Thursday, April 30, 2015

How To White Wash Your Fireplace in 3 Easy Steps

I have to make it a habit to start my posts with an apology.  I've been such a slacker on posting lately.

We've been so busy with updating our home that it leaves me very little time to do anything else!  But I wanted to share with you our super simple update for our fireplace.

Lets start with the before:

This is what the house looked like before we had painted the trim, walls, and fixed the flooring.

When we first looked at this house, I loved the fact that it had a fireplace.  Being married for 10 years, we've never lived in a home with a fireplace.  (They're pretty rare in Florida).

I was so excited and the more we visited our home, the more I envisioned spending cold winter nights all cozied up next to it.  But the dark brick and outdated gold really didn't sit well with me.  It completely darkened up the bright room I was trying to achieve.

What are the options when updating your fireplace?  Replace or paint.
Renovating the fireplace was completely out of budget with all the other projects we had lying ahead of us.  So painting the fireplace was our only option.

I've done a lot of projects in my time, but I have never once painted brick.  Ever.

First things first.  I had to decide what kind of look I wanted.  Did I want all white brick?  Did I want a little of the brown color to show through?  I decided to white wash it.  And I'm so glad I did.

Don't get discouraged through this process.  I, at one time, really felt like I had ruined my fireplace.  But the more I worked with it and fixed any mess I had made, the more gorgeous it became.

Have a little patience with this, and have fun! It's so easy, I promise.

What You Will Need:

-White Paint, Water Based.  ( I used leftover paint from our trim )
-Painters Tape/Drop Cloth
-Paint Brush


Step 1: Prepare Area
1. Prep your fireplace for painting by cleaning it.  I simply vacuumed it off and wiped away any soot it had.
2.  Tape off any areas you don't want any paint on.  I taped along the walls and all around the mantle.
3.  Place a drop cloth around the floor to catch any excess drips or splatters.

Step 2: Mix Paint
In a throw-away container, mix 1 cup of white paint + 1/2 cup water
The consistency of the paint will be very thin, almost like glue.

Step 3: Paint
Using a good quality paint brush, (like a Purdy brush) brush on your paint mixture onto 2-3 bricks at a time.  Be careful around your grout.
Then pounce around the brick with your rag, dabbing quickly and then rub in the paint to get off any excess dripping paint.
The brick is very absorbent so the color will fade as time goes on.
*You will have to decide exactly how light you want the color of your fireplace to be.  Depending on the darkness of your brick as well, it can take anywhere from 2-4 coats of paint to get your desired look.  (I did 2 coats because I wanted a grey-like color).*

Note: Depending on the look you're going through, decide whether to paint the grout or not. 
I did at first (as you can see on the bottom step) and I had to go back with a grey paint and paint over it.  Painting the grout makes it look very painted and not very natural. So be careful not to get any paint onto the grout if that's not the look you want.

That's it!  It was so simple to do and the look was a dramatic change and completely transformed the feel in our living room.

Here's the after:

I also painted our mantle bright white and painted the brass as well.  We also replaced all the old brown trim surrounding the fireplace with a thin white trim.
I'll be showing you how simple all that is to change in the next post  :)

A side by side shot:

I put before and "during" because I'm still looking for the perfect accent pieces for my mantle.

Ps: Where's the best place in your opinion for home decor?

I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have about this tutorial, just leave them in a comment below!  :)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Update: Buying Our First Home and Why You Should Always Keep An Open Mind

If you follow me on Facebook then you probably know that in the beginning of March we purchased our first home!

This was one of the most exciting things for us as a family because we had always dreamed of owning our own home but everything we looked at before this just wasn't for us.  The homes were either too small, not in a very good neighborhood, or just not what we were looking for.

I have had envisions of my dream home for years, (just look at my Pinterest) but I noticed the more houses we looked at, they just didn't fit what I wanted.  The floor plans were all wrong, and it just wasn't what I had hoped for in our home.

That's when we decided to look at some older homes and try and get a fixer upper.  If there's one thing I learned in my 10 years of looking at homes, is that older homes are built WAY better than the newer homes.  When the market picked up and the housing market was booming from 2002-2006, the houses were slapped together quick to make a sale.  And you can tell.

The home that we rented for the past 5 years was built in 2006.  It was beautiful.  It was new.  But it was also starting to show that it wasn't built very well.  Cracks were appearing everywhere, things were starting to burn up, and things were falling apart.

When we first met with our realtor last year, I wanted a newer home.  The criteria that was given to my realtor was very strict and I refused to look at any home that were built before 2002.  ( I know what you're thinking, what a spoiled b****. . . . ) but living in a newer home for so long, I was sort of accustomed to living a certain way and I didn't want to go backwards.

We searched for months with no luck.  The floor plans just didn't make any sense to us.  There was so much wasted space in these houses and the bedrooms just weren't big enough.  The houses were too small and anything that was large enough to fit our family was completely out of the price range we wanted to spend.  None of these newer homes had any character.  They were all the same.  Nothing stood out to us.

The biggest part of my "Operation Dream Home" was my kitchen.  I wanted my kitchen to be a separate room.  I wanted a lot of counter space and lots of cabinets for storage.  I found nothing.

Every house had the kitchen in the middle of the house, hardly any cabinets, and barely any counter space.  Some of the houses even had hood range microwaves that were hung so low, making a huge pot of soup would have been a challenge!

The more time passed, the more discouraged I got.  I just couldn't understand why nothing met the expectations I had.  That's when my husband fed me a dose of reality and put me in check and told me we needed to start looking at a few older homes.  I was against it!  I knew the older homes would end up being disgusting, needing lots of work, and not being at all what I was looking for.

I was right!  The houses got more gross as we went along.  There were even a few times we walked in and walked right out.  And I can't forget the one time I didn't even have to go in.  One look at the outside, there was no way I was going in there without the proper protective gear on.

At this point.  I gave up.  For 6 months we looked at nothing.  Anything that was sent my way, I turned down.  I felt that our home just wasn't out there and it wasn't meant to be that we would ever own our own home.

A bad experience with trying to get a new refrigerator from our rental realtor AND a positive pregnancy test later, we decided to look one more time.  I came across this house we had seen for a few weeks but I always skipped over.

I decided to go look at it.

Our realtor was shocked.  He told me the house was worse than the pictures and that it was in pretty bad shape.  ( I guess he started to know me pretty well towards the end!)  And he was not lying.  I walked in thinking it wouldn't be so bad.  The more I walked around, the more bad things I saw.

But this time it was different.  I knew this was the home we always wanted.

Was it brand spankin' new and gorgeous?  Not at all. But I saw something in this house..

The layout was PERFECT.  I believe this home was a custom built home because in all the models of homes we've walked through over all these years, I had never seen this floor plan.

It was everything we've been searching for.

The kitchen was huge, the 4 bedrooms were gigantic,  and it had three bathrooms!

It had a Florida room the length of the house, a huge garage that my husband would live in if he could, a fenced yard, and more square footage than the house we rented.

It had triple the amount of closet space than my rental had, it was on a safe dead end street near our kids school, and the roof was only 2 months old!

And not only did it have more than enough room to fit our growing family, it had a fireplace and a bay window that I had always dreamed of!

And not to mention the price tag.  It was SO much cheaper than all these newer homes and had a million more things to offer and so much more space.

I had to look past the negative, and think about the positive.

I didn't see all the dark wood trim EVERYWHERE in the house.  I saw what I could make it.
I didn't see the holes in the wall, I knew we could fix them.
I didn't look at the horribly blue sponged wall that would eventually become my daughter's room.  I saw a gorgeous pink room fit for a princess that we could eventually make it.
I didn't even really look at the dark dungeon these people called their kitchen.  I saw my dream kitchen.

 I saw potential in this house.

There was nothing in this house that money, time, and paint couldn't fix.

When you look at older homes or even newer homes that need some work, you have to look past all the faults.  You have to envision what you could make out of this house.  And that's what we did.

We didn't look at anything as being impossible.  We looked at the house as a project.  A very VERY large project.

After inspections being done and appraisals being completed and everything else in between, everything fell into place.  The house was built so well, we faced no problems.  We knew the house would be treated as a "shell' and we would make the inside the way we wanted.

Here we are, a month and a half after our closing and we are still doing renovations.  We've gotten a lot done in a short amount of time and everyday we do a little more.  We hope that on our year anniversary of buying this home, we will have everything completed and done!

I think I've rambled on long enough but I wanted to give an update and let everyone know where we're at in this whole process.

I also wanted to give some type of hope or encouragement to families going through the whole house buying process.  It's not an easy one.  In fact, it's probably the hardest and most stressful experience you'll ever go through.

But if you keep an open mind, it can be an enjoyable process too.

Over the next few months I'm going to be sharing some of our updates we've completed, some budget friendly tutorials on how we've transformed rooms in our home, and some future projects I'd like to take on!

Keep checking in! :)