Updating A Fireplace

Do you have something in your house that seems like it stares at you every time you walk in the room?  Mine was my fireplace.  I love my big stone fireplace, but there were a couple of things that really bothered me about it.  First, the color of the stone is about 50 shades of brown.  Also, the actual fireplace box (is that what it’s called?) is black with bright 90’s gold trim.  Who ever installed it also got some mortar or something on the black part and it just always looks dirty to me.

So when I decided to paint my walls, the fireplace took on a horrible life of it’s own… check it out.

fireplace full view

I took this picture and you can see there is a lot going on in it.

Forget brown and beige…I’m much more of a gray or greige gal.  So when I started painting my walls from the beige that they were to the beautiful Analytical Gray from Sherwin Williams, my fireplace looked like a big turd in my living room.  Sorry, there is no other metaphor to use. You can see I had not trimmed yet and I had already started gray-washing the stone.  Look from the mantle down and you can see the difference in color.

So when you are going to white-wash (or in my case gray-wash) stone, you take your paint and water it down… A LOT.

I used 1 part paint to 3 parts water.  It was VERY watery, so I used one of my round chalk paint brushes.

Slather the wash on, one rock at a time, then immediately go back and use a clean towel, or lint-free rag and wipe it off.

Here is a close up of one of the rocks I painted and you can see the difference in the steps.

Gray wash collage


This process didn’t take me long to complete. And with the help of my giant ladder and a lot of deep breathing while I was up that high, my fireplace transformation was well on it’s way!

fireplace ladder

But now what stands out?  Gold… brassy gold.


Do you see how dirty the black parts look? UGH…no amount of scrubbing over the past 9 years has been able to make a dent in that mess that the builder made.

So I took out my Clorox wipes, cleaned the surface VERY good and let it dry.  Then I pulled out my Rustoleum High Heat black paint and a $0.99 chip brush!


I painted on 3 very thin coats, letting each one dry completely before beginning the next.

Here you can see where I brushed it on.  There are brush marks, but if you put on thin coats, they level themselves out when they dry.  Believe me… it freaked me out at first.

black brush close

Here it is after 2 coats.  You can see the gold is still peeking through, but the third coat took care of that.  Also, I was able to just paint over all of the mistakes the builder made with the mortar and now it looks much cleaner!

box two coats

**Ignore the mess in the reflection.  My new puppy decided that while I was distracted, she’d rip everything up and pull all of her toys out like a crazed tornado.  But look how cute.



So… after all of that, I went back and trimmed everything out, put up new curtains and here’s how the fireplace looks now!


So much better!!

I’ve got to work on decorating the mantle better…so if you have any suggestions, PLEASE…I’m open to all ideas.

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Thrifty Decor Chick

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  1. I have the exact same fireplace and am in the midst of graywahsing! However, I did a few stones and I feel like it’s starting to look mauve/purple? Curious what paint you used for the wash – I was using French Linen (Anne Sloan) but wondering if I should try Paris Grey instead. Your looks amazing! Gives me hope 🙂