fireplace makeover in three easy steps – diy paint wash

Atomic Hostess fireplace DIY makeover in three easy step

(re-posting with more how to details)

While in Washington, the big project on my list was to re-do my Sweet Mama’s fireplace. She has hated the fireplace for-ever! I think it’s the orange tone of the stones, the bulkiness of the whole thing, and yeah, it was just plain ugly.

Before

Atomic Hostess fireplace DIY makeover - before picture - paint wash and mantel build up

I did my usual study up on Pinterest, and after emailing pictures back and forth with my mom we decided to go with a paint wash. We broke it down into three small steps to get the overall look we wanted to achieve. First step was to paint the dated gold trim accents on the fireplace insert. Step two we would paint wash the fireplace stones, and finally Jerry would build up the mantel and then I would stain.

Step One

My Pinterest research introduced me to Rustoleum heat resistant spray paint. Even though we planned to paint the fireplace stone, I didn’t want the black overspray everywhere; I taped and covered the surrounding area. One can of paint was plenty for good coverage. It was encouraging to see immediate results after painting the fireplace insert.

Atomic Hostess fireplace DIY makeover - step one: paint fireplace insert to remove gold accents

Step Two

My Mom talked with one of her neighbors that had painted their fireplace, which absorbed a lot of paint. We picked out a gray latex paint by Benjamin Moore in “sweatshirt gray”. I bought a gallon of the gray paint, which we only used about  two cups of! Our fireplace didn’t soak up the paint like we were expecting, a quart of paint would have been plenty.

Atomic Hostess fireplace DIY makeover - step two: paint wash bricks

We didn’t want the fireplace stone to end up a flat solid color. I mixed 1:1 ratio of paint to water and started dabbing it on with a cheapy paint brush. The first bits of paint on the fireplace was the most difficult; I could feel my Mom’s laser eyes watching over my shoulder. If it didn’t look great, I was flying home and wouldn’t have to see it again for another few months…my Mom and her OCD would go crazy seeing it daily. I worked in patches to avoid a “Pinterest Fail!”; I applied first layer, then dry brushed on a lighter gray (also 1:1 ratio) for some variance in the color. Phew, she was smiling when I turned around.

Step Three

Atomic Hostess fireplace DIY makeover - step three: build up mantel

When my Mom bought the house in 1965-ish it didn’t have a mantel at all. It was stone, and that was it. She had one made for it eons ago, but it felt too small for the bulky stone. We wanted to beef it up by building a “box” right over the current mantel. We went with pine for the wood; a friend told me pine is perfect for taking any color stain, AND even better, pine is a less expensive wood. Jerry nailed in wood blocks across the top of the old mantel. Using measurements I took a stab at, he built a box that would fit right over the top of the old mantel and nailed to the wood blocks. If you don’t have a saw, the hardware store can cut everything to size for you.

I bought a Mixwax Dark Stain and applied about 2 or 3 layers. After the stain dried I applied a polycrylic top coat. I wouldn’t advise using a wax for obvious reasons.

Atomic Hostess fireplace DIY makeover - step three: build up mantel and ready for stain

After!

I rearranged and borrowed pieces that were around the house to update the mantel display.

Atomic Hostess fireplace makeover - after picture - paint wash and mantel build up

Four days  Two years after finishing this project, my Sweet Mama is still enjoying her fireplace update.

She’s happy, I’m happy, mission accomplished!

Atomic Hostess - vintage barware, decor and housewares

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