Fall is on it’s way and thank goodness ‘cos this heat just seems to keep getting hotter. I can’t wait for the smell of autumn to be in the air. It’s such yummy mix of cool and cozy that makes you want to cuddle up on the couch by a crackling fire and a good movie. Ok, real talk…our fireplace doesn’t actually work. It’s been pretty to look at and dream about snuggling up next to, but the actual heat element, yeah that hasn’t happened for a few reasons. Our littlest little is only two and up until this year, we didn’t feel a pressing need to add the potential hazard into our little slice of chaos. It also operates on propane and we haven’t yet installed a tank. Well, the little man has become a pretty good listener and we’ve gotten some pricing on a propane tank, so hopefully this year we can finally fire that bad boy up. Working fireplace or not, I’ve been looking so forward to decorating our mantel!
A little over one year ago, we painted our family room a gorgeous chocolate brown by Behr called New Chestnut. We tried to pay close attention to selecting a color that we really loved and wanted to choose something that worked with our main floor since it’s all fairly open. What we didn’t consider was the color of the walls against the dark stain on the mantel. Ua fortunately, after the house was painted we realized that the mantel just kinda melted into the wall color. It was boring at best and we were ok with that. Did we choose the wrong paint color? Nope, we still love it! My hubby wasn’t bothered by the sameness of it all and I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to change it, so it stayed. Welp, that changed a few months ago when I really started to rethink my approach to decorating our home. I decided it was time to start making intentional choices instead of just filling rooms with random stuff. Let me tell you, that’s tough to do. That’s a post for another day, lol! I had been so torn about changing our fireplace because I didn’t want to “ruin the good wood”. What the heck does that mean anyway!? Like is it really “good wood” if I don’t like it? Maybe for some people, but not for m
I mulled it over and over and over again, and after about 3 months, made the decision that it was time to paint it. Admittedly, even after taping, I had to give myself a little pep talk before I could bring myself to start sanding the thing. I did it though! I used a medium grit sanding block and gave the entire mantel a quick sanding. I wish I could say I was thorough with the cleaning and degreasing that usually happens prior to sanding. Truth? I wasn’t. There was no cleaning other than a one minute wipe down with a wet paper towel. How much crap could actually accumulate on an unused fireplace after all?
I wiped away the dust with a dry microfiber cloth, took a deep breath and started painting. Almost immediately the regret and thoughts of, “holy “expletive”, I’ve ruined the fireplace! I should’ve just left well enough alone” began to flood my mind. It was definitely a case of beast before beauty. Normally when I have those thoughts with furniture, I get over it with the quickness because 1, if I really hate it, I don’t have to keep it 2, it’s not a permanent part of our house and I don’t have to keep it and 3, it always turns out just fine. Some how those thoughts did nothing to comfort me since we were talking about my permanent, can’t just sell it if I hate it mantel. In my mind, I had to get it right. I also had to remind myself that “well enough” was not what I was after. I wanted LOVE!
Because the wood was quite grainy and I did no priming or prep aside from sanding, it took three coats to cover. General Finishes suggests waiting 2-4 hours to recoat. Of course I needed to know if I’d completely screwed up our once perfectly decent mantel, so as impatience would have it, I recoated after one hour. On my final coat, I felt the regret slipping away!
Now I’d had it in my mind to glaze this bad boy. I was certain that glaze would be what made me fall in love. Went there, applied it and HATED it. It was just wrong. It looked dirty, settled in all the wrong places and just wasn’t at all what I’d envisioned. Uggggh! Now what!? I knew I wanted a subtle, timeless look, so I decided to very lightly distress the edges to reveal the underlying “good wood”, lol! I didn’t go to town with sanding. I just grazed all the areas that would naturally wear over time. As it so happens, I did take off just a little too much in a few spots. I took some minwax stain and gently added back color to the areas that needed it. I wiped away the stain and what remained was a little halo of color on the white paint which I’d anticipated, but didn’t want. I took a paper towel lightly moistened with mineral spirits and rubbed off the excess stain. Worked like a charm!
Since I hadn’t planned on top coating the mantel and didn’t feel the need to wax the entire thing, I used some Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Wax in the details and applied a dusting of Maison Blanche Le Dirt. It’s meant to mimic the look of dust that might have accumulated over time and it did just that!
Take a look at our new mantel!! Y’all I’m truly in love! Instead of melting into the paint color, it stands out as a pretty focal point and even brings out the veining of the marble. My only regret now, is not having painted it sooner! I’d love to hear your thoughts, so take a minute to leave me a comment. As always, if you have any questions, ask away. I’m happy to help!