Friday, February 1, 2013

Before and After: my white chalk-painted fireplace


Hello dear friends…

I’m still here, plugging away at my big brick fireplace re-do. Although I’m pleased to say that the painting part is all done and I’m SOOOOO happy with the results. Thank you to all of you who read THIS post and offered your opinion. It was unanimous, you all thought I should “go for it” with the white paint makeover.

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Was I a little nervous?

As someone pointed out in a comment, “with bricks, there’s no going back.” But do you ever get to the point where you’re simply ready for a drastic change?

That was me.


The warm red brick that my Dad and I had originally installed ourselves had become dark and oppressive to me. It was made worse by the fact that my family room gets very little natural light after morning, despite some big windows. And since new furnishings were out of the question, I went the economical route, with paint of course.

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So the first thing I did (besides ask all of you what you thought) was to do some research on the best coverage with the least amount of labor. Because frankly, while I enjoy painting, I had over 105 square feet of brick to paint and I didn’t want to get stuck having to apply one extra layer if I didn’t have to.

I got online and went to several professional painting websites. But none of these had any information on chalk paint and bricks.

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photo: one benefit to the chalky quality

Then I started going to design blogs and I began to see some results, although still not a whole lot of chalk painted brick fireplaces out there.


Photo: see how excited I was? I started painting before I even cleared my shelves!

But the consensus was, that if I were to use standard paint I would definitely need to apply a primer coat first. And at least two coats of the final color. And then a top-coat.

And honestly, that was a deal breaker. It was just too much work. And regarding the cost, while Annie Sloan paints are considered pricey by some, I would still end up paying less and painting less by going with chalk paint.


Photo: it’s hard to get nice pictures with poor light. I used Photoshop to lighten this corner

So I headed to the nearest Annie Sloan Chalk paint dealer at a lovely shop called

Not So Shabby in Historic Old Town Folsom, California.

I walked quickly in, like a woman on a mission, grabbed my two quarts of white paint and headed to the counter. Only the woman at the counter was none other than Bobbi Eddy, the warmest, most helpful person I could’ve bumped into. And we had the best chat. Turns out that Bobbi has been painting for over 20 years and is the resident expert on Annie Sloan products. In fact, as I write these words she is now carrying Annie Sloan’s line of fabrics in her shop. I didn’t even know Annie Sloan had fabrics that coordinate with her paint colors. Did you?

I’ll be heading down there to snap some photos for you all. But if you’re anywhere close, you should drop by.

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But back to the subject of chalk paint on bricks. I found out that the chalk paint was definitely going to save me time. No primer. No problems adhering to brick. It would take about 15 days to cure, but that wouldn’t stop me from putting on the finish coat.


That’s the part you should know. If you use Annie Sloan paint on your bricks, you will need a clear matte finish if you want to occasionally wipe and clean the bricks. Without having to worry about removing paint if you scrub too hard. Bobbi recommended the same finish she put on her shop floor. It wasn’t too shiny or thick, more of a subtle matte shine, if that makes sense.

I bought one container and ended up having some leftover.

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Photo: in the natural light I could see the places I’d missed with the finish coat

I also liked the fact that the finish has no odor which was nice since I was painting in the middle of winter and didn’t really want all my windows open.



Our paint job required two good coats. Technically, after letting the first coat dry completely (about an hour) you can paint the final coat. But we quit for the day so we could view the paint in the morning light. Natural lighting is crucial in order to see those lighter areas in need of a touch-up.


I ended up going back for a third quart because I did my mantel and the big framed mirror. I also added additional coats of paint to the piece of slate on my hearth.


I can’t describe how pretty and clean the white bricks appear in the natural light.


But I also like how the white bricks look in the evening. They have a soft, buttery glow from the lamps. Here’s a photo I snapped last night. I’d been sitting right on that plaid blanket reading and I suddenly glanced up and realized how happy I am with the results.


I remembered to take a quick “before” shot before we began.

And I took this one right afterwards.

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Photo: I still need to touch up the ugly black around the glass doors. Sigh, one thing leads to another.

Just so you know, I’m not affiliated in any way with Anne Sloan paints. This post was simply me, sharing my own experience. And I hope it’s helpful to any of you who might be thinking of painting your bricks.


If you liked this post and would like to stay in touch don’t forget to follow me. I’ve always got something going on around here.


Isn’t that how Life is?

To be continued….

Tell me what you think!  I love to hear from you.




Join me at these fabulous parties:



Art and Sand said...

It looks wonderful!

I didn't realize you were in northern California. For some reason I thought you were in the south. My husband's sister lives in Folsom. I also didn't know they had a downtown. We usually only stop on our way back from Tahoe so it is just a quick visit.

Enjoy your new look.

Debra@CommonGround said...

OH MY GOSH!!! beyond fabulous! I'm so glad to hear that you used ASCP, should have known it would work. Like I said, it changes the look of the whole room! YAY!!!!

Unknown said...

It turned out just gorgeous ( I did mine too )
and that's a beautiful fire place!!!

Daniela @Frugal Aint Cheap said...

I love both "natural" brick color and painted bricks! go figure. Definitely it makes the room feel lighter and brighter. I say well done! and in the chalk paint was definitely the way to go

Christy James said...

I'll have you know that I logged off of my iPad and onto my desktop computer (b/c for some reason I am unable to leave comments from my iPad on Blogger??)just to tell you that your fireplace looks A-mazing!! I'm sure it was tough to paint the first stroke but it was definitely the right thing to do. I so love it!!Good job girl:)


Anonymous said...

I love that you and your dad originally installed the brick. Has he seen the new and improved look? It looks gorgeous! Nice job!

Sew a Fine Seam said...

Leslie - it's awesome! I'm so glad you went for it!

Number Fifty-Three said...

I LOVE it! So glad you went for it because it just looks fantastic.


ℳartina @ Northern Nesting said...

Fabulous job Leslie!! LOVE the white! Now I can't wait to see how you accessorize the mantel and shelves, I know it going to look beautiful!

Di@Cottage-Wishes said...

Love it!!! I will go for it too. Which white did you use? Di

Something Nice and Pretty said...

Just beautiful! Such a difference, ASCP is wonderful, I think it goes on just beautifully! You sure made the right choice!
I'm your newest follower!

Connie said...

Stunning! You must feel as if you have an entirely new room.

Have you noticed the backs of bookcases being painted? I haven't gotten up the nerve to do mine but I do like it. Amy at Maison Decor did the backs of hers in wallpaper covered foam boards cut to fit. They were fabulous and if she tires of it she can just remove the foam board.

Liz @ Quirky Vistas said...

I'm finding that if I'm less than happy with the way something currently is, I might as well paint it. Looks like you have discovered the same and with great results! Isn't it nice to be done and be able to sigh a happy sigh? Beautiful!

shadowhaswings said...

I love it! Very, very impressive, what an update and it makes your room so elegant. I am in awe of how you change the total look of your room, a fantastic job for sure. So glad you took pictures each step of the way.

Gypsy Heart said...

Leslie, it is absolutely gorgeous! Can you believe the difference? :) I think you did a superb job and I know you're going to be so happy with it.

Regarding the space above the mantle...a huge gold framed mirror would be awesome! I just love mirrors. Of course, I know you have beautiful plans for it.


Marilyn said...

You've given me a green light on doing the same thing to my brick! Can't wait to get it done this summer. Your change is amazing!♥♫

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

I think your fireplace looks amazing in white! Awesome job Leslie!

deborah@confessions of a craigslist junkie said...

Visiting you from Feathered Nest Fridays, and I'm SO glad you posted this! I have the same red brick around my fireplace and have been wondering about using chalk paint to paint it. I've been using it on furniture for the last couple of years, and it seemed like it would work, but I haven't found anyone who has done it! It looks great--fantastic job!

Of Wool and Loveliness said...

That is one very beautiful mantle shelf. Would you mind sharing where you got it?

The white looks amazing.


Monica said...

Did I ever tell you how much I LOVE white in homes? It looks fantastic - I'm in love with the after. Super impressive that you transformed it on your own too. Can't wait to see what you are up to next. xx - Monica

Leena Milligan Lanteigne said...

This turned out beautifully! I love it in white! It looks like the entire area, bookshelves included, go together almost as one cohesive unit! Great coverage as brick can be difficult to cover with regular paint. The chalk paint worked wonders! Glad you did it. Sometimes we just have to jump in and keep our fingers crossed! Thanks for sharing! Hugs, Leena

Unknown said...

Leslie, this looks amazing! It looks like a totally different room! I agree with Connie's suggestion--putting a bit of a pattern (or color) on foam boards to go on your bookcase backs would add the perfect visual interest
:-) I've been considering trying chalk paint, and now I think I may give it a go! Thank you!

Linda@Coastal Charm said...

Now after seeing yours...I want to paint mine:)


~Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I too, have a white living room with a red brick fireplace. I am scared to paint, but now I know it must be done! Your bravery inspired me!

Pam Kessler said...

Wow!!! Love it! A side benefit of it being white is that I think the fireplace looks so much taller now. I know nothing about design, but the wall doesn't look broken up, I guess. Great decision!

Judy said...

we had our fireplace brick painted last spring and we love it! our painter used some type of primer and paint that would withstand heat but we've had several fires in the fireplace this year and the paint is holding up beautifully!

i love how pretty your painted brick looks...i don't think you'll be sorry you painted it...i know i'm not!

Debe said...

I am so glad you went for it! It looks just beautiful and I am sure the room looks much bigger with that reflected light. I painted my fireplace brick with just latex paint. Had some left in tray from a wall and just went for it. I never had any trouble. It did get repainted when I talked my husband into painted the tired, orangy paneling white. I love that transformation. Never thought about using Annie on the brick but glad to know it works. Good job, pat yourself on the back!

Lori said...

Love it Leslie ~ it looks fantastic! I know it was a big step into the unknown but it paid off!

Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} said...

that was quite a project! I'm sure it looks so much brighter/lighter, with the painted brick! Just give the shelves plenty of time to dry, if you painted them. all paint take a while to cure. Great work!,

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

Much much better! You won't believe this but I painted my fireplace many years ago. It was a rather slapdash job but it still holds. Not as elegant as yours, but quite cool xxx

karen@somewhatquirky said...

It looks beautiful! Glad you are happy with it!

Bonnie said...

I am amazed how good your fireplace metamorphosis looks. It looks striking and I am glad you are enjoying it. You did make it sound easy. Great to have a photo journal of the process.

I appreciate your visit and the opportunity to get to know you. I have read several of your posts and enjoyed your thought processes on letting go of your child, praying to the Blessed Mother. You are an excellent writer and communicator.

Deborah@Green Willow Pond said...

Great tips! I love white painted brick. I think it is just as classic as the bricks themselves. It looks so much brighter and welcoming now! I'm following now via Feedly :)


Unknown said...

Had I found your blog earlier, I would've voted yes to white paint as well! Just look at this beauty! I would also like to commend you for taking the time to research and learn about brick painting before rushing to the hardware store, dipping your brush, and starting to paint. Now, we can see how beautifully all of those effort paid off!
Leeanne @ Pro Master

Unknown said...

I found your blog when searching for "chalk painted bricks". Your room looks to sleek and updated with the white paint! I'm trying to figure out if I want to go with white like you did or doing a more washed out white by adding water and then going over it with a light grey for a textured look.

Vanessa and Raymond said...

How heat tolerant is the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint? I have a large, red brick fireplace, too, but I have vents on the bottom and the top that let hot heat/air out. Wondering if it would stand up to the heat?

tyleragent said...

Thanks for the post, and my wife and I are thinking about painting our brick fireplace in our home. We just recently moved into our new home and the fireplace that was already there is really nice. Except the color though doesn't quite match the rest of the house.

cindy hattersley design said...

Love It!! I have no problem painting over red not like it!!!

Maria said...

Love this. I was searching the web for inspiration and I found it here. I am SO going to paint mine with the chalk paint. Did you use Old White? What did you finish it with and did you sand it back? I am not sure whether to wax afterwards? I just wish my brick work was in better condition but will pretend I am going for Rustic chic!

Amy said...

Thanks for the great info and pics! I was at Not Too Shabby on Sunday and after spending a good hour in there with my mom, the staff is super helpful and knowledgeable, I began searching Pintrest for great ideas! Can't wait to start my brick fireplace painting project!

Lyndylou said...

I have a dull brick fireplace and am looking to update it without a whole lot of money. I found your blog whilst googling ways to update it.

Your fireplace looks stunning!

Lynne (Scotland)

Unbridled said...

I was hoping to paint the floor tile around my fireplace with chalk paint and was curious to know how your work has held up over time... especially the hearth?

Unknown said...

Love that you shared this post. I am happy to know I can use Annie Sloan chalk paint to paint my ugly fireplace. I can't wait to get started

Unknown said...

Hi there!!
Fab job on your fireplace!! am just about to do the same on mine and was just wondering how thoroughly did you clean it and how before painting!! I am itching to just paint it right did you do??

thanks, gill

Mary said...

I followed your lead and painted brick surround with pure white Annie Sloan chalk paint - two coats. Then I put a coat of her lacquer on top. The lacquer appears a little yellow in spots. What happened? Should I put another coat of chalk paint on top?

Leslie Harris said...

Hi Mary--I sent you an email but since you're a no-reply blogger--I thought I'd leave my reply here too in case you don't get it.
I think I know what you're talking about, the same thing happened with my recent fireplace in our new home. Mine is verrrrrry subtle and I actually like it. But if I were you I'd just re paint it again. And probably skip the laquer coat since I've hears this happens occasionally. Let me know how it goes.

AntiqueChase said...

I have travertine I want to paint. What prep work do I need to do to the stone first? I think chalk paint is the way to go... but can you use the fireplace in your new house no worries??

Unknown said...

Did you or could you dilute the chalk paint?

Unknown said...

I have a similar fire place and am wanting to paint, but I had thought about painting the brick part the wall color and the cabinets white, which is my trim color. Did you ever consider that? My walls are a neutral beige Manchester Tan by Benjamin Moore.

Joe said...

Love it!! Thanks for the post. Your room looks so beautiful and updated after painting with white. I liked the fireplace, it look fantastic. Nice Pictures.

Marble Mantel

Unknown said...

This looks absolutely AMAZING!!! I'm buying a house with one full wall of red exposed brick fireplace which I wanted to paint white. Thx so much for your post! I'm sold. Now I just gotta see where I can get my hands on the chalk paint. I also want to paint the exterior white. It's red brick as well. Is chalk paint good for the exterior? Thx

Unknown said...

I love it! Thanks for sharing, I've been thinking of painting my fireplace and was nervous to commit. After seeing your results, I'm sold!!

Unknown said...

This blog is like reading my own mind. I've got two brick walls in my interior that I once loved but like you, not enough natural lighting ( even with giant windows) and it feels dark. So I'm asking for lots of opinions before I jump in with my Annie sloan Old White chalk paint. I'm so grateful you shared this because it is just the nudge I needed!

abby 10 said...

I read your article on the chalk paint. The brick on your fireplace is smooth. I have a very rough textured brick on mine. Can I use this paint on my fireplace?

Unknown said...

I love this and am totally inspired to paint my brick fireplace as well. Do the bricks need to be cleaned first and if so, what is the best thing to clean them with?

Mcgypsy9 said...

I don’t care how old this post is, the fireplace looks fabulous! I do have questions. How has it held up over the years? Have you done anything else to it since the original paint job?
I’m originally from Buffalo, NY but grew up from the time I was 9 till I married at 22 in North Highlands, Ca. I spent many times up in the Sierras and truly miss it to this day. Always loved the snow, the majestic mountains and the cool summer days and nights. Camping was a huge part of my life there. My parents owned a campground in Dutch Flat, Ca and I spent much time there and in Alta, Ca at the diner. I’ve lived in North Carolina now for 30 years and although I love it here, there’s always a part of me that misses the Sierra mountains. It’s gotten much more humid as the years pass and I want to go further north when my husband retires.
My best friend in Calif. lost her grandson when he was just 20 in a car accident. I can’t tell you the number of times I wept with her. I feel your loss. Actually losing my dad was the worse ever. It’s been 22 years and I still weep to this day. I hope and pray that time has helped to heal. I know it never goes away but the pain does lesseon over time. Your son was a very handsome boy. If you ever need to talk I will always listen. You can contact me any time. Regards, Shirley

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