I should have done this a looooong time ago, you guys. I was afraid, plain and simple. Maybe even in denial. Not anymore. This dramatic paint transformation not only brightened up our living room, it made me feel younger 😯 . I feel like I knocked 10 years off “just” by painting our dark brick fireplace and surrounding built-ins. Not to say “just” in the sense that it was easy, because it wasn’t. I hope I inspire millions to do the same. Okay, I’ll settle for just a couple folks. Either way, welcome to our “Painted Built-In Shelves & Brick Fireplace”…I can’t wait to hear what you think of the change.
First, a little history. Below is our living room a few months after we moved in (2009). I was into the cozy cabin look and I had painted the mantle and built-in shelves a dark molasses just like I have painted the moldings and doors on this entire floor the same color. Some folks think they are black, but they are in fact dark brown. I still love the doors and moldings that color and plan to keep it that way. The staircase is done in that color as well, and if you are interested you can read all about that here: DARK BROWN PAINT COLOR.
This next photo you may recall isn’t very old. We finally painted the room white (kept those dark moldings mentioned above) after an ugly turquoise phase that I don’t even want to discuss. I think I was eating too many nuts or something because I think I went part nuts. In my honest opinion, I truly feel walls look best white. I am not a grey fan, or a beige fan. I want them white. So, there they were-WHITE. I admit that I really did like it. The fireplace really popped and the shelves…well, not so much. The shelves always looked too dark and almost “spooky” to me. Like I could fall in one and never come out. They disappeared and everything on them did, too. I just wasn’t satisfied yet.
I finally got the energy to change them and dove in feet first. I can say that because I actually sprained my ankle in the middle of the project. A trip to the ER and a big boot got me through it, but man did that hurt. So, please be careful when you are doing DIY home improvement projects. Watch those steps and don’t rush.
Anyhow, I knew the shelves would look beautiful white, but I was afraid the fireplace wouldn’t look right, and I was right. I even asked in my amazingly friendly Facebook group what they thought I should do, and most of them agreed that I should paint the mantle and brick fireplace white, too. By the way, you should join us in the decorating group 🙂 —->Redhead Can Decorate Facebook DIY Home decorating & Cooking Group.
So that first night, I literally just dove into it. I put on my husbands old law school sweatshirt that has become my painting suit, and painted like a mad woman. The shelves are high, so I needed to get way up there and I don’t do so well way up there. I managed to get most of it (the sprained ankle happened later), but my husband cut in the tippy top for me. This continued for weeks. Possibly months I think? I did a little at a time.
Here’s the finished look… POW!
Oh wait, let me light the fire for you.
Are you shocked that I painted the authentic natural brick white? Are you mad at me? I am a little, but I promise you I will not paint the fireplace on the other side of this wall in our kitchen. That is staying natural. At least for as long as we live here. I actually love natural brick and I don’t understand why so many are afraid of it. In this case it really looked odd, but I have seen many other designs where it can work in a white space. With that being said, if you are trying to decide on if you should paint your brick, my advice is to consider the surrounding design area. Change the things that can be changed back, first. If you still think the brick should be painted, then by all means go for it.
Oh, and another thing- painting the brick was super easy. The shelves were the hard part because of covering such a dark color (4-5 coats of paint), but the brick took me 1 coat. Let me explain…
When I researched painting brick I found a ton of mixed information. Everything from cleaning the brick first, to mixing the paint with water. I did none of that. I took my high quality paint brush (see sources below) and dipped it in my high quality paint and painted the brick. That is it. I purposely left areas unpainted because I thought it would add to the authenticity of the brick. I am so happy I did that. I think it looks like it was always white.
After I was done painting the brick, and the mantle, I felt as though it was a bit too white. Uh oh. I got a little worried (and even a little nauseous) until I remembered to put back my gold fireplace screen. When I put it back, I was in love. It totally made me smile. If you want more information on the fireplace screen, just click here: Fireplace Screen.
So, now what about those gorgeous stained wood shelves? That idea came to me right before I began painting the inside of the shelves white. I knew all white shelves on white would look too sterile in our home. I decided to custom stain new wood shelves to match the rustic chair moldings in the room. Best decision ever and very simple. We measured the old shelves, and had them cut pine boards at Home Depot. Next, I stained them and sealed them in our garage. I am still shocked every time to see how pretty pine wood stains. It really is beautiful.
The shelves in this photo below look like 2 different sizes, but they are in fact the same width. You can still see the “peg holes” on either side, but that’s okay. I can adjust these pegs if I desire later.
I really had fun decorating all of the shelves with items that are special to our family. I am planning a post on tea sets shortly, so stay tuned. I guess you could say I love tea. My Mom found that gold trimmed set at a garage sale. Isn’t it beautiful? She also gave me the blue tea cup, and the colorful one. I recently found the pink one and was using it for my cat for a little while. Check that out, here.
Lastly, the new gold handles. I chose these cute brass clover pulls because they matched the gold fire screen so nicely. I found them at Hobby Lobby and they were white. I sprayed them with the gold spray paint I have listed in in my sources.
I hope you enjoyed the tour, and more importantly I hope I inspired you to switch up your decor and have some fun with it. Don’t be afraid.
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Oh wait! Did you notice I switched our rug again? Shh. If we don’t discuss it, then it didn’t happen
WHITE PAINT COLOR: BEHR ULTRA SWISS COFFEE (SHELVES-SATIN & HIGH GLOSS- MANTLE)
BASKET-INFO COMING SOON
MIRRORS -BALLARD DESIGN