As a bit of a refresh we moved into our house last July and after dealing with a bit of a real estate disaster I have finally launched myself on a quest to rid our home of every single spec of brown. Trust me when I say “every single” I mean every single wall. Let’s just assume that the former owners liked brown so much that if there was something that could be painted it was to be painted brown or a green-brown or grey-brown or my favourite purple-brown (Unfortunately I’ve learned there is such a thing!).
My poor husband… I don’t think he really knew what he was getting into but when there was a paint sale last weekend I came home with 10 cans a paint and a look in my eyes that meant business.
Being the amazing (ie: smart) man he is, my husband got to painting our family room right away which is now painted Benjamin Moore’s Woodlawn Blue.
Unfortunately, my love of the Woodlawn Blue (and my no-longer-brown family room) was hampered by the fireplace (and the light fixture but that’s another story altogether) .
Don’t get me wrong – it’s a lovely real wood burning fireplace and it makes me so happy when on those cold winter nights after tucking the kids into bed my husband lights a fire, pours me a glass of wine and turns on whatever show we’re currently watching on Nextflix.
While the Woodlawn Blue turned out to be the exact shade of blue/grey I was after, all it did for the fireplace was simply showcase the bright yellow of the bricks and the (you guessed it) BROWN. As soon as my husband started packing up his paint supplies and putting away the ladder I announced I was going to white wash the fireplace. He gave me “that look” that asked if I knew what I was getting myself into without actually saying the words.
I’ve already told you how amazing (ie: smart) my husband is so he just asked me if I needed the ladder and told me he’d put the kids to bed.
Three hours later (and a glass or two of wine) my fireplace went from what you see above to this:
Choose your paint.
One of those 10 cans of paint I bought was Benjamin Moore’s Cloud White for the trim which already has the primer in the paint. At the time I wondered if I should wait and get a different paint without the primer and perhaps a little flatter than trim paint, but in the end my lack of patience taught me that it didn’t matter.
Mix your paint with water using a 1:3 ratio.
I used one of my husband’s paint containers he got at the dollar store and mixed 1 part paint to 3 parts water. You can use less water but I wouldn’t recommend more (it gets messy – more on that in a minute). I didn’t use any exact measurements just poured until it looked right and added water (see I told you this was easy!). I stirred using a paint stick until my container was full of what looked like milk (so don’t leave it sitting around when the kids are awake!)
Choose your test area.
I chose to start on the side of my fireplace. I’m not going to lie – I was a bit scared I was about to do some very serious damage to my fireplace but I promised to rid my house of brown and I am nothing if not determined. I painted a few bricks, let them dry for a few minutes, made sure I was happy with my paint:water ratio then kept painting.
I started at the top of my fireplace and worked my way down. With a regular 2” paint brush I painted one brick at a time. Then used the “drips” of paint to paint the grout. The paint goes on darker than it actually dries. Since the bricks are very porous it soaks in a lot of paint. I advise painting a few bricks and letting them dry (honestly 15-20 minutes will be enough drying time) just to make sure you’re getting the coverage you want. It’s easy to add a bit more paint if you want more coverage. It’s not easy to motivate yourself to spend another 3 hours painting a fireplace you already painted.
Clean as you go.
This is messy for a couple of reasons. First, it’s like you’re painting with something the consistency of milk so there will be dripping and my best advice is to keep a rag handy. Also, bricks are messy so as you brush it removes some of the grout and dirt that makes the bricks (I’m sure there’s a technical term for that stuff…) so you’ll definitely want to vacuum when you’re all done.
Stand back and admire your handy work and maybe wish you had taped and/or put a drop sheet down.
You’ll notice I didn’t say anything about “prepping” your work space with painters tape, plastic or drop cloths because when this girl’s on a mission there’s not a lot of time for the “practical” things. Thankfully my mantel is the same “cloud white” and needed some touch ups anyway and my family room has laminate flooring so the white wash comes off quite easily. Needless to say, if you don’t want paint to drip on something take the time to do your prep work.
I am totally thrilled with the results. While I was a bit worried about wrecking the brick on my fireplace I absolutely love the greyed-out colours and think I used the perfect paint:water ratio for the look I was going for.
My husband (because I know you’re all dying to know what he thinks) loves it too. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t admit to not liking it but a wife can tell when they’re truthful and when they’re just being quiet. So let’s just say he’s as thrilled as I am! Though he’s a bit on the fence about the picture I chose for the mantel.
Happy to answer any questions you have — just leave them in the comments below.