbed the whole brick with a paper towel. After making it through those rows and seeing whitewash soaked into the bricks, I decided it wasn't nearly white enough. In the picture above, the right section of the top seven rows is what it looked like after painting and dabbing and soaking in and drying. It looked like it hadn't even been painted.
So, I switched to doing the paint-and-don't-dab method. All of the bricks below the seventh brick line were done that way. That achieved a just-barely-white-dusted look that I LOVED. But the top seven rows didn't match. Womp womp. I decided to go back over the first rows with same paint-and-dab attack and maybe the two thin layers would equal out to match the bottom three quarters.
Nope. The top left section of bricks shows how that worked out. Once it soaked in, the discrepancy wasn't that stark, but it was still noticeable.
|See? The difference between the top seven rows and the rest of the fireplace was definitely noticeable.|
We decided our best bet was to use a more diluted mixture and do a second coat on the bottom section. So, I used a 1:2 ratio of paint to water. That worked out beautifully, and you can no longer tell that I switched techniques in the middle of whitewashing.
|The finished fireplace! Well, almost, we need to put trim on the sides of the bookshelves, and the mantle-styling is clearly not done, and it won't always have the "Trick or Treat" banner. And we need to get a screen. This is the one I've had my eye on for quite some time now.|
And, being that it is now my favorite month of the year, we had to decorate accordingly. We went and picked out our perfect pumpkins and then carved them up.
They were all marked with Sharpie to show the price of each pumpkin, but some rubbing alcohol took care of that quickly. BUT, it did leave a big mark on the rag, so make sure you use one that you don't care much about.
|Three dolla pumpkin!|