Sunday, January 24, 2010

A little late for roasting chestnuts...

Well, our biggest project to date is finally done. The fireplace. I've been talking about redoing this fireplace since before we even had an offer accepted on the house, so I have to say I'm really happy that it's finished, and with the results. If you'll recall, I took my inspiration for the job from Layla's fireplace makeover on The Lettered Cottage. We had to tweak it to make it work for our fireplace, but it was a good solution and I highly recommend this tactic. Also, ours did not cost $82, but it wasn't terribly expensive either.

Let's get to it, though! First, here is the fireplace before.

We had to remove the mantel and the glass doors, both of which were super easy. The mantel was just nailed in and I was able to simply lift it off the top.

This is what the firebox looked like after I cleaned it. There was a solid 2-3 inches of ash in the bottom of it. Tip: don't try to vacuum fine ash out of your fireplace, it screws up your vacuum's filter and you will have to take the thing apart and clean it. I have learned this from experience.

After taking the fireplace apart, it was time to take LOTS of measurements. We made a scale drawing of the fireplace and then made copies of that and drew on the copies to figure out our design. Once we'd fought out figured out the look we wanted, it was then time to start building "The Boxes".

This is, of course, when Adam decided to break his ankle. Insert 6-8 weeks of healing time and my Dad stepping in to build the box parts for us. Thanks Dad.

Now, I should have taken photos of the boxes we built, but I didn't. Suffice to say we made some boxes and L-shaped pieces out of MDF to cover portions of the brick. This is our fireplace at the end of day one attaching the boxes.

Note the big gap in the top of the upper box portion - that where we had to slice through the upper box and spread it apart because SOMEBODY (namely, me) didn't measure accurately. Fear not, we'll cover that gap up later. 
To attach the MDF boxes we used masonry screws and borrowed Adam's Dad's hammer drill (which is just more powerful than a regular electric hand drill). We made sure to put the screws in places where the pine boards would cover them. When that wasn't possible we used a counter-sink drill bit to make sure the screws would go down below the MDF's surface and I could caulk over them and they would not be seen.  
On the bottom portion you can see the pine boards we attached. We borrowed a 2 gallon pneumatic compressor and a nail gun from my Dad for this. It went MUCH faster than a hammer and finish nails would have.

Note also that we had to remove the baseboards on both sides of the fireplace. We could have cut the MDF boxes to fit over the baseboards, but figured that if we ever had to replace the baseboards it would be easier we didn't have to get them out from behind the fireplace. That was just a pry bar job.

Day 2: Attaching the pine trim and the mantel, reattaching the baseboards.

We spent most of day 2 cutting and attaching the pine boards to the face of the MDF and shopping for/joining/routing two solid wood boards for the mantel. We opted for solid wood for the mantel because MDF will puff up and expand if you get it wet, so if we had a party and someone set a drink on our MDF mantel, it could damage it. However, solid wood won't do this. But we had to get two so that the mantel would be thick enough.

So, we got a pine board and a poplar board and joined them together. We used the poplar for the upper part of the mantel (where things actually sit) since it is harder than pine and won't get little dents in it from use. The pine is on the bottom because it was much cheaper than another poplar board. Here's a detail of the mantel that we joined and routed the decorative edge on. If you look closely you can see where the two woods differ in color.

After all the construction it was time to paint, right? Wrong, lots of caulking of every little hole and seam ensued.

Then there was the priming

Then I finally painted. It ended up needing 3 coats of paint to get a nice smooth finish. This is the Sherwin Williams Roman Column we've used on all our trim. 

Next, scrubbed as much soot as possible from the brick and I primed it. Sure am glad I bought that gallon of Kilz Premium's getting a lot of use.

Finally, I painted the brick black (Benjamin Moore Space Black) and really cleaned out the firebox. I litt And it was time to do the fun part, accesorizing! 

The only new accessories are from Ikea, the pitcher ($20), Black sticks ($5), white lantern ($4) and straw ram ($3.75). Everything else is old from our apartment. If you haven't already noticed, there is our fabulous convex mirror from Restoration Hardware Outlet.

So, just to review. Here are the photos of the living room from the listing, to just after we moved in, to now, with the debut of our new couch you haven't seen and our Pottery Barn Tanner Coffee Table which we got just before Christmas, and the now black side tables.  I hope to have a post devoted to the side tables in the near future, they need one last thing.


I'm still working on making roman shades for this room, some kind of curtains for the small windows on both sides of the fireplace and getting some chairs to put next to the buffet. We have plans in the works to replace the hearth with marble tile (which we've already purchased) and I'm going to be painting the fireplace grate with black stove paint to clean it up a little. There's always something to do. But at least, now, the fireplace is (mostly) finished.

Oh, and I did end up buying those white birch logs on eBay. I'm only slightly ashamed to admit it. I had money in my PayPal account from my Etsy shop, which I used to pay for far as I'm concerned PayPal money isn't REAL money. 

And finally, would you like to know what the fireplace makeover cost? We bought most of the stuff in December, and I've lost the reciepts, so pardon my estimates, please.

2 sheets MDF: $60 (ish)
1 box 75 masonry screws: $15
Pine craft boards: $35
1 12"x6" pine board: $20
1 12"x6' poplar board:$32
Assorted finishing nails: $8
Caulk: $4
Accesories: $34
Logs: $27Sandpaper: Free, had it from other projects
Paint: Free, leftovers from other projects
Assorted tools for the job: Free, borrowed or owned.

Total: $235

As thrifty as I'd like? Not quite. I was hoping not to go over $175, and the accessories are what put us over the edge. I think finding deals is the kind of thing that takes practice and a repertoire of shops that you know will have what you want for a good price. I do think, though, that what we've done would get us more than $250 back if we were selling the house...but that won't be for quite some time, friends.  

1 comment:

  1. The fireplace looks great!

    Congratulations on the house and the blog, keep posting! Super jealous you have the pottery barn tanner coffee table, I want that exact one for my own living room.