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.

Materials:
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

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

Cost:
$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.

Does Your Life Need a Before and After?



I love before and after makeover shows.

The ones where the house is falling in and needs a new roof…where the family has been living in a shambles with electrical that doesn’t work and plumbing that’s shot. And then, with the Goliath help of a thousand man crew…the house is rebuilt from the foundation up in 7 days and every single room looks like Ty Pennington personally handled every detail…from the faucets to the throw pillows to the appliances to the perfectly positioned tulips on the lawn. And the family gets treated to an all expenses 7-day vacation in paradise, conveniently removed from all the mess and dust and frustration.

Or there’s the style shows. The one where Stacy and Clinton hand a $5,000 Visa card to a deserving woman who is frumpily stuck in the 80’s and in two whirlwind days she shops til she drops and ends up looking like Cinderella at the ball. She gets styled and coiffed and pitches the clothes that’ve been holding her back from the life of her dreams.

You can do it with weight too. Chris Powell, host of Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition chooses a morbidly obese person to cajole, coach, cry with, train and coddle over the course of a year…usually resulting in at least a 100 pound weight loss. Then, Wal-Mart hands over a $50,000 gift card as a reward.

Life isn’t like this.

You don’t get a new house in a week.
You don’t makeover your closet or your personal style in two days.
And most of us don’t need to lose 100 pounds and certainly couldn’t do it in a year without Chris’ help.

Life is, well, much harder than they make it look.

We don’t have sponsors or TV production crews. We have to go to work and raise kids and squeeze eating and living in around all of it. It’s impossible to have a single focus like these shows make it seem. All magically wrapped up in a 60-minute vinette.

But what you do have to know is what direction you’re going. What do you want to do with your life? What does it look like now? What do you want it to look like after?

Ty isn’t standing in front of your house yelling ‘move that bus.’

Wal-Mart isn’t handing over any gift cards.

No one is doing your hair and make up. Heck, I even ran out of hair product this morning and no one rushed over a replacement.

Life is messy.

It took me 6 years of dating my husband before we said “I Do” (we’ve been married 31).

It took me 7 years to figure out that the chaos full-time work made for my family with 3 small children wasn’t worth it.

It took me 25 years to finish raising my three awesome kids…all the way fretting over what parts I was screwing up.

It took me almost a decade of writing before I considered myself ‘good enough’ to publish.

Good things usually take time. More than we want to give. More than we think we have.

We believe we’re going backward if we don’t see instant results. Just because you can drive through McDonalds and get dinner in less than 10 minutes doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good dinner.

Good things usually need to simmer.

The before and after shows still have things to teach us. They have a plan we can follow.

You have to know what you’re starting with. (The benchmark)

• You have to know where you want to go. (The journey)

• You have to know what success means to you. (The destination)

• You have to know what resources you might need along the way. (The tools)

• You have to know whose on the team and who isn’t. (The team)
When you know these key things, life seems simpler. You feel more content. You can stop wondering and worrying and overprocessing and obsessing. You can simply get to work. You’re on the path. Your path.

I’m suggesting you complete an Extreme Life Makeover. Your life is worth it. It’s a magical mosaic of a million tiny pieces…all coming together to form your days that in turn form your life.

Try this.

Write down what your life before looks like. Every single detail. All the parts. Your health. Your money. Your friends. Your work. Your relationships. Your spirituality. Your house. And the list goes on.

Then, write (or draw) what you want all the parts to look like. Where do you want to live? How much do you want to make? Who do you want to love? What or who do you need to let go? What kind of car do you drive?

Life makeovers are tough because unlike television, you can’t stop everything else and focus on one area. Life is swirling and it never stops.

Tomorrow marks my one-year fitness anniversary. I’m 51 and this is the first time that I’ve spent any concentrated or long-term effort on my health. This time last year I weighed 207.4 pounds. Today I weigh 181.2. Total weight loss = 26.2 pounds. I did two simple things…I joined Weight Watchers and I walked 2 miles a day, 6 days a week.

I wanted to lose 47 pounds. I barely lost half of that.

Did I fail? No.

I’d give myself a C- at Weight Watchers. I didn’t track. I didn’t eat Power Foods or drink a ton of water. I did attend the 30 minute weekly meeting and I did weigh in.

I’d give myself an A- at walking. I walked 6 days a week regardless of everything else that was going on. Sometimes I got up early. Sometimes I had to walk on vacation. But I did walk.

Were there other benefits of this fitness makeover? Definitely. My mind is stronger. My body is stronger. My clothes are smaller. My energy is higher (even though most would say that my trademark energy was already off the charts). My blood pressure is insanely good.

One decision moved me in the right direction. One decision and daily perseverance. Before, I was fat. After, I’m healthy. And happy with how walking makes me feel.

This is the formula to use. A decision and daily action steps. Steps that will take you to the life of your dreams.

Don’t worry that Ty Pennington or Stacy and Clinton or Chris Powell aren’t going to show up in your life. You’re not going to win the lottery. Sadly, Santa isn’t real.

You have the power to change. It’s in you. You possess everything you need to produce your own before and after life makeover.

You can create your own amazing life. Step by step.

The Angst of Anxiety

I used to take pills for my anxiety.  10 mg of Prozac, and a dose of Adderall.

The Prozac worked for about 6 years.  It added a sense of calmness.  The Adderall lasted less than 2 years.  If you’ve taken Adderall, you know there’s a sense of well-being that inhabits your being for about 2-3 hours after taking it.    My Dr. was happy.

I wasn’t bothering him about being anxious anymore.

I wasn’t really bothering him for anything.

But something was still bothering me.  I was still anxious.  My life wasn’t getting any better.

The pills weren’t working.  My goals were still out of reach.

I had the worst personal failures of my life while I was taking these pills.

I was impulsive and scattered and still having trouble connecting the dots (probably my ADHD).    I got fatter.

So I made a decision.  I weaned myself off the pills.  Because in reviewing my life progress…while I was on the pills I was actually WORSE as a person, rather than better.

The fact is…if you have anxiety, it’s because you’re supposed to be doing something different.  Your life will get better when you get better.  Anxiety is a clue.  Are you listening?

Michael Phelps’ Mom used to put him in the pool to quiet his energy (he won 8 gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics).  Extreme Home Makeover wouldn’t have been the huge success it was without over-the-top screamer host Ty Pennington.  Maneesh Sethi dropped out of Stanford, wrote 6 books including a bestseller, travels the world and creates online businesses that work while he plays.  What do they have in common?  ADD and ADHD.

Anxiety is part of the success formula.  Not the demon.

Now, I don’t take pills but I do spend at least 30 minutes a day on the treadmill.  I can wake up totally anxious and by the time I step off the treadmill 30 minutes later, I’m calmer, more collected.

My life isn’t perfect.  I haven’t reached my utopia of lifestyle design.  I’m still working on it.  Now, I write about my quests.  I blog about my angsts.  I set goals and fall short.   But I’m closer to my own definition of success than ever.  I’m human and proud of it.

Anxiety is a clue.  Use is for good.  It’s not evil.

Liability Disclaimer:  Cheryl Thompson and EncouragementToGo accepts no liability for decisions you make regarding your own well-being.  I am not a physician, a psychologist or an attorney.  Any advice I give is solely and purely for personal ingestion and should not be confused with a trained professional.  What works for me, is for me.  You have to take care of you.  This disclaimer absolves me from any liability in the event you do something stupid.