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The little fireplace that could

One of my favorite books when I was little was a story about a little train.

It was a small train with a small engine
and it didn't have all the bells and whistles that those bigger, prettier,
more fancy -schmancy engines had.
But that train didn't really know that or maybe I should say
he didn't let it define who he was.

When there was another train
that was filled with toys that needed to get over a mountain but couldn't
 that small train decided to help.
He didn't know if he could pull the other train, especially up and over the mountain 
 but he wanted to try.
And so he started pulling and gaining a little traction and climbing
and the whole time he chugged along, 
he repeated his mantra:

'I think I can... I think I can.. I think I can..' 

Truly, The Little Engine That Could is a book and story that has resonated
 with me in many ways...
and I am scheming up a new series here on my blog and
you can bet that there will be more about that mantra included.

 But today it is all about a certain fireplace.
Not just any fireplace. 

This my friends
is the
  little fireplace that could.

I am unfortunately not able to join the trip this year as I have the past 2 years
Hopefully next year I will be joining them and helping out again but
 I realized that I hadn't posted the story about
the fireplace that could from last years adventure yet.

So here you go-
 A tale from a far away place long, long ago...
(okay, it was the midwest last year but who is keeping track?)

Day one 

We stopped at the local Re-Store to see if we could kick off the 5 day event with some fabulous finds
to furnish the Habitat for Humanity house.
 I had the dining room and the basement to decorate
and there was just simply nothing that was fitting my vision or idea of what I had for the spaces.
I didn't find anything that really caught my eye for the shopping credit that I had
but I had looked at a small fireplace with a missing center panel
It was way out of the $50 budget range
but when my partner MJ didn't find anything either - she offered to give me her
$50 to put towards something.

So MJ and I chatted about that broken fireplace
 and how cute it could be in the dining room or the basement
and since the credit would go to waste if it wasn't used... 
we pooled our money and said

Can I just say that at the time,
I had no idea the amount of mocking this fireplace would get?

We can be honest about it.

Yes, this fireplace looked terrible.
 No it didn't work. 
Yes, it was missing a main piece (it was there but not attached)
Yes those were absolutely faux logs and faux ash in the inside bin.
It was a faux fireplace all around. 
Not a fancy faux fireplace. 
Just a faux fireplace. 

You get me?
 Let's just say it.
It needed a lot of something -something to shine.
A lot. 
MJ and I made a quick instagram video about it as we left the store:

But you know me. 
I have that soft spot for a diamond in the rough
and this was a piece that I knew could be the piece for the small
9 x 8 dining room that had no room for a china cabinet or sideboard 

Do you get my vision?
A fireplace next to the dining table?
This fireplace next to the table?
Not so much...yet.

Day Two:

The fireplace bounced around enough that it lost it's faux log and faux ash
while in the trailer.
Saved me the work getting it apart. No big deal.

Day Three:  
After all day driving, we went to load a few pieces up and Lesley came over to me and said
that a few pieces fell off the fireplace...
A few?
Well, a few as in... maybe all of them. 
 It had fallen over and the screws  popped out 
and it was now in a very small stack of wood.
And faux fire area.
 Oy vey 

This was also the night before the big install and reveal-
and after running around like a mad woman to get the supplies at Home Depot
and bunches of flowers at the grocery store-
we arrived back at the hotel at around 11:30 pm.

I quickly changed clothes
and then went down to the parking lot to get the fireplace
 out of the trailer to see what we could do to fix it.

Uh. They weren't kidding when they said it was a pile of boards. 
oy vey again.

Yep, there it is.
That right there was what the fireplace had become.

 But how did that pile of boards
 become this fireplace in the dining room?

A lot of work, a ton of Gorilla glue and a plethora (as in half a box) of screws to reinforce it
and several extra hands to help out.
Luckily, when it fell apart, it wasn't as disastrous as it looked. 
The original screws had mostly just loosened 
that they just needed to be put back and tightened and then it was
 adding reinforcement with new ones.

From this broken, dinged up, dust covered pile of boards

to this

to this

to this

By the time we were loading everything back into the trailers at around 2:00 am to 
call it a night (for a couple hours) 
the fireplace was looking like a fireplace again.

The next morning
in between 
reupholstering dining room chairs 
wrapping books
hanging hooks and mirrors and artwork on the walls
putting drapery rods up 
grabbing my flat iron to iron fabric with (yes, it works)
having 1 or  5 (not joking!) more cups of very strong coffee
 cleaning up the table and chairs for the dining room 
that I had just seen 
for the first time that morning...

I painted a couple coats of white paint on the fireplace
and hoped that it would dry quickly in the Cincinnati humidity

And just like on those secret makeover shows on TV
at the very last minute,
in literally the half hour before the family arrived,
with not even a few seconds to spare
the paint dried enough for the fireplace to be moved upstairs to the dining room.

I quickly decorated it with stacks of books
 a mirror and chalky little vintage bottles

Along with a bundle of firewood found at a yard sale
that went inside that fire box that once held lovely faux logs and ashes.

Then I stood back and smiled at that little fireplace that could 
and we had a moment.

I was so proud of all that it had accomplished 

Even though it is still just a faux fireplace
it definitely made the room
and I love how it's path to stardom had more twists and turns than a bad mystery novel.

And that the journey took it from big time blah at 
the ReStore in Atlanta
to a pretty piece in a new home for a family.

Sniff sniff...
oh, little faux fireplace...
I thought you could.

I am looking forward to following the adventure along 
this year.

 My trip was provided for by GMC but I was not compensated to participate
As always, make sure to follow all safety guidelines when using tools
 and consult a qualified contractor for help with any projects.  
Safety first!

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  1. I think the fireplace is lovely, especially with all those old books and vintage bottles. :-)

  2. Are you a business ? Who are all those pple and why are they in what looks like a parking lot , in the night ?????

    1. And yes, we all worked in a parking lot until 2 in the morning to fix and paint everything.

    2. On my phone - sorry for the repeat reply! The people are all bloggers and we were working to fix up pieces that we found on the Worlds longest yard sale to decorate a Habitat for Humanity house as a surprise for the family moving in. Does that help?

  3. Fabulous job! The fireplace turned out great. Now I need to find one for my house :-D

  4. You thought it could and it did!!! It is luvly Courtney. Amazing redo :)

  5. Sweet endearing piece, and what a statement it makes.

    Always inspiring here.

  6. PS.... might I add its really a joyful project to be involved with and the family will be over joyed to live in the reality of what one sees in a magazine.


  7. This turned out beautiful as do all things you touch! :0) Hard work always pays off in the end! Well done!


  8. Great job Courtney! You are just like that little train from the story! Never give up, always try and make it happen! :)

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