What do you do if you don’t like your fireplace but don’t have the budget to replace it? Give it a makeover of course!
When we moved in to our house a little over a year ago, the fireplace in the playroom was one of the things that featured on my (fairly long) List of Stuff I Want To Change. I didn’t really hate it, but it wasn’t anything I would ever have chosen myself, given totally free rein. But with other more pressing (or fun) things on the List of SIWTC, the fireplace stayed, brooding florally in its slightly despondent 1940s dark wood way, and clashing with the pine floorboards. (Guess what, they’re on the SIWTC List too!)
And slowly, over time, I grew to hate the floral 1940s tiles a little less, and even to think that perhaps, with a different surround, they could even be quite a pretty feature. They had some fresh blue and green hues in them that actually complemented the blind and some of the other wall decoration. So, ok, maybe the tiles could stay. For now. It was the dismal wood that was the real problem. So I thought I would paint it.
I originally planned to paint it using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Provence – the same colour as the little playroom chairs that I had painted recently. But when I went to buy some more of the paint, a beautiful cupboard in the shop caught my eye. It was painted in a similar, but bolder, colour called Florence. “Why not be a bit more adventurous?” I thought, and bought a tester pot, took it home, and slapped some onto a spare off-cut of MDF that we had lying around in the garage. For good measure, I also painted on some tester patches of Provence, Duck Egg Blue and Old White, just for comparison’s sake.
And since consultation is a vital stage in any project, or so I am told; Mr Let’s Try This At Home found that he was required to have an opinion on mantelpiece colours and, duly consulted, agreed that the bright, bold, jewel-like Florence was “fine”.
Back to the shop for a big tin. It was all going so well…
Until I started painting.
I started with the frame round the hearth. On went the paint, looking somewhat darker than my tester patch, a bit bolder, a bit scary. This wasn’t what I had planned. I moved on to the mantel, any misgivings pushed to the back of my mind… Be brave! It’s just a bit bolder than you’re used to. Hmmm, still not sure… I did the mirror too. It will dry lighter!
Perhaps it was being against a white wall that made it look wrong. Or the fact that the wood underneath lent the colour darker tone than it would ordinarily have. Whatever it was, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t what I had envisaged.
What to do? Sleep on it. It might look better in the morning light, no?
Sanding it all off again didn’t strike me as a particularly thrilling prospect, and my original plan to use Provence no longer held the same appeal, as it was still a fairly bright colour, and I had started to think that something a little more subtle was needed.
A further round of consultation. “How about Duck Egg Blue? It’s more subtle.” Safer. “I’ll try it.” Back to the shop.
It was so much better, but still not quite right.
And the final result? I’ll cover that, with plenty of photos, in Mantel Makeover – Part Two!