Black and Whitewash
My Happy New Hearth!
I can’t believe it has been more than a year and two major Hurricanes since we moved into this house. I would like to say that I have come a long way in transforming our vintage (A 45 Year old Dutch Colonial Home) digs into the home of my dreams, but sadly, time and paying for hurricane repairs just hasn’t allowed for much progress. However, plans have been made, and since we are working “on a fairly tight budget” I am trying to get to the things I can do myself. The kids rooms are painted, as is my office workroom. My bedroom is still awaiting my pleasure, as are a number of other rooms.
Let me say this house has good bones, and it is fairly unique, even in a neighborhood that ranges from mini manses along the river to rows of cute mid century modern ranches and bungalows—with a few split levels and ranch styles thrown in for good measure. This area, rather than going for the uniformity and blandness that mark many newer developments, celebrated and flaunted it’s diversity. And that suits me just fine.
Our house had been rather neglected though (that’s why we could afford it 🙂 ) and we have already put a good deal of time and labor into remedying that. Besides the painting I mentioned above, we have replaced most of the outdated (probably late 1980s) appliances in the kitchen. The new microwave is still in its box and I am waiting (patiently 🙁 ) until we are ready to replace the counter-tops, etc. to replace the cook-top. Hopefully, I will have plenty of future posts on the evolution of this house. We have contracted for and are presently waiting for a new roof. After Hurricane Matthew last year most local roofing companies have and remain booked up for months to come. I am still hoping it is done before time for Christmas decorations, but don’t know for sure.
The downstairs of our house is basically split at the front entry hall into two halves on either side of the stairway. We decided that the dark paneled room in front of breakfast nook and kitchen would be a family/recreation type room. The (adult) kids still at home are both gamers so there is the big screen TV with game consoles, a music system as well as old school turntable, shelves of games of all sorts, CDs and baskets of record albums and singles. The furniture is mostly a mid century/industrial mix.
The room, with its large vintage brick fireplace and hearth, dark brown wood paneling and low ceiling was very cave like and difficult to illuminate so I don’t have a lot of photos. There is one shuttered 40″ x 60″ window that gets some morning light, but little for the rest of the day. It had an old, extremely dated and noisy ceiling fan with drop lights that we have replaced with a modern industrial style brass and light wood one complete with remote control. There was no mantle on the fireplace when we moved in. The previous owners had placed a giant oak log on the worn grate. It took some maneuvering to remove that heavy piece of wood. The fireplace hadn’t been cleaned in some time. There was also a big bulky screen and some cheap brass fireplace tools.
We removed the log. I sold the grate, screen and tools at my yard sale last fall and ordered a new mantle. The mantle was installed last December just in time for me to decorate for Christmas. I had cleaned up the fireplace and we put in an electric fireplace insert. We wanted to cozy look of a fireplace, and the warmth on the rare occasions we need it here in Florida without the mess of a wood fire. I still wasn’t happy with how it looked and knew I would paint or whitewash at some point. Well, after living here for more than a year, I (or Gaia and I) finally got to it.
First —the Black
- After sweeping out and using the shop vac to clean any remaining fine dust and debris from the fire box and hearth, I washed it down and let it dry.
- Mostly because it was readily available, I used Rustoleum Flat Black Enamel to paint the inside of the firebox. I initially bought a half pint can but had to go get another one as it required two coats.
- I only went up as high as I could comfortably reach, well above the sight line looking into the fireplace. I used the flat black because the electric insert is black and I wanted it to be unobtrusive when not in use.
- I used super cheap nylon paintbrushes for this entire project as I felt the rough brick would probably render them mostly unusable for the future.
On With the White
- On the day we were going to do the whitewash, I vacuumed the entire face of the fireplace with a brush attachment to remove any dust or debris. I used a wide masking tape all around and pretty much covered the room with plastic. (I am not a neat painter. I know this about myself. 😯 )
- I bought an off the shelf quart can of “Country White” paint. You can also use left overs from other projects if you have white paint on hand. I mixed it thoroughly in a 50/50 ratio with water in a plastic paint bucket. This creates a very runny consistency. You can vary your mix if you want thicker or even thinner.
- Gaia and I wore old clothes we didn’t mind spattering.
- We used wide (about 3 inches) brushes and tore an old soft dish cloth in half to apply paint. Some articles I read used a cloth for the whole project, but I can’t imagine how tedious that would be. We used our brushes, holding the cloth in the other hand to blot up runs or spread out thick spots. with one of us on each end, it went fairly quickly. We completed the initial painting in time for lunch.
- By the time we finished lunch, the paint was dry to the touch. I used the rag to apply more paint to places where it looked too thin and to get into some of the concrete grout crevices.
I decided I liked it very well at that point. I like the rustic effect, and the fact that you can still see some of the original variations of the brick faintly. For anyone who wished to get a better cover, it would only be necessary to decrease the amount of water added to the paint, or to add a second coat. I like mine just as is.
Feel free to let me know what you think of it, or to ask any questions.
As soon as we replaced the mantle on our newly whitewashed fireplace, I was ready to style it for autumn. The whitewash makes both the lovely slab mantle and the decor pop, I think. I hope I can keep up the momentum. I am going to home depot this week to buy paint and primer for my dark family room walls. I’ve already chosen my color. Hopefully I’ll be ready to update you on my progress before long. I am intent on getting at least this done before the busy Thanksgiving/Christmas Season. Wish me luck!
Till Next time…