How to Whitewash a Brick Fireplace

We all know a man or two who gasp in horror any time the painting of brick is discussed.  I don’t know why it is such a polarizing subject, but I’ll raise my hand right now and claim to be on the painting side of the argument. When we first moved into this home, I knew this fireplace in the living room was going to get a facelift as soon as possible.  I don’t have anything against brick per se, but personally, a neutral color palette just sings to me, and between the wood tones, brick color, and multiple metals and finishes in this room, it was feeling anything but restful.  We’ve discussed building up the fireplace with either wood or stone in the future, but in the meantime, this was an inexpensive update that changed the look of the whole room.

Here is the photo from the real estate listing:

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Before I tackled the brick, I painted all the gold stripes on the gas insert with this high heat enamel by Rustoleum.  I’ve used this product before, and it is very easy to brush on with a small artist brush, no taping or anything.  It is oil-based, so if you try it, you’ll just want to be extra careful to keep any from spilling on the carpet.

 

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I decided to start by whitewashing the brick first rather than paint it, and I love how it turned out. This technique allows some of the brick variation and color to show through, and it was so easy and quick.  Once I had wiped down the entire thing with a wet rag to clean off any soot or dust that might keep the paint from adhering, it probably only took about 3 hours of painting to complete.

To make up the whitewashing mixture I combined equal parts latex paint and water (I used White Dove by Benjamin Moore in a satin finish since we already had that on hand from painting the trim in another room).  This was very drippy concoction, so I just went brick by brick with a paintbrush and then immediately dabbed at the brick with a rag to catch any drips that might run down.

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I will say, when you first “wash” each brick with the paint/water, it looks like you’ve just painted the brick white, but after you’ve dabbed it and it absorbs for a few minutes, the colors of the brick start to peek through. It took me about 2 hours to complete the first wash on the whole fireplace, and I could tell right away that I wanted to do a second coat because I was still seeing too much of the original brick color and it had a splotchy appearance.

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The second coat took about an hour, and once it was done, I was really happy with the result.

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Our living room is definitely still in a half-finished state, and I have to admit I’m itching to finish it completely.  We have plans to paint all the wood trim and window casings and walls in the near future, and eventually we’d like install hardwood floors, install built-ins around the fireplace, and build up the surround with some other material.  But for now, this small update has done so much for this room.  If you have a brick fireplace that you just don’t love, don’t be afraid to paint it.  The before and afters are just too good!

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House #2

 

2016 was a year of waiting for us.

I had some unresolved health issues that I was working through with a team of doctors, and most of my energy was just devoted to getting myself back on track.  Lab work, eating a clean diet, tons of supplements, and rest.  Lots of rest.  But for several years now, in the back of our minds, Dave and I have been dreaming of buying a large house on land as our “forever home.”  Somewhere spacious enough that we weren’t all tripping over each other all the time {these kids are only getting bigger!  And the dog…she is the worst offender, to be honest} and somewhere the kids could spend more time outside with room to run.  We didn’t know if or when it would ever happen, but at the end of 2016 after looking at countless homes, we found a house on 17 acres that fit most of our criteria.  Problem was, it didn’t really look like us. We love white painted woodwork and light, airy spaces.  Honey oak just doesn’t do it for us {sorry if you’re into that sort of thing.  We can still be friends.}

I’ll post before pics of the new house another day, but here’s some shots of our old house so you can see what I mean:

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We pretty much painted every surface of that house.  We had the popcorn ceilings scraped, we painted all the walls and trim, all the cabinets and doors, and we basically put our mark on a very builders grade home.

And when it came down to it, it was harder to leave than I thought it would be.

Maybe because the first person to see it bought it, confirming how special we knew it really was.  Or maybe just because we put so much blood, sweat and tears into that place and had so many memories tied up in it.  Neighbors that we love, evening walks to the park, family bike rides, parties on the back deck, impromptu baseball games in the back yard.  We had a good little run there on 26th Street.

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I’m really thankful for that house.  I’m thankful for the memories it held and the way our family grew while we lived there.  To say I miss it nearly every day is not an exaggeration, but I know that we’ll grow to love this new house in the same way.  Just gotta put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it first. 🙂