Well HELLO all! I’ve been working my butt off on the fireplace this week! I don’t have a totally finished product to show you but I’m SO excited about the direction it’s going so I wanted to share. I went a little out of my comfort zone and I love it.

Sunday I had had enough with the unfinished mess and started tackling the fireplace and built ins. I thought it would take me a couple days max – HA! I’m on day five and have a good four days of work left. I way underestimated how much needed to be done.

It’s a beast – the fireplace is massive and the built ins have a lot of surface area to paint as well. On Sunday this is how the one holding our TV components looked:

built ins by TV

Hot mess. I’ve had guests and friends over for weeks with it looking like that and I could have cared less. All the sudden on Sunday I couldn’t take it one more minute. It’s how I roll.

And yes, I was equipped with a cherry icee. Ignore the poor plant that has become a snack for the cats.

My first order of business was to fill alllllllll the holes:

trim on built ins

I didn’t worry about all the cracks because those were getting covered later. But I filled and sanded, then caulked the whole thing top to bottom.

THEN came the priming:

short built ins by fireplace

I got all that done in the first day – by the second day I had my white semi gloss paint in hand and started painting the first coat…but stopped myself. You can’t tell from the pic above because the board and batten isn’t done over there – but it was a whole lotta WHITE. I love white trim as much as anybody (well, more than anybody), but the white built ins against the white board and batten was feeling a little blah.

I had been playing with the idea of painting the whole thing out in a light gray all along. Somewhere along the line I talked myself out of it – I didn’t feel like it would look right without enough contrast. But I had that white paint in my hand and couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. I wanted this area to really pop and as it was it wasn’t happening.

I had an idea percolating in my head and looked back through some pictures I had saved to get up the guts to follow through. When I saw this photo I had bookmarked the decision was made:

19mebeckdesign (source)

GoodNESS people. That is stunning! I’m so obsessed with contrast anyway – white trim against a dark wood floor, black door against white trim…so this is right up my alley.

I was sold. The bonus was that I already had the paint – I LOVE the Peppercorn color I used on our master bedroom wall: IMG_8768And it looks identical to the gray in that photo!

This family room gets LOADS of light now that the wall is down. It’s glorious. I’m not worried about the room feeling dark with all the natural light and especially not with the mostly white walls throughout the whole space:

board and batten

So I put a coat of the gray on – and I was a little nervous but loved it. I started installing the decorative trim and fell in love a little more:

trim on fireplace

And then with another coat I was head over heels:

gray fireplace

Oh my goodness – it is a step out of my norm but I’m loving it.  I think doing something that feels a little uncomfortable at first is so important to do in your home as well as in life. At least once and a while. :)

It still needs another coat – the paint I had is an eggshell finish so I’m grabbing a quart of the same color in semi gloss to finish it up. After all this work I don’t want to worry about scuffs (which are a lot more noticeable on a darker paint):

gray fireplace

The past couple of days I’ve been working on the cabinet doors – can’t wait to show you those too! And I still need to paint the inside of the cabinets but that may just happen later (cause my hands and wrists are screaming uncle):

gray fireplace with built ins

Today I’m finishing up the doors and then I’m hoping to get started on the tile for the surround. I’ve been trying to decide on one of these for weeks:

gray and white marble tiles

The first and third from the left have been around the whole time – the subway and the hexagon were later additions. :)

It’s now down to the the subway:

marble subway tile

Or the herringbone:

marble herringbone tile

The herringbone has always been my favorite but I’ve been intimidated by the small cuts I’d have to do. But as I was holding it up to take this picture I realized I could just cut it down so it fits centered – I can just cut each side off evenly and installed it that way. No small cuts needed to fill in all those spots. I could do the same for the top as well so I don’t risk losing a finger. ;)

So…now that I realized that I think I’m going for the herringbone. Ugh, I’m pretty sure. They are both classic designs so it’s a hard decision.

There you go! More progress – and I went dark! After the I finish up the doors and the tile (over the next few days), then I’ll focus on the wall treatment above the fireplace and around the TV. Then I’ll give everything one final coat…and I’ll be done! I’m not stopping till I get there – but it will probably be next week. I’ve got my 20 year reunion this weekend so I’ll be taking some time out to party. :)

Could you do a color other than white on built ins or a fireplace? It’s not for everyone – but it does give it some drama and certainly makes it the centerpiece of the room. I don’t know if I could do a whole room in such a dark color but little bits of it make me giddy.