Posts Tagged ‘grey stucco fireplace’

From dated to Modern-Rustic: Before and After!

 

I apologize for my hiatus which has admittedly been extensive. Post election I’ve been feeling a bit out-of-sorts somewhat subscribing to the wise words of Thumper (Bambi’s buddy), “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” I don’t know how much longer I can bite my tongue, but I do have something nice to say, something about a house I spent almost a year and a half working on and the sweet client who was gutsy enough to hire me.

 

 

You see, when I first saw the house, it looked like this upon entering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I looked like I had just swallowed a GMO watermelon! I met with the client on a Thursday and had baby Kai the following Tuesday. I was just delusional enough (high on hormones?) to say something like, “I’ll need about three weeks off after giving birth,” and my client was just crazy enough to say “Okay!” (I take this as a HUGE compliment because I had competition–he interviewed at least one other designer.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was not much about this house that was working. The entry had a bad pony wall, the living room felt cut off from the kitchen–wait until you see the kitchen (someone had a strong affinity for scalloped cabinets), and the bathrooms were…less than lovely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But almost every house has some beauty lurking beneath, so I called upon my go-to architect, Jake Niksto, to help me unearth it, and we joined forces with the adept contractor Litchfield Builders. And thus the preliminary meetings began.

 

 

 

 

 

Luckily for me, Kai arrived in late November so in between holiday this and inclement weather that, said meetings were postponed so I was able to have about two months of baby-bonding before the pencils hit the paper. And when those team meetings really got going, Kai was just little and sleepy enough that quite often I could get away with wearing him strapped to my chest as long as I kept standing and swaying. I’m sure his subconscious is filled with all sorts of interesting facts about footings and tray ceilings.

 

 

 

 

I love this rough-hewn mantel. It took the client a six-hour drive, there and back, in an oversized truck that the contractor was kind enough to loan, to retrieve this raw wood that was hernia-heavy, but I think it was worth every mile, sweaty brow, and penny! This is a double-sided fireplace so you’ll see it, in a moment, on the kitchen side, as well.

 

 

 

 

 

But first, a closeup of the concrete FireBalls, the lava rock that was placed with such care, (mini on the pan, large on the base) and a hearth fabricated from some of the coolest cement tiles I have ever seen. We searched high and low through many, many styles and color-ways of cement tile and this was the clear winner; however, if you are ever planning to use a black grout on a cement tile that has white in its design, brace yourself for a headache or, better yet, email me and I’ll tell you how we avoided turning the tiles into a smeary black dis-ass-tuh, as that person in the White House might say.

 

 

 

 

 

New French doors were installed, (landscaping happening now so please excuse the view beyond the doors), along with new ceiling registers which the contractor was able to make completely flush with the wall which was a bit more effort and money, but very aesthetically pleasing to avoid the usual over-mount overlap. We laughed that there were about four people in the world who would appreciate such a thing–and we were all standing in the same room.

 

 

 

 

 

The wood floors are California Collection Mediterranean Classics, color: Aegean. (We have the same floors at our house and I can vouch for them being quite dog and toddler proof!)

 

 

Here’s the scallop cabinetry detail in the former kitchen with some outdated tiled counters to boot.

 

 

 

 

 

And After!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m trying to give you the same vantage point in the Before and Afters, but it’s a bit tricky, because quite a few walls were removed and repositioned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The curtained door in the photograph below, for example, was swallowed up by the new laundry room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A different angle…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now switching to the other side of the kitchen, and the other side of that double-sided fireplace which we had clad in a smooth gray stucco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but up close the stucco on the fireplace has a very pretty burnished effect. We instructed the stucco guys to burnish and then burnish some more and the result is a lot like concrete, but with more depth and mottling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And who doesn’t want a wine fridge in the kitchen? Or juice-box cooler for the wee folks?

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a shot with the funky, rusty looking pendants from RH.

 

 

 

 

 

For the most part, we veered away from open shelving because storage was key, but we gave just a touch of open shelves for some pretty on-display dishes.

 

 

 

 

 

Like so…

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, before your eyes start rolling at one more gratuitous kitchen photo, let’s look into the dining room (albeit through the kitchen), shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dining room with the barn door…

 

 

 

 

 

A few people have asked about this barn door and I’ll just say it was custom, with wood sourced on that aforementioned six hour (both ways!) drive and that when it comes to barn door hardware (and so many other things, darn it), you often get what you pay for, so if you want a barn door that glides with just a gentle push from your index finger, the hardware to get is KROWNLAB. (Plus their Black Stainless finish is very good, and not at all fake-aged in appearance.)

 

 

Unfortunately there aren’t any Before photos of the laundry room because to build it, we stole some of the former kitchen space, (of which there was plenty once we bumped out to add a new dining room). Good thing we had such a clever architect!

 

 

 

 

 

 

More barn door hardware from good ol’ KROWNLAB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other side of the laundry room. (More storage!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This powder room also sprung up from borrowed kitchen space. I’m mad for this copper light from Rejuvenation and seriously considering recommending wall-mounted faucets for every bathroom remodel. Not only do they look interesting, but their position, as it relates to gravity, avoids the inevitable muck of pooled water that affects counter-mounted faucets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The business (toilet) side. And more cement tile. The client and I were big fans but do remember that you need to seal cement tile very, very well to keep it looking clean and especially to avoid tinkle stains, ahem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On to more bathrooms… Here is the Before of the guest bathroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And After!

 

 

 

 

The other side Before…

 

 

 

 

And After!

 

 

 

 

 

The master bath Before (with a little demo begun)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

And After…

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was as custom-built vanity and the plan was to paint it a very bright, knock-you-over-the-head-in-a-good-way blue since every other component of the bathroom would be chrome, glass, and a variation of white. Color winner: Benjamin Moore’s Old Navy.

 

 

 

The Toto Washlet Bidet Toilet. Prior to ordering, we researched that it has been called “a life changer”. My client has reported back: “Affirmative”.

 

 

 

We used a special stucco (Merlex SuperShower) to waterproof the walls on the shower side so we could keep the wall looking like a regular painted wall instead of tiling it, yet still ensuring it was waterproof. We also skipped glass walls and doors for the shower (only using a very minimal glass fin) and sloped the floor so water from the shower would head straight to the drain so we could avoid a dam/curb on the floor. This let a somewhat tight space feel as open and airy as possible and gave the European Shower feel that the client had requested.

 

 

There is also the cool factor of this Japanese Soaking tub giving this Euro-bath some Asian flair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I styled the niche with a bar of soap and some greenery, but we all agreed this would be the perfect spot to rest a glass of wine–or sake. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look, Ma! No walls (or dam/curb)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there you have it! Next on the list is adding furniture. But, for now, a parting shot of the charming cement tile…and me clicking my heels that the stars aligned and somehow let me simultaneously pull off the birth of my first baby and a client’s house (since this house was fully gutted and reborn in many ways)!

 

 

PS, When the Alec Baldwin skits aren’t even enough to settle the sense of unease, I try to remember the good people (the ones who were willing to hire the pregnant designer, haha) and that instead of biting my tongue, it might be better to share the nice things, the good stories, to remind ourselves of our strength, our value, and our conviction that good must triumph over evil. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy decorating!

 

 

 

From white brick to grey stucco: our fireplace’s metamorphosis!

 

Our fireplace has been reincarnated from plain white brick to grey stucco. But before you start imagining a grainy, textured surface–nope, not that kind of stucco. We went with a smooth finish in a color that gives the effect of polished concrete. But more on that later.

 

 

In its former life, when we first moved in, it looked like this…

 

 

 

White brick fireplace before in living roomI can’t get enough of this picture. It just sums up the bare essentials so well: chairs, dog bed, a television and, of course, a Fiddle Leaf Fig in a decorative basket.

 

 

We wasted no time attaching blue painter’s tape to the wall in an attempt to figure out how to flank both sides with shelving to house my expansive collection of this and that (I call them “objects d’art”; JB says “stuff”; potato; potato) as well as the TV which had no other place to go as our house has an open-concept dining room/living room, but, darn it, no other rooms that weren’t already claimed as bedrooms or office that could serve as a den or family room. In other words, this room had to play double duty as formal living room and casual TV room.

 

 

White brick fireplace woman painting

 

 

It was a tricky design dilemma because the white brick of the fireplace only projected 2″ out from the wall which meant any adjacent shelves or built-ins (12″ standard depth for bookshelves; base cabinet depth, if custom and not in a kitchen, is a bit more negotiable, but almost all depths just looked too deep) would jut out so far in comparison, they’d only accentuate the existing flatness of the fireplace.

 

 

During our first year and a half in our house, I’d hang various paintings to make the fireplace as interesting as possible, but when we had visitors, it was always one of the first spots that I’d point to and explain it needed to be deeper and better but the “how” part hadn’t quite come to me.

 

 

Painting of woman brick fireplace

This painting is one of my favorite garage sale finds. I bought it about ten years ago from the woman who painted it who was having a garage sale. She was probably in her late 70s and only asking $5 for the painting and I think I might have embarrassed her when I told her how much I loved it and asked if she would sign it (she signed the back with her pink ballpoint pen). It now hangs in my bathroom and it makes me smile every time I look at the brassy expression and akimbo stance of the subject that are so different from the unassuming manner of the actual artist.

 

 

 

 

Then I saw this photo of a fireplace and thought, “That’s it!”

 

 

 

White stucco fireplace inspiration

 

 

And, heck, I already owned a “Liberace-called-and-he-wants-his-mirror-back” mirror that I was VERY into. We were almost there! White stucco it would be.

 

 

 

Gold mirror over fireplace

Hair-on-hide just barely visible underneath the chair, but it’s there along with my trusty Fiddle Leaf Fig from Day One. I could just see the inspiration of that other photo coming to life.

 

 

 

 

But, just to be sure that white stucco would look better than grey, I painted a wash of grey paint on the bricks. And the fireplace immediately felt like it jumped forward a foot! Suddenly it felt much too massive for the room. Just more confirmation that grey was not the way to go.

 

 

We added 4″ strips of cardboard to help imagine what bringing the fireplace out 4″ (for a total of 6″ depth) would look like. I was going around measuring the depth of fireplaces at clients’ homes and 8″ was a very common depth but that felt far too deep at our house.

 

 

While we were in the process of mocking things up, we experimented with placing a couple of boards of wood on the bottom to see what closing the bottom of the fireplace–turning the opening from a square that dropped to the floor, to a raised rectangle–would look like. We were instantly sold. Not only did the rectangle give the more modern look we were after, but suddenly the raised opening became more of a focal point…and we had plans for that opening. Oh, just you wait!

 

 

 

Brick fireplace grey

 

 

 

First the fireplace was clad in an armor of non-combustible (but of course!) metal, to bring it out to a total depth of 6″.

 

 

Grey metal fireplace 2

I found it kind of interesting like that–in a modern art sort of way.

 

 

 

Brown coat on fireplace

 

 

And then the scratch coat went on and we both realized we preferred the grey. Lesson? Painted grey bricks look nothing like smooth grey stucco.

 

 

Just to make things super complicated, I picked two different colors of pigment from two different stucco companies to make a custom color. What began as a somewhat simple directive ofย  “2/3 Coral Gables from La Habra and 1/3 Titanium from Merlex” devolved into me suggesting, “How about 1/8 cup more Coral Gables? Hmm. A little more. More. Okay, there.” In the end, I’m not exactly sure what the ratio of pigment to pigment was, but we ended up with the color I was after.

 

 

 

Which wasn’t this…

 

 

 

Grey stucco fireplace drying

Oh Lordy, the final coat was dark when it first went on.ย  We sat back kind of stunned until we realized it was lightening so quickly we could actually witness the process. When it landed on the color I wanted, I plead with it to stop and what do you know, it listened! I’d say it reached its final color by Day 3, in case you ever find yourself in this situation.

 

 

The color became the one you see in the closeup below.

 

 

Burnished grey stucco on fireplace

Note: Mottling is important! I probably drove the stucco installers crazy by repeatedly confirming that they would use a metal trowel and burnish the surface for “a lot of mottling” which I would then try to pantomime with my hands, mid air, but I didn’t need to worry. We used Baez Plastering Expression Inc. and they did SUCH a good job!

 

 

 

 

The bottom of the firebox needed to be raised once we created the bottom exterior lip so we enlisted Tubular George to raise the gas line, pour concrete to raise the bottom, paint the walls with flat black BBQ paint to give a fresh look and…

 

 

 

 

Need to paint inside of fireplace black

 

 

 

 

add a raised gas tray and concrete FireBalls (the 4″ size in color Natural) on a bed of sand and FireGlitter (in color Platinum) in the surrounding area.

 

 

 

Adding glass to fireplace

The installation of balls.

 

 

 

So we went from this…

 

 

 

 

Lilo on bare floor

This shot was taken eight months ago, the weekend before I had Baby Kai, when JB had just finished painting the formerly BAND-AID-colored walls Benjamin Moore’s Simply White and the floors were being installed (we chose California Classic’s Mediterranean Collection French Oak in the color Aegean) and I was still avoiding the house as it off-gassed except to come inspect the work and say things like, “Gosh, we still need to do something about that fireplace!”

 

 

 

to this!

 

 

 

 

Living room with grey stucco fireplace and FireBalls

Ah, progress!

 

 

Now that the fireplace is such a feature and 6″ deep, I’m working on figuring out the base cabinets to hold the media components (cable box, etc.). The TV will be mounted to the wall so it won’t project farther than the fireplace, as it does now. If the space calls for a shelf or two above, it will get them, but right now I’m thinking I prefer a cleaner, shelf-less look. And, don’t worry, we realize installing a fireplace full of tempered glass, sand, and concrete balls is not exactly kid-friendly. When Kai is more mobile, the fireplace will either be fitted with a temporary glass insert or JB will whip up an impenetrable barrier out of wood. (He’s handy like that!)

 

 

And here she is, our new fireplace, ready for her closeup.

 

 

 

Grey stucco fireplace after

You might just barely be able to make out the flames in the background. It is much more dramatic at night, but nearly impossible to capture in a photograph since flames have this way of never staying still.

 

 

 

Speaking of never staying still, the children’s book I wrote and my mom illustrated, My Pet Cloud, is moving up in the world!ย  As of last month, it’s now available at Chaucer’s Bookstore, Plum Goods, Chicken Little, and Tecolote Book Shop. If you don’t live anywhere near Santa Barbara, you can always find it online at Amazon.com.

 

 

 

It was also featured in the current issue of Season’s Magazine. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

My Pet Cloud Santa Barbara Seasons artice

 

 

 

 

and in last week’s issue of the Montecito journal! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

Happy Tuesday! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

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