A Christmas Makeover For An Outdated Faux Fireplace

Courtney_Christmas_1975That’s me! Christmas 1975.

(Stop trying to do the math! 🙂

That was 38 years ago.)

A lot more than my hair-do has changed in 38 years.

See that fireplace in the background?

That baby was state-of-the-art in its day.

When I rediscovered it on a “shopping trip” to my Mom’s basement a few years ago, its plastic bricks and cellophane yule log were as outdated as those red-and-white-checkered bell bottom overalls I’m wearing in the photo.

Although the fireplace was old and ugly, it was the perfect size for an empty little corner in my living room that needed an interesting piece of furniture. (And the price is always right whenever I go “shopping” for stuff in Mom’s basement.)

I originally tried spray painting the mantle white, but I didn’t prep it and the weather was so cold the paint didn’t stick very well. So the fireplace has been sitting in my living room for far too long waiting to make it to the top of my Projects I Will Get Around To Doing One Day List.

A few weeks ago, I realized I did not want that old, ugly, halfway-painted-white hunk of plastic in the background of all of our holiday photos this year. This project jumped all the way to the top of my list, but time was short and the weather was too cold to try spray painting again.

American Paint Company came to the rescue! These 100% all-natural paints stick to just about anything (including plastic fake fireplace bricks). They don’t require any prepping or priming, and they do not contain any harmful chemicals so I could work inside on a cold winter day without choking on any stinky fumes.

bordelloMy original plan was to paint the fireplace white, but American Paint Company has a palette of more than 50 beautiful colors so I decided to go with something bolder. For Plan B, I chose Born on the 4th, the darkest of the APC blues and a close match to the color of my sofa. I also chose Bordello, a racy hot pink, to accent the cool appliqués on the sides of the mantel.

I started by painting the appliqués and the edges of the mantel in Bordello.

Then I planned to paint over the entire piece with Born on the 4th and distress so a little pop of pink peeked through the cobalt blue.

As I was applying the blue, Plan C popped into my head.mantle_painting

Wouldn’t it look pretty if the pink swirled through the blue ALL OVER the top of the mantle instead of just along the edges? So I painted the top of the mantle a base coat of the pink Bordello. While it was still wet, I applied the blue here and there, thick in some spots, barely there in others. The two colors overlapped in some areas to create a purpley haze.

When I stepped back to look at the entire mantle, it seemed a little bit “too pink”.

I wanted the hot pink to be more subtle. (Well, as subtle as hot pink can be!) No problem! I just came back with more of the blue (then a little more pink, then a little more blue again) until I achieved a balance between the two colors that looked wonderful to me. The entire process took about 30 minutes.

I let the mantle dry overnight before distressing the appliqués with a damp washcloth so a lot of the pink and a little bit of my white spray paint showed through.


Then I sealed the entire piece with American Paint Company’s Top Coat, another all-natural product that is easy to apply and can be done on my kitchen counter with no harmful chemicals or fumes. I squirted some Top Coat into an old yogurt container, added a little bit of Born on the 4th paint (like two or three drops) and mixed it together before brushing it on.

topcoatThis was the magic potion!

It did not cover up the pink, but it toned down the color just enough to get the “subtle hot pink” look I was going for.

That’s the nice thing about paint. You can change your mind, change direction and keep tweaking the project until you get a look you love. The final product was not what I originally had in mind, but I am really happy with how it turned out.

more_mantle_closeupFor the bottom half of the fireplace, I painted the bricks with Born on the 4th.fireplace_bricks

This paint is so thick, it covered up all of that brick red plastic IN ONE COAT!!

No prepping or priming and it covered IN ONE COAT!

This was a huge time-saver for me and allowed me to finish the project well ahead of schedule.

I brushed the paint thickly onto the bricks to make them an opaque blue. (No hot pink here!)

I dry brushed the “grout” lines so some of the original color showed through to give the bricks some dimension. I finished by sealing the bricks with more Top Coat.

“Wow!” my husband said when he saw it.

He is not the kind of guy who ways “Wow!” very often or who gets excited about hot pink-and-blue-painted-fake-fireplaces.

At first I wasn’t sure if it was a good “Wow!” or a you-are-crazy-wow, but then he said something else.

“That looks one-THOUSAND times better than it did!”

Here’s the original fireplace from Christmas 1975 again:


And here’s the new look in my living room, Christmas 2013:

fireplace_christmas_2013What projects do you have on your I Will Get Around To Doing One Day List? What are your plans for making them look one-THOUSAND times better? Please share!

3 responses to “A Christmas Makeover For An Outdated Faux Fireplace

  1. Pingback: A Tale of Two Tables—And How My 2-Year-Old Taught Me to Chill Out and Have Fun Painting Furniture With Him | All Things New Again·

  2. Pingback: How To Turn A Broken Old Lamp Into An Awesome Cake Plate | All Things New Again·

  3. Pingback: Tips for Using American Paint Company Top Coat–Part 1 | All Things New Again·

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