Friday, February 24, 2012

Quick and Dirty

So, what did you do on your day alone? I have been asked that by several people. So here it is, what I spent nearly the entire day Sunday doing. Minus time I spent reading and of course taking a nap. 

We moved into this house almost 4 years ago today. At the time we did what was absolutely necessary for us to live in the house and left everything else alone. One of those things that we pretty much ignored was the fireplace. We painted the outside of it with one coat of paint, and called it done. For the past 4 years I had lived with this:

Not just the lovely brass and chain fire 'screen', but a fireplace filled with old ashes. I read in some magazine that ash was actually good for the garden. I envisioned myself carrying out a bucket of ash and spreading it in my garden. Being clean and earth friendly all at the same time!  When I mentioned this idea to Brandon he laughed and said, good luck. Then he said I would probably need a chisel to get the ash out. That made no sense because ash is soft and fluffy. What would I need a chisel for?

I am also a dedicated reader of this blog and have watched them paint an entire fireplace, including the inside. Before beginning this project I went to their website for some 'how to' advice. But there was too many words so instead I just looked at the pictures and called it good.  Clean, prime, paint, what more could there be to do?

Notice the lovely fingerprints, a left-over from my last painting project.
I ran into my first snag when I went to remove the screen. It wasn't just screwed in, it was bolted.  And it was really dirty. At this point, I wished Brandon was home so I could call for a strong man. But then I thought of my mom. Moving all her furniture by herself, check. Refinishing hardwood floors, check. Painting the outside of her house, twice, check.  What would my mom do in this situation? Well, not give up that is for sure. At one point, I wondered if I had any bolt cutters to use.

I decided to put aside the removing of the screen and just focus on cleaning out the inside.  What I thought was layers of ash, was actually dust and dog hair. It was at this point that I realized I would not be shoveling this into my garden. I actually went and got the shop vac instead. Not nearly as earth friendly, but much easier to clean up this mess. I also realized I would need to do some prep in the living room, as this was becoming a much messier project then I had first intended. I looked for a drop cloth, but couldn't find one, so I settled for a bed sheet instead.

After the initial excitement of vacuuming up the gunk, I realized I was going to need a chisel, or maybe a hammer. Once the dog hair and dust was gone, I was left with a hard mass of what, I'm not really sure. Back to the basement I went to find some appropriate tools. It was also at this point that I realized I would probably need a mask. I had my head stuck in this old fireplace breathing in old dust and who-knows what else.  Of course, I couldn't find the masks either. I went to my scrap bin and found an old undershirt of Brandon's. I tore it up, tied it around my face, and viola! A mask of sorts. Althought, later I couldn't decide what was worse, breathing in all the dust or breathing through the armpit of an old undershirt?

If nothing else, this post should prove how absolutely lazy I am when it comes to doing projects right.  It takes too much time to really prep and locate the right equipment, so I just fake it and hope for the best.  Here are the tools I scrounged up to clean out this fireplace.  That shovel, was the only one I could find because the garage key wasn't in its usual place.  Instead I just looked in the yard for a shovel that had been discarded by the boys.

Fast forward a few hours and this is what I had accomplished:

I finally got the screen off by using a socket wrench. Actually I don't know if that was what it was, but it worked and the screen came down and I was very proud of myself. Although, since then the old screen has found a new home on our picnic table. Not sure what to do with it now.

One of the ideas I had going into this was to clean and paint the inside of the fire box and make it a reading 'nook', again, WHAT WAS I THINKING?! I blame this website, because they always have great pictures of cool things people did with their fireplaces. Early on in the cleaning process I realized that there was no way I was going to wash the sides of this, or the bottom for that matter. I never managed to get all of the gunk up, so the bottom is uneven and the sides are covered in soot. I did one test swipe and called it done. So much for a reading/toy nook for the boys.

Oh, but wait, what is that? BLACK?! Yep, I painted the old 50's style brick, black. A shiny black, at that. I wasn't sure how it would work, but since our trim is a creamy white, I wanted a color to make the brick stand out.  I loved the paint, but was not happy with the giant hole I now had. I once again searched for ways to make this more attractive. Pinterest, was not helpful, but I did find pictures of candles and mirrors inside a fireplace, more pictures of books stacked inside, and of course the obligatory wine storage. None of those worked for me.  I would love to put something in there, but I need a flat base to work with. I am hoping my somewhat handy-hubby could cut a piece of plywood to size. But that still left me with a hole to fill.

After some moving around of things I already had on hand, this is what I ended up with. I was hoping the plants would deter the boys from climbing inside. Instead they seem to think it is an invitation to play 'jungle'. Oh well, it used what I had on hand and did not require any trips to Target.

I picture my boys sitting in the little chair while reading their library books. Still waiting for that.

And yes, the green fingerprints are still there. Hey, I can only accomplish one thing at a time!

And that is the story of how I spent my kid-free, husband-free day off.


Hobbsicle said...

Amy, that looks awesome!

Michelle said...

That is how I do projects! Too many words, the pictures look easy, and I never start out prepared. BTW, I'd say breathing through the shirt (armpit or not) is better than breathing that gunky grime! It looks lovely. Can't wait to see it!