Monica Wants It: A Lifestyle Blog

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace {Tutorial}

We swore we’d never do it.

We’ve seen so many fireplaces painted awful colors, so it was ingrained in our minds that all painted fireplaces looked awful. Then one day we finally changed our mind.

While preparing to participate in the Home Depot Halloween Style Challenge, I grew increasingly frustrated with how all of my lighter decor blended into the fireplace. Nothing really popped when I did a mantelscape, and my photos looked ever so beige. Blah.

Then painting the fireplace became a reality. We chose to paint it white and we also chose to completely revamp the mantel and paint it peppercorn (the most gorgeous sexy charcoal gray EVER). I was finally convinced after I posted this photo on Facebook and you all had such a great reaction to it.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace #DIY

Gorgeous! I especially love how the mantel kind of blends in although that is not what we ultimately chose to do.

Here’s what my fireplace looked like before. Yes, I hate that the beam is off center just as much as you do. Ggrr.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace #DIY

As you can see, it is very beige. Beige brick, beige carpet. The gold fireplace screen wasn’t doing us any favors, and the mantel was decent. I gave that a makeover back in 2011 by adding some moldings to the front of the beam and painting the rest white. Originally, the fireplace mantel was simply a dark beam:

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace #DIY

This time around I didn’t go halfway (or a third-way), and I encased the entire mantel (3 sides) with moldings to make it both wider and taller. I wanted a super beveled, modern-yet-traditional mantel. I had to really get reacquainted with my miter saw quickly to pull it off, but I am thrilled with the results.

Painting the brick itself was a fairly easy process. Let me break it down for you…


-Hot water with soap + rag/sponge


-Zinser/Kilz Primer

-White, paintable caulk

-Rollers with a long nap

-Painters tape & drop cloths

-High quality paint brush (We use Purdy brand 97% of the time)

-Paint of your choice (we went with flat bright white)

-High heat paint if you want to paint your firebox

How To Paint a Brick Fireplace:

Prep: Remove your fireplace screen and mantel, if desired. If you’d like to simply paint around what you’ve got, skip this step (but apply painters tape where needed). We had to use a reciprocating saw (true story) to get the mantel off the fireplace because the corbels were built INTO the fireplace. Crazy—I’ll show you in a moment.

Step 1: Thoroughly wipe down all of your brick with a soapy rag or sponge. After it’s dry, vacuum off any excess dust.

Step 2: Fill in any cracks, holes, imperfections with caulk and allow to dry.

Step 3: Protect your walls/carpet with painters tape or drop cloths. Apply a coat of primer. Allow to dry.

Step 4: If needed, fill in any cracks with caulk again before applying the topcoats. If all is well, apply two coats of paint and enjoy.

Here’s some photos of our process.

Our mantel had to come off in THREE pieces. The mantel shelf itself was quick and painless to remove.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace #DIY

Then came the darn corbels. They were (are, technically) built INTO the fireplace, so we had to carefully saw them off. This created tons of dust and was NO fun.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace #DIY

Then we cleaned and cleaned, plus we cleaned the firebox after we removed the fireplace screen.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace #DIY

Finally, we were able to put on a primer coat. The primer coat is always the point where I’m like, “Oh my word, what have we done?!?!”

Then it passes, young grasshopper.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace #DIY 

My husband continued painting while I worked on the 45-degree cuts to create our fancy schmancy mantel. As stated before, we chose to keep our mantel beam since it was large and sturdy, so we essentially nailed on a facade of sorts using baseboard and some other random smaller molding that we determined looked good.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace & Create Your Own Mantel Shelf #DIY

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace & Create Your Own Mantel Shelf #DIY

Remember that caulk and paint can cover a multitude of sins such as corners that don’t want to sit perfectly flush. Once I had the 3 sides completed/caulked/painted and Daniel had finished painting the brick, we used this awesome tutorial from Run to Radiance to mount our mantel back on. It worked like a charm. That sucker isn’t going anywhere! I truly adore the way these 2 pieces of molding ended up working with one another. You’d never guess it was 2 separate moldings. Custom mantels are only a few moldings away. Love. Moldings.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace & Create Your Own Mantel Shelf #DIY

At this point we left the mantel shelf off since we were going to add that last to avoid issues. We cut a pine 1x10 down to size and countersunk screws to attach the shelf to the beam. Some wood filler and paint touch ups finished up the job. Remember to check for level during all this process—a sloped mantel is no fun!

Since the firebox looked pretty awful, we painted that using high heat satin black paint. This stuff SMELLS very, very strongly. I felt like I dreamt the fumes for days and days. Work in a well ventilated area if you use this stuff.

Candles placed inside the firebox really stand out now. Well worth the fumes in the long run.

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace & Create Your Own Mantel Shelf #DIY

And here’s a sneak peek of the fireplace in all her chic Halloween glory:

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace & Create Your Own Mantel Shelf #DIY

How to Paint a Brick Fireplace & Create Your Own Mantel Shelf #DIY


To view more photos and see the FULL reveal, head on over to my post on The Home Depot Apron Blog like right now!

I hope my never say never moment inspires you to take the plunge with a project in your home. Smooches!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Living Room Makeover Progress

My living room is the most used/lived in room of the house, and I really feel it's kind of neglected sometimes. A few weeks ago we moved the Barrister Lane tall bookcase we originally bought for the guest room over to the living room, and I think it's improved the space.

We used to have a chintzy console table in this spot, and now we have this beautiful bookcase by Sauder. It holds some photos I took on a NYC trip (I went to the library where Carrie and Big were supposed to get married in SATC), some of my beloved fall pumpkins and some cute photos of the pooch.
[Sauder Bookcase styled in a living room with white + punches of metallics.]
In this one photo above you can see two different ways of styling a bookcase by either using decor + photos or using your existing decor and working in some season pieces like spiders and pumpkins.

A tip when buying furniture is to try to think of at least 2-3 places/rooms you could use the piece. This will give you options should you revamp a room or get tired of seeing everything in the same place all the time.

In the photo below, we actually hid one of our two surround speakers behind the framed photo. You can't even tell, can you?

[Sauder Bookcase styled in a living room with white + punches of metallics.]
Although I love to decorate my home, I do find styling bookcases to be a bit difficult. Nothing ever looks right to me. Anyone else have that issue? I just choose to focus on showcasing things I this photo of myself and Bob Harper from 2011. Hardest. Workout. Ever.

The Sauder bookcase helps set a neutral tone in the room, which is great because it gives all my metallic decor on the bookcase and in the room a chance to really shine.

And Pee Wee seems to favor this corner of the living room--he's in heaven on his luxurious blanket that he won't let any of us use!

I think moving the bookcase in here is really helping me get on track for finally "finishing" this room--I plan to add a gallery wall, recessed lighting, a bar, and hopefully a new chandelier and flooring sometime in 2015. If you want to follow along with my ideas, check out my Home Inspiration Pinterest board!

If you're into the reclaimed wood look and need a big, beefy (heavy!) bookcase, I'd highly recommend this one. We've moved it to 3 different places in 2 different rooms and it's held up beautifully. I'm thinking of adding mirror tiles to the back of each cubby to brighten it up a bit and make it glam.

I'll be back on Wednesday with chronicles of my latest curly haircut mishap. Why, oh why, was I born with the world's most difficult curls?! Sigh.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sauder. The opinions and text are all mine.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What if you had 22 days to live?

I think usually I can be heard saying “life is hard” and “life is crazy”, but today I was thinking otherwise. Life is beautiful.

Two evenings ago I was trolling on Facebook, and I saw the story about Brittany Maynard. Essentially, this beautiful 29 year old woman (same age as I), has an awful form of brain cancer and has chosen to die on November 1. Two days after her husband’s birthday.

I cried. And cried. And cried some more.

I won’t go into whether or not I agree with her decision because that is a very personal decision that I am sure she didn’t take lightly. I admire her strength, and I pray for a miracle. I respect her decision to make a decision.

Her story, however, really has haunted me the past 48 hours. Twenty-nine. I could literally be in her shoes.

I am not.

I am not in perfect health judging by my obese stature. But I don’t have a death sentence just yet.

But I am alive, and I am here. My weekends and evenings and days and nights and mornings are spent worrying about work. I check my work email obsessively. I work long hours. I skip lunches, happy hours, and weekend outings. I plan 3-day vacations rather than 1-week vacations in order to avoid inconveniencing people at work. The last real vacation I took with my love was in May 2012. My husband’s vacation request for our 5th year wedding anniversary this May was denied because he had to work on the annual budget. We were simply going to drive 4 hours to Galveston to enjoy a 4-night mini-vacation.

So, we didn’t celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, which to me is a BIG deal. He’s put up with me for five years, y’all. He deserved the vacation.

I don’t know Brittany, but I am pretty sure that she will not spend the last 22 days of her life worrying about her job or her former job. She’s spent it on vacations and with those she loves. Something I forsake in order to work longer and harder. And then it becomes habit and expectation.

Today on this random Thursday evening, I urge everyone to find time to do what you really love with those you love. Life is short, but it sure is beautiful.

Thanks for the reminder, Brittany.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Maple Bacon Instant Oatmeal Cookies

I know last week I asked you all to tell me what you all like to see on this blog, and many of you said you all like it when I keep it real. While my most favorite thing to write about is definitely DIY tutorials, I also love to bake and don’t do it as often as I’d like. So this weekend I pulled out the hand mixer and got to work. However, I like to bake things that come together super quick and don’t require a ton of foreign ingredients that I can’t find in Small Town USA.

I had seen the Maple & Brown Sugar with Bacon Instant Oatmeal at H-E-B and had bought some. It caught my eye because, hellooooo bacon, but also because it had a fancy “Primo Pick” tag on it. The Primo Pick tag means it’s new, limited release, you should buy this NOW kind of thing. So, if you have an H-E-B near you and want to find cool new things to eat, look for the Primo Pick tag near the item. The sea salt cashews are a Primo Pick, and we cannot stop eating them. Finding Primo Pick tags has become a new obsession with Daniel and I. We puffy heart food.

So then I kind of chickened out on eating the oatmeal as intended for breakfast….until now. I also got some of this Apple Crisp soda which I’ll talk about in a moment.

Maple Bacon Instant Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

Bacon is like the “it'” thing right now all over Pinterest and life in general, but I wanted to use these to make Daniel some tasty oatmeal cookies. He LOVES oatmeal cookies and they’re so quick to throw together. With about 10 minutes of prep + 10 minutes of baking you can have yourself some tasty, gourmet cookies.

Maple Bacon Instant Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

Maple Bacon Instant Oatmeal Cookies (Makes about 24-28 small cookies or about 12-16 large cookies)

-6 packs of H-E-B Maple & Brown Sugar with Bacon Instant Oatmeal Packets

-1 cup of all-purpose flour

-1/4 cup of white sugar

-1/2 cup of brown sugar

-1 egg

-1/2 cup of butter (room temperature)

-1 tbsp. of milk

-1/4 tsp of baking powder

-1/2 tsp of baking soda

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl until creamy. Add in additional wet ingredients until well mixed. In another bowl, mix dry ingredients together.

-Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.

-Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, form little balls of dough and flatten to about a quarter inch thickness (see below). Using a tablespoon makes you a ton of smaller cookies and using 2 tablespoons gives you that big cookie that you can get at the mall. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and crispy. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Maple Bacon Instant Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

Maple Bacon Instant Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

These cookies don’t have in-your-face bacon flavor, but they do have a slight smoky, bacon taste that pairs beautifully with maple and brown sugar. The hubby gives these 2 thumbs up!

Finally, I also convinced my hubby to help me create a fall shandy. The H-E-B Apple Crisp soda has a delicious, sweet natural flavor that I thought would be great in a beer. Being the beer nerd he is, he picked the perfect pairing that even non-beer lovers would enjoy.

Apple Shandy Recipe (Makes about 2-4 servings depending on glass used)

2 Paulaner Beers

2 cans of H-E-B Apple Crisp Soda

-Fill a glass 2/3 of the way with Paulaner beer and fill the remainder of the glass with H-E-B Apple Crisp soda (both are seasonal Primo Picks!). Drink and enjoy!

Fall Apple Shandy Recipe

This drink really foams up a lot, which to me makes for beautiful presentation. You can definitely taste the apple, but it’s not overly sweet so as to make the beer taste awful. It’s a smooth, refreshing drink. The cookies and beer go well together for game day on Sundays.

Fall Apple Shandy Recipe

Hope you all enjoy these recipes! Two weekends ago, my husband and I demolished our fireplace mantle. It was a bit of a “Oh my god, what have we done?!” kind of moment, but this past weekend we finally pulled up our boot straps and got to work on revamping it. You guys…wait until you see it!

I’ll be back with more about that later this week. For now, I’m off to enjoy a conference in Oklahoma where I am getting an award for social marketing! Wooooo! It’s definitely an honor, and I hope I win the gold award.

Although silver or bronze would work, too. It’s just an honor to be nominated.


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