Fireplace Surround (the driftwood edition)

I’m so grateful for having this place to share my behind-the-scenes stories.  I just finished a project for a great client who has agreed to let me post these pics of the project in progress (thanks Sara!). She wanted that comfy cozy farmhouse look that has become immensely popular. She brought me in to pick paint colors and make suggestions on furnishings, lighting & area rugs. Then she showed me the fireplace. It was so… well, see for yourself. Here’s the before pic:

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Before. Silently begging for a makeover.

The wall colors we chose would lighten the space a lot, so painting the brick white was a no-brainer. It’s not something I always recommend (once you do it, it’s very very hard/impossible to undo), but she wanted it done and I completely agreed. But what to do with the mantel and surround?  I suggested we transform it using paint. Get a driftwood look going, maybe let some of the dark wood show through a bit.

Fast forward a few days and I get a message from Sara saying that before she could stop him, the painter had mistakenly put a coat of white on the mantel too. Oops.

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This is how I found the fireplace when I began the project. That brick is so much better!     And the brass went away too.  But that surround… Can you tell where she stopped him from painting?

But all was not lost. Our goal was to give the surround a coastal, driftwood-like feel.  So I got to work. I taped everything to protect the new paint job on the walls and brick, then applied two coats of Annie Sloan’s French Linen chalk paint. If you’ve never used Annie Sloan products, they are quite lovely to work with. A little more expensive than the competition, but lovely.

IMG_4722 Using a combination of techniques, (rag, foam brush, & dry brush) I applied Country Grey chalk paint over the French Linen to create a distressed, aged look. In places, I rubbed the French Linen away to reveal a little of the painter’s white coat underneath. A little bonus from the painter’s mistake. I finished by buffing in clear wax and voila, the fireplace is transformed!

Note – We stopped at one coat of clear wax to keep things lighter overall, but you could go further with detail by adding a bit of dark wax over the clear wax (always apply clear wax before doing dark wax!). The dark wax would provide even more depth, shadow and distress.

We love how it turned out. We’re so thankful to have been able to help transform a space like this. Happy new fireplace!

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Base of French Linen with a dry brush of Country Grey

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After. Ahh, much better.

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