The $157.41 Ugly Oak Fireplace Mantle Makeover

I hated the old fireplace.

A fireplace is supposed to be the focal point of a room and all I could think every time I walked into the living room or kitchen was how ugly the fireplace was. The house was built around 15 years ago when grey tile and high gloss oak was ‘in.’ Now that’s it not ‘in’ anymore, it’s out. But I didn’t want to spend alot of money and I didn’t want to do any major renovations to the house.

The fireplace had to go. So we got busy. Mainly, Dennis (my husband) got busy and I was his cheerleader.

Dennis discovered a product at Lowe’s called Airstone. It’s 75% lighter than regular stone and costs a fraction of what real stone would cost. See for yourself from the pictures whether you like it or not. It’s changed the entire look of the house, simply by changing the fireplace.

The 8-Step How-To $157.41 Ugly Oak Fireplace Mantle Makeover
Step 1: Remove old tile (unfortunately the old tile took some of the sheetrock with it so we had to replace the sheetrock around the black fireplace insert)
Step 2: Repair and/or replace sheetrock around fireplace insert
Step 3: Paint the mantle
Step 4: Tile the hearth
Step 5: Grout the hearth
Step 6: Install stone (we used AirStone – it’s awesome…we used a small T-frame support over the opening of the fireplace to keep the stone from slipping until the adhesive was dry)
Step 7: Glue embellishments on and paint
Step 8: Admire your handiwork!

The entire makeover took approximately 5 hours total, but it’s many small steps. Installing the AirStone, the bulk of the project accounted for about half of the time. The most amazing part of all…it only cost $157.41.

1 quart Valspar Paint (we used Valspar Ultra Interior Satin, #391638, it’s a Paint + Primer)
1/2 sheet of sheetrock
2 boxes of Air Stone (flat style)
5-18″ x 18″ ceramic tiles
2 embellishments
1 bag grout

Hacksaw (used to cut the AirStone tiles, could also use a miter saw)
Grout tool
5-gallon bucket
Large sponge

$3.00 Paint (I got this out of the ‘oops’ pile, it would’ve normally cost around $15 a quart)
Sheetrock (free from my father in law)
$18.88 Ceramic tile
$135.53 Airstone, Grout and Stone Adhesive

$157.41 Total Fireplace Makeover Cost

Handy tip: If you don’t have a tile saw and don’t want to invest in one, Lowe’s will cut your tile for FREE for you. All you do is simply mark the tile where you want it cut and the Lowe’s associate will do the work for you.

No, we didn’t sand the fireplace first to remove the old finish on the woodwork. My husband Dennis is the equvalent of Ty Pennington (without the hair) so we didn’t have any labor costs involved with the entire renovation. Kinda funny that I hated the grey tile but I painted the mantle grey.

You really can do this yourself. 5 hours. $157.41. Sweat equity is the best equity you can put into a house.


When Should You Redecorate?

We’re living in a beautiful time of creativity, inspiration and passion. There are bloggers like me who never attended interior design school who can communicate with readers and collectively we can put together rooms that wow!

The old way was ‘get a room done’ and enjoy it.

The new way is ‘constantly be creating’.

I love the new way. Every day becomes a hunt…a treasure waiting to be found. The new way is more like life, sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it’s all put together, sometimes it needs a total do-over. Sometimes we just need to shut the door and wait for another day.

So when should you redecorate? Daily.

Change the bedspread and have a whole new look.

Add a candle and create a warm ambience.

Declutter a cabinet and feel the ahhhhh in your soul.

Redecorating is your creative right. Every woman has it inside her. All you have to do is find it.

PS. Until I was 30 I’d never had anything but a white wall in my home. Oh, what a difference the decades make.

What’s Your Design Style?

Since I got married 30 years ago, I’ve gone from Early American garage sale to matchy-matchy design chic back to thrift store extraordinaire.

I’ve had rooms painted in every color from Bangkok Blue to Pepto-Bismol Pink. I’ve personally hauled more furniture than a Two Men & A Truck franchisee and know that no matter what size your home is, you’ll fill it up with stuff. Including the garage.

I’ve settled into what I call a respectable “eclectic” style…one that houses furniture I’ve rescued off the side of the road to the farmhouse table and upholstered chairs that I bought at the local design store for $1,100. My son’s ‘home from college’ bedroom is a stark simplistic while my master bedroom borders on country charm.

My friend calls my style cosmospolitan. My husband shakes his head.

I’ve got family pictures galore. Candles burning in every room. Less clutter and more functionality than I used to have. I’ve got an office in another closeby town but I seem to prefer my kitchen table. There are no green plants because I have a tendency to kill them. No silk plants because supposedly they upset the feng shui of a room (even though I’m not a follower of feng shui).

There are mirrors everywhere. A huge clock. Pillows with sayings like “no matter how far the seeds are sown, our hearts are drawn to home” and “life takes us to unexpected places, love brings us home.” I’ve got tiny pink polka dot pillowcases (on baby size pillows) in my master bedroom that shout my personal philosophy of “Spread Joy,” “Love Life,” and “Be Happy.” (I told my husband to bury me with those delightful pillows and he rolled his eyes.)

I’ve confidently and definitely decided that my design style is…ME.
Your design style should be YOU. If you love it, that’s good enough. It if takes your breath away, buy it. It doesn’t need to match or be ‘in style’. Your rooms don’t need to F-L-O-W and your paint colors don’t need to coordinate. Mix it up. Defy conventiality. Get away from boring brown and set your heart on fire with fabulous fuschia.

Because if your heart says yes, then no matter who approves or likes it, that’s your style.

Should You Make Your Bed or Not?

I expect that this is going to be a controversial post, because it’s a controversial subject. I’ve never brought this one up in public or with friends before because I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t make my bed. Ever.

Oh, I made it if company was coming, or if my Mother-in-law was going to be over. But 99% of the time my bed used to go unmade. As a child, my parents never made my sister or I make our beds. (Funny, I used to admire my friends whose parents required it.)

So I never had a bed-making habit, nor did I ever require it for my own kids growing up. Rarely did I have to explain my untidy habits, and my husband is an easygoing guy.

At age 50, I moved to my 15th home of my adulthood. It was smaller, more compact, and virtually every room was viewable from everywhere else (you know, the 1,000 square feet or less scenario). And I decided it was time to start making my bed.

Every day. Whether I wanted to or not. And guess what, now I want to make my bed more than I don’t.

My neat and tidy bed actually makes me happy. It has soft, flowered sheets, a scrumptious comforter that I got at a garage sale for $4.00 and a chenille duvet that I drape across the end of the bed. It’s got 5 pillows, 2 for me and 2 for my hubby and 1 with a pink sham that we simply toss on the floor at night.

I spraypainted a silver headboard that I got for free at a garage sale. We used two tiny nails to mount it to the wall.

The entire comfy cozy bed cost me less than $20.00 I have a gorgeous wedding picture of my 2 daughters hanging on the wall to the side of the bed that I wake up to every morning. (The 2 daughters got married just 5 weeks apart in 2007 so we did an exquisite bridal portrait together of them.) The bedroom is one of my my serene places in the entire house.

The point is, I’ve taken a lifelong habit of untidiness and turned it into a habit of organization. It only takes me 2-3 minutes each morning to make the entire bed look amazing. But what I’ve learned is more than that, it makes my heart happy to have a ‘ready to get into any moment’ bed.

So, yes, you should make your bed! Oh, and if you don’t make your bed, that’s okay too. I didn’t do it for 50 years.

What is a Homemaker?

A homemaker is a person who brings the heart to the home. She is the coordinator of events, the maker of meals and the caretaker of children.

She makes magic happen within her four walls…they are her kingdom, her talk show, her creative incubator. She is the CEO and the janitor, the top chef and the cake boss.

She sings, she sulks, she dreams and she organizes. She gets overwhelmed with clutter, with responsibility and with endless errands and laundry. She fixes boo boos, broken hearts and can makeover virtually anything including herself.

A homemaker works without acclamation or proclamation…without a paycheck or an annual review. She is heart and soul…designer and duty maker. She fills longings with listening, rooms with function and lives with love.

A homemaker is a purposeful manager who keeps it all together. Her rewards are measured in smiles and hugs…kisses and happiness. A homemaker is a work of the he(art).

Copyright 2011 Cheryl Thompson, Encouragement To Go

The Beauty of a Simple Saturday

As I’ve simplified my home and my life, things seem more clear. I’ve cut out negative influences which include some people and added a few miracles (namely my grandson Max).

Today was a simple Saturday at home. It was so beautiful it felt worth writing about.

I began the day making pancakes and sausage with my almost 2-year old grandson Max. We bounced between the sunporch watching airplanes and the book box to read books. Then my daughter arrived and we headed to Costco and to wash her car. I sat with baby Max in my lap on the sidewalk as Candice soaped and rinsed the car.

Dennis arrived home from deer hunting. We headed to the garage to sort through my Christmas stuff and eliminate some junk. Mission complete we drive to the Baskin Robbins for an ice cream, drop off 4 boxes of Christmas decor to my daughter and deliver an old bike to the Salvation Army’s drop-off trailer.

Home to do a bit of cleaning. Scrub the linoleum floors, wash the throw rugs and vacuum. All is in place.

Start dinner…spaghetti, french bread and italian salad. Dennis browns the meat while I put the salad together. Candice and Max arrive again (Candice’s husband is military and works nights) to feast on Italian with us and we struggle through dinner as Max decides he’d rather go outside.

Talking in the living room watching Max mesmerized with a bug on the porch, playing with bath pigs and sucking on a tootsie pop. Kiss my two babies good-bye and Candice and Max head for home again. It’s just Dennis and I.

I head to the bathtub, Dennis heads to watch baseball (which is my equivalent of watching paint dry). I’m a bit bored so decide to take a walk and then finish off the day with two episodes of ‘Til Death.

Bedtime by 10:00. On a Saturday. There’s a part of me that says I should be out dancing, filling my life up with activity, staying out late. That’s the old Cheryl.

The new Cheryl is looking for more contentment, for peace, for family and for simplicity. I love my home. I love the simplicity of this Saturday.

I love fall weather and the sticky little kisses of my grandbaby. I love spending time with my hubby and daughter and I love the feeling I get as I continue to declutter my life.

I love the 3 baby pumpkins I bought at Wal-Mart for $2.98. I love the chocolate-chip cookies Dennis made for me while I watched my sitcom and I love the fact that when I lay my head down on my pillow, I feel calm.

Maybe life really is that simple.

Take the Front Door Test

Home is more than a place, it’s the place where your heart should feel totally and completely safe. If it doesn’t, somethings got to change whether it be a relationship, the color of your walls or the clutter in your kitchen.

Take the front door test. The next time you put your key in the lock and open the front door, how does your heart feel?

Does it feel exhilarated?

You choose the adjective. You know how your heart really feels. You can’t hide from your heart. We can mask most everything else in our life. Take the front door test and if your answer isn’t what you wanted, change something today. Tomorrow isn’t soon enough.