The Fireplace

Our house has one fireplace, in the small “den” (I guess that’s what we’re calling it for now) on the back of the house.  It takes up the one long wall, and is opposite a large picture window (which you’ll see transformed in a future post.)  This is what it looked like when we moved in:

The Den

It’s not awful, but the putty-colored paint accentuated the fact that the brick is a bit crumbly, the mantel is incredibly crooked (look at how it doesn’t line up with the bricks), and the mortar lines are very deep.

Stripping the paint and exposing the brick wasn’t an option.  We had no idea how many layers of paint were on there, and looking in the cabinet to the left, we could see that the brick wasn’t pretty like the exterior of the house anyway.  Plus, stripping paint is a pain in the butt and it was ridiculously expensive to pay for a soda wash or sandblasting.

So, paint.

I wanted to go dark for a few reasons:

1. I wanted some major contrast in the room.

2. The window opposite the fireplace is huge and lends a beautiful view of our backyard, so I wanted to balance that with a dark alternative focal point.

3. A dark color camouflages the heavy texture, unbalanced mantel, and looks more modern.

4. I kind of dig the old brassy bronze fireplace surround, and I wanted to accent it with a dark color that still had warmth.

Here’s what we came up with:

I chose an off-black with a bit of olive green in it, so it still looks warm and echoes the trees outside.  The color is Thorny Branch, by Behr, from Home Depot, and I chose the exterior eggshell formula because it’s a bit more heavy duty and will stand up to people sitting and standing on the hearth.  It’s still latex.

It took two heavy coats and some touching up here and there.  As with any dark color, the richness and depth don’t really look right until you get it on thick.  Here’s what it looked like at first:

Pretty gross.  It took about 15 episodes of Mad Men to get the first coat on (the mortar lines took 80% of the time.)  And then the second coat went really quickly.  I don’t usually tape anything off when I paint (I’m very neat,) but this time I did, to protect the floors, and because I’m not sure if I could exactly match the putty color if I were to get paint that dark on it.

I think it looks great with the floors!

You can see a hint of the crazy pumpkin orange in the kitchen to the left…not our choice.  It was the one room that was already a color when we moved in.  I’m still pondering that one.  Stay tuned for final photos of the den – it’s almost done!

See how uneven the surface is?  Not fun to paint, let me tell you.

Doesn’t it look great!?  We’re pretty excited about it.

Keep watching for the next project! Now that this big one’s done, more should be coming quickly.


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