“I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore, I want them to turn black”
– The Rolling Stones
This song has been playing over and over in my head for the last few weeks. Well, really just the first line because I’m horrible about remembering song lyrics and I end up repeating the same line over and over and over…
At ANY rate, I had a crazy idea about transforming the living room and it involves black paint!
On move in day the living room was feeling awfully white.
I knew that our furniture and rug would warm up the space, but I was still feeling that the fireplace could have a little more “Pop” and maybe even serve to cozy up the room a bit.
A close friend (with super interesting modern taste and a degree in architecture) made her classic home feel super sleek and contemporary by painting her mantle jet black and leaving the walls a stark white. I wish I had a photo, but instead I can show you an example from Pinterest.
Now, I’m not NEARLY as brave or confident as this friend, but she certainly inspired me to think outside the box when it comes to classic architecture.
Even if I’d been brave enough to paint my mantle something other than white, I felt like I’d also need to paint the bookcases that border it. That just seemed like a huge risk, a huge project – and something I’d either totally regret or want to repaint in a few years.
That said, I did see a few photos that made me ponder the possibilities:
Even though I ultimately decided not to paint my woodwork and bookshelves, I did notice one commonality of the above photos that drew me into the room: CONTRAST! These rooms POP because the mantle and the surround have contrast of color and/or material.
This contrast makes the fireplace a focal point!
All I needed to do to my fireplace, was create contrast between the woodwork of the mantle and the brick surround.
Luckily, some other brave soul took the first step of painting over raw brick, so I didn’t feel nearly as bad about slapping on another layer of paint. If I totally hated it, I could paint it back white – but covering raw brick might have been scary enough to make me balk.
I was really leaning towards a matte black, but I was terrified that I’d regret my decision. I needed to (1) research, (2) get approval, and (3) test out my idea before I laid a speck of paint on that brick!
I needed to find at least a few examples of a painted black fireplace surround that created a classy and stylish focal point.
Of all these photos, this final one was the most compelling. It had enough similar elements: white built ins on either side, a moderately sized painting above the mantle instead of an oversized flat screen TV, and an overall bright, clean, and classy feeling that let me know that I was on the right track!
This step was a bit trickier because it involved presenting a risky idea (that I was falling more in love with every moment) to my friends and family to see if they complimented it or cringed. Thank goodness, my husband was on board. My close friends also saw my vision, but my Mom was NOT into it. I trust her opinion the most and it made me slow down and reassess to know that she thought it would be a huge mistake.
In hopes of winning my Mom over — because I REALLY wanted her to agree to my plan — I found a roll of black chalkboard paper (thank you Target Dollar Spot) and scotch taped it up across my white bricks. I needed to step back, look at the whole room with a black surround, and see how it looked.
I thought the black surround totally worked, but I wasn’t sure what to do about the painted hearth. Do I paint it black too?!
I put the rest of the black paper on the ground, took a step back, and tried to visualize it.
To me, it was a pretty easy decision.
No black paint on the hearth, but I was still feeling confident about the dark surround. I decided to live with it for a few days before I did anything permanent.
After a few days of smiling at my temporary solution, I headed to Home Depot in search of a matte black paint sample. (Lowe’s only sells semi-gloss samples. I didn’t want to buy a whole pint of matte black for such a little project). I brought along my chalkboard paper, so I could find a black that had just the right slightly charcoal hue.
I matched the paper to a dark charcoal called “Peppercorn Black”, but the “charming” paint man mixed me plain BEHR “Black” instead. Of course, I didn’t realize this until I had completely covered the white bricks with a thick coat of the wrong paint. UGH!
With just 4 dollars of paint, an old paintbrush, and one nap time later, the fireplace was looking like this:
The rest of nap time was consumed with me crouching at odd angles and attempting to fill in all the tiny white dots that were making me crazy!
My iPhone camera had a really hard time focusing on the dark bricks with the bright sunshine streaming in the back windows. The photos are not up to snuff, but the contrast is still visible and you can definitely see the transformation in the before and afters.
I’m still wondering if I should go back for my original choice of a slightly charcoal paint color so the surround feels a little softer. Regardless, the transformation feels pretty dramatic and it only cost me 10 bucks and 1 nap!
Just for fun, here’s a wider shot (with toddler and toys included) to show how the room really feels when it’s being lived in.
As usual, there are so many things still to be done in this room: new couch, fresh rug, paint back of bookshelves, candles on candlesticks!, artwork, new ceiling fan?! and more I’m sure!
What do you think of the black surround? Is it too dark for your taste? And no, my Mom never did come around on this project…
Have you painted anything black lately? I’m day dreaming of painting my french doors black…but that’s a whole other post for another day!