Decor

The unintentional fireplace mantel makeover

Ever start a project around your home that was supposed to take all of 5 mins? Ok maybe 15. Then you start doing it and it cascades into problem after problem and the next thing you know you’ve painted an entire bathroom because you decided to change a shelf and didn’t like how it looked? Something like that.

Well that’s this story. It’s called the time we thought popping of a small grapevine wood motif off of our fireplace mantel would be no big deal. After all, we (read: I) had seen so many other people successfully do it. See our town has a home/DIY Facebook group. Don’t laugh because I did when I firstsaw it because I was like “I live in a town that has a home decor group, can this be any more suburban?” It’s actually been very helpful as many of the people living here have similar model homes and we all share different decor ideas, renovation advice, trade contacts and furniture layouts that maybe we hadn’t thought of for our own homes. Needless to say a lot of people had the same fireplace that we had and everyone couldn’t stand that grapevine motif on the front center of them.

So what did they do? They pried them off. For an overwhelming amount of homeowners it took no time at all. They just wiggled under an edge and the rest just came off with minimal damage. Then they lightly sanded any scuffs and did minor paint touch ups if necessary.

That did not happen for us.

Now, these are photos of the fireplace in the space the first time we saw our home when it was for sale. A nice creamy yellow fireplace with mint green walls (that you can’t really tell in this photo but they were very minty and not the good trendy minty). I felt like I walked into a hospital every day.

The first thing we did is use Rustoleum’s High Heat Ultra Spray paint to paint the gold bars on the fireplace. Look, I love gold. In fact our upcoming bathroom makeover will feature champagne coloured faucets and handles. On this, it was like why is there some bad 80’s washi tape on my fireplace?

If you have these gold bars on your fireplace and they make you cry, they’re so easy to update. You don’t need to hire someone. Just buy a can of this and call it a day. Canadians you can find this paint here.

Back to the grapevine motif. You can see it closer in this shot.  I don’t have too many before photos of it because well, would you? And that window trim with the squares in the corners, I want to transport myself back to the 80’s to figure out what designers and builders of these homes were thinking back then. I was a kid in the 80’s. I don’t remember this in my 80’s house. I don’t even know what to call this style other than “Get it off my wall.”

So what happened when we tried to “pop off” the motif nonchalantly?

This.

Two layers of paint. Wood glue. And it was also nailed in. There was no easy popping off. The mess it left behind when it came off pretty had us staring at some badly damaged MDF.

I could have filled this with wood filler and sanded it and hoped that after it was painted the surface would be smooth and turn out well. But I wasn’t willing to take that chance as having worked with wood filler many times, it doesn’t always turn out how you hope it would. So off to home improvement store we went to get some plywood. A couple of mitre saw cuts later, this panel went up courtesy of some of construction adhesive.

Then it may or may not have stayed that way for some time while I took photos of it at night thinking how long it would take for me to tape everything to paint it and how I was supposed to paint it that day but did not. Again.

Procrastination 101. I don’t like painting walls and this entire house needed painting.

Finally this happened, because it’s amazing how fast you work when you have a blog post deadline to motivate you.

For the record, taping painters tape around a gas fireplace even when it’s not on, is really damn hot. Painting around a gas fireplace is also unpleasant unless you like sauna’s. Don’t do this in the summer.

I decided to paint the fireplace the same colour to match the walls which are painted in Dulux Lifemaster White and it was in that moment that I realized that the floor boards were still cream and so was all the window trim around our new windows (you can read about that money sucking drama here).

So now I had to go and tape all the windows and floor and then paint all the floor boards and trim to match the fireplace. Small project meet snowball.

I know to many people looking at this they’re thinking it’s just cream and white it doesn’t look that bad but if you saw this in person, that cream colour to me was so yellow that was like staring at vanilla pudding vs fresh snow.

All of our doors in the house are still this colour and it drives me crazy. But at least this done and the rusted gold doorknobs on the doors are now coming back in style but you will never convince me that the gold fireplace bars were supposed to stay there. Ever.

Hey my fig tree is still alive! Who knew?

The best part of this whole thing and by best I mean how this mocks me to this day, is that no one noticed the difference on the fireplace, trim or floorboards after it was all done.

At all.

Cue world’s tiniest violin. When I look at these photos, now I want to give the walls another coat of paint, even though I know in person it looks fine. Lighting is deceiving online. So the next time you go to do a small project, just get your eyes to connect the dots and see how it could possibly grow into a bigger project and then go form your own suburban Facebook home decor group so you can hire someone to do it all for you.

But sometimes you won’t know until you rip off the bandaid. Like what’s going on in our kitchen now that the floor has been torn up due to a major dishwasher leak. Oh yes. That’s coming up this year.

3 Comments

  • Reply
    Susan
    January 22, 2017 at 12:00 am

    I think I would close my eyes and hope the fairies would do the work. Or take my glasses off then I couldn’t see.

  • Reply
    Shauna
    January 24, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    That’s usually the way it goes- ugh! Looks great though 🙂

    • Reply
      Alex
      February 1, 2017 at 10:24 am

      Your mantel is incredible!

    I love your comments!