Fireplace Facelift

Our fireplace is kind of a butterface. As in everything looks really good… but her face. (On a side note, I have never once before this post referred to our fireplace as a she. But now I feel like I have to run with it.) We love that she’s a floating fireplace. We love that her bricks go allll the way up to our ceiling. We love that she’s a sizable hefty focal point for the room. But we never really loved her face.

I guess old school brass with intricate cutouts is just not our biggest turn on.

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We weren’t sure we wanted to deal with (or spend money on) replacing the brass cover, and to be honest I wasn’t even sure if we could find the right size out there. But I had seen a few tutorials online that suggested painting the face for a quick and easy update. I was intrigued!

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I came across several different methods reading through the tutorials. Some people took the whole brass face off first and painted it outside. Some people built a big bubble/tent out of plastic sheeting to keep the spray paint in. Some people just brushed the paint on by hand. We didn’t really feel like doing any of the hard parts (building a bubble, taking the face off, or painting by hand) so we decided to leave it in place, mask off the edges, go to town on it with some spray paint, and hope we didn’t inhale too many fumes.

First we masked off the glass with frog tape and printer paper.

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Then I remembered oh yeah, maybe I should sand this a bit. For the record, I’m not sure if sanding made too much difference. I sanded the outside lightly with 220 grit, but I forgot to sand the inside of the doors and I can’t really tell a difference.

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Then we protected the brick with more tape, more paper, and some plastic. (Our fireplace stayed this way for a few weeks because we were traveling and got super busy and took a while to finally paint it. It was super not attactive).

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We picked up some Rustoleum high-heat matte black spray paint meant for painting the inside of your grill. Gotta play it safe if you plan on actually using your fireplace. If you never light it up, I guess you could paint with whatever you wanted though.

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We went with matte black instead of gloss back in the hopes that it would make the intricate cut outs less noticeable by reflecting less light. You can see in the photo below that the cut outs almost disappear when painted.

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When we were done with the outside, it was already looking way better. Mochi approved because it was black and had fuzzy edges just like her.

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At this point we got super excited because it was looking way better, and we thought we were done. Then we realize dang… it looks great with the doors closed, but as soon as we open them, more brass reveals itself!

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We still needed to spray the hinges and top and bottom sliding track as you can see in the photo above- but we also still had to paint the inside of the door frames. Which meant trying to tape off the glass from the inside. It was kind of a pain and required getting our arms tangled at some weird angles but we got her done!

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Again, after this point a couple weeks went by. Looking back, this project took way longer than expected because it just kept getting put on the back burner. Eventually the plastic around the fireplace came untaped, but we didn’t bother putting it back up since we were done painting the outside.

Painting the inside required some even more awkward angles than taping did. It helps to have a husband who is willing to stick his head into a fireplace to reach those tricky spots. As Evan spray painted, I held a couple sheets of paper on the outside of the door to block over-spray.

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Almost time for the big reveal…

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Taking off those last pieces of tape and paper was so satisfying!

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Ta-da! No more brassy scrolls! No more scrolly brass! No more brassy brassy scrolly scroll brass! We love it!

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We like that it no longer automatically dates the room like it used to. It kinda balances out some of the other black objects in the room. Can’t wait to see how it looks with a fire going this winter!

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Patch Em Up

What you’re about to read is not the most glamorous of home updates. There aren’t any beautiful “Afters,” or photos with great lighting that make you want to drop your hot pocket, put on your DIY pants, and get at it. But if you’ve been getting rain like we have down in Houston, this post could be very helpful!

Our 1978 house has T1-11 siding, which is basically cardboard. I knew pretty much nothing about siding until I started doing the research, but basically this stuff is not the best over time and if it’s not sealed by a nice paint job, water damage is gonna happen eventually. Hence the two big holes you see before you.

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Most of the time these holes don’t even show from the front of the house since they’re hidden behind a couple unruly bushes. (Dang, that is one hot mess of a photo. Crooked light and all. Eeek!)

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But hidden or not, these guys were getting splashed with water and I’m sure all the humidity wasn’t helping either. We got quotes from a couple siding replacement companies that were crazy high (thousands!), then found a handyman who said he could do it for less, but he ended up being booked for the next couple months. So we did a little research and found a way we could put a little patch on our problem.

This badass stuff.

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Basically, it’s safe for outdoor use, it’s waterproof, it goes on like spackle, and it dries rock hard. Exactly what we needed.

I waited til we had a sunny day, and before I started I wiped the whole surface down with a mixture of dawn soap and vinegar to get off all the dirt and stuff that had splashed up there. Then I scooped out a bit of the patching compound on the corner of my putty knife and went to town.

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Unlike normal spackle, this stuff is more sticky and less crumbly, kinda like marshmallow fluff. So you can more easily pack it into large holes like this one.

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There you go, all patched! Just to be safe, I did wait the appropriate drying time and give it one more passover just in case.

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I filled the other hole too, which was even easier because it was a lot smaller.

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We let it dry and after a quick coat of paint it was looking good as new!

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Now we know this is definitely not a permanent fix, but it will help keep all the rain these days out of our house. And it cost a total of $5!

Nailed It! DIY Free-Standing Nail & String Letters

You guys learned about our love of large typography when we made our DIY L.O.V.E. Marquee letters (which looked AMAZING at our wedding by the way!)

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Well the large-wooden-letter train did not stop there! We also wanted to do a large “E” and a large “K” (for Evan and Katelyn) to hang at the entrance of our venue. But it was sort of a last minute addition to the DIY to-do list (and by “last minute” I mean we still had like 2 months… I plan things very far in advance, so 2 months to go counts as last minute), so we didn’t want to take on anything too complicated.

Then I remembered seeing all those cool string & nail letters on Pinterest and it was settled! (Not sure what I’m referring too? Check out these). Of course, we had to do something a littttttle different than what was already out there. You’ll notice that most existing examples are some sort of rectangular “canvas” (wood, foam board, etc) with the nails outlining the letters. We wanted free standing letters.

First we chose a font and printed it really large, similar to how we did for the L.O.V.E. letters, across multiple sheets of paper.

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There are a couple ways to print them that way. When we did the marquee letters, we used a Windows computer which gives you the option to tile your print. You just mess with the settings in the “Page Setup.” Here are some more detailed instructions:

http://scottiestech.info/2009/08/08/how-to-easily-print-a-large-image-to-multiple-pages-in-windows/

This time we used rasterbator.net (aka the most awkward website to tell your friends to go to), which is a site that will print large scale images as multiple dots. It asks you to upload an image, set how many sheets you want it to be, and adjust the frequency of the dot grid (how tight or far apart the dots are). When you print your image, you kind of have to connect the dots (literally) to get your solid outline, but it works in a pinch if you don’t have a Windows

Once we taped together our sheets and cut out our letters, we were ready to go. Mochi wasn’t ready for us to go, but we were ready to go.

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We picked up one piece of 2 feet x 4 feet pre-sanded plywood (the same kind we used for the marquee letters), we traced out the letters, and Evan cut them with his jigsaw. Somehow forgot to take photos of this part. Then we hammered thin finishing nails at regular increments around the perimeter of the letters. Somehow forgot to take photos of that part too. Seriously, we stop blogging for a few months to plan a little wedding and all our tutorial-making skills go out the window. Anyway, here is how things were looking after the nails were in.

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We tried to get pretty close to the edge with the nails, but not tooooo close because we didn’t want the wood to split.

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In retrospect, we should have stained them before we added the nails. But the nails weren’t too hard to stain around. And since they were a dark color, any stain that got on them didn’t really show up. We used a Minwax stain in Dark Walnut and Evan swiped it on with a brush and then spread it out with an old T-shirt rag.

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Then we moved onto the E. Looking good!

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Once they were dry we took them inside to start stringing ‘em up. This was the fun part :D

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I couldn’t decide on what colors to use so I got 3 different teals and 3 different peaches to choose from. We ended up using… all of them! Yep, we got started with a teal on the E and a peach on the K and then just decided to keep going until we used up all the string because we didn’t want to go back to the store, even though the colors weren’t the same. It turned out pretty sweet though!

Below you can see the K after one color of string (it looks white in the photo but it’s actually a light peach) and again after all three colors of string were added.

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To add the string, we would tie one end tightly to a nail and just start zig zagging around, trying to get the string pretty evenly distributed around the letter. When we finished one color, we would tie it off on the closest nail and start a new color.

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Annnnnnd done! It was super fast and easy adding the string.

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The letters looked super cute at the wedding! We used fishing wire to hang them on the big wooden doors at the entrance of our venue.

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And the awesome part is that now we get to use them as art in our home! There is a lot of wedding decor that gets used on the big day and never again, but we tried to make as much as possible usable in our home after the wedding. Now we have these letters hanging on the brick in our entryway.

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You can see them here looking into our living room. (Pay no attention to those stray wires hanging from the ceiling, all will be explained in good time…)

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