Easy Fireplace Makeover

A chalk painted fireplace

When it comes to enjoying the holidays with your family, many picture cuddling around the fireplace. But what if a brand new hearth is well outside of your budget but you still want to make some cuddly memories? Take a page out of this frugal mommy’s book and upcycle an old clunker into the fireplace of your dreams!

When my husband I started house hunting for our second home, we had a fairly long ‘wish list’. We had lived in our first home for almost six years and had learned what we didn’t want and were focused on finding our’ forever home’.

Amongst the en-suite bathroom, multi-level layout, and beautiful neighbourhood, I was harbouring a deep love for a cozy addition to our livingroom: a fireplace. But of course, with any home search, it came down to a question of wish list versus reality and when we finally found our dream home (a 1980’s back-split fixer-upper) it did not have a fireplace.

A Dream Fireplace

Of course, my husband and I were well-aware of the fact that we could always pay to have a gas fireplace installed, but two years later it is low on the list of priorities and likely still years away.

Hearth for the holidays?

With the temperature starting to dip and the return of fall, I found myself once again longing for my cozy fireplace. With an tiny budget and an open mind, I decided to check out my favourite place to shop: VarageSale.

Among the many high priced resale fireplaces, I found the perfect diamond in the rough. A chipped white and brass number that was the perfect DIY candidate and a great price: $45.

Although there was a lot of interest in the unit due to the low price, I ultimately was able to snag the deal because the unit needed a little TLC and I believe the other interested parties didn’t want to take on the work. Their hesitation was definitely my gain!

DIY Fireplace Makeover

The first thing I did was clean up the unit with a clean rag. Once I removed any surface dirt and dust, I was able to take a closer look at any damage to the hearth. From there I roughed up the surface with some sandpaper and then wiped off any excess dust.

To address the chips in the corners I built up the chips with wood filler and sanded once dry. I had to repeat this process several times to get the desired smooth finish. I also had to use wood glue to reattach a small detail at the bottom.

Making the Perfect Mantel

Once the unit was ready to be painted I applied several thin coats of chalk paint. I choose an antique mustard colour because I have used yellow as an accent colour in the upper living and dining room and wanted to introduce it in the lower level of our home. I also wanted to get a little bit out of my comfort zone in terms of colour choice. This yellow was definitely a bit of a bolder choice for me, but I am very happy with it.

It took about three coats to get the desired effect on this piece. Sometimes I like to have the original colour peek through when I use chalk paint, but for this fireplace, I choose a complete cover.

Chalk Paint Makeover

Although the colour was a departure for me, I still wanted to add my signature stencil accent. Once the paint was fully dry (24 hours) I applied the stencil and used white acrylic paint to add this cute little accent. My husband always says it should say: ‘this is our happy fireplace’.

The top piece shows the original colour and the bottom shows the difference after the wax finish.

I really wanted to do an antique wax finish on this. I started with a coat of ‘antique’ brown wax which I applied liberally and then wiped off the excess with a rag.

I used a white wax for the next layer and wiped off the excess.

I repeated both these steps again to get my desired look. I find that by doing this technique you can add texture to smooth furniture so I especially like to use it on MDF pieces like this.

Irresistible Insert

The final step for the hearth was to apply a further coat of clear wax on the top of the hearth. I really wanted to make sure it would be protected in case anyone was to ever place anything on top.

While the painting of this fireplace hearth was an involved process, there was still one more necessary step. The heating unit of this unit was an dated brass. I used 600 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface, taped off the glass and sprayed the brass with a high heat black paint. This easy step really did make a huge difference in the look of the whole fireplace! It is very important to use high heat paint. I got mine at Canadian Tire.

Now that the fireplace project is complete, I love turning the unit on and getting cozy on the couch with the kids. I can’t wait to have a fireplace for the holidays so we finally have a spot to hang our stockings!

While we will eventually replace this fireplace with a gas counterpart in a few year’s time, for now, I don’t have to sacrifice style or comfort because of a tight budget.

Have you ever done a fireplace makeover? Let me know in the comments and tag me on Instagram @keepupwiththerobertsons! Your project could be featured!

The perfect way to test your marriage

Do you want to find out if your coupledom is rock solid or if you are simply treading water waiting for the breaking point?

Take a trip to Ikea.

It took taking a trip without my husband to this favourite store of mine for me to realize that every visit to the land of meatballs, textiles, and dreams doesn’t need to end in threats of bodily harm.

Our trip always starts out so promising. We hustle in the morning to make it in time for $1 breakfast, but the moment my other half sets his eyes on the massive crowd waiting for scrambled eggs and sausage links his back starts to go up. After dropping off our kids to pick up the latest virus in playland we wander around the labyrinth of furniture and textiles guaranteed to make you want to upgrade.

My husband usually starts freaking out about five minutes in. The child minding beeper turns this trip into a race against time and the challenge of getting out without draining our savings account.

The trip always reaches its pinnacle in the ‘As Is’ section. The inevitable argument of whether or not we can jimmy said furniture into our vehicle always ends in tears (my husband’s).

Recently my husband thought he would test our relationship in  a fun new way when he decided to bring a used couch home against my wishes.

I should have known something was up when he slipped out quietly post dinner with vague plans. I tried to stop him because he had threatened to come home with a forest green microfiber love seat a friend was giving away.

Fast forward to 9 pm and about -5 degrees. My husband had brought home a monstrosity and now required my help to get it in the house.

First we tried the front door, then the side door, then the garage. By this point I had considered a few ways in which I could murder my husband and make it look like an accident, many of them using the couch. Now if I was to simply walk away from this poor choice I would be considered to be ‘abandoning him’, so instead I stood and ‘helped’ as he struggled to remove all the screws except one from the hinges of our front door. thirty minutes and one freak out later he realized he could simply remove the pins in about five minutes.

The entire time I ‘helped’ by watching him struggle and pretend to hold up the door.

So now we are the proud new owners of a second-hand love seat. It’s actually really nice and is not hunter green at all (my husband is colour-blind) but a nice sage green and goes well with our decor.

Still, we won’t be tempting fate with any trips to Ikea anytime soon.