A Fireplace Update – Whitewashing the Brick, Painting the Brass & Creating a Faux Mantel

Fireplace Update Before & AfterToday I will show you how we updated an extremely outdated fireplace by whitewashing the brick, painting the brass and making a faux mantel!  This is actually a small part of an entire room makeover I did last year and had yet to share (I’m a blogging slacker I know)!

 To start, the den/family room of my parent’s house had been suffering for some time from an outdated fireplace complete with red, white and brown mixed bricks and a brass fireplace exterior.  Another constant issue they had in this room was trying to conceal those pesky television wires and cables (they couldn’t be easily hidden behind the wall due to the chimney and exterior wall)!  In the past my mother, being the crafty woman she is, did a nice job of hiding the wires with plants and accessories etc…but she was always looking for a more permanent solution.  Unfortunately, with such a long narrow room there was really only one spot available for the television…which meant we had to come up with something!

But first things first…we started out by whitewashing the bricks.  My mother started this first step on her own by mixing 1 part paint with 2 parts water.  You will see that this part will vary depending on what tutorial you use.  It is entirely up to you, the more water the less coverage and vise versa.  She used left over white wall paint and it did the job great!  She taped off the areas and used a paint brush to brush the paint mixture over and between the bricks, keeping a wet rag handy for drips…which will be constant (especially the waterier the mixture)! After she let that dry and I came home we decided that one coat just wasn’t enough.

first coat picThe reddish bricks looked a little too pink after the first coat, therefore we ended up adding a another coat, letting that dry and going over the more pink covered bricks individually.  Overall we did two main coats, but some individual bricks had 3 coats.  Two coats would most likely be more than sufficient with a 1:1 ratio of paint and water, but better to start out lighter and build up the paint if you want to keep that variation in the colors of the brick.  We decided against painting the grayish slate on the top of the hearth after finding that it did not coat well or soak up the paint like the bricks.   We also found that leaving it gave a nice contrast and really helped to bring out the grayer tones of the brick.  I just love the instant update a little whitewashing gives!

Brick After whitewashBut oh the fireplace makeover was not complete there!  The next step was painting the brass fireplace exterior with Rustoleum high heat black paint!  The modern update was instant!

Painted Brass FireplaceThe last step in the transformation was to conceal those television wires!  We needed something removable, in case wires ever needed to be changed out etc, therefore my father built a faux mantel out of 1 x 6″ boards that were about 12′ long (the length of the fireplace).  These two boards were supported by L brackets/corner braces and reinforced with square wood pieces.

Faux mantel 1While we considered painting the existing wood mantel and new faux mantel a gray or black to really modernize it, we realized doing so just wouldn’t fit with the rest of the house and room, which already had a built-in wooden bookshelf.  Therefore I stained the faux mantel with an almost identical color  stain (Minwax Provincial) to the trim and other existing wood pieces in the room.

faux mantel stainingThis new piece slid right on top of the existing mantel and runs the entire length of it thus hiding the t.v wires and creating one large wood mantel piece (we concealed the remaining wires that ran down the right side of the fireplace with some tape and a large standing vase and some dried twigs/flowers).  I really enjoy how this simple solution made the actual mantel stand out by increasing its size!  This new mantel makes much more of an impact and will be fun to accessorize through the different seasons!

Updated Firplace Updated BrickWith these three main steps we really modernized an outdated fireplace with just a small amount of time and money spent!

Updated FinishedThis transformation really helped to make the rest of the room come together, which will be revealed in the next post!

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