Chalk Painting Oak Fireplace Facade

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I never grew up with a fireplace but as a kid I always imagined how glorious it would be on fierce winter nights to sprawl safely in the warmth of the flame, the brutal cold and howling wind threatening at the windows.

As an adult, I’m blessed to report that I have done just that by more than one fire on a stormy night. Gimme a fireplace in December and I’ll show you a me so sprawled you’ll wonder if the drugs I’m taking are legal.  No drugs here, people. Just a roaring fire and a chillaxed middle aged lady in worn out sweatpants. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

Ahhhhhh . . .

In my past few homes, I’ve sampled all the fireplace kinds. Well, all two kinds: wood burning and gas. (I suppose you could argue that electric is a kind? My parents have one of those. It’s more like a glorified space heater. Not the same, people. Not the same.)

Now then, as for the two versions, one can argue that nothing compares to the crackling sound and smell of a real fire (oh how I enjoyed my wood burning one in my single girl colonial!) but one can also argue that nothing compares to simply turning on a light switch and “Voila!” as Cowboy and I did when we moved to The River House.  And so I like both. I have successfully sprawled next to both kinds. No complaints or favorites here. If it is a fire, I am not going to hate on it no matter how it started. (As long as it stays in the fireplace. Cowboy started a dishtowel on fire the other night in the kitchen while cooking. I was screaming, not sprawling, in that instance.)

At this phase in life our fireplace is the convenient flip of a switch kind. And oak. And in need of a face lift.

Before 1Before 4

I just love so many things about our current home, the soaring windows that flank the fireplace being one. This room faces south and is flooded daily with sunshine. (Hence we have christened it “The Lighthouse”.) I also do enjoy mirrors above fireplaces, it’s a good look.  (I had an expansive framed one above ours in The River House) – but this mirror is just a little too “mirrory” and doesn’t reflect our rustic style. In fact, what it does reflect are the spotlights above it. You turn those babies on and suddenly you wonder if you’re being interrogated. “Where were you on the night of . . . ?” I don’t know about you, but I really don’t feel like doing a Cory Hart impression and wearing my sunglasses at night. In my living room.

Before 3 FAVE

I told you this mirror was mirrory. It is the mirror mothership. The Mecca of mirrors. The mirror god. In other words? This thing is huge

For the time being I am leaning a rustic old window frame against the interrogation/mothership/Mecca mirror god.  We did consider building a custom window frame from barn wood around and across the entire mirror (and when I say “we” I mean Cowboy – I don’t build anything. I suggest. Cowboy builds.) A frame is a great way to incorporate a warm farmhouse feel plus the light and depth that a mirror provides, but that spotlight issue just needs to go. I want those suckers shining down on some kind of focal point – not blinding my guests.

Before 2

Phase One of Operation Fireplace Face Lift involves my go to my transformation specialty – PAINT. And as usual, I am picking Annie Sloan Chalk Paint for the job. Cowboy and I debated whether we should go black or white for the paint color. I was really leaning toward white and he was really leaning toward black. He honestly said he’d let me pick (but hinted strongly that he thought his plans for the mirror replacement would go best with black – that is Phase Two and we’ll reveal those details later – when it is done! Hint: It does involve barn wood and I can’t wait!) And so, last week while he was out fishing late I picked up some Annie Sloan Graphite and went to town. (Well, I went to the fireplace. You feel me.)


Two hours and one Bradley Cooper movie later (Burnt – it wasn’t great but wasn’t awful – plus Bradley Cooper was in it, hello? Four stars. For sure.) – the fireplace had its face lift.

After Fave 2After FAVEAfter Close Up

Because I am currently taking photos for my blog with only my iPhone (I know, I need a better camera situation – that WILL BE HAPPENING in the next month – so bear with me and my grainy horrible photos in the interim) it is hard to tell from afar how freaking cool this thing looks up close with the distressing I did on the edges. Check it out:

After Distressed View

What was also quite exciting about this project is that I used Annie Sloan’s new black wax. Previously, this brand only offered white wax, which gave the final look a translucent effect. I also thought Graphite looked more navy than black with the white wax (which I used in the dining room of The River House – note my post titled Oak is Out for the whole story on that transformation). But now? This black wax makes graphite look how people usually want something called graphite to look: BLACK. Yay!


And so, my standard issued 1990’s oak fireplace facade is now a deep dark distressed finish. It now looks like a sweet piece of rustic furniture and is a much more interesting focal point. In fact, the finish on it looks almost identical to the high end cabinet where I display my antique white pottery and china collection, which you can see here in the background in this view of the room from another angle. (Note: Those mirrored doors on the closet will become barn doors shortly – and I also have wonderful plans for the front door as well! Oh – and get a good look at that oak railing, that is also on the list for some exciting changes . . . ).


Although, in the true indecisive fashion of those of us bitten by the interior decorating bug and forever, lifting and shifting, trying this and that, rearranging and reallocating – I am really thinking a distressed white would be equally as cool for the facade?  Ok, who am I kidding. I really think white would be best in the long run for the fireplace.

Design Tip

When it comes to decorating, there is nothing wrong with trying something, not loving it, and changing your mind. You are never committed to anything, you can always change it! So stay tuned, one evening fishing trip Cowboy absence and a Bradley Cooper movie from now . . . I will probably paint her white just for the heck of it. And I’ll document it all here, of course.

Peace, Joy and Blessings, 


Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, And in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places.” — Isaiah 32:18




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