This first shot is the completed fireplace! When we were looking to buy this house I thought this wooded roof part of the home felt so cozy like a treehouse. Then when we moved in it felt like a total design challenge because the color of the stones felt so ruddy and the mantle was like sandwiching the room because it matched the ceiling.
The same sort of thing was happening in the kitchen because the floor were this orange color and sandwiched that room with the ceiling too. We redid the kitchen and floors so now the warm wood roof feels like a cozy cap rather than the top of your sandwich.
Here is a before shot of the rock fireplace. It looks like when this was installed, a faux paint finish was applied. When we moved in this entire room was painted a similar ruddy tone and as we refreshed the space with white paint and cool, beachy flooring, The gold trim and wood handles felt cheesy. The worst was that the transparent blue protective coating on the gold trim had never been removed so it was stuck on there. Also, the can lights were a beige color. Wah.
I had to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING soon after we moved in to make peace with this room. SO….
Step one was to scrape that off with a razor blade because that blue drove me cray cray. Next thing I did was get some flat cord tubing from Home Depot to “conceal the cords.” I found a matching paint to the rocks by brining home paint card sample and matching them. I painted the cord cover this color. There is a little piece coming down from the TV and a little piece going to the left (as you face it) bookcase where it connects to a white, unpainted flat tubing and then down to a hole where the extension cord cable and cable tv cable goes through. The power source in in the left lower bookcase cabinet.
If you are still reading this you are as neurotic as me and I salute you, friend! Alright…
So these few changes placated me for one year or a year and a half. I have 2 little kids so its not easy to do reno-anything. Like I’m going to tell you that I hired a babysitter so I could do those little things because honey, I didn’t want to fight with my kids over that razorblade. BTW you can buy these cheap razor blades with a plastic handle (they are reversible when dull) and you can scrape stickers off glass etc.
Much later I decided I could no longer take the gold trim and wood handles because I heard of this matte high heat spray paint! I pulled off the doors, sanded the gold as well as the handles and sprayed them both matte black. GLORIOUS!!
Now with the all black fireplace boxes shaping up, I had to visualize my next move so I did some photoshop mockups, called contractors who gave me quotes like $1500 just to demo the rocks plus a lot more to rebuild a fireplace. I started thinking of ways to add or subtract that would be cost effective. Like this ugly little ditty:
Hey, look! It’s fresher! I even “digitally painted” the can lights white! Oh I could run the cords up the top of the tv or extend the mantle so they run through there! The white brightens up the rock tones but dude. NO.
I had a new idea: Sand the mantle to see what it looks like without the orange stain. Now this was after LOTs of research. I purchased a TON of different stains, pickling stains, waxes and bleaches. This sounds like a female hygiene project, I know.
Here’s what I got:
Here is the first reveal of the sanding and oh it took some work. I sanded the whole thing. Dust everywhere. An arthritic finger for a week but it looked glorious!
Look! No more sandwich but oh the rocks look even ruddier in tone!
I spent forever trying to find new white can lights with this half cover that would perfectly fit and replace these. I ordered them, they came and they were wrong. AHHH! Ok so then I popped these out, sanded them and spray painted them a matte white! It was chalk paint so it gave it an ultra matte finish I wanted. Perfect!
On a Saturday before a kids bday party, I ran to the paint store. I found a color paint that was like this taupe but the fresher, more modern version. Then I diluted it with a lot of water…you are going to have to play. Start with a LOT of water and tiny paint, apply and allow it to dry. This is NOT a white wash becuase its more like a taupe wash! I used a big sponge to apply the color.
TEST A SMALL area before going crazy because once you start, there’s really no going back!
Here it is halfway done as we had to leave for a friend’s batman birthday party that the kids LOVED. The painted side is on the left. OH and the mantle is white because I taped white printer paper all over it to visualize what a white painted mantle would look like.
SO, the next day when I had good light, I made a new wash. I mixed the taupe paint with some white and then I watered it down and did a dry brush technique on the high points of each rock which game them dimension and made them POP. Dry brushing is when you dip your brush into the liquid, then dry it as much as you can and use the tiny bit of moisture to paint. You are kind of smashing it around to transfer what’s left. I used one of my husband’s old t shirts to soak up the paint.
Now you may think you are looking at the most subtle DIY Reno ever and it kind of is BUT the shift to a fresh tone and a lifting of the sandwich vibe has taken me from despising (ok that’s a bit dramatic) this room to loving it! It feels more modern and I find it easier to style around.
The best lesson was to take my time, go in steps and adjust after each one. It’s kind of like a birth plan: Have one but be ready to adjust as things happen!
I may have to eventually do some treatment to the bare wood mantle to protect it but I love the color so much now! I know stains can darken it but there are other options like the bleaching or waxing or pickling I talked about before. We will see! You know I move at a snail’s pace! HA! Thank you for reading and joining me on this adventure. As painstaking as it was, I enjoyed it and learned so much!