Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If You Give a Girl a Paintbrush... [Fireplace Before & After]

This is the theme for our home in 2013, I think.
Do your kids love this book like mine do?
Maybe that should tell me something?? ;)

‘Cause you know, “if you give a mouse a cookie, after all, he's bound to ask for a glass of milk, for which he'll certainly need a straw, not to mention a napkin...”

And people, if you give a girl a paintbrush, she’s going to want to update her trim.
And that will most definitely lead to the courage to paint her kitchen cabinets.
Of course, once her cabinets are painted, it’s going to point a glaring spotlight on how her giant mantel/entertainment center suddenly sticks out like a giant, orange thumb.

She’ll probably also notice that the space above that mantel is very tall, and the windows that she loves for all the light that pours in, are really tough to decorate around.

So she will take that paintbrush, and she will paint. 
And she will plank.
And trim.
And paint some more.
And then….

And THEN, by then that girl will be so darn happy with the results that she will smile big, take some photos, write a blog post, and she will sleep. 
Until the next project comes along. : )
See? I told you it was a sickness.

Here’s the breakdown:

I wanted to visually draw the eyes upward, to balance out the extreme length of the mantel.  Board and batten (especially floor-to-ceiling treatments) are really popular right now, but I wasn’t feeling the vertical boards – I felt like it would fight with the long horizontal lines.

Then I spied this picture in an issue of Southern Living and it hit me – a HORIZONTAL treatment could be *exactly* what I was looking for!

I am not an experienced carpenter nor do I have much experience in millwork, so I really wanted to keep this simple.  My fireplace mantel is actually quite well made, 
so I didn’t want to mess with ripping out the trim along the top.
No problem.
The only catch was that the trim had a very narrow lip on top, just 1/8 of an inch, so I couldn’t use a traditional pine board; it would stick out over the trim and look awkward.

I found my solution in Hardboard.
Basically, hardboard is like pegboard, but without the holes.
You can buy a 6’ x 8’ sheet of Hardboard at Home Depot for about $8 (I needed 2 for this space),
 which was *superb*
Even better?
Be nice to the guys in the lumber department, have your measurements ready when you walk in the store, and they will cut it down into planks for you.

This will do wonders for your marriage. ;)

From there, we got the planks up and used a nail gun to secure them to the wall.  I added a piece of cove trim to finish off the ceiling, and then caulked the sides.  I had originally bought trim for the sides, but it ended up looking clunky so we left it off for a cleaner line. 

 We wanted to be minimalist and not use adhesive when putting up the planks, so we stuck with nails only.  This way, if 10 years from now we decide we want to take them down, we just slice the caulk, remove the boards, and then all we have are nail holes to fill and paint—we won’t have to worry about damaging the drywall underneath.

What worked in our favor was that the windows previously didn’t have any interior trim, so we were able to be slightly imperfect with our end cuts, and then I used chair rail to trim out the windows.  Using chair rail cap was great because that “lip” made a perfect interior edge to hide the rough ends of the planks.

Once everything was up, I caulked all my seams and used the same process that I did for painting mykitchen cabinets

It probably goes without saying that if you’re tackling a project like this, it’s best to operate from the top-down, for two reasons:
1)      we found out that our builder cut a corner or two (once again, grr) and that the fireplace is level, but the windows are not.  It’s a small enough difference that you can’t tell when you look at it, but when you’re measuring wood planks to go across the length and can’t figure out why the widths are different, it can be frustrating.  This happens a lot with older houses, too.  So starting at the top gives you room to correct at the bottom if you need to.
2)      In this case, I sat on the mantel to prime and paint the planks.  I know this doesn’t apply to everyone, but even if I’d just been up on a ladder and leaning over the mantel, I wouldn’t have wanted to hose up a new paint job by doing the bottom first.  So top-down is generally best.

And there you have it!

Let’s go back to the before and after again, just for kicks, m’kay? : )

So what's the "Give a Mouse a Cookie..." project in Your house?  :)

Follow Me on Pinterest


  1. I. Love. It!!!! Please come do the same at our house! :)

  2. Wow! Gorgeous update! I'd love for you to link up to The DIY'ers.

  3. Gorgeous work! Question: when you put the planks up around the windows, how did you get those clean, straight, gorgeous lines between them? Did they overlap? Did you leave space between them? Or...? My husband is about to tackle almost the EXACT SAME project, please help?Thankyou!!

    1. Hi Kita! To space between the planks, if you can believe it we just used a regular old nickel as our spacer. Mr. V just shoved a nickel between the planks, nailed one end, then kept using the nickel as he went down the line. Nothing fancy here! :)

    2. That is awesome. Thank you so much!!

  4. Thank you for sharing such valuable and helpful information and knowledge. This can give us more insights! Keep it up. I would love to see your next update.

    Spray Machines