Whitewash a Fireplace & Style a Mantle

I decided to become a homeowner last November. Paying rent felt like a waste, my boyfriend (now husband) owned a home improvement business, and I had the money saved up… It felt like an easy decision. But boyyyyy, I had no idea how much work it would be! I don’t think there will every be a day were I’ll stop rearranging, improving, or styling my home. Lucky for me, I LOVE seeing changes and don’t mind having a never-ending wish list. Every time a projects gets completed, it’s like my own little Christmas. Even my husband jokes that even he can’t make me as happy as getting a new rug can. (Don’t worry, babe— it’s not really true!!)

So, cue the problem: my brick color. It’s hideous. It’s a mix of orange and purplish-brown. It was so frustrating to pick a paint color for my garage and front door because orange just isn’t chic in my opinion. While a little landscape can make the exterior of my home more appealing, my biggest issue was the matching brick stacked high as the focal point of my living room: the fireplace.

Here’s the hunk of junk I was working with. Even the pictures make it look better than it was!!

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Something had to be done. Maybe it was time for one my pins to actually come to fruition!! Don’t make fun, you know what I’m talking about. 10,000 pins but only a few you’ve ever tried. I was graced with a snow day at work so instead of bingeing on Netflix and junk food, I studied up. My main source of inspiration is found here. I loved that she didn’t use straight white paint and her mantle styling was adorable.

Here’s what I did and what I would do differently:

MATERIALS:

Paint– a quarter gallon would be more than enough. Since you mix it with water, a little goes a long way. I used an off-white paint I had laying around, but you can use plain paint+primer or any light shade of whites, beiges and grays. Mine was BARELY off-white

Paint tape– I’m not usually one to tape before I paint, but trust me, this stuff is the consistency of milk

Tarps– the paint/water mixture can splatter so make sure your floors are covered

Paintbrushes– I used two of the medium sized low-grade ones from Lowe’s that cost less than a dollar each. Since brush strokes won’t show up, you can pretty much use any kind of brush, but it will probably get destroyed so keep that in mind

Rags– I had a bunch of old T-shirts that I cut up into pieces about the size of my hand. Some people just use one large rag for the whole surface, but I liked having a new one every couple of sections.

Bucket– You will need something you aren’t attached to for mixing the paint and water. I had a small plastic bucket, but you could use an old mixing bowl or even cut the top off of an empty gallon of milk.

Stain (optional) – My natural wood-colored mantle didn’t match afterward, so I used Rust-Oleum’s “weathered gray” stain.

Gloves (optional)- It’s not really necessary for the white-wash, but latex gloves do help keep your hands clean. If you do use stain on your mantle, these things will save you from looking like a gray smurf for a few days.

MAKE IT HAPPEN:

Start by taping off all the edges of your fireplace. Where it meets the wall, where it meets the floor, and the mantle. Spread the tarps out around your area so you’ll have a place to put the paint mixture, brushes, and rags.

Mix the paint: I wanted a lot of coverage, so I did one part paint to two parts water. This allows for some of the color variations of the original brick to show through, but none of the orange color is visible. You could start out with 3 parts water if you’re nervous, but I didn’t want to see the color and I figured I could always paint over it completely if it didn’t work out. Risk for reward, right?!

I couldn’t figure out how to evenly measure the paint and water without ruining a measuring cup, but I settled on using a small Styrofoam cup as my guide. It equaled out to be about one Cup paint and two Cups water and I had plenty of leftovers for the size of my fireplace. I stirred it all together with a paint stick and was ready to work.

Applying the mixture: It’s best to work in small sections so you have time to wipe it off before it dries. I did about 4 to 6 bricks at a time. (Note: I started from the bottom of the wall and worked upward then finished with the “bench” part. However, I would high suggest starting with the top of the wall so the new sections don’t drip  on your finished sections).

Paint the mixture on just like you would do with normal paint. It’s very liquid-y so it will spread and drip. Cover the area you are working with (a few bricks at a time). Once the paint is on, immediately take a rag and rub over the area as if you were trying to remove the paint.. This will take off the excess and help with the white-washed effect. Continue working until all sections are complete. I found that it was best to use a dry rag every 2 sections so it would get fully wiped off and rubbed in. Ta-da!

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It took me four hours from start to finish including the mantle. I think it goes so quickly because you don’t have to be that careful. Slap the paint on, rub it off, and voila! It also dried fairly quickly.

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To stain the mantle, it’s the same process! The directions are on the can, but you paint a small section on with a smaller brush, wipe it off immediately, and continue on. Make sure your newly white-washed fireplace is taped off well, because this stuff is also a liquid.

STYLING:

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Everything I used except the mirror and flower are from good ol’ Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby is a great place to shop to get décor that all compliments each other.

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Mirror- At Home. This store used to be called Garden Ridge in my town; they have a website but apparently don’t sell online. Target and Hobby Lobby have design mirrors as well.

Bird cage- Hobby Lobby. Always use the daily 40% off coupon or wait until it goes on sale!

Blue bird- Hobby Lobby. I couldn’t find this exact one online but here is a similar one.

Hello- Hobby Lobby. I spray-painted mine yellow to match my living room theme and to make it pop.

Candles- Hobby Lobby has a two pack.

I think I picked the flower up at At Home as well, but fake flowers are everywhere!

Oh, and for those of you wondering, the curtains came from Bed, Bath, and Beyond!

Hope you find yourself with a free afternoon to make this quick and gorgeous transformation!

Xoxo

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