A dirty and tired orange brick fireplace gets a brightened up, weathered lime washed brick makeover, plus a full tutorial to do it yourself.
Welp… I finally worked up the nerve and faced my fears, y’all.
The dirty orange brick fireplace is GONE! I mean, I didn’t go all dragon-level destruction on it (who watched GoT last night?!), the fireplace is still there and all, but it’s looking waaaaay different.
See that sooty brick action? I wanted to love it. I really did. And I tried my best to accept it the way it was.
I sat out with good intentions thinking I’d just scrub it down like crazy and see how I felt about it after.
All it takes is a spray bottle, some white vinegar, a heavy duty scrub brush, and lots and lots of elbow grease.
Just mix 1 part white vinegar with 1 part water in a spray bottle, saturate the dirty brick with it, and scrub scrub scrub. Good as new brick!
But then I still wasn’t totally in love.
For years, I’ve been pinning German smeared and white washed and lime washed brick left and right on Pinterest telling myself that one day I was actually going to find the perfect brick project to try out one of them.
But German smear seemed a tad more complicated than I was willing to attempt. And white washing just didn’t quite have enough texture. As much as I didn’t really love the brick, I still wanted a little of it showing. (If you are up to the German smear challenge though, here’s a great tutorial for how to do that.)
So lime wash was the happy in-between.
Supplies Used: (Some affiliate links are provided below for convenience.)
- Romabio Classico Limewash in Bianco White
- 2 spray bottles (one for cleaning with 1:1 vinegar solution, one filled with plain water for limewashing)
- White vinegar
- Heavy duty scrub brush
- Mixing bucket
- Power drill with paddle drill bit (or stir stick will work too)
- Masonry brush
- Plenty of clean cotton rags
- Frog Tape (or whatever painter’s tape you prefer)
- Plastic drop cloth
I had no idea there was a difference between white washing and lime washing before doing lots of research on the two when trying to figure out my big plan for this fireplace. White wash uses paint and water to create an evenly lightened brick finish; lime wash uses slaked lime and water to create a more coarse, chalky weathered look and was used for centuries in Europe before paint was invented.
So I was all, “Lime wash, you have my heart.”
I found this lime wash called Romabio at Home Depot when looking around for the best way to tackle the job, and they had a website with a gallery full of gorgeous fireplace and house exterior makeovers and some helpful video tutorials to ease me into it. (This is in no way sponsored. The Romabio people have no idea I exist. I just really liked how this whole project went down.)
This is what the lime looked like straight out of the container, just this goopy putty-like stuff… ya know, very technical terms. 😉
1. I dumped the entire liter into a mixing bucket and followed the instructions on the back of the Romabio container, adding equal parts water. I didn’t have a paddle drill bit to attach to my drill, so I went old school mixing it up with a paint stir stick for quite a while. The drill bit would work a whole lot faster though.
2. I taped off our mantel and hardwood floor with the Frog Tape and put down plastic drop cloth for extra protection first. (And starting with clean brick is a must, so make sure you go through those steps I shared above to remove any soot.)
3. Then, using a spray bottle filled with just water, I sprayed down all of the brick to keep it damp.
4. And then brush brush brushed the lime wash all over the brick, making sure the brick stayed damp as I worked.
Once it was all brushed, I let the lime wash sit for about 30 minutes until it was mostly dry to the touch.
And then the real action could start.
5. Using the spray bottle of water again, I distressed one brick at a time, spritzing it with 1-2 squirts of water, and blotting and rubbing with the rags to remove as much of the lime wash as I wanted. (This video is very helpful to show the whole process.)
It was a long process of spraying and blotting and rubbing, and there’s really no science to it other than just work away at it until you get the look you want.
Then voila! Lime washed brick. I’m sure it would have been an entirely different look if I had only brushed the lime wash on the mortar or only on some of the bricks instead of all of them. Part of me wishes I had tried that first just out of curiosity.
But I still love how it turned out.
At some point, we plan to update the gas logs already in the firebox, clean it out entirely, scrub it down, and paint the inside with a high-heat paint. Until that point though, I’m not going to mess with it.
It’s taken me a while to get used to, like catching yourself in the mirror after getting a super duper short haircut. But it has brightened up our living room so much and finally feels like it fits.
We still have minute details like light switch covers (while we get electrical work done all over the house), and we still have a bare wall begging for art on one side of the room. But this spot is definitely my favorite one in the house now.
If you caught the news on my Instagram feed last week, you might already know too that Better Homes and Gardens is coming to do a photo shoot in this room with Robert and me in a few days. Whaaaat?!
I’ll be sharing all kinds of sneaks about that on my Instagram Stories this Friday.
And since I’ve been cleaning this place top to bottom in preparation, I’ve been washing all of our IKEA sofa and chair slipcovers, which has reminded me to give y’all a status report about those. Spoiler alert: They’re the cat’s meow and bee’s knees and dog’s pajamas all rolled up into one.
If you want to know about any of the other projects that have gone into this living room so far, you can check out all of them here:
- Modern Colonial Living Room Design Plan
- High Contrast Paint Makeover
- IKEA Farlov Sofa and Stocksund Chairs Review
- Botany Art Gallery Wall
- DIY Window Seat from a Kitchen Cabinet
And if you want to know about any of the sources we’ve used in this space, here’s the full list so far:
- Wall color: Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee in eggshell
- Trim color: Benjamin Moore Simply White in semigloss
- Door/window color: Benjamin Moore Wrought Iron in semigloss
- White slipcovered sofa
- Gray slipcovered armchairs
- Ceiling fan
- Wicker trunk
- End table
- Coffee table (similar)
- Blue overdyed rug
- Blue pillows
- Ivory and metallic pillows
- Cream woven pillow
- Hyacinth tray
- Round basket (similar)
- Lemon floral arrangements
- Gray striped throw blanket
- Cream knit throw blanket
- White curtains
Can you believe this before and after? I mean…
Now that we’re creeping into September, I’m just itching to decorate this room for fall. But I think I’m going to sit and relish this view for a little while longer. It’s taken so much determination to get here, and I’m so thankful that Robert, Olivia, and I can finally enjoy it.
So all of this begs the question… are you Team Orange Brick? Or Team Lime Washed Brick? Or are you somewhere in the white wash / German smear camp? Seriously, who knew there were so many opinions to be had about brick?