As “rustic” and charming as my original brick fireplace was, it simply wasn’t in line with my vision for our living room. (This picture was taken in October, I don’t usually have skulls on my mantel…or stain cleaner for that matter!)
Having come across several blogs where brick fireplaces had been painted or whitewashed, I decided to give it a try. I decided that I didn’t want a solid opaque color over the brick, so white wash was a good option. If you are trying to decide on painting versus white washing, your decision will really depend on how much you want the brick to show through. If you want to completely hide the red brick, painting it would be an option. If you still want some of the red/brown hues to come through, then white washing is a good choice.
The first thing I needed to do was clean the brick. Despite the fireplace having not been used in over 30 years, there was a lot of soot caked into the brick. Using warm soapy water, I scrubbed the brick with a nail brush and let it dry. I had plenty of half-empty cans of white semi-gloss paint lying around the garage so I didn’t even need to buy any supplies.
After protecting the floor with a tarp, I added water to my can of paint until it had a watery texture. I started out with about half a gallon left, and added approximately 1 and a half cups of water to get the consistency I was after.
Using a paintbrush, I brushed the “white wash” onto the brick. The brick soaked up the color readily.
I repeated this process one more time until I was happy with the results. Using regular semi-gloss paint (that had not been watered down) I also painted the mantel white.
At this point I was pretty happy with the fireplace, but the red tile on the bottom was bothering me because it now stuck out like a sore thumb. BUT I had no clue what to do. I wasn’t interested in smashing up the existing tile or tiling over it – that seemed way too labor intensive for a Saturday afternoon project! Instead, I turned to my usual sources of inspiraation, the Blogosphere! Thrifty Decor Chick is one of the blogs that I regularly read. While searching through the site for tilespiration (ha!), I came across the makeover Sarah did on her laundry room floor that involved vinyl peel and stick tiles. It seemed like a straightforward process, so I hightailed it to Lowes.
My local Lowes had a relatively small selection of peel and stick tile, but luckily I found one that I thought would work:
The tile that I picked was a 12-in x 12-in Ebony Marble Finish Vinyl Tile. At only $0.88 a tile, it would be an inexpensive update to my fireplace and if I decided I hated it shortly after, it wouldn’t be a huge waste of money. If you want to buy it, you can buy it online here.
When I got home, I placed the tiles on the area and arranged them to figure out what would fit. Five full tiles fit and I was going to have to cut the other tiles into thirds to fill the remaining area. I scored the measurement on the tile, and cut with a Xacto knife. I removed the backing and placed the vinyl tile on the existing tiled surface, one tile at a time, pushing them together tightly as I went so as not to have any visible seams:
It was a simple process and well worth an hour of my time:
And with the mantel decorated:
You’d never know this stuff isn’t real tile, right?
Let me know what you think, or if you’ve done a similar makeover in your own home!
UPDATE: Click here to see how this fireplace was once again transformed!