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Nope, this is not a reveal, but an exciting post nonetheless. We are making progress on our home! Several weeks ago, we moved into our (slightly unfinished) home build, and have been putting on the finishing touches ever since. I shared a post right when we moved in of almost everything that still needed to be completed, but let’s park it in the living room today.
When we moved in, we set up our furniture right away. It didn’t take that long, mostly because I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to use and where. And the space isn’t huge, so it’s not like there were endless combinations to try.
Do you see the biggest thing that feels unfinished about the room? Yep, it’s staring right at you. The fireplace!
We had gotten a quote for stucco (5k) but were hesitant to make it official. Mostly because the fireplace finishing didn’t *need* to be done; it’s just aesthetics. And since we are currently (there are electricians in our basement as I write this!) finishing our basement, a lot of our house budget is tied up there.
But also, there’s always a small part of us that thinks this: What if we just did it ourselves?
We lived it with the fireplace unfinished for a few weeks, and it’s certainly not the end of the world, but we talked about how much better the space would feel if it were finished. So we circled back around to the conversation of the fireplace, debating if we should do this project ourselves or not, tossing around thoughts such as:
This is the main focal point of our living room – what if we mess it up and regret it?
It’d be really nice to not have to wait to get on someone’s schedule. We’d be able to get it done sooner.
$5,000 to finish the fireplace is worth it.
$5,000 to finish the fireplace is a lot of money.
It’d be great if we didn’t have to have a crew of workers in our living room for days. That wouldn’t be very fun to live around.
Back and forth. Back and forth we went. Ultimately, we decided to do it ourselves!
If you’ve done any type of extensive renovation or have built a home, I’m sure you can relate and agree that at one point, you get so tired of spending money. Though budget played a part, ultimately, what confirmed the decision was that we decided the risk was worth the reward.
It would cost us about $200 in materials and a long weekend of our time, and if we really hated it, we could take it down and hire someone to do it next year. But at least we’d have something nicer to look at in the meantime, and I really didn’t want a crew on our main level with us if we could help it. I’m very grateful anytime we can have someone professional do work for us, but having a crew take over our upstairs, as well as the basement, is a little much for us.
The other reason that we thought we could take it on was that I didn’t even want stucco. I wanted a plaster look with texture. Something that didn’t look too new or perfect. I wanted it to subtly add texture and interest to the space, while still being a neutral backdrop, which is why we didn’t opt for stone. Stone is so, so lovely, but leans more rustic, and I wasn’t looking to make that type of statement.
After researching our desired outcome and fireplace safety requirements, we came up with a loose game plan. By the way, this is not a tutorial, we are just simply sharing our experience!
First, we covered the framing in cement board and drywall. The cement board went around the gas insert for fire safety, and the drywall went everywhere else. This part wasn’t too bad, actually. Not pictured below, but we also added corner beads, and it made the project look nice and sharp.
Next is where things got a little fuzzy – on my end. I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to finish it. I knew I wanted a textured plastered look, but I wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to achieve that.
First, I experimented with creating a texture out of joint compound. We covered the entire fireplace in joint compound (except we used mortar on the cement board) and let it dry overnight.
The next day, we could see that it added texture, but it didn’t add color depth. So we decided to go with actual plaster. Now, I had read a blog post warning people not to use Plaster of Paris, and well, they were right – ha! That’s what we used and we made it through, but it was pretty difficult to use and definitely made the project harder.
We applied Plaster of Paris to the entire fireplace, purposefully trying to add texture with a “swooshing” motion.
We added some. Took it away. Sanded. Added more. It was a process to get a “perfectly imperfect” look. Also, we worked the majority of the time with the can lights on as the can lights provided the harshest look to the fireplace. In the natural light, it’s so pretty and soft, and we figured, hey, if it looks good with all the can lights shining on it then it’s a success!
We waited for the last coat of plaster to dry, but were feeling overall optimistic about it! Once it dried, I got my paint supplies ready and did a small test patch, only to realize that painting was a bad idea. It took away the color depth I wanted and made the finish look flat.
So we left it the natural color of the plaster, cleaned it up, and caulked the edges.
If you’re wondering where the mantel is, I decided on no mantel for now. I wasn’t sure if the line of the mantel would compete with the natural taper line of the fireplace. Also, I like the simpler look, and I have my dresser right next to it which I get to decorate. We can always add a mantel later, but I did want my big gold mirror to take center stage!
And that’s where we are now!
We were nervous and hesitant to do this ourselves, but we are really, really pleased with the outcome. The biggest thing is that the living room now feels almost complete and you don’t have a big hole in the wall staring at you. We saved over $4,800, got it completed in about 3 days, I got to control the finish, and we didn’t have to live around a crew.
We wouldn’t have attempted this project if we were building it from scratch. I think it turned out well because the framing was already done, not to mention the electricity, HVAC, and gas line. If it were up to us to get the framing perfect, I don’t think it would have gone very well, but overall, I am glad that we decided to take this project on! Hopefully, it doesn’t give us false confidence for future house projects that may arise. 😉
We still have finishing touches for this room and we’re waiting on the gas insert panels, but bit by bit we are finishing this space and this house. These pictures were just taken on my phone, but a full reveal and sources will come later!
Want more house inspiration? Keep reading: Design Inspiration From Newport: 15 Ways Newport Inspired My Design Aesthetic