I PAINTED MY 170 YEAR OLD BRICK WALL. AND NOW I FEEL SICK.

I painted the 170 year old brick wall in my dining room last week.  It’s the kind of thing only an a) brave b) stupid c) bored and d) mentally deranged person would do.  It’s a project that’s been 17 years in the making.  Those beautiful, old, uneven, hand formed bricks are now white and I feel sick.  I’ve wasted 17 years worth of time and energy hating that brick wall; I should have painted it years ago.

So why didn’t I?  I was scared.

Painting brick isn’t 100% irreversible, but it’s pretty close.  It’s like gaining 400 pounds.  Technically you could lose that weight but it’s gonna take a lot of work, a lotta tears, enough swear words to fill a penitentiary and some kind of surgery.

Even though the brick wall was beautiful, it didn’t make my room beautiful.  At all.  In fact it ruined my dining room.  That one end of the rectangular room always felt dark and heavy.  I put LED strip lighting above it to brighten it up.  That worked(ish).  But not enough.

How to paint a brick wall

Plus.  OMG.  SO orange.  I couldn’t hang any art on the wall because absolutely everything just looked like barf on it.  The wall always felt a bit dirty and scary.  Those are great qualities for certain things in your life, but not your dining room wall.

One of the larger reasons I wanted to paint the wall white was so I could hang my beloved non-relative, never even met her or anyone related to her, Margaret, on it.  I wanted Margaret on the big brick wall.

I told many people I was going to paint this brick wall over the years and I had many people tell me back “NO!“, while simultaneously whipping their hand up in the universally recognized stop position.  “You cannot!‘.  No one ever had a really solid reason for me, other than they didn’t think it should be done.  So I didn’t.  Not necessarily because they said so, but because I was already afraid to do it myself.  Even though I didn’t like it.  It makes no sense that I didn’t like it but I didn’t.

Whenever I watch television shows where perpetually cool characters live in lofts with exposed brick, I love it.  I wondered if it was possible I needed to dress cooler and go out later at night in order to like my brick wall.

Upon further reflection I realized that those huge New York lofts are also styled by professionals, and usually have wall to wall windows to bathe everything in light.

Then I took a trip to Lynne Knowlton’s treehouse and cabin where literally everything is painted white and I said SUCK IT. I’m going home and painting that brick wall the second I walk through the door.

And a mere 2 months later I did just that.

Kind of.

How to paint a brick wall.

I primed my brick wall, put my brush and paint away and called it a day.  I liked it exactly like this.  Not a perfectly painted brick wall.  Not a Pinterest brick wall.  An interesting looking, aged, antiqued looking brick wall.

THIS was the kind of wall a super-cool New Yorker would like in their dining room.

How to paint a brick wall.

Here’s a lesson for you.  Roll with the punches.  I just made that phrase up this very second.  I’m also considering inventing the phrase “prime the pump”.

I started off thinking I was going to completely paint my brick wall.  Then on a whim I decided to see if I would like it whitewashed.

Whitewashing a brick wall (or anything) is as simple as using 50% water mixed with 50% paint.  The paint has to be a water based paint, not oil.  If it seems too solid still, just water it down a bit more.

Then paint it on the surface and blot the runs with a rag right away.

How to whitewash a brick wall

I didn’t like it.

I didn’t like it one bit.

I got out my primer and started slapping it onto the wall with a brush and a roller, realizing I’d have to just paint the whole wall in a solid white.  Because my bricks are so old and irregular it was almost impossible to get into every groove and hole so I gave up on that after a while and just brushed the primer on quickly, thinking I’d go back and clean it up after one quick coat.

How to antique a brick wall

But then I stood back and I liked it.  I really liked it.  I Big Mac liked it.

And just like that I knew I was done.

How to antique a brick wall

How to Antique a Brick Wall
  1. Slap some primer on the wall being careful not to cover every bit of it.
  2. Clean your brush, put your paint can away.

I did finish priming the entire wall, but after I was done a quick coat of primer I packed up my paint, washed my brush and started sending photos to family members and friends.

how to paint a brick wall to look old

Well guess what.  They liked it.  I mean, they gasped of course, but they liked it. A few people asked me if I was finished.  I told them I thought that I actually liked it the way it was. To which they replied, “Yeah, I think I like it like that too.”

Do you know what’s funny?

How to paint a brick wall.

Never once, in 17 years has anyone ever walked into my dining room and commented on how beautiful they thought my brick wall was.

Not. Once.

So I don’t know what everyone’s issue with painting it was.

How to paint a brick wall.

You may have noticed that Margaret is not on the brick wall.  I love it so much I don’t want to cover it up.  Also, the room is better balanced with Margaret where she is, but instead of leaning against the wall, for the first time in the 15 or so years that I’ve owned her, she’s hanging.

My plan was to paint my brick wall solid white and hang Margaret on it.

I ended up with a kind of painted wall and Margaret stayed where she was.  Roll.  With.  The.  Punches.  Be aware.  Go with your hunch.  Prime the pump.

The truth is I’m glad it took me this long to paint the dining room wall because had I done it  6 or 7 years ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence to leave it the way it is, half-assedly painted.  I’m also glad I didn’t know I was going to haphazzardly paint my wall.  If I knew I wanted a “random” look to the wall I would have given WAY too much thought to what areas got more paint than others. I would have stood back and assessed and made it way more difficult than it needed to be.  By not knowing what the hell I was doing, I got a genuinely random look. The kind of random look I never would have been able to achieve if I was trying.

I know; you maybe liked the brick wall natural.  I know; it was a beautiful brick wall.  I know; it’s very difficult to lose 400 pounds.  But it can be done.

I’m not sure why I was so scared, because I don’t think there’s ever been anything I haven’t liked better after painting it white and that includes my kitchen brick wall, my interior trim and my first cat.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a wall to look at.

How to paint a brick wall but keep its authenticity!

109 Comments

  1. Toni Guerrero says:

    Loved the story of how you painted your cat. Genius! 😉

  2. Kim says:

    Wow. It REALLY looks great white. And I am an exposed brick lover. But this looks so much better. It reminds me of the walls in a Chinatown near where I live.

    Good work!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kim. And actually it doesn’t translate nearly as well in photos as it does in real life. I can’t even STAND how much better I like it. It’s made a huge difference in the room. I can’t wait until it’s Christmas so I can hang a HUGE wreath on the wall. I couldn’t before because … ick. ~ karen!

  3. Raymonde says:

    I love it!
    I did that on some the old stone walls in my house, but I did what they did in the old days, I lime washed them! It’s really easy to do, very inexpensive and it looks great! 🙂
    Here’s what it looks like in my bedroom.

    • Karen says:

      Ohhhh you live in that billion year old house in Quebec! Love the lime plaster. I’ve used it on my cob oven (if that’s the same thing … I think it is, but with a wash instead of a plaster). Looks great! ~ karen!

    • Carlene says:

      Ohhhh, that looks amazing, Raymonde (and so does your wall, Karen)! I always feel like interior stone/brick should be treated completely differently that exterior stone/brick. Karen, the added light in your living room is fantastic.

      Unlike 90% of the population, I’m a total sucker for a (properly weatherproofed & color-coordinated) painted brick building. I live next to the amazing city of Troy, NY, which looks like the 1800s never left. Every single downtown building is brownstone or historical brick, and the residents throughout the years have done a lovely job of maintaining that “step back in history” feel. There’s an entire street of painted brownstones where they’ve filmed quite a few movies due to how amazing it looks. So, paint your bricks, says I!

      (I attached a photo of them filming “The Age of Innocence” in Troy, just for fun)

  4. Valerie says:

    Karen I am sure you will think that this sounds dumb and very uncool but I think it needs another few coats of paint.
    I like the whitened look of the wall and prefer it to the exposed brick.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. No, it just sounds like you want a solid, white, brick wall. Which is exactly what I decided I didn’t want once I saw the wall as it is now. This is just more me, and I’m sure a solid white wall would be more you. ~ karen!

  5. Jane says:

    Looks great!!! Very rustic like that’s how it always was. I also painted an orangy brick fireplace white, the red brick behind my wood stove white, and “solid pine paneling” (what I was told ) white….all against my husband’ saying no no no!! All scared the crap outta me, but love them all. This summer stained my concrete driveway….scary, too, but turned out amazing. It’s just paint….right? ; )

  6. Raymonde says:

    It’s only lime wash, it looks like watered down skim milk, it goes on translucent and becomes opaque when it dries, which is part of the fun! 🙂

  7. Pattie Meyers says:

    Girl. Waaaaay better looking wall now. And I predict Margaret will end up hanging out there. I think your first instinct was right.

    • Karen says:

      Hi pattie! I can see why you think that my first instinct was right (I thought it was too!) but it wasn’t. 🙂 The room is a much better balance with her where she is plus you can see her a lot more for some reason. She is where she is. 🙂 ~ karen!

  8. Angie says:

    I started reading the post thinking, “Oh, hell, no, don’t ruin that awesome-looking brick wall.” Then I saw the pictures. I’m a convert. It looks great. Way to go!

  9. Deborah Burns says:

    It looks great Karen!

    I like the craggy whitewashed look, it’s patina!

    I have paneling in my living room which I hated when I bought my house 20 years ago and have wanted to paint it. But what color looks good over paneling?
    Dither, dither, dither………
    Eventually I gave up on color and decided on white, because I finally got over my dislike of white walls born of years of renting apartments painted “Navajo White”.
    I decided to paint my paneling (actually a beautiful veneer of golden wood) white…. Time happened
    Then guess what!
    Now I LIKE the paneling! HaHa

  10. dana says:

    I love it, Karen! Really nice. We had a house built abt 20 yrs ago and I wanted to do something on the vaulted wall in the great room but I didn’t want anything trendy like sponging or stenciling. We decided to stamp it like brick. It was so cool. It was one of those I-love-it-more-than-I-thought-I-would moments.

  11. Jenna says:

    This is great. I love that distressed white washed brick look. Bonus that it’s easier than pinteresty white brick too. And way easier than gaining and subsequently loosing 400 pounds. I actually like that the brick color still shows through because that little bit of brick color brings out the gorgeous wood of your table.

  12. Love it! If you ever get tired of the plain white, stencil some kind of old (or new) advertising on it. You can always change things with paint…and go back! [make it look brick again with more paint 🙂 . Did a faux brick wall sign with a Coca-cola ad on it, for my son…he loves it.] I think Margaret loves looking at it, too! Great job!

  13. Ev Wilcox says:

    Did you leave the LED light strip up? If so, I would really like a shot of it on, at night. Before paint, the light really brought out the natural uneveness of the bricks. Does that show now?
    Don’t know if I would have done it-but it’s your home and good for you! It looks great.

  14. Marna says:

    Looks great!

  15. Thandi says:

    I luuurve it. And I loved the brick wall, but I didn’t have to live with it. My apartment is a dark cave which gets virtually zero sunlight, if I had brick walls I would have become completely homicidal. Not that it wasn’t touch and go when we first moved in, because the previous tenant had painted the entire open plan living area in alternating colours, Halloween purple and orange. Orange, purple, orange, purple, orange, purple. Paint: it’s a miracle cure for orange.

  16. Leticia says:

    Karen, is your brick wall original to the house? It doesn’t look like it to me, it looks like a layer of bricks in front of a stud wall.

    I am a big fan of original, old brick, exposed. Although I am not sure I could live with it. But if it’s added on, c’mon, it’s no sacrilege. Actually, it’s your home, do with it as you please.

  17. You committed to white!!! You did it !!! You did it !!!!!

    Whooooohoooooo !!!

    It looks s.t.u.n.n.i.n.g.

    I’m so excited I just pulled my t-shirt over my head and ran around the room like a footballer after scoring a particularly spectacular goal. I’m chuffed.

    Whoop whoop

  18. Marie says:

    Well done! And you got me with the cat story 🙂

  19. Rose says:

    It does look great. Now the floors look more beautiful.

  20. Carrie says:

    Well “Heavens to Betsy” (lol) doesn’t that look great!!
    Love old brick but it definitely changes the look of the room besides brightening it up. A wreath will pop up there!
    Funny no one has commented on the brick.

    I love period pieces,Austen novels etc. so I am drawn to that painting. When you look at her it makes you wonder all sorts of things. Well,if you’re like me anyway.
    Have you ever told the story of where you got her?

    Its all fabulous but nothings better than your first cat Karen!
    Hahahaha😱😱😻😻

  21. Kelly says:

    I like it, Karen. I painted my ugly 80’s-dated fireplace, too even though my husband howled at me. Why is it people (men especially) think you shouldn’t paint brick or wood? When we moved, not long after, I painted my wood-planked wall in my living room because even with a southern exposure it dragged the room down. Especially in the winter it was so dark. People remarked at how good and bright it looked. So I have determined to go with your gut. If you hate it, paint it. After all YOU have to live there! Next are my oak cupboards. It is gettting DONE!

  22. leo muzzin says:

    Looking at the wall, every eight’th brick course is set at 90 degrees, indicating that the wall is double brick and probably an outside supporting wall. If so, there must have been a plaster stud wall in front which was removed for the brick effect. I thought the old brick looked very striking.

    • Karen says:

      Hey Leo! Yes, it’s the original outside of my house (which is double brick). The dining room is an addition that was probably done some time around 1900. So it was never covered with drywall. They just built the addition leaving the original brick wall exposed. ~ karen!

  23. Katharyn says:

    Wood and brick – to paint or not to paint, since there is no going back.
    Good instincts to try the whitewash first. The look enhances the age of your home, brings light to a dark place. Margaret approves.
    My 70’s orange/purple fireplace brick begged to be painted. Had to go solid white, but voila! There was light! Now my paintings look fabulous.

    • Karen says:

      That’s the thing. EVERYTHING hanging on an orange wall looks gross. EVERYTHING hanging on a white wall looks great! Congratulations on having brick painting guts! ~ karen

    • Catherine says:

      I also had a orange(ish) brick wall and it was just “off”. I painted the surfaces of the bricks chocolate brown and it made all the difference. It was a small wall right next to a bank of windows so the chocolate brown didn’t make the room dark. It still looked like an original brick wall but now it was easy on the eyes and art work hung on it “worked”.

  24. marilyn meagher says:

    Paint..like a facelift only cheaper! Love it

  25. Melissa says:

    I saw the title of your post and was feeling bad for you (and a little surprised, given your love of white) but figured you had really good reasons for the regret.

    Turns out, you’re just a tease— about walls and cats.

    The wall looks great, and will – as you replied in a comment up north – accommodate a wreath during the Christmas holidays much better in its current color styling.

    I am a SODS alumna who painted her brick completely. It was such ugly brick it had to receive layers of color to hide what it was. Good frog eating!

  26. Wendy says:

    Love it! I’ve painted brick & wood paneling white….anything to brighten a room

  27. terri says:

    Hmmm….my family room has a rock wall with a fireplace. Since the house was built in the 70’s, the rocks are orange/pink/brown. There must have been really good drugs in the 70’s because it was common to spritz the rocks with water so algae would grow. When I told my neighbors I was going to paint the rock wall, they unanimously said “NO!” Because then I could never get back to the natural rock. Screw them…I’m going to follow your lead and paint the rocks white.

  28. Jody says:

    I love exposed brick walls, but hate, hate, hate orange brick. Good job!

  29. Ron R. Parkin says:

    I don’t like to paint over brick or stone. Takes away from the natural look. If you wanted white brick, then install white brick. My preference would have been to just leave it ‘brick’. What can I say, I’m a brick person. I think that it looked better.

    • Karen says:

      That’s because you’re a man, lol. Most men are horrified at the thought of painting wood or brick. ~ karen!

      • Ron R. Parkin says:

        True. I don’t do paint. And the source of this horror? I think it was because as a young person, I spent every summer, at the behest of my parents, scraping and sanding peeling paint from wood, metal, and brick; only to have it painted again. Why?
        In this day and age, for these types of surfaces, paint is obsolete. Drywall excluded.
        Just a thought. I do enjoy your blog. Interesting at times.

  30. Peggy says:

    Love it! Hurray!

  31. michelle says:

    Love it! I painted my brick fireplace several years ago after hating it for years and years. It changed my life. I love that you knew when you were finished and stopped. Perfection is over rated. Well done!

    • Karen says:

      Like I said, 6 or 7 years ago I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to stop where I did. 🙂 Yay for painting brick! ~ karen

  32. Janet says:

    Excellent choice. That old orange brick did not enhance your decor. Might have looked good “back in the day” but, not now with your style
    When I brought my first house it had dark stained woodwork. I hired a painter who did not want to paint it. After much discussion and threats of bodily harm he agreed. When he was done all he could say was , you were right. Of course, I knew that all along.
    Go for what your gut tells you, that’s what guys are for.

    G

  33. aine Kunst says:

    I loved your brick wall. But I LOVE the way it looks now. Well done!!

  34. Heather says:

    I look for Margaret in all your posts.

  35. Judy says:

    I think your “imperfect” paint job looks way better than 100% white would have, anyway. The imperfect paint job is what retains the character of the brick! It is gorgeous. Serendipity for the win!

  36. Stephanie says:

    Looks great Karen. In all your other posts showing that wall, I can’t recall one that showed how short that wall actually is (I always pictured it being longer/wider) – even in the lighting post… or when you had the white buffet there. Anyway, love your choice not to put Margaret there since that wall does stop short and enters a hallway – not much of the wall would have shown with her there. She’s happy in that corner. And I did notice, before I read the line, that you hung her.
    I was at Christie’s fall antique show on Saturday and looked for you. Didn’t see you, but paid homage to you by getting chip truck fries and gravy. The old couple sitting across from us at a picnic table, went off to buy some after we made them hungry for some (after they just finished sharing a huge strawberry sunday). Love!

  37. Kipper says:

    It looks great!

  38. Erica says:

    We are about to paint our orange “worm hole” type brick fireplace. We were going to do a stone facade and maybe we willlater but can’t right now because we are still woeking on the kitchen we gutted. I want gray and think this looks really great! Kind of what we want but in white ish gray!
    And yes everyone says we are nuts but they aren’t living with a huge ugly orange fireplace!

    • Melissa says:

      Erica, I am intrigued by your “worm hole” description. I painted my own fireplace bricks because I hated – what I called – their “worm trails.” I did mine a putty-type gray, if you want to see it, lmk.

      • Erica says:

        Oh my gosh yes please!

        • Melissa says:

          Erica, I can’t figure out how to make one of those montage photos that shows before or after, otherwise, I’d just upload that. Doh!

          If you want, you can PM me at melissam36 at icloud dot com, and I’ll send the photos so as not to litter Karen’s site with my project.

  39. Linda says:

    But why do you feel sick?

    • Karen says:

      “I feel sick. I’ve wasted 17 years worth of time and energy hating that brick wall; I should have painted it years ago.” ~ karen!

  40. Dianna says:

    I absolutely LOVE that Margaret picture!

    I love your style and enthusiasm. So glad I ‘met’ you here!

  41. Kris Wilson says:

    Love it! It actually adds more character than just the plain brick. Margaret probably shows up more now because of the contrast and light the paint adds to the whole room. And I’m sure she prefers having a permanent place to ‘hang’, instead of leaning around waiting! You, as always, are inspiring.

  42. Kathy says:

    I love painted brick…….such a clean new look. I painted a fireplace that went across the entire room and hearth. I did have to fill in every little nook and cranny. Brightened everything up.

    Later on, I filled the horizontal space under each row of brick so it resembled adobe.
    Fun painting cause you can just slap it one.

  43. Charlene says:

    Karen, Take a moment from admiring your newly painted brick wall and watch Idris Elba read you a bedtime story. Not just a bedtime story but a story about a chicken. It’s a win win! But who the hell can sleep after watching Idris Elba? Love that man!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/close-your-eyes-and-allow-idris-elba-to-read-you-a-bedtime-story_us_59b6a16ae4b036fd85cc9c31?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

  44. Mia says:

    That wall looks fantastic, great job and great idea! I’m sure aunt Margaret will love her new home<:}

  45. Jody says:

    Fan-tab-ulous! Do you know who Margaret is? Who was the artist?

  46. There’s something in the air! Here’s what we did last week.

    • Thandi says:

      That’s amazing!!

    • Karen says:

      GAHHHHH!!! Is that the finished paint job??? I lord I hope so. That is SO great. Those painters did a fantastic job. I’d love to know if there was a technique or watered down paint or just slapping it on. There isn’t one single person in the world who could claim the before looked better. NO ONE. ~ karen!

      • Kim says:

        Thanks! That’s the finished brick, yes. We love it! The trim is done now, too (below). We used Romabio BioCalce Classico paint, which mimics an old-fashioned lime wash, but is way easier to deal with. You can brush or dab it on—they brushed it on for our job— and then use a hose to remove as much as you like. It cures completely in 5 days. During that time, it’s too dry to hose off, but you can use a power washer to remove it. Oh, and it’s non-toxic for plants, too! So far I’m really pleased.

  47. Karen Too says:

    I like it! Very brave of you. And I thought I was the only person who used the term
    “half-assedly”!

  48. jeanne says:

    I love the wall!
    You were right, it was too orange…

  49. Jennie Lee says:

    I was hoping to see how neat it looks with the LEDs on, at night. Great shadows, I’ll bet. I really enjoyed a Canadian making a Trump joke. Would you like to babysit him, for a while? Please? By the way, WHY is autofill so touchy, where we put our name? It always takes me several tries. I put in 2 letters, then quickly try to click on my name, below, and it vanishes before I can do so. I never have that problem anywhere else. It’s like Whack-a-mole.

  50. Brenda says:

    Here’s the technical reason why you shouldn’t paint brick.
    Brick is a porous material and “breathes”. When you have an exterior wall on an old building, painting the brick seals it and prevents it from drying out efficiently, this could be true on the exterior or interior side of an exterior wall. Because brick is porous, it will always absorb some moisture and leaving it natural helps with the drying of the wall. There’s a lot more to it than just this, and some situations are different, but for an old building, that’s it in a nutshell.
    That said, looks like your wall is an interior wall (air conditioned/heated on both sides of it), so this probably isn’t as much of a big deal (not knowing your house, that’s just a general assumption). But for any of your readers who are thinking about painting the outside of their brick house, I just recommend they fully research and understand the building science behind brick as a material and know what they might be in for.
    Liking painted brick as a look vs. non-painted brick is just a personal preference, but when it could interfere with the building’s integrity, it’s important to understand how the whole system works.

  51. Melinda says:

    It looks stupendous!!! I am amazed by your courage. The 400 pound weigh gain analogy is so apt. Ha! I think Margaret must be very pleased.

  52. Jeffrey Mathews says:

    This is beyond words. It reminds me of the last several paragraphs of “Brideshead Revisited” and the artistic and historical truths conveyed by Charles Ryder in the Chapel.

    Truly TTFW: L’arts pour l’arts

  53. Wendy says:

    I did that once with a black wood desk. My dad had the desk for years, borrowed from his cousin. I coveted it for years, and finally got it for my very own. Kept it black. For years. And then when I moved to my own house with my fella, I sanded it down. I was sneezing black gunk, that’s how much sanding I did.

    And then I got to work with “Chinese Red” oil paint. I thought I’d paint multiple coats. But after brushing on one, the striated effect looked great. And the brass pulls looked better than ever before.

    It’s gone now, because it didn’t fit into my life anymore. But I get the idea of just doing something that you think you should do when the time is right.

  54. Gwen H. says:

    I love the painted wall. Great decision.

  55. Nicole says:

    Love it! So much more interesting than a flat white wall.
    I did something similar with my pantry and front entry – both original exterior walls on my 1930 house. To be honest I ran out of steam after all the priming on some very thirsty brick, but I really like the not-quite finished look!

  56. Laurinda says:

    My father once told me that there’s a special place in hell for people who paint brick. So less than a year after I moved into a place with a brick wall in its windowless kitchen, I primed & painted it. Then the ugly-ass paneling that went 3/4 of the way up those other 3 walls gto the same treatment. All of that white sure helped that poorly designed kitchen!

  57. Karen, I think you did a brave thing, and that you did it with trepidation. Brave can often mean, in the end, stupid, like Thelma and Louise, although they pretty much didn’t have many options – damn Brad Pitt – but doing something outside the ‘expected’ realms of decorating, and being a little unsure is the only way to go.
    Love what you did, love that your non-relative is hanging, and no longer leaning (I doubt she was ever hanged), and that you are happy with your wall.
    Unlike many, I care about opinions, but typically only AFTER the fact I’ve decided that I’m going for it, regardless, with “caution”.
    As always, love your blog
    Charlotte T

  58. Danni McLaughlin says:

    I’ve painted brick and stone and natural wood in all five houses I’ve had over the years. With the ones I had, it just looked SO MUCH BETTER. But since everyone keeps mentioning how hard it is to deal with orange tones….. out here in Oregon, most of the wood floors are red oak or fir. Both age orange, and I had to redo mine due to generally slothful housekeeping + a bunch of kids and pets… and when I restained them (ahem, supervised them being restained….) I picked a grey stain and it completely obliterated the orange-y tone and everyone who sees them goes nuts. They are sorta RH brown/grey/weathered. So there is NO SURFACE too precious for a new treatment or lick of paint! Thanks for giving people the courage to do what they want with their houses!

  59. Gina Reed says:

    LOVE IT!!!!

  60. Lynn says:

    Have to say Margret looks pleased with your choice of both not full coverage of brick an not moving her.
    Brick can look beautiful if it has the right area an size of area where it is. Otherwise it truly is the elephant in the room sucking all life an light from the area.
    As Brenda says painting brick can truly cause more damage than one might realize , as most people think of them as solid but they are not the breath an need air to keep them healthy. Those that paint solid colour on houses made of brick need to really to get advice about what they can an not paint them with.
    Interior brick is a different story as it does not deal with same weather conditions ( hopefully).
    I like you would have hummed an hawed maybe just as long about painting them , possibly even going so far as just to hiding them behind drywall .
    I love old house for there trim most of the time thought I would always think how much better it would look with said trim painted white… ( it just brightens everything) .

  61. Mary W says:

    I haven’t read any comments just so I can leave my opinion without undo pressure. I really like it. I like that you see a brick wall. I like that you see each brick. I like the white washed effect. I like the whiteness but not WHITENESS on a brick wall. It feels right at home in yours.

    By the way, we had 13 people 7 pets and IRMA all visiting the last few days. No electric. It really was fun. All the talk and laughter took the scariness away and it was a perfect Hurricane party. Not by choice (since we had all planned to leave) but by necessity. Three main roads North out of South Florida were bumper to bumper, no gas, no food/water in any store. So we stuck it out and had one persimmon tree fall on the chain length fence, tons of leaves and branches and lots of big balls of mistletoe. The dogs all got along. I hid the bird from the cats. The electric just came on and I can finally take a shower. We hurricane ate (eat anything you can get your hands on to eliminate nerves) but friends brought lots of lobster and so much cake and cookies and fruit. Lots of meat from freezers that were going to be without electric. We cooked on gas grill and it was actually cool last night so the windows got opened and fresh air in and two generators got hooked up last night for fans, freezer, and refrigerator. Man it was fun! So now everyone is going home, I’m tired and can’t face clean-up. (We carried pails of water from the pool into the bathrooms in order to flush.) I missed the toilet during the night and dumped the whole pail onto the floor. I need a flashlight! The cat was a maniac and she jumped on my little dogs back, dug her claws into each of my dogs ears and rode her like a bucking bronco all through the house. Very scary for poor Trixie but hilarious for us. The cat’s name is Painintheass. (payn in thee as) – Get it? We were so very blessed and so sorry for others that weren’t as lucky.

  62. Patricia says:

    I really really really like the brick wall. It looks a lot like the exterior of a house in my home town where a professor of architecture lived. I have never forgotten it – it’s just so cool to sort of paint it and keep the great texture of the old brick.

  63. Christine Diaz says:

    The white brick looks good. Just curious if you ever considered throwing up a dummy drywall in the previous 17 yrs? I’m a house painter by trade, might have been what I would suggest if a moral struggle was in place!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christine. I thought of it but never considered it. It’s the texture of the brick I like. I didn’t want just a wall of flat drywall. 🙂 ~ karen!

  64. Jane says:

    Huh. I too thought Ack. You can’t! And the finished product isn’t bad– I suspect it’s amazing in person– And I loved the whitewashed version: huge better. So, lesson to me. Start small, but uh, do start.

  65. Jackie Cameron says:

    Love it, Karen. We bought our house just about 12 years ago (it was built in 1985) and it has faux brick as a kitchen back splash. It’s not plastic but really looks like brick. I was ok with it for several years but noticed how dark it made the kitchen. I tried painting it white but didn’t get very far because I didn’t like it. The top part of my kitchen was an off white & they didn’t go together very well. So we painted the whole kitchen. The top is an off white like it was & the bottom 1/3 is a buckskin color (it was a dark country blue). We did the brick in the same color as the upper walls. I loved it – for a while. I really wanted to put in a new back splash but didn’t want the work or the expense. I have tried a few other colors & right now it is shiny metallic gold. I was looking for a metal look. I don’t really like it but my husband does. It has darkened the kitchen once again. I think I am going to try your idea but maybe match the upper walls again but not paint it too solid. I may just like it again. Little flecks of gold might just do the trick. Thanks for all your help & ideas. You make me a better decorator. I love how you always think outside the box.

  66. Kari says:

    I LOVE the painted wall. Very nice!

  67. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    OK…that’s it…I’m going to paint my brick inside chimney…looks great Karen!

  68. Jim says:

    I’m not a fan of red brick. At all. I think painting it white was a great idea, not just because of the way it looks now, but the versatility an unlimited palette brings to the room. If ‘dark and scary’ was the problem, you could have tried an interim measure, though, and moved that painting somewhere.

  69. Glenda says:

    Brick….pffft! I have a bossy, ugly fireplace that I am now just able to convince the hubby to reface. So often it is muddled, mucky and old but not in a good way (wait, what old is good?! ). #wine.duh

    Good for you, so brave as usual.

    Thanks for sharing!

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