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Whitewashing a Dated Fireplace 

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This was our fireplace at Providence Acres when we bought the place.  The photo is from our first walk-through of the house so the furnishings are not mine.  I found I did not have another picture… probably because I did not like the look of the fireplace very much.

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I have one word to describe the fireplace.  Dated.  Dark stained trim around the fireplace, reddish brick, and brass blower vents.

I decided that while Mr. Math was busy getting the flooring down, I should get busy whitewashing the fireplace.

Inspiration for whitewashing the fireplace came from a friend of my daughter who updated her fireplace and totally changed the look of her room.  I knew it would be the fix for the hulking giant in our family room.

I went to the source of all things home related for instructions- Pinterest- and found a ton of sites that explained how to get it done.

Farm Fresh Vintage

The Yellow Cape Cod

Heap of Love

I believe that there are two reasons that whitewashing a fireplace is so common on Pinterest:

  • There is not a lot of skill that goes into whitewashing.
  • The change in the look of the fireplace is quick and dramatic.

The process is very labor intensive, but there is not much skill required.

To quote The Yellow Cape Cod  “I apologize if you were waiting for a long, drawn out, step by step tutorial.  This project is too simple and easy for me to complicate.  If you are a fan of intimidating, stressful, complicated, multi-step, time-consuming, DIY projects that require a ton of special supplies and mad skills, this isn’t the project for you.”

Remove what you can before you start then cover everything with drop cloths and or blue tape that you don’t want painted.

Collect a bunch of cotton rags, a paint brush you do not love, and disposable gloves then get busy.

Mix one part water to one part latex paint.  Paint the watered down paint on in small sections then use a damp cotton cloth to blot the excess paint from the bricks until you get the desired effect.

One blogger said she did this in three hours.  I am not saying she didn’t, I am just saying that I worked as hard and fast as I could and it took me a little over 6 total hours and an Epsom salt soak for soreness to get mine done.  An additional hour to paint the trim and vent covers.

It is scary to start.  The contrast made me think I had lost my mind.

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Once I got going, I really liked the look.

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    The top is whitewashed the bottom is not.  The drips were a pain to clean up.  Drop cloths would have helped as I worked down the fireplace.
 FYI.  I painted the vent covers with Rustoleum White Heat Resistant Spray Paint.  No worries about the fireplace ruining the paint.

I love the look.

 The screws are now painted, but I lost the light before taking another shot.  We need lighting in that room!
The mantle decor for fall is not something I am crazy about but I am working with what I have this year.

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Lumi loves her bed in front of the fireplace.

I would love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Karen

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How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

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Oh my goodness!  I love our vinyl plank flooring.  I never, ever, ever thought I would want a vinyl floor.  Growing up, this is what a vinyl floor looked like:

It came on a roll, was glued down, and tore pretty easily.

The luxury vinyl plank flooring we purchased from Lumber Liquidators, is a click and lock flooring, that is thick and floats on top of the subfloor.  We bought a variety called Rustic Reclaimed Oak.  The flooring was $1.56 per square foot.  The link is HERE

The photo below is from super close on the floor..  It looks so realistic that Mr. Math and I both thought that there were tears in the the planks.  It was just the wood look.  It fooled us from right on top of it.  The planks are textured also so they really feel more like wood than you would expect.
We started with a concrete slab.  Yep.  We have been living with this floor for 6 weeks.

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Here are the tools that we used, plus a measuring tape.

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Those black things are knee pads.  They are a MUST!  The rubber mallet helped convince some of the difficult pieces to go into place.

The flooring comes in pretty small boxes but wow are they heavy.  Like 40 lbs each heavy times 30 boxes.

Keeping it real for you, there was a definite learning curve.  There are some tricks that I will share with you at the end that hopefully you will not have to figure out like we did.

The first step is to measure the floor and figure out how many whole rows you will have.  We were lucky.  Our floor did not need the first or last row trimmed down to make it work.

The next step is to lay out the first row so you can get started.

Then click and lock.  The hard part of clicking and locking is the corner where the two connect.

on the last plank you have to cut it to fit.  Cutting is a breeze.  Razor knife and straight edge are all that it takes to cut.

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As soon as you score the plank, snap and it comes apart.

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It is tough to get the first three rows in.  The best way to connect the planks is while on the planks and pulling toward the wall.  That is impossible on the first three rows.  These three rows took 30 minutes of work to get clicked together.

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Learning to cut around the little wall and the fireplace took us some time but Mr. Math did a great job.  It looks perfect.  This is as far as we got on day one.  I was a little discouraged.  I thought we were going to be working on the floor for weeks.

Day two was a much improved day for the floor.  Less yelling, more flooring down.

That was my feet walking on the planks so they did not come loose when Mr. Math was bending and twisting.  That is the trick.  One person has to stand on the seam where the planks connect end to end while the other person is clicking the long side.  Mr. Math was shocked when he found out I video taped him while standing on the flooring.  1 minute, 27 seconds to get 12 linear feet totally finished.

We were cooking with hot grease.  Even with a 12:00 football game, we got the flooring in the main room of the house almost finished.  We stopped because we are going to have to think about the hallway.  The wall is not straight so we need to figure out how we are going to solve the problem.  Honestly, I predict that it is going to take us several weekends to finish the whole house.  We have to move appliances in the kitchen and laundry room before installing.  We will have to remove the toilet to  finish the bathrooms, and we have the hallway to contend with.


 Putting in the flooring wasn’t as easy as I hoped but it wasn’t as hard as I feared.  Here is what we learned from our experience.

  1. The first three rows are hardest.  Don’t give up. When you can get on the floor and pull rather than push it gets easier.
  2. Getting the corner in is tricky. Mr. Math says make sure the whole thing is on top of the tongue.
  3. This is a two person job. One to click and lock.  One to stand on the board as it locks to keep it in place.
  4. Make sure the floor is level.  We used  a dry leveler mix and poured it on low spots.   
  5. Have extra razors for the razor cutter.

We have very little wasted flooring.  We are going to end up with enough extra flooring to put it in my craft room.  Woo Hoo.

I love the look.

We have already had several folks come look and they are all impressed.  I think I won a couple of folks over.

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Belly Up to the Bar

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I know what you are thinking… and by bar I mean taco bar, waffle bar, ice cream sundae bar, salad bar, and grilled cheese bar.

Feeding a crowd is hard. Feeding a bunch of kids who can be potentially a bit picky, even tougher.  Feeding 15 or so people quickly is almost impossible.

That is where a bar saves the day.  The concept is simple; pick a theme, food or holiday then design the meal as a “Build Your Own”.  This past weekend we had a group and had three meals that were build your own with options.

Check out these bars I have saved on my Pinterst board: (kasmithson) How to Feed a Crowd.  The links to each of these bars is located just below each picture.  Check them out.

Your Home Based Mom

Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

We may have a hotdog bar this weekend.  I just have to get someone to come eat them!

By Stephanie Lynn

The taco bar above uses chip bags as bowls.

Celebrations at Home

The spud bar will be a winter meal for our Thursday night group.
Sunday night we had the best bar.  It was a grilled cheese bar.  Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, colby jack, and American cheeses.were the star along with three types of bread, carmelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, pancetta, homemade macaroni and cheese, and bacon were all options to put on the sandwiches.
The trick to a grilled cheese bar is to have one cook and not to assemble the sandwiches until the cook butters the bread and puts them on the grill.

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Here is my friend, Tina giving instructions before the feeding frenzy.  She manned the griddle until the bitter end.

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Before the hoard descended on the grilled cheese bar I was able to snap a couple of pictures.

The surprise ingredient was macaroni and cheese. It sounds odd but the kids loved it.  Oh, they loved the bacon, too.  The huge griddle came in handy.

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Monday morning (Labor Day) it was a waffle bar.  There were some hiccups… Mainly because this one was mine.  The smoke alarm went off a couple of times, and the breaker was thrown umm… twice.  Note to self.  Have a pile of waffles ready for the kids cooked ahead and ready to pop into a toaster.

The waffle bar consisted of  waffles, regular syrup, blueberry syrup, chocolate sauce, strawberry syrup, whipped cream, peanut butter, chocolate sprinkles, cinnamon, rainbow sprinkles, and more bacon.

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Our late (after boating, tubing, and jet skiing) lunch was a sort of fajita bar.  I say sort of because there weren’t as many options.   It was definitely build your own.  We had chicken fajitas, guacamole, queso with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pinto beans, and my favorite cilantro rice.  I was way to pooped and overwhelmed to get any photos.  Sorry folks.

After diving in to the bar scene all weekend, I did learn a few things.

There are a couple of tricks to a build your own meal bar.

  • Organize your items so that they make sense when assembling.  Start with the plates, bowls, etc. and end with the silverware  and napkins so they don’t have to be carried from station to station.
  • Prepare as much ahead as possible.  Having things  made ahead made the meals more enjoyable for all.
  • Make sure that whatever you are serving can be assembled quickly.  Everyone is happy when you can keep ’em moving.
  • Have plenty of room for folks to move around.  Our bar is perfect inside for serving.  When the weather is nice, we will be serving outside.
  • Have a plan to keep the hot foods hot and the cold foods cold.

Have you ever had a “build your own” bar?  If you have, I would love to hear from you.  I will bet you have tried things I haven’t even thought about.

I love hearing from you.

Blessings,

Karen

Week 5 Progress

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Knowing company is coming can motivate a person to get busy on their home.  Knowing several of those guests are active elementary and junior high students really motivates me to get the house de cluttered and ready for the crowd.

Here is the weekend progress:

1.  The Guest Room is now presentable.  There are still areas that need touch ups.

  • The walls got painted.
  • A set of donated shuttered got painted and hung on the wall.
  • At
  • Art, a mirror, and a window got hung.
  • New curtain rod.

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2.  This awesome light now hangs where the light I lovingly called the pool table light was over the bar.

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Before

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The awesome after.

3.  A section of the bathroom now is under way.  The mirror will be framed with rustic wood and the bathroom cabinets will be painted white. The rest of the bathroom needs to be painted still.  The color is a pale bluish green.  Never judge a color until the old paint is out of the way.  Look at them together… yuck.

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Before

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During… did you notice the name of the bathroom hardware?  I did not until I edited the picture.

You have to wait to see the bathroom.  Sorry.  I want you to see the full effect once it is done.

We also did some really boring but necessary things like mow, organize closets, and unpack boxes.

Then… the fun started.

5 kids and their parents showed up.  They played, they explored, they fished, they ate s’mores, they went tubing, jet skiing, they threw the frisbee for the dog, they played nines, the ate… A Lot.  Those kids can flat eat.

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We were sad to see them go.

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This week I am going to give you our tricks for feeding a crowd and a few hints for Christmas presents if you have outdoor space.

Happy belated Labor Day to all of us who get up every day and go to work.

Have a great week.

Blessings,

Karen