Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Whitewashed Christmas

I think I'm the last person in blogland to decorate my fireplace mantel for Christmas!  There is a VERY good reason though.

I mentioned here that I was "thinking" about painting the fireplace.  Well, I thought and thought about it, googled "painted fireplaces", and asked my friends and family for their opinions.  The hubs and I didn't want to make a rash decision.  You know because once you've painted it you can NEVER go back!!!  Well, ok, I guess you can strip the paint from the brick (if you want to get all technical), but that my friends is a DIY project that I hope to never, ever tackle.  So, I did my homework here until I finally made a decision.

First, before I reveal how and what I  we decided to do, I want to thank all of you who left comments or e-mailed me your thoughts and opinions!  I really appreciate it as it gave me lots of ideas and ultimately helped me and the hubs decide what to do.  To recap this is what the fireplace did look like.

For more deets on our family room and our fireplace dilemma check here.  To finally make a decision about what to do once and for all, I made a list of what I did and did not like about the fireplace (because I'm "listy" like that and writing things down helps me to de-clutter my brain, which is also why I blog). 

I did like:   
1. the height of  it (floor to ceiling in a vaulted room).
2. the fact that because of it's height it's an immediate focal point.
3. that it has a simple mantel. 

I did not like:
1. the color of the brick (I'm not a fan of brown brick).
2. the color of the mantel (the black seemed too harsh and didn't match anything in the room).
3. the way that it sucked all of the light out of the room (even with the patio doors and skylights which provide lots of light in this room, the fireplace always looked so dark and dingy).  

The hubs agreed with both lists (which was great because we rarely agree on these things). While the wall color is a dark, rich red it adds warmth and coziness to the room, but the brown brick just soaked up the light.  Since the fireplace is the focal point in the room and really of the entire house as you see it from the front door, we wanted it to be a feature.  We just felt like it looked blah, and we wanted more of an oow and awe!    We tossed around lots of ideas.  We thought about painting it a soft cream color in a high gloss or maybe a mocha or chocolate brown.  I just wasn't sure if a totally painted look is what I wanted.  We were kind of going for a "modern farmhouse" look; at least that's what the hubs has labeled the overall style of the room.  You know it's like we wanted rustic not country, but with a little softness and glamour.  Something timeless but not dated.  

During my google search, I ran across this post from the Frugal Farmhouse Design blog, and I fell in head over heels love with the look of whitewashed brick!  The post gave me the "how-to" achieve this look as well as the eye candy and inspiration!  YAY!  I followed her instructions and used my can of left-over dining room paint (Waverly Cafe Cream) to whitewash the brick.  It was really simple and easy.  It was about a 2 hour job- really that's all!  It actually took longer to paint the mantel white (the color of our trim) because of all the drying time between coats.  Anyhow, here are some progress pics.  

Just mix the paint with water - about 50/50.

Then grab an old paint brush and a rag. 

Then paint and wipe down until you achieve the look you like. 

And now for the finished fireplace.  Sorry, I don't have any progress pics of the mantel.  I just sanded it lightly and then painted it white (with left over trim paint).  Here she is before and after! 



I LOVE IT!  It's timeless but not dated.  It's soft, but still masculine.  It's perfection (to me anyway)!  I also love that I still have options.  If I get tired of this "washed" look I can just paint over it.  If I had painted it first, I wouldn't have been able to go back and wash it.  Anywho, I'm in love and was totally inspired to start my Christmas decorating once I finished!  YAY!  

Everything I used to decorate the mantel I already had!  Love not spending a single cent :)  Come to think of it I didn't spend one single cent on this fireplace makeover either!  I used paint and supplies that I already had.  

I used my red glass pillar candle holders (that are from Hobby Lobby) to add a little more height to my silver tinsel trees (from Ben Franklin craft store in Richmond, Va that I bought years ago).  

Then I added this mercury glass vase (that I picked up at Tuesday Morning a while back- love that store) and used a faux branch to hang a few of my old red mercury balls.  Love this look.  I just love branches! 

Then I used this fluffy garland that I've had for years, and layered in a red bead garland and some magnolia leaves that I picked from our tree in the front yard.  I love adding real fresh greenery to spruce up the fake stuff :)   I also love that it was FREE!  I also cut some garland to create a little horseshoe wreath for my white beauty!

I'm not gonna lie.  I was trying to find her some antlers and a red nose, but she said she was too distinguished for those shananigans!   I tried to tell her it was all about the kids, but she insisted the horseshoe wreath was as far as she would go.  I'll let her slide.....this year anyway :) 

The stockings I bought the year my daughter was born.  Their from Pottery Barn, and I big fat love them!  

My most favorite thing on the fireplace (besides the white beauty of course) is my cordova fireplace screen from Willow House.  I've had it for years.  It's gorgeous, and now that the fireplace has been whitewashed it just shows up so mush more than it did against that brown brick.  It's so much more of a feature now.  

So did you have any house projects that you just had to finish before you could bust out your Christmas decorations?  Are you done decorating or just getting started like me?  Merry Christmas decorating to all!

I'm linking up over at The Lettered Cottage- go swoon over all of the great Christmas mantels! 

 Also linking up here!  Go check out the holiday inspiration!


  1. Your mantle is beautiful! Your brick turned out great! Great job!

  2. Hurray! I LOVE it! And your christmas decor looks beautiful next to the lighter shade of brick. Wonderful!

  3. Your mantle looks beautiful! I love it!!

  4. Hello! I came from the link party at Its So Very Cheri. Your newly whitewashed mantle looks great!! The first thing that caught my eye is that magnificent horse! Love it! I also thought that it was so cute how you made a horseshoe wreath for it. Everything looks great!

  5. following you from kristin's giveaway party. will you follow me too (or visit). Love the title of your blog and could use 100 items from your site. laura

  6. Oh my gorgeous sakes! Truly beautiful!

    Happy Holidays!

    p.s. I'm a new follower. Found you on Kristin's blog.

  7. Love it. You did a fantastic job on that whitewash! I followed you here from the DIY Club.

  8. So pretty! Wish I had a mantel! Would love for you to come visit me at Sew Chatty and link up to Made with Love Monday!

  9. You are the FEATURED BLOGGER this week at the DIY Club.


  10. You have me hooked too! I have been thinking about painting ours for about a year....but what I like about how you do it is that you can still see the beauty in the texture of the brick. Fabulous!!

  11. Hi Carmel, I am so glad you stopped by so that I could find your blog showcasing your gorgeous home. I see you and I like color and a lot of the same accessories. I have the PB stockings, too and the Drake lantern by SLAH, of course now Willow House. My sister used to be a consultant before the economy sank. I have been looking through your posts and what a lovely home you have. Love the whitewashed brick!! Perfect choice. I hope you will join my party on Wednesdays. It opens up on Tuesday evening and it is all about before and afters which I see you do a lot of. It is called Boring to Better party. Would love for you to join some time. This month it can also be any Christmas decor and then Jan. will be just before and afters again. Enjoy your weekend.


  12. Hello! I came from the link party at Its So Very Cheri. Your newly whitewashed mantle looks great!! The first thing that caught my eye is that magnificent horse! Love it! I also thought that it was so cute how you made a horseshoe wreath for it. Everything looks great!website design priceclases de alemén en Madrid

  13. I love your white washed brick. I was also excited to see your post on this subject as we are getting ready to do a remodel. Our house is tudor and I want to do some smeared brick where you paint it and then sand blast most of it off. But, I have been researching an alternative that does not involve the sand blasting part.
    Your fireplace looks awesome. So much character.

  14. Hi, it's Dinah from I'm always doing paleo recipes to feed my family of CrossFitters, so DIY projects come few and far between since I also teach gifted and talented. However, my dark den finally got a nice off-white paint job and I thought I would be happy. It lightened up the former gold paint and brown paneling, but it made the fireplace brick look darker than ever! I saw your re-do and now I am going to have to find time to do it, too. What a difference in your befor and after pics! Thanks so much.


Be nice or I'll tell your mom! xoxo -C


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