One of the first things I attacked when we bought our house was the fireplace. Since it was my first, I wanted it to be pretty. And this one wasn’t:
I couldn’t begin to comprehend the sick, vile mind that painted that black section. It’s like a procenimum arch for a baby crematorium. Even more egregious was the brown concrete hearth with scored lines to make it look like tile. You can’t tell from the pic, but the slab is buckling, as if the floor is trying to hurl it up.
Years before, I’d become pals with a stone guy in the Bronx when I bought a ho’ bunch of granite for our first house. Mr. Mike ran JP Marble & Granite, a desolate, sun-bleached warehouse across the river from Rikers Island. So one of the first things I did after we bought the new house was have him help me pick out the prettiest marble in the world:
It was also around this time that I first glimpsed a brick wall painted metallic, at Adrienne’s Pizza Bar in NYC. It was so phenomenally awesome looking, I knew immediately how I was going to deal with the mantel.
Historically, metallic paint (popular with Art Deco design, and on cars) was made with metal particles, and there were issues because of it–with the actual weight of the paint, and also the integrity of the color/sheen once the metals were exposed to air. It was also highly toxic. Today’s metallic paints are made with stone mica (a nontoxic, lightweight mineral) instead of actual metal. And the paints are water based, so you don’t get brain damage while you’re painting.
From what I understand from my limited experience with metallic paint, if you’re going to paint a large, flat area (like a ceiling or wall), the surface should be pristine (metallic paint will highlight every ding, chunk, and insect leg), and your best bet is to have it professionally sprayed on so you don’t end up with brush or roll marks. This gets expensive, so, for me, doing a small, rough area that I could hand-brush was pretty low-risk.
At first I thought I wanted the mantel to be a light pewterish-gold. I went with Ben Moore’s Brushed Gold, but it turned out a lot darker than it appeared on the swatch:
When it was finally time to actually use the fireplace, I was a tiny bit worried there’d be some weird reaction between the paint and the heat, but the bricks don’t get that warm, so it was never an issue.
Here’s the fireplace now (in gratuitous kitty POV), in full blazing action: