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Simple and easy way to transform a vintage mantel

If you are like me... 

there are quite a few things that you get a vision for 
and that speak 'potential' to you.

We have all found those treasures where that vision is crystal clear
 and there is no way that 
piece is not coming home with you. 
Other times... 
there might be that inner argument about it...
(or maybe argument with your husband.) ;)

I love things that have potential for more than what meets the eye... 
like those bottles of soap I shared last week-

or an old cottage with broken windows
missing ceilings and dark dreary knotty pine walls...

that you can see as a completely different space in your mind.

You might remember this mantel score from earlier this year.
I shared all about the  New Years Eve tale that took us through the countryside 
on the great mantel quest.

This piece did not require vision- it was amazing from the get go
and I could not get it in my car fast enough.

But a recent request for a photo shoot with it left me scratching my head as to how to get the 'look' without having to tackle a huge project.

 I needed something that 
would make it feel more like a 'real' fireplace area rather than a 'faux'
And brick came to mind of course.
But I had a super quick deadline and didn't have time to get out the mortar and stack bricks 
and build a full on legit fireplace...
 a $30 sheet of faux brick 
cut it to size 
and attached it to the mantel.


The brick was really dark- and looking a little too faux and on the new side.
It worked for one set of photos- but not for that 'antique' look they requested.
So, I grabbed a few things and got to work to 
'age' the bricks 
a bit with unsanded grout.

I know- you are thinking- why not paint? 
Well, if you paint bricks- and you don't like the look?
You are kind of stuck with painted bricks.
But grout is one of those things.

Think of 'The Karate Kid'
Wipe on, wipe off.

You can wipe it on and wipe it right back right off
if you want to leave a light layer. 
It is very forgiving when working with it.
And when it dries-there will be a light dust on the bricks so you can use a magic eraser 
and wipe it down further if you would like.

And if you don't like it- you can wipe it off completely and start over.
(though decide fairly quickly or it is going to be difficult to get off once totally dried)

For this photography piece, I did a heavy aging but I prefer a very light aged look
so, a lot of that extra mortar came right back off.
Of course- in these photos - it wasn't  totally finished- the opening was just filled in with faux brick and then stacked up with a pile of birch logs
So stay tuned for the rest of the story of the 
firebox area re-do and how it looks now. 
It might have something to do with a functioning fireplace.

But if you have a vision for bricks but need something quick and easy- 
this is a simple and way to 'get the look' with no  stacking, heavy lifting
or crazy construction involved.

I grabbed these quick photos before styling everything for the magazine
and so, the decor is minimal.
Just layers of fresh clipped lavender and smooshy roses with a few sprigs of rosemary 
with some books.

Simple and sweet. 

And here is a sneak peek of the fall photo styling I did
that I can't share everything about yet...

but I will share more of this look
and the details coming your way soon.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

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  1. The bas relief of that mantle is very beautiful. I think I would have painted the interior black to give a feeling of depth, but your solution worked well.
    That other mirror, with the ornate carving (which I believe is wood), is truly fabulous.
    We had been on the hunt for a mantle for our living room. It would have been faux. But we--I--bought a real piano instead, and as a result our budding musician has turned into an accomplished one. I don't lament the fireplace. We have four in the apartments we're renovating, but I would be afraid to burn fires there. Probably illegal anyway--middle of town. They are beautiful, though. The marble mantles are amazing. How those artisans were gifted.

    1. Love the idea of the black! They were looking for very traditional classic fireplace- so brick it was- but the black is a great idea for changing it up for a new look. Maybe I can just flip the 'brick board' around. :) Oh and yes on the marble mantels - I would LOVE one!! The mirror with the ornate carving is wood- I believe they said from the mid 1800's.

  2. Courtney! Everything you do is just beautiful! I admire your quick fixes! You have a talent for turning a problem into something amazing!

  3. That brick looks awesome already. What a great idea.