Revamping fireplace can be inexpensive

After priming the bricks and mortar, my new look for the fireplace was achieved using two shades of inexpensive semi-gloss latex paint in the same color family. A fireplace candelabra provides warm, inviting light without the mess of a roaring fire. (This is the before photo)



010513hgWestLifeBefore

After priming the bricks and mortar, my new look for the fireplace was achieved using two shades of inexpensive semi-gloss latex paint in the same color family. A fireplace candelabra provides warm, inviting light without the mess of a roaring fire. (This is the before photo)

After priming the bricks and mortar, my new look for the fireplace was achieved using two shades of inexpensive semi-gloss latex paint in the same color family. A fireplace candelabra provides warm, inviting light without the mess of a roaring fire. (This is the after photo)



010513hgWestLifeAfter

After priming the bricks and mortar, my new look for the fireplace was achieved using two shades of inexpensive semi-gloss latex paint in the same color family. A fireplace candelabra provides warm, inviting light without the mess of a roaring fire. (This is the after photo)

Unless you have the ability to build or buy the house of your dreams, chances are that you live in a home with definite pluses and minuses.

When we were house hunting, there was a list of “musts” and a list of “deal-breakers.” As in, I “must” be able to have a garden, and that weird mummy smell in that old house’s basement is a “deal-breaker.”

We compromised for a sizeable yard, a beautiful view, mature landscaping and a quiet neighborhood that doesn’t appear in the Blotter much. Along with those came original 1974 baby-blue carpeting, tiny closets and no laundry room. Over time, the things we compromised on became more annoying.

Lacking significant funds to do a major remodel and knowing that every home improvement project triggers a brief moment where my husband questions his decision to marry me (at least I hope it’s brief), I’m faced with tackling little projects that make a big difference. The latest is the monstrosity of a brick fireplace glaring at me from its useless corner.

I had choices. We never used the fireplace, because it’s in a weird spot of the house and doesn’t actually heat anything. I could remove it. That sounded expensive, horrible, messy and awful. And there would be the problem with the remaining chimney sticking out of the roof. Plus, if we sold the house, the fireplace could be a “must” for a potential buyer.

I could try to minimize the fireplace or use it as a focal point. Minimizing it seemed impossible. Putting furniture in front of it just looked weird. So I decided to spruce up the very corner I wanted to destroy.

What did I want from that corner of the room? Well, I wanted it to be cozy, not ugly. I liked the idea of fire but knew that I didn’t like the idea of the mess from ashes and wood. I absolutely hated the dirty white bricks.

My first step in any project like this is to clean it up so I know what I’m dealing with. I scrubbed the bricks with TSP (trisodium phosphate) to remove the grimy soot and see if they actually looked better than I thought. Nope. They were still ugly. But the good news was that I had prepped the area for painting.

Most of the fireplace-painting projects I found on the Internet either involved restoring brick or painting fireplaces white (the color I was avoiding). Then there was an online-only kit called “Brick-Anew,” costing $199.50 and including three colors of latex paint to make it look like you “re-bricked your fireplace.”

I decided to go rogue and pick my own colors and primer for much less. A gallon of Zinsser 1-2-3 Bulls Eye Water-Based Primer got the job done for $19.98, and I bought a gallon of my base color semi-gloss interior latex paint for $34.98 and a quart of my accent color for $15.74. I had saved more than $100 already.

I was going for more of an adobe look to match the existing faux painting on the walls. Choosing colors in the same family helped me achieve the look. After priming the bricks and mortar with a roller and brush, I applied the base coat, which was the lighter of the shades I selected. Then I used a brush to apply the darker color heavily to the mortar and around the edges of the bricks, and used another dry paintbrush to blend the colors a bit. Each brick turned out unique and together they look fabulous.

A $35 candelabra I found on Amazon.com finished the look, and the lit candles provide the glow of a fire without the mess. I added two $9.99 Ikea pillows to the hearth in case someone wants to sit in our new, cozy corner. For about $75 less than the cost of the online paint kit, the hideous fireplace was transformed!

Erin McIntyre is a writer, master gardener and owner of the gourmet pickle company, Yum Pickles. Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



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