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Give Your Brick Fireplace a Facelift

Did you update your bathroom? Revamp your kitchen? Install new flooring? We would love to share your project, big or small! Send us what you did and our editorial team will consider it for our “My Fresh Home” series, which will be published every Thursday. Check out our submission instructions at the bottom of the page.

Today we want to share a story from Freshome reader Haiku, who completed a fireplace face-lift: Most homes built around the 70s and 80s usually have fireplaces with bricks varying in color from orangey-red to black-brown-red. Automatically, it makes the room look dated and drab. One fairly easy fix is to whitewash the fireplace – it instantly makes the room look light and bright. However, it’s time-consuming and can be a bit frustrating depending on how porous or dark your fireplace is. But it’s definitely doable! I’ve whitewashed two fireplaces, in both our previous and current home. I turned our last fireplace from this:

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Here’s how I did it: I mixed together equal parts of white latex paint and water and stirred. I covered up everything in my living room that I didn’t want to get paint on, grabbed a sponge and a rag, and went to work.I sponged the mixture on the bricks, making sure to dab the drips with the rag. Sore shoulders – check. I waited a day to let the brick absorb the paint. The brick absorbs a lot of paint – so much that I had to do a second coat. When it was done drying the second time, it looked too uniform, so I got my sander out and sanded down a few areas. Hello dust! Now, on to our current (and forever) home.
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As soon as I saw the fireplace, I knew I would have to whitewash it. However, unlike the first fireplace, which was built out of a brownish interior brick, this one was mostly red and black. Our chimney sweep said that it was exterior brick, which made it SO much more difficult than before. It took me well over a week, and I kept panicking because no matter what I did, I thought it looked bad.I started with one part white latex paint and two parts water, which left me with a light pink fireplace. My girls were thrilled. I tried to fix it with a half-and-half paint mixture, and ended up with a pink-purple fireplace.“No honey, there’s no dinner, as I have spent all day painting our fireplace purple.” So bad. Bad bad purple. I slept on it and decided to add a bit of warm beige on my current white paint-water mixture.
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It was better but definitely yellow-ish. Everyone told me it looked fab and begged me to stop. But it bothered me. Every single day. It just wasn’t right. I thought if I made the water mixture whiter and painted ALL the grout lines, it might look better. And it did. BUT it dripped everywhere, and now I probably have carpal tunnel. It still wasn’t the look that I wanted, so I got sander out and went to town on the overly yellow areas, concentrating on the edges. It took hours, 7 sander pads (brick eats through it) and 2 days of cleaning all the dust off. It literally got everywhere because this time, I didn’t think to cover anything up.

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This is what it looks like now, and I think it is so much better than before. We hired a carpenter to panel the fireplace, and I used marble tiles around the surround and painted everything SW Snowbound. Getting the sconces wired in was a project in and of itself, but we love how it turned out. What do you think? Would you whitewash your fireplace?

How to Submit User Stories

1: Include “My Fresh Home Project” in the subject line. Then, in the body of the email, please provide an explanation of why you chose to do the project, an outline of steps you took to get it done, and any advice for readers considering similar projects. Make sure to include your name and any before/after images you have! 2: Email your story to that’s it! Easy, right? If selected, your story will be shared as an article on Freshome!

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