Fireplace revamp

When we first moved into our house, we were thrilled to have a fireplace in the living room. Original to the house, the fireplace is almost 100 years old, and still has the cast iron insert that was there back when the house was heated with coal. It's lovely, but it doesn't function. We hope that one day we'll be able to fix it up and enjoy some roaring fires, but in the meantime, it serves a decorative purpose.

I wasn't crazy about how it looked when we moved in. The mantel was a very dark wood finish and was not stained well. The cast iron piece was painted a cream and there was a pink kitchen backsplash tile that had been installed around it. It wasn't living up to its full potential!

This is the 'before' fireplace (and our cat Maybelline). 

One day, tired of looking at it, I decided to fix it. It was quick and easy, and most importantly, done on the cheap, but it makes a big difference I think.

Here's the 'after'.

It never really occurred to me to paint over tile, but I knew we wouldn't be re-tiling properly anytime soon, and I was pretty desperate to make the pink tile disappear. It seems to have worked pretty well with just an acrylic paint, although I don't think it's a long term solution. It started flaking a bit in the corner recently, so fingers crossed that doesn't keep happening.

I used acrylic paint on the wood, mostly because I hate the smell of oil paint and I like the low/no-VOC stuff that's out there. I didn't prime though. Big mistake! I'll be doing another coat in the next month or so to cover up where it's chipped. The 'measure twice, cut once' rule has never really applied to me. I don't have the patience! Lesson learned - always prime!

For the metal grate, I just used black acrylic and it seems to be holding up well. That's a nice change!

What do you think? An improvement or do you prefer the look of stained wood to painted? I feel like on design shows, the men always like to keep the wood dark, and women always want to paint it. I usually prefer painted myself, but I'm curious to know your thoughts.


  1. HUGE improvement... I am a "paint the wood" girl too!


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