Like Watching Paint Dry

Holy house projects, batman.

The fireplace is DONE.


And the enormous gross laminate tv stand from Walmart has been moved out of the living room and into the garage.  We’ve been to Ikea TWICE in one weekend.  And Mr. E I have had about four hundred fights in which I yelled “orange is not the accent color for THAT side of the room!” and there was a alot of swearing and I still need someone to sell me a giant mirror for twelve dollars and fifty cents worth of heirloom tomatoes, but the living room is painted and did I mention the fireplace is done?

In case you needed a review, here’s a before picture: (OY.)



Here’s some afters:




Holy god did that take a lot of hot weekday afternoons to get done.  I just look at it and I feel tired.  If you are ever tempted to cover something with travertine, oh, please, think twice.

Probably not of  general interest, but here’s what we did to the gd fireplace:  We took off the cheap ass painted red mantel, smashed off the travertine, marble, and ceramic tile covering the fireplace and hearth, chiseled off all the remaining tile grout, patched the broken bricks, primed the bricks with two coats of oil based primer, and then painted the bricks with two coats of latex semi gloss paint in color Valspar French Ivory.

We got the mantel as a plain slab of wood from a local wood company.  It came as one giant length of alder.  We cut it to the right length, sanded it with 80, then 120, then 220 sandpaper, then stained it and stained it again when we didn’t like the first (very orange!) color, and then wiped on two coats of rub on poly.  And then put it on the fireplace.

The walls are painted “Macaroni” from Valspar, another Martha Stewart color.  It’s almost the same color that we had before, except it’s not the world’s crappiest paint so it looks about a million times better.

Also, I believe I may have pulled of the single greatest lighting coup in home decorating history.

Here’s what we had when we moved in. (Picture it with an ugly glass shade, like this):


And gosh, as much as I love shiny gold chrome, no.  Just no.

Here’s what I wanted, but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend six hundred and fifty dollars on replacement light fixtures. (I need five of these bad boys).


So here’s what we did instead.  This is a four dollar glass shade holder kit from Home Depot, spray painted black, with a four dollar glass schoolhouse shade, also from Home Depot.



I’m not gonna lie, there’s was SOME swearing involved in rewiring this bad boy to the ceiling, and I still need to scrape and patch and repaint the ceiling, but isn’t it gorgeous?

Love it.

And now we only have four more to go!

But lord am I happy not to be scraping mortar or painting brick.


16 Responses

  1. OMG. I love that. I have been wondering about painting the extremely ugly brick around our fireplace for ages, but was too lazy to figure out how to do it. You give me hope!

  2. The fireplace looks awesome! I am in awe of you. We just bought a new house, so there may be an email or two in your inbox with DIY questions, as I have never attempted any and clearly you rock the DIY projects!

  3. HOORAY! It looks fabulous and I know how sweet the reward is of a project done (especially a tedious one).

  4. It’s looking great!

  5. Looks lovely, friend!

  6. It looks awesome! I love the fireplace. Okay, I am just going to say it…..I REALLY REALLY think you could be a house flipper. All you need now is a $400K start-up budget! Seriously though, you could be a decorator. I would pay you.

    isn’t is sick when things like light fixtures cost so much? Not to mention the $15 lightbulbs that go in our recessed lighting!!! That is almost $100 in bulbs in our kitchen alone. That is why I don’t think I could ever build a house. All those decisions –tiny details like the light fixture in the pantry–that cost so much! It would totally stress me out.

  7. Gorgeous! Great work, however much swearing it required.

  8. dude, that fireplace looks FANTASTIC. i can’t believe how clean it is in the close-up…you’re some kind of chiseling magician.

    what’s the color/brand of stain you ended up with on the mantle? it’s lovely too.

  9. NICE WORK! The fireplace is GORGEOUS, the lights are FAB. You win. And I’ll start crossing my fingers for a mirror-owner with an heirloom fetish.

  10. Looks good! I am currently elbow deep in oops blue and cottage white in the living room. SO far, I am LOVING that the too-dark, poorly painted olive green is gone…even with just the PRIMER it looks so much better! But I gotta get cracking because we are living in only two of our three 1st floor rooms b/c of the mess!

  11. Really lovely, Elizabeth! Great job on the fireplace, the paint color choices, and the light fixtures. I agree with others–you could hire out as a designer/interior decorator. Some of the details you agonize over are things someone else would have to bring to my attention!

    Kick back and enjoy yourself for a few minutes before tackling the next mountain!

  12. THAT is awesome looking. You have such GOOD taste.

  13. I likee. Makes me want to go rent that Rug Doctor and really go to town.

  14. well done Elizabeth!
    I would never have the patience to do that fireplace. SO SO worth it
    and the $4 light? I am just blown away.
    I bow to your genius.

    We just got an anthropologie store here in toronto and I can’t walk by without wondering how many blathering attendees will fit in a changeroom 🙂

  15. i just realized i sort of stole your post title and i didn’t even do it consciously. sorry!

  16. Thank you it’s very nice

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