Oak Mantel Makeover

May 18, 2010

We have some great friends named Tony and Mia, and our girls go to kindergarten together.  Mia is a busy mother of three who runs her own salon four days a week.   By the time she gets home from work, the last thing she wants to do is start a home improvement project.

What I love about Tony and Mia’s home is that every time you visit, you feel the warmth within, from the spice colors on the walls, to the rich and rustic wood pieces, to their doggie wagging her tail to greet you.  Their house definitely feels like a ‘Home Sweet Home’ and that’s why we love to visit.

So when I was in her family room the other day, Mia asked me what to do with her oak fireplace surround.  She wasn’t sure if she wanted to replace it or stain it, but she knew she didn’t care for the natural oak finish.  The wood’s tone clashed with her dark wood floors and furniture, but overall it had really classic lines and was in great shape.

As I leaned in, I could swear I heard the mantel whisper, “Paint me, I beg you.”  So I recommended we paint it white to coordinate with the trim and lighten up the wall.  Plus, a white fireplace mantel is simply timeless.  So in less than four hours, I gave her fireplace wall a fresh new look with just some primer, paint, and accessories.

Here’s Mia’s Before:

mia before

Here’s Mia’s After:

fireplace after from right

Splendid, right ?

The difference is all in the details !

Here were the three areas we needed to address:

problem areas

Transforming Mia’s Fireplace:

zinsser primer I’ve refinished natural oak before – I restained and glazed my oak staircase banister last year to give it an espresso finish, and I’ve also primed and painted oak white.

Modernizing Mia’s mantel required one coat of primer and two coats of paint.

The first thing I did was tape off the mantel surround and then I gave it a coat of oil based primer.

I love Zinsser in the brown can because it coats oak pretty well, and fills in a lot of the grainy texture that’s the nature of this kind of wood.

Next, I tackled the brassy doors with some of Rustoleum’s high heat paint, the same paint I used on my fireplace last year.

high heat paint

Two coats of this formula, applied with a small paintbrush changed the look of the doors completely!

So long shiny brass trim.

mia before up close

Hello seamless black !

mantle up close from right

I primed her mantel on Friday, and then came back on Saturday to lightly sand it, then give the mantel two coats of paint.   The white paint is ‘Swiss Coffee’ in semi-gloss, and her existing wall color is Benjamin Moore’s ‘Butternut Squash’.

I found Mia a new mirror at my latest source for inexpensive home decor, one that pulls in natural light from the opposite wall of windows.

mias before text

fireplace after text

Mia absolutely loves the look of her ‘new’ fireplace !

Don’t you love the spice colors in her home, and the contrast between the white and chocolate ?  Now her granite tiles pull all her colors together, from the gorgeous ‘Butternut Squash’ paint on her walls, to the white fireplace mantle, to the black fireplace box.

fireplace mantle corner

From bland to grand, all with a little paint and accessories !

What about you, what’s on your list to refresh right now ?


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