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Monday, February 27, 2012

Fireplace Makeover: Adding Style With Painted Brick and A New Mantel!

I know this post is long overdue. I seriously don't know what my problem is sometimes, other than to chalk it up to work and life being all consuming some weeks. And I must admit, once I'm done with something I tend to check it off the to-do list and move on! So for those of you who sent me an email at some point asking whatever happened to the fireplace re-do or changes in the room, this post is especially for you as well as those of you who have ever had a fear of painting brick or changing something you perceive to be a fixed element in your house!
I believe there is good brick: aged and authentic looking. And bad brick: too uniform, strange in color, lacking character or patina. This is a good example of bad brick. Primer goes on the masonry. HALLELUJAH!!! Thankfully, I have documented through photos nearly every project during the 6 (and counting) years of renovations we have completed, so that one day, we can look back and wonder why the hell it all took so long  proudly reflect on all the hard work and $$$ well spent!
I suppose you want to know what the fireplace looked like before? I know without a good before, the after is never quite as satisying. So I went searching and found a picture from the archives just for laughs to share my beloved readers and blog friends. Ready?
Circa 1997
This was our family room complete with wall-to-wall carpet, ugly brick fireplace surround, and glass doors with faux brass trim. Plus a  mantel that was too long making it impossible to put a chair near, for fear someone will smack their head on the corner. I still have the beautiful antique mahoghany pedestal, the finials, books and wood candlesticks. Oh, and of course the picture of my kiddos on the beach!

Recognize the green velvet chair and ottoman? It's the Charleston chair-and-a-half from Pottery Barn that I purchased along with the Charleston sofa that I ordered with a slipcover in the floral tea-stained fabric seen on the pillows on the chair. This was ordered when PB was still a catalogue! It was incredibly comfortable furniture and our family wore it out. This is also the last time I can recall living with any floral fabrics let alone faux or dried, aka the dust collectors! The wreath was a Christmas gift from a friend and I recall that it arrived supple and green, but after it dried (or is that died?) I think I left it up for about 2 years?! It all makes me so twitchy just looking at it.

Primed and ready for a coat of black paint!

And there were a few other changes along the way...

In 2005, when we returned from living in Williamsburg, Va. besides painting all the brick black, we removed the panel molding on the chimney breast. Since our homes other 2 fireplaces had similar molding. I wanted something different for the family room fireplace and decided it would be fun to wallpaper just the chimney breast. I loved this paper and it gave the room a definate English vibe. 
This picture shows the insert painted and was taken last year, just before the floors were refinished. In case you're wondering about the white plate covers? They were put up to hide the electrical boxes while I pondered new sconces!

I had planned to change out the glass doors, but after unsuccessfully searching for new doors to fit the opening that I also felt were worth the cost, I decided to just paint the stupid "brass" and eventually found the perfect (lasting) product, which I will share with everyone in a Tuesday Tip!
When the original mantel was removed, the wallpaper started ripping, so it had to go.
The dental molding was removed,  along with the molding around the surround.
I love dental molding, but there wasn't a single bit in any other area of the house.

I gave the carpenter a very simple sketch I'd drawn for a shorter mantel length and a colonial style surround with fluted columns that echoed the fluted detail in the columns that frame the entrance from the family room to the kitchen. Now we have a custom mantel that has better proportions makes more sense for our style and the homes architecture.

I love the simplicity of the design, but it allows me the flexibility to add decorative medallions to the corner blocks or something to the frieze or even another wallpaper to the breast, if I decide I need a change one day. And, you may have noticed we added a classic crown molding to the room and panel molding on the lower third of the wall to add interest. The added bonus it that it visually widens the room as well as takes the focus off the skimpy baseboards that are throughout the house, courtesy of the builder.
Of course, some of you may realize that technically I already showed the after here.
December 2011
But, in case you missed it...hard to believe this is the same room wouldn't you agree!?


  1. What an amazing transformation! I love the mantle, and the whole look of the space. The color palette is fantastic too. -Al

  2. Rebecca-What a wonderful re-do. Can you tell me the name of the product you used on the fireplace doors? We can't remove ours and they definitely need to be painted out before we put the house on the market. Thanks- Diana

  3. fabulous!!!
    I love the final product...
    I too painted my "ugly" brick fireplace, and I loved the results
    I actually painted it the same color as the walls...looks great

    look forward to more before and afters!!

    Linda :o)

  4. Wow! What a wonderful transformation. I also love the addition of the chair molding. Looks fabulous! Your home looked so inviting during in the holidays. xoxo.

  5. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!!!! What a wonderful really is hard to believe it is the same room!

    PS. I am now following you on Google...Hope you will follow me back :o)

  6. Thanks Rebecca! Great job and I loved your Christmas room!

  7. This is ming blowing transformation. Above all arrangement is perfect for home. Everything is awesome, Especially i like Charleston sofa and Christmas tress. Your home looked so inviting during in the holidays.

  8. Wonderful evolution of your fireplace! Just beautiful...great job. Congrats!

  9. oh MUCH better -the scale is just right. Loved seeing all of the 'befores'!

  10. I found your blog a few months ago and recall when you posted this room and thought it was so tasteful and but inviting. I must agree with the architect above, so many people make changes to their homes without any regard or understanding of what is appropriate, the results are always unfortunate. Congrats on getting it right!

    I went back to visit the original post, do my eyes deceive me, or is this picture quality far clearer? It seems magazine ready or perhaps it's just your room! If you took it, care to share your camera or details?

  11. Wow, now this is some transformation, and it looks fabulous!
    Happy Tuesday.

  12. I love this makeover--so classic and totally fitting as a focal point.

    We have a brick fireplace that we painted white (really ugly and damaged brick underneath) and I've been holding off to really redo it until I have the perfect plan, a you just gave me a big does of inspiration!


  13. wow. what a difference. the room looks really nice.

  14. Fabulous transformation Rebecca it really looks so much better. We have the old brick around our fireplace but it never looked right to me until much to the husbands horror I too painted the brick black. Looks so much better and the husband has forgiven me and my paintbrush.


  15. Really beautiful transformation Rebecca! I love the painted brick and all of the after photos!


    Art by Karena

  16. Wow, Rebecca! What an evolution! I think we all have areas that we tweak on over the years. You did a beautiful job and I love how the fireplace turned out!!

    xo Elizabeth

  17. What a beautiful transformation...why are people so afraid to paint brick? Did you keep the glass doors because it is a wood burning fireplace? Painting the brass looks so much better, but I've always removed the doors...just curious. Great job!

  18. I love how your fireplace had evolved. :) I also enjoy renovating my fireplace which I think will need some loving again this year. :D

  19. Amazing improvement!!! Love the gray!

  20. I 100 percent agree there is great brick and bad brick. I love the old washed brick that looks worn and timeless. Unfortunately, when we moved into our cottage house that we recent it had this nasty dark brick with I swear over an inch of cement inbetween. It wasn't subtle at all. First thing I said is I'm painting the brick. Everyone thought I was crazy but like most guys the light bulb goes off when they see the finished product. Love the transformation.

  21. Crikey, it is hard to believe thats the same room. Great transformation.

  22. Congratulations on a successful redo! It really looks great. Somestimes it just takes a while to get the right inspiration to do something.


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