I don't know about the rest of you, but I for one am more than ecstatic that we made it through the coldest week in the history of time last week. In honor of that Siberian-esque,
"your-eyelashes-freeze-when-you-walk-outside" couple of days that we in the Midwest all experienced, I thought I'd give a little shout out to the one who got me through those days... the one who kept me going when I just didn't know if I could make it one more day: my fireplace.
Though we don't have a true, in the flesh, real wood burning fireplace, we do have a working #stone fireplace (gas with fake logs). But let's focus on working. Now I was born and raised in the Midwest, and I love it to my core. But I would be lying like the rug on my office floor if I didn't admit that there have been MANY (and I mean many) times that I have asked the question that I am sure many Midwesterners echo often as well: "Why in the name of Moses do I live in this godforsaken place?" But, I do in fact live here, and though sometimes (ok fine, most times between November and May) fantasize about living somewhere warm and tropical, I do love the seasons, and we are suckers for winter sports in our family. So, like a true Midwestern gal, I do whatever I can to get me through the winter. "Little" projects like this one here help, and so does snuggling up to a nice fire. For real though, the fire was totally necessary to keep our house warm. Let's just say that our furnace last week was about as slow and tired as I was in my first half marathon. Not pretty.
I LOVE our fireplace. Now. I love our fireplace now. But like many of the things in my house (oh hey, chandelier), I didn't always love it. In fact, the fireplace has been a bit of a work in progress since the day we moved in 4 years ago. The first night in our house, without much furniture except a couple of folding chairs, I painted the mantle of the fireplace with a skeptical (and probably a bit scared, due to all the future projects that he was likely picturing) husband looking on. You may remember my husband's love (and by love I don't actually mean love) of my little DIY adventures. But nevertheless, the task was completed, and a super small project of painting our oak mantle white to match the rest of the white trim in the house made me feel a little bit more at home that night. Now, I could really go off about why the mantle wasn't white to match the rest of the trim to begin with, but I'll try to keep my eye on the prize here. And so, there our fireplace sat, with a beautiful white mantle, untouched until three years later. Not bad, right?
Not bad is right, and this fireplace did us well for a while longer, until I decided that it needed a change. Again. Since I didn't exactly know how to white wash a fireplace, I had to do a little research. So in no time, armed with my recipe from google for white wash (which is as simple as equal parts white latex paint and water), I decided to get to work. Most times, I like to try to just use what I have at home for these little ventures. So I went downstairs to the workroom and... jackpot. Leftover latex ceiling paint. Eh, good enough. "Not perfect, but it will do the trick" are words that cross my mind quite often in these situations. Probably a little too often. It did in fact do the trick, though, and the entire project was finished in a day.
Fireplace that needs a little refresher
White latex paint
Grey latex paint
Cheesecloth (old dish rags work too)
I decided to go with a "baby steps" method, because I didn't know exactly how much white wash I would need. So I made small batches, used them up, filled up again, and so on. I started with a 4 cup water/4 cup paint ratio, and I chose to begin with separate batches of white and grey. I didn't want the stone to be one solid color. Instead, I wanted a little bit more dimension and depth, so I did 2 coats. One grey, one white. The application was super easy, and consisted of nothing more than wetting the brush and painting it on to the stone. Remember that the white wash mixture is not nearly as thick as latex paint, so be sure to have the old dish rags handy to blot any drips. That was honestly pretty much it- dip, paint, blot. Dip, paint, blot. The nice thing about a project like this is that perfection isn't the goal. I found that it actually looked better when I wasn't trying to perfectly paint every little spot.
As a third but optional step, I used a damp cloth to "scuff up" parts of the stone so that some of the original color came out. This step is obviously based on personal preference, but to me, it seemed a bit more natural this way. Finally, I left the hearth grey to have it stand out a bit. That was pretty much it- easy peasy.
And there you have it. Finished fireplace in all it's glory. I like to think that it doesn't mind working so hard for us in the winter months, now that it really loves what it's wearing.