When we last saw the fireplace it was surrounded by rubble from the fallen brick arches.
With the brick arches gone it was easier to see the large brick fireplace in all its glory.
Normally I’m a fan of interior brick, but the colors of this brick fireplace were a combination of spicy brown mustard and pink salmon–not good. It made me cringe whenever I looked at it.
I had a creative idea that we could whitewash it, and we wouldn’t just whitewash it with paint, we could try a traditional whitewash technique called limewash.
Limewash is a whitewash that has been used on masonry and plaster for thousands of years. You make it with hydrated lime (find it in the garden section of the home improvement store) dissolved in water in about a 1:4 ratio. It makes a thin, inexpensive milk-like paint that you can layer on the bricks with a brush.
So we painted with it.
I hoped I would like it better than using regular paint because it would give an aged patina instead of a thick coating. I was charmed by the idea of using a traditional technique I don’t see often.
“This will make a good blog post!” I thought to myself encouragingly.
As the whitewash dries it turns from gray to white. It’s normally used for building exteriors because it can wear off, though nowadays they have binding agents that you can mix in to make it longer-lasting. I didn’t feel too concerned about that, however, because I had done a test coat with extra bricks. Those bricks had turned a pretty shade of white, and the white didn’t rub off.
The first coat didn’t look very good, but first coats never do. We added a second coat, then a third.
After the third coat, well, it still didn’t look how I expected. You could still see the spicy brown mustard behind the white, and it didn’t look like a nice aged patina, it looked chalky and…dirty.
Then my two year old climbed up on it, and the whitewash rubbed onto his shirt, and I knew it was through.
It made perfect sense that this is a technique used mainly for exteriors. Whitewash would look lovely on the outside of a cottage, but it was not the look I was going for.
So after a trip to the paint store, two coats of a good masonry primer, and one final coat of white latex paint, we called it done, and I like the result so much better.
The mantle is still in the garage being refinished, and don’t mention that it looks somewhat like an igloo now because if I suggest making any more changes to it, Doug will kill me.
And this is the story about Lesson #4 for Home Improvement:
Don’t get creative about the main features of your home. Your creative idea now will become a “What were they thinking?” later. Creativity is for accessories only.
Am I right?