One aspect of the living room part of the job was to reset some of the brick in the firebox, and to parge the whole thing with fireclay. This made the fireplace safe to use, but I hated the look of it from the moment they did it. (we haven't had a fire in it, though ... but we could if we wanted to.) We are rarely in our living room. It was the room that had the most challenges to overcome while we were renovating, so we made the decision to close the door and deal with it later ... instead of slowing down the progress on the rest of the house.
The mantel is leaning against the wall, and the brick surrounding the firebox needs attention. These are projects for another time.
As I was looking at the ugly firebox yesterday, while in the room retrieving a couple of project pieces, I had a brainstorm ... Chalk Paint! Annie Sloan's paint would be the perfect thing to use to get rid of the ugly, just-plastered look of our antique fireplace.
I ran down to my workshop, grabbed my can of Graphite ASCP, poured some into a container and added some water (probably a 1:1 ratio), and this is the result:
The hanging chain controls the damper at the top of the flue. I bought the brass fireplace fender at a junk shop a few months ago.
Much better! Graphite is a good dark grey, which sort of simulates the look of a old smoky used fireplace. (When we actually USE this room and the fireplace, which I'm working toward doing, we can get some REAL smoky sooty stuff on there to complete the look.) The mantel is still leaning against the wall and the brick surround will wear its patchwork of crumbling plaster for the foreseeable future, but that's okay. At least the firebox itself looks better now.
It feels great to spend so little time on a nagging project, and to have it make such a difference.