DIY Fireplace Renovation

October 31, 2019 2 Comments

House + Holm - Living Room After DIY Renovation

Hi friends!

I’m so happy to be sharing this renovation with you because our living room has come so far in the last two years! What was once a dark, outdated space is now a bright, cozy, inviting living room! We spend most of our time downstairs, and particularly in this room. We knew right off the bat that we were going to be removing everything and starting fresh. One of the very few things we didn’t do ourselves was paint the wood walls in this room. They were too dark for our taste and we wanted to brighten up the room, so we had them professionally sprayed with Alabaster White by Sherwin Williams. I vividly remember peeking through the windows as the painters were working, and I couldn’t believe that just a little bit of paint could make such a difference!

Here's what our living room looked like right before we moved in:

House + Holm - Living Room Before DIY Renovation

House + Holm - Living Room Before DIY Renovation

House + Holm - Living Room Before DIY Renovation

The wall that the windows are on was textured, so we had it flattened, and then we painted it with White Duck by Sherwin Williams. If you’ve never had to choose a white paint, let me tell ya, there are SO MANY shades of white. If you’re looking to add more white to your home, but don’t want stark white, I really love the contrast between the Alabaster and White Duck. They’re both softer whites and give such a cozy feel to any space!

The floors. Let me tell you. We had tile, linoleum, carpet and slate just downstairs! One of the very first things we did when we moved in was rip out all of the flooring and replaced it with Pergo Max Engineered Hardwood. This is a story I’m going to save for another day, but I just wanted to throw that in there! 

Okay, let’s talk about this fireplace! Chad and I have always dreamed of having a fireplace in our home. The first two houses we lived in didn’t have one, so a fireplace was close to the top of our list of must haves when we were house hunting this time around. And y’all, it isn’t even functioning at this point. Ultimately, we’d love to have a gas line run to our home and convert it into a gas fireplace, but we really don't mind it as it is right now! There’s something so cozy about a fireplace in your home, whether it’s burning or not.

Originally, I had dreamed of painting the brick all white, with an accent mantle, but Chad came to me with the hopes of convincing me that a German Schmear style would look better... and well, he totally did! It was quite the (messy) process to get it to the finished product that you see here, but it was all so worth it.

First, we removed the wood burning stove, the mirror and the old mantle. Then we cleaned the brick, which was quite the task! The previous owners used the wood burning stove almost daily, and it was covered in soot and residue. Once the fireplace was cleaned, we mixed white mortar and began the process of covering over the old brick. We went heavier in some areas and lighter in others, trying to let some of the brick peek through. Since the fireplace goes from the floor to the ceiling, we did it in several phases. There were a few spots where Chad went back in with a belt sander to expose more brick once everything had dried. This isn’t a traditional part of the German Schmear process, but we went on a little heavier than we had planned, and once everything had dried, we realized that we wanted to see more brick coming through.

Okay, now onto the mantle! Errr, well the first mantle. We went to Lowe’s and bought a 6”x 6”x 6’ chunk (super technical) of wood, solid wood stain and 6” Tapcon bolts. Chad cut the wood to size. We went with 54” and centered it on the brick. Then, he drilled 5 holes into the brick, and installed 5 Tapcon bolts into the brick. Next, he sawed the heads off of the bolts, leaving them sticking out of the brick about 3”. He then drilled holes in the backside of the wood of the mantle that matched up with the positioning of the bolts that were sticking out of the brick. Next, we secured the mantle into place by sliding it over the Tapcon bolts, flush against the brick. We actually had to use a 2x4 and a sledgehammer because it was a tight fit. Last, we put two coats of solid stain (we used espresso) and let it dry.

House + Holm - Living Room Manlte DIY Renovation

House + Holm - Living Room Mid DIY Renovation

Now we’re two and a half years out from the initial renovation, and Chad and I both agree that we originally settled on a stain color because we were just trying to check projects off of our list and move onto the next renovation. We had two young babes (ages 3 and 1) at the time, and we were desperate to have our house in a more livable state.

So, we decided to tackle yet another project to finally make this cozy fireplace dream of ours come true! We bought white chalk paint from Lowe’s, a clear wax and an antiquing wax. The awesome thing about chalk paint is that you don’t have to sand or prime before painting. We love a good shortcut, so this was the perfect choice for us. First, Chad painted the mantle with 3 coats of the white chalk paint to get a solid base. Once that dried completely, he sanded little sections to expose the dark stain underneath to give it some character, and a distressed look. Then, he applied 1 coat of the clear wax. Once that dried, he did a very thin coat of the antiquing wax over the entire mantle.  We couldn't be happier with how it turned out!

House + Holm - Fireplace Mantle DIY Renovation

We had always dreamed of filling the fireplace with logs, but we just hadn’t gotten around to it. Since we were redoing the mantle, we decide to go for it. Not to mention, we had a bunch of tall, skinny trees in our backyard that Chad had been wanting to cut down before they grew any taller. Once all of the wood was cut, we arranged the logs to get a good mix of color and size. We are so happy with how this turned out, and we didn’t even have to spend a dime!

House + Holm - Fireplace Log DIY Renovation

We were more than thrilled to get rid of the behemoth of a mirror that was originally hanging on this fireplace, and we had been on the search for the perfect replacement since. I came across this mirror at Target, and it is the PERFECT addition. It ties in the different tones in the wood and the mantle. Chad ended up hanging it about 3 inches above the mantle so that there would be a slight separation between the mirror and the mantle, and it would allow enough room to style it with decorations. I absolutely cannot wait to fill this space with all things Christmas!

House + Holm - Living Room DIY Renovation

House + Holm - Living Room DIY Renovation

House + Holm - Living Room DIY Renovation - Console Table

Overall, we really love this room, and are so happy with how it turned out. Our family and friends thought we were totally crazy when we purchased this house. They couldn’t see our vision. We knew we had our work cut out for us, but we were up for the challenge in hopes of making this house feel like our home.

Are you a fan of daunting DIY projects, or do you prefer adding small touches to an almost finished space? We’d love to connect with you! Share your answer in the comments below!

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