The Nuclear Option

Hi! I am EXTREMELY excited about this post. It blows the last post out of the water and basically renders it moot. You see, while I was fussing around trying to make our living room brighter despite the lack of light and the dark brick, there was one other option that Sam and I had been kicking around without being ready to pull the trigger. I give you The Nuclear Option:

Painted brick fireplace by Just Something I Whipped UpInstead of trying to mitigate the brick, we painted it white. While we were at it, we painted the walls white, got rid of the Elfa shelves that we inherited from the previous owner and painted the tv console table. The whole thing sort of snowballed – kept saying “should we paint this while it is out? – and suddenly we had a whole-room makeover on our hands.

Painted Brick Fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

Painted Brick Fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

Painted Brick Fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

Painted Brick Fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

Today I will talk about the brick painting part and cover the shelves next time.We had been hesitant to paint the brick because we do plan to sell the house at some point – it is pretty tiny – and we didn’t want to do anything that future buyers might not like. You know, the value of exposed brick and all. I was the very first thing I wanted to do when we moved in but we hemmed and hawed and put it off. If it was our “forever house” it would have been a no brainer. With the encouragement of some friends who know what they are talking about – both design and real estate wise – we decided to do it. It was not nice looking brick and the opposite wall is still (nice-looking) brick down the full length of the house. This is the view of the side of the room opposite the fireplace. Thrilling, I know. I have plans for it but have not gotten around to executing them.


And lastly, it just looks. way. better.

Now to the nuts and bolts.


  • Dropcloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • Primer (we used Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3)
  • Roller with 1″ nap for textured surfaces
  • Flat latex paint in white (we used Benjamin Moore Extra White)
  • Paint trays
  • 3″ Paintbrush (medium quality – it will probably be ruined but you don’t want hairs in the paint job)
  • 1″ Artist paintbrush
  • White paintable caulk

First we lifted off the mantel which luckily was super easy. Then we spread the dropcloth around the chimney and used painters tape to secure it. We knew we’d be painting the walls and the ceiling is already white, so we decided to skip taping those off. We rolled on a coat of primer. The thick nap picks up SO much paint. After the first coat, we decided to only use one roller because using two was a huge waste of paint. After the first coat went on, I used the larger paintbrush to get primer into the mortar lines where the roller couldn’t reach, and around the edges. Then I went back with the 1″ artists paintbrush to get the even tinier spots.


There were lots of nail holes in the chimney that became extremely prominent once the bricks were white. I filled the nail holes with paintable caulk and while I was at it, realized how much better it would look if the spaces between the chimney and the ceiling and walls were filled as well, so I went around those with caulk as well.

DSC_0739After about 2 hours we repeated the painting steps – rolled on and then touched up. The next morning, I rolled a coat of flat latex paint over the primer and touched up around the edges, but didn’t need to go back with the small paintbrush because the little crevices were already white and I couldn’t tell where I would need to touch up. Darn.

We planned to leave the apron until everything else was done so that we could stand on it while we painted the rest. However, when it came time to paint it we realized that we really liked having just a bit of the brick left. Once the paint was dry we popped the mantelpiece back on and moved on to the walls. And there you have it. I could not be happier with it. It is basically a whole new room.

DSC_0720 Painted brick fireplace by Just Something I Whipped Up

The Nuclear Option

I will be back tomorrow to tell about our awesome new shelves!



4 thoughts on “The Nuclear Option

  1. Hi Julia,
    I just showed your Grandfather all of your very creative hard work. We both marvel at the good job
    you are doing, and that you are having a good time doing it. Keep up the good work.
    Granmary and Chief

  2. Jules-
    LOVE The Nuclear Option! Very gutsy move with a huge pay-off. Can’t wait to hear about the cool shelves — by the way, room looks much bigger without the Elfa.

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