Friday, October 2, 2015

The Fireplace

If we're friends on Facebook, you've already seen these photos (months ago), but they do have a place on this blog, so I'm still sharing them here.

I actually have before pictures!  This picture was taken before we even owned the house:

The color almost looks red in the photo above, but it was really more of a purple-mahogany.

Here's a picture I took after we moved in.

We hated that someone had painted this, and thought that if we could strip the paint off, the stone underneath might prove to be very beautiful.

We tried a few different methods of paint removal, but none of them worked very well on stone.  Caleb is very allergic to anything that smells chemically, so we first tried a heat gun with a wire brush.  This technically worked, but each stone took over an hour and still had some paint down in the cracks.  Plus this was back-breaking, stinky work.  We tried a low-odor chemical stripper, which was not very low odor, and also only served to smear the paint around.  So we gave up, and left the fireplace looking much like this:

The above picture was taken after Chloe spent a few hours scrubbing it with TSP.  Even that made such a huge difference!

We finally decided to paint over the whole thing, but try to make it look like stone.

I found a tutorial on Pinterest and bought the supplies for it, but Chloe did 95% of the work all by herself.  (If you are interested in doing this project, I highly recommend the tutorial linked here.  Make sure you read the comments, too.  This tutorial was perfect for us, because her fireplace stones are the same shape and size as ours, and hers was just as ugly to start!)

The next step, after laying down paper and taping off the wall, trim, and mantel, was to prime it.  This took several hours, as getting a thick, gloppy primer into the tiny crevices of stone is no quick job.

Here it is all primed:

Next, Chloe added two coats of a flat base color.  She painted over all the stones, and in all the mortar spaces.  The stones would have extra paint added to them, but this color would be it for the mortar.

This was already such a huge improvement, and we knew that if the attempts to make the stone look natural didn't work, we could always add another coat of the flat paint and leave it plain.

Next, using the techniques described in the tutorial, Chloe dabbed, sponged, wiped, smeared, etc.  At first, no one thought it was going to work.  It looked weird and kind of bad.  But she kept adding to it, and then all of a sudden, it became amazing.  

It looks like real stone!

I'm so grateful to Chloe for all her work on this project!  The fireplace just glows with beauty now. We were hoping to take it from ugly to not-noticeable, but she took it from ugly to beautiful!  (And in only like 15 hours!)

Love and Sponges,
Leah Joy

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