Friday, 6 November 2015

turning a run of the mill fireplace into a feature

First things first, the response to my post about giving up work last week got an absolutely amazing response! It was really great to have a rant and here from a lot of people who have been struggling with pretty much the same issues....even if it was weird and uncomfortable for me to share it. Thanks guys! 

*gives awkward pat on shoulder*

So on to today's post! Remember a few years ago when everyone got into feature walls in a big way? It often manifested itself in a chimney breast that was either painted in a strong colour or covered with wallpaper in a striking pattern.

This is the how our chimney breast looked when we moved in...


Now, I like a feature wall as much as the next person, but this just wasn't working in here. It was a small, dark room, and the walls were painted this dark brown and a lighter colour that could be best likened to custard. I had a chocolate pudding sitting room....

So we knocked a hole in the wall connecting to the dining room, which let in a lot of light from the south facing kitchen/dining room and painted the whole thing in a lovely, super light blush pint called "at the barre" by valspar, and both these things made a HUGE difference to the light in the room.

For a while everything was light, and bright, and lovely. But then, I started to crave colour! I thought about painting the chimney breast again, but tbh I was over that whole thing, it wasn't anything original and besides, the room is so small that I didn't want to do anything to highlight that. I mean, when I say I wanted colour, I wanted strong colour. I found myself looking longingly at jewel tones like emerald, and cranberry and deep blue.

And then I realised, our mantel is a bog-standard, cheapest of the cheap builders special and was a not very attractive wood every house in this estate has the same one! I had already painted it a light grey but I wasn't happy with it, so why not put my strong colour on there?

I thought I wanted a teal green, but when I tested that and a black on it I really wasn't in love. So I painted back over them with the grey until I could decide where I really wanted to go with the colours in this room. I've jumped into too many decisions and made mistakes, I wasn't going to do it this time!

And then I started to see a lot of burgundy and cranberry mentioned on the blogs I love and I knew I had what I was looking for! A burgundy with a pink base would work really well with the blush walls, while warming the whole scheme up and looking great with my copper and gold pieces.

So I took myself off to B&Q and picked up some Valspar testers, which I was delighted to find were on offer for €1.45 each. These testers are huge, one of them did two coats on the fireplace and I had plenty left over. Also, the staff have no problem giving you three of the same colour tester if you're doing something bigger ;)

I tested again. Test everything!!!! There are sooooo many things that can affect how a paint looks in your home. Just do the homework, don't risk it, it is NOT worth it! For example, on the colour cards and in the pots the two colours below look almost identical, but look at how different they are in real life! It was immediately obvious to me which one I preferred, the one on the right is called "pinot noir" and is a lovely deep pink/purple without being too bright and in your face. It's gorgeous, I loved it right away. 

On that note, I've found that things I have to think about to decide if I like them are never winners in the long run. Be patient, keep looking and remember that it doesn't all have to be finished RIGHT NOW! Try to enjoy the process ;)

The light pink is another colour I tried, before I realised that to get the kind of depth of colour I wanted I needed to go for the darkest shade in the colour group!

I waited till the kids were in bed one evening and busted out my supplies. If you've never used an angled brush I highly recommend you try one the next time you have something to paint, it makes it so much easier to be accurate with your lines. I usually use a wooster short handled one that I get on amazon (here) but I picked this one up in B&Q. While it isn't as good as the Wooster, it's a hell of a lot better than a regular brush!

I also used this thingy that I picked up in Homebase ages ago, it's supposed to be for cutting in without taping but I found I ended up getting a lot of bleeding when I used it for that. Here though, where there is a little gap the whole way around that needs to be caulked it worked like a charm!

A couple of hours (including drying) and two coats later and ta-daaaaa!!! I love love LOVE it.

This is what you see when you walk into my sitting room now....

(I'm thinking that chair needs a change of colour asap cos it's way too loud now with the fireplace and the rug)

And from the other direction......

I'm really happy with it, it adds just the right pop of colour and interest that I needed in here I think. And it was such an easy job that I would have no problem changing it frequently if I wanted something new! From now on I'm going to look at my fireplace as being as changeable as my rug or cushions ;)

What do you think? Would you try this?  


  1. A bold move, I like it. Now you just need to add the shade in a couple accessories around the room and you're all set. You could even use the same paint and stencil a pillow (do you call "throw pillows" "cushions"?), and paint an accessory or vase on your shelves with it. Or use the other color you were considering so there is some of same intensity in the space without being completely matchy matchy. I love the rug.

    1. Usually I would agree with you about bringing in the colour in other accessories Janet, but for some reason I'm really liking the fact that it's the only thing in that colour in here for the moment! I'll give it a week or two and see how I feel ;) And yes, cushions are throw-pillows, and I love the idea of stencilling one! :)

  2. Oh I LOVE IT!!! That colour looks so perfect, and I really adore how you opted for painting the fireplace itself vs. the wall! Oh just sheer genius. Seriously!!! Feature walls (which I do love, don't get me wrong), but sometimes they're just such an obvious choice. But THIS. It looks so perfect, and against your new rug! :D And see? I love how once you change one thing it's like a domino effect and the ideas come flooding in!

    p.s. A bit random, but I love your chunky wooden skirting boards!

    1. I know! I'll stare at a room for what seems like forever thinking "something isn't right in here" and not being able to figure out how to fix it, and then suddenly when I land on something "right" (like the rug) it's all so easy! I thought the rug would be overpowering cos the room is so small but the minute I put it down I was all "eureka!" :)

      And you like the skirting boards? It's the only room that has them (the rest are that awful, dirty cream) and I meant to paint them, but I guess as the room has evolved I'm starting to like them?