The Kitchen Renovation.
The Brick Wall.


I’d show you a picture of them but they look like pretty much anything else in a cardboard box.

So NOW the work begins. Oh my God. I can’t believe I just said “the work begins”.  The work has been going on since about last April.  That’s when this whole ridiculous fiasco began.  With me deciding, pretty much on a whim, that I was going to rip up my kitchen floor and install radiant heating and  composite tiles.

The kitchen has been a mess since then. And so have my nails.

Even though the cabinets are here, I’m not ready to have them installed yet. I want to wait until the sink, stove and fridge are here, plus I still need to rip out the rest of the old kitchen, repair the floor and paint and repair the walls.

I couldn’t do any of that until I knew when the cabinets were coming. And, as is often the case with renovating, I had no idea when they were coming until the delivery people called to tell me they were on their way.

One of the walls I need to paint and repair is this brick wall.


Brick Wall

It’s only the slightest bit of a mess. Compared to say,  a port-a-potty beside a Mexican restaurant beside a construction site, it’s positively pristine.   I found the brick wall behind my old pantry. Well, behind the drywall that was behind the pantry actually. If you missed it, I highly suggest you watch the video of my mother Betty ripping out the drywall in her Fitflops.

My house was built around 1840 (I wish I knew the exact date and everyone who lived here and all that stuff, but I don’t), and every 50 years  or so someone puts on a little addition.  Because of that the house has several brick walls inside, all which were the home’s exterior wall at some point.

When we first unearthed, or unsheetrocked I suppose, the wall I was hoping I could maybe strip it and leave the brick.  It’s partly painted, partly stained and has big chunks of missing bricks.  All the better to hide a body in I suppose.  Or body parts at least.

After further consideration and consultation with my psychic, my social worker, letter carrier, neighbour, plumber, counsellor, councillor and cats, I’ve decided to paint the wall white.  It will go better with the Scandinavian feel I’m going for AND it’ll be easier.  Pretty much everyone agreed, except the cats, but they’re assholes.


Brick Wall 2

My interior designer Carol Reed and my sister with the pink suede tool belt are walking me through the disaster of the brick wall.

Carol sent me these inspiration photos of a variety of painted brick wall finishes.  Because there’s more than one way to piss off a cat.

White Brick Wall

This wall is straight up, painted white. No distressing, no whitewashing. Just a beautiful, clean, white, brick wall.

3- Brick Walls

And here, ladies and gentlemen, we have various brick walls in various stages of distress.  I really, really love the middle one, but again, it isn’t quite right for the space I’m envisioning. “The space I’m envisioning” Hah!  I sound like a snot.  The point is, I want it a little cleaner looking, something closer to the wall on the right.  That wall looks fairly solid with a bit of shading and shadowing which looks very natural and authentic.

Two Brick Walls
The wall on the right here is nice, but it’s completely whitewashed and I can’t really do that without stripping my entire brick wall.  The one on the left looks pretty good though.
Rough Brick Wall

And this final wall is O.K.   I’m not in love with it.  I feel like I can actually see the person standing in front of it deciding which bricks to paint over and which bricks to keep natural.  If I can actually see the thinking process in something that’s a bad sign.

The cats liked it.  They really are assholes.

The other problem I have to figure out is the big mess at the top of the wall where the bricks hit the ceiling. Or rather don’t hit the ceiling.  There’s about a 4″ strip between the bricks and the ceiling that’s just a mishmash of wood.  The crown moulding I have right now is no longer available so I have to figure out a way to disguise the wood near the ceiling or replace ALL of my crown moulding.  Which I will fight doing tooth and nail.  My sister with the pink tool belt came up with a partially ingenious, partially insane solution.  I’m going to try it and if it works, I’ll let you know.

So tonight and tomorrow I’ll be tackling the brick wall with a can of paint and a paintbrush.  I have a little bit of a plan in my head about how I’m going to go about it and how I want it to look, but for the most part I’ll just start painting and figure it out as I go.

And when I’m finished no one will be able to see my thinking process.  I think.



  1. karen l says:

    I spy with my little eye a gorgeous beam that will look fabulous at the top of the wall! Good thinking. My crazy cat would tell me to use the vertical niche as a display space for some of my fun (weird) objects.
    Super idea for the white painted brick. Can’t wait to see the “after”.

  2. Jamie H. says:

    In looking at your picture of your wall, could you possibly use some tool to make little grooves in the wood that would be where the mortar would be if the bricks continued up to the ceiling. then when you paint it, make it look as if the wood was brick? Might not work, but it might :)

  3. NikiDee says:

    I painted the brick backsplash in my kitchen a creamy off white using a satin. I’m not a lover of shiny surfaces (we also have an 1800’s farmhouse). Somehow shiny walls don’t scream farmhouse to me…. but I bet your cats love shiny – don’t they.

    • NikiDee says:

      Oh! I should give credit where credit is due… I saw Lynne Knowltons kitchen on her blog & the colors made my heart sing. A quick email later, Lynne was kind enough to share the colors with me. Yup, I’m a copy cat…but not an asshole.

  4. Deb J says:

    You realize that my patience for waiting for the reveal is pretty much non-existent. I want to see it all – and NOW! ‘Course that ain’t gonna happen but maybe you could set up the chicken cam and we impatients (in patients:)) could watch real time. However, I suspect that might have a negative impact on the creative juices. But I really can’t wait to see your top of wall solution. And I want to know what the plans are for that big honking slab of board you have on the floor. If you don’t want it, I’m sure I could find a use for it:)
    Hurry, hurry!

  5. Marti says:

    I’m here for you, Karen. You know that, right? So… paint and then send a photo. You have my email address.

    And you know I’m every bit as ready to mock you on private email as I am here on the blog. ;)

    Uh, have the cats give me a call when they wake up.

  6. korrine says:

    I love the one in the first set of 2 pics, on the right. I am a jealous jellybean.

  7. Jasmine says:


    I really like the first and second inspiration photos. I can suggest a technique if you like the third. Paint it white and in some spots dab black and mix it around, eh? I am not from Canadia but decided that eh? really works there. :)


  8. Bols says:

    @Kaela –

    It is my understanding that exposed brick, if unpainted, needs to be sealed (I believe there is a special app, umm I mean sealant, for that).

    @ Karen –

    I love exposed brick in all variations – completely naked, partially stripped, painted (white). I think the only right paint for exposed brick is white.
    I look forward to seeing the finished result BUT PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me you are NOT one of those people (I actually have a name for those but I won’t mention it here) who leaves unpainted strips of wall where the cabinets go. How hard is it to drag the roller all the way down? It drives me BONKERS on every Renovation Realities episode (and other similar shows).

  9. ~JackieVB says:

    I really like to browse for design/remodeling/decorating ideas. I know I’ve seen some interior brick ideas there. Sorry can’t link to them though as I’m at work ;)

  10. What are you going to do with the hole in the middle of the wall? Just curious.

  11. Typically I go for a brick wall with a little character like the ones you have shown here but I fell in love with the really clean white one Carol sent too. It just seems so calming and crisp. Either way, I cannot wait to see what you end up with. You always do a beautiful job.

  12. Lynn Rollins says:

    (website under construction but new year’s goal is to get it great!) LOVE the very first one with the tufted chair in the corner. It seems the most Scandinavian, in the sense that it’s the most simple of all. I am into that too right now, color be gone…. clean, crisp, uncluttered, minimal white bliss. Carry on! I know you’ll get it exactly like you want it! Happy New Year…. soon it will be time to find fiber optic grass again…. I intend to have it again this year and taunt you….

  13. marilyn says:

    let me know if you need me to bring chips

  14. Gail says:

    Hey….I was just talking to hubby and he said that you can buy half bricks at a brick place. There’s one near ya…

  15. JF says:

    wow, I’m thrilled, intimidated and immensely glad I can vicariously live through your reno while my (boring, pedestrian) place stays pristine. . .or at least livable — can’t wait to see how the wall turns out

    don’t listen to the cats, they’re just jealous of your opposable thumbs

  16. Gail says:

    Have you looked into faux bricks? You can either paint faux bricks on a piece of wood or buy thin bricks. Also have a boo in the tile section. Seems like they have a lot of brick-like stuff.

  17. jane says:

    Want to know who owned your house? Go to your Land Titles office (or whatever they call it in Ontario), pay the small fee, and you can get the history of who held title. Its fun and easy.

  18. Suzanne @ Le Farm says:

    …sometimes you just have to keep an open mind as “it” tells you what “it” will freakin’ allow! (“It”, meaning your stubborn ol’ brick wall that won’t reveal how it’s going to look in a sparkling new coat of white wash until the bitter end.) Thank God you are a relentless renovator that won’t stop until it looks “just right”…good luck, Goldilocks!!

  19. Debbie W. says:

    The cats are assholes!!! OMG just about spit coffee out my nose!! Classic!! Love the brick wall too, whatever you do will be awesome!!

  20. Su says:

    don’t you just love how old houses make you change and rethink your plan? You start with a reno idea and the house says to you hmmm no you can’t do that you have to do this instead?? good luck with the painting – can’t wait to see it!

  21. Jody says:

    Personally I love the brick wall the way it is–lots of character. But enough about the wall….How are the chickens in this crazy crazy cold. This morning it is -24. Can the chicks come inside?

    • Karen says:

      Jody – I would absolutely bring the chickens inside to spare them! But I didn’t. What I ended up doing was locking them in their small, sleeping roost area. That way it gave their body heat a chance to warm up the area before it got incredibly cold. I’m going to keep them in there until the temperature is a bit more reasonable. It worked perfectly by the way. Their bodies and a lamp were enough to keep their sleeping area above freezing which to them is balmy. ~ karen

  22. Tigersmom says:

    “Compared to say, a port-a-potty beside a Mexican restaurant beside a construction site, it’s positively pristine.”

    This is one of the many reasons I like you to a point just before it becomes creepy.

    As for that wall, artificially (and even some naturally) distressed finishes make me itch, so my vote is for the beautiful clean solid white.

    And as for the solution, I wonder if it involves using that large board lying in front of the wall as a sort of crown moulding on the brick part of the wall which may actually work (as a further means of making a feature of and highlighting the brick wall) because the texture of the brick wall makes it different enough from the neighboring wall. Are you going to try it leaving it raw first and then if you hate that, painting it white, too? What do the cats think? Maybe you should ask them and then just do the opposite of whatever they say.

    And I now see the source of the marble in so many of pictures. It’s on what is going to become your island, perhaps? I’m going to have to go back and look at your floor plan and your other kitchen reno posts since I have slept soooooo many times since this thing started. Which leads me to a request: Will you please do a recap post on the before state of your kitchen sometime close to right before the big completed reveal?

    • Karen says:

      So a before prior to the after? ~ karen!

      • Tigersmom says:

        Ok – now that I have had enough coffee I realize that I may have been asking for something you were already planning on doing.

        I actually know better than to try and talk before coffee. Too bad that doesn’t translate in my brain to not typing before coffee, too.

        I also can’t believe I was foolish enough to think that you had demo-ed your entire kitchen before having the new stuff there and ready to go in. No, that is something I would have done (and did, well, not actually me, due to the time crunch we were in on our long -distance reno.) I was seriously wondering how you entertained for both Thanksgiving and Christmas with just your grill and maybe a borrowed hot plate. Doh!

  23. Ruth says:

    I actually prefer the very first one, but – then again – I never did ‘get’ the fascination with the whole distressing thing. Distressing a perfectly good paint job = waste of perfectly good paint = befuddling, to say the least. A distressing state of affairs…. :D

    If you actually decide on that middle one, which looks like an old warehouse of some sort, I think I might have kittens. LOL!

  24. Kelly says:

    I can always count on Carol Reed to make me absolutely drool. LOVE that first picture. I’m ready to move to find a house where I can have those windows and the beautiful brick wall, but then I’m a wee bit promiscuous about real estate. Other people like buying art or fashionably clothes. I like buying houses. And it’s amazing the things I learn here: brick dust. who knew????? I’ve lusted for an interior brick wall for, like, ever and here I’m finding out about brick dust.

  25. Bonnie G. says:

    Bazinga! You got me. I can’t wait to see what you do but somehow I know it will be ingenious and look great! This is getting so exciting that I’m imagining it’s the remodel of my own kitchen again. Sooo exciting … hope I don’t pee my pants!

    BTW Happy New Year Karen.

  26. Teddee Grace says:

    Good luck! I also like the center example in the row of three. Also, thank you, thank you for using the word “ingenious.” Most bloggers in the states would be substituting “genius” and I even saw this misuse in Glamour magazine recently. Of course your sister may be a genius, not insane, to come up with this ingenious idea. I’ll be waiting to see.

  27. Valerie says:

    Do you ever feel like you are hitting your head against a brick wall?
    Vote for the brick painted white, then with a few large white subway tiles somewhere else to compliment the brick.

  28. Caro says:

    Good choice to go for the clean white exposed brick wall! We have exactly that in our kitchen and diner and I love it. It adds a lot of interest to the room while still matching the other plastered white walls. And it doesn’t look rustic but Scandinavian clean and bright..which is appropriate, I think, as the wall is in Scandinavia ;-)

    Btw, we constructed a diy-light-solution to conceal the wall-ceiling-problem. It’s basically a white wooden plank mounted diagonally with fluorescent tubes behind it. Gives a beautiful indirect light, which pronounces the bricks even more.

  29. Julie says:

    What’s up with the ombre grey wall in the background?

    • Karen says:

      Oh, lol. That’s from ages ago. From before when I was just going to paint the kitchen and redo the floor. I was looking for gray colours. Then all of a sudden I was redoing the whole kitchen and so the walls have been like that for several months. :) ~ karen

  30. Jen says:

    Love the concept of the brick wall. However, I doubt the house built in 1964 has a nice brick wall hiding behind the sheet rock. So jealous of old houses.
    ~ Jen

  31. Cathy says:

    Looking at the wall where bricks are missing makes me think of cubbies, or [since you are such “a snot” now (HEY! You said it!)], a niche where one of your fabulously eclectic items could reside.
    I like the idea of a wood shelf at the top too. Something dark and rustic for contrast?

  32. Nikki C says:

    We had an exposed brick wall in our last house and did remove it
    All back to the natural orange colour but we also sealed it in to keep the dust at a minimum seeing our house was built in 1880
    You could always get some of the vintage brick tiles for the top row

  33. Christy says:

    Yep, you’re right. Cats are assholes. If they get too sassy, put them to work. I hear cat tails are the perfect texture for painting brick. Not sure how you’ll get them to paint and stop giving out their opinions though but your clever. Good luck!

  34. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Didn’t you just show us your thought process?? Don’t you know that cats rule..they just keep us around to fill their

  35. Edith says:

    That would make a great art feature wall. Maybe let a graffiti artist at it, right over the brick. I think something edgy and abstract would look great. I visualize something in bold strokes – white, black and red. Something dramatic. Then put a frame around the whole thing covering up the wound on top.

  36. Stephanie Hobson says:

    Whatever you decide, please let us in on the “partially ingenious, partially insane solution” your “sister with the pink tool belt” came up with. Being as how she’s your sister I’ll bet it rocks.

  37. victoria says:

    i would just clean it and seal it! everything else will be new in the kitchen i assume? so why not leave some funk. .. put something weird in the crevices where the bricks are missing. …. Sorry, I’m with the cats and a total a-hole. .!

  38. kaela says:

    Well, as a Boston native for many years, and the renter of many a charmingly tiny exposed-brick-wall apartment, I will share with you one advantage of painting the wall: brick dust. With the amount of brick dust that comes off of an old brick wall on a DAILY basis, you would think the entire Northeast would have fallen into ruin by now. While I always loved the look (the warmth! the charm! the excellent way of hiding that I couldn’t afford artwork!), that dust was a serious bane. Paint, however, seals it all in. It’s a mercy. The cats would thank you if only they knew.

    As for the top bit: it’s hard to get a sense of your kitchen from the picture of the brick wall, but would a shelf section at the top work? Maybe for cookbooks, or wine storage, or even just knick-knacky things? Then you could just back the shelving with something cool and ignore the whole 4 inches of schmutz problem. Or, even simpler, a great piece of weathered board or beam might look fabulous. Of course, my construction skills suck, so my primary strategy tends to be camouflage & distract.

    • Irene says:

      Well, there you go; Kaela posted *exactly* what I was thinking already; *both* the ideas she suggested came to mind. :-)

      • Irene says:

        Oh ooooh! My husband just came up with a nice idea; how about gorgeous wood built into a box shape, with the wiring for down lights inside. Lights shining down, and big lovely (maybe antique) hooks to hang pots and pans?
        Of course, all of this depends on whether you will be placing cabinets there or not. I assume not, seeing as you want to show off the brick?

        • theresa says:

          oooh I like this idea! especially with the fully painted brick wall–loved loved loved the first picture–but I would want a dark stained floor and palest grey walls.

    • Emily says:

      Karen, I second what Kaela suggested… as that was what I was going to suggest. I have shelves in part of my kitchen then going on to my dining room… LOVE it for knick knacks and such.
      Can’t wait to see the finished product !

  39. Marna says:

    Wow you have a lot ahead of you, good luck! You can find the whole history of your house if you are up to do a lot of research. You can go back to when the land was first purchased, settled, original owners and on forward. You have to find the previous owners and work backwards, check land deeds, etc. Could be fun if you have the time. It would be really interesting with such an old house. You may even find some old documents as you tear things down! :)

    • Karen says:

      Yeah … lol … I definitely do not have the time. :) Well. That’s not entirely true. If I were to give up bathing and sleeping I could squeeze a bit in. ~ karen!

  40. shuckclod says:

    I would go for the plain white. Make sure you seal it. I love the distressed ones, but in a living room or bedroom. You can always add to it if you think it is to plain. :)

  41. Corinne says:

    Can’t wait to see it finished. As for the brick wall, why not treat it like a work of art and add a wide frame around it as you would a painting. Just a thought. But I am sure whatever you choose to do will be beautiful.
    Best of Luck!

  42. Jasmine says:

    If the cats are assholes, can’t you call them assheads? Please?

  43. Susan Preston says:

    They all look great but the completely painted wall with a washable paint looks best to me if you ever want to clean any kitchen cooking smoke, grease or grime off it. That’s the practical side of me coming out. On the other hand if you just want to look at your kitchen and not use it any one of them will look good. But really just do what you want. I’m sure the cats will like getting the house back to normal one way or the other! Good Luck!

    • Karen says:

      Sue – I also have brick over and around the stove. It’s painted in a semi-gloss which wipes well. This other brock wall is on the other side of the kitchen so it’ll be fine. For the first time in my life I’m going to have a range hood! So that baby should suck up pretty much everything. ~ karen!

  44. Tash @ The Dreamhouse Project says:

    OH Karen I love Love LOVE an exposed brick wall. I was hoping for one of those in our home but unfortunately when we ‘unsheetrocked’ (I love that word and am stealing it btw) the walls in our Dreamhouse, it revealed a mishmash of plaster, poorly constructed wood framing, & some random things like lottery tickets & tongue & groove hardwood flooring…but I digress…
    Happy painting. I can’t wait to see how your brick wall turns out. I think white is the right choice as well so tell the cats to piss off & do it your way! :)

    • Karen says:

      Those cats. Bastards, the whole lot of them. As an fyi, I thought when I did a quick glance of your comment that you found a tongue in your wall, lol. How your blog/dreamhouse project is coming along! ~ karen!

      • Tash @ The Dreamhouse Project says:

        LOL! No, no tongues. But apparently we have a pet cemetery somewhere in our backyard. Like seriously – a metal box full of dog remains – at least that’s what our neighbour told us. Awesome right!?

  45. Cynthia Jones says:

    Consider using a large sea sponge instead of a paintbrush. The technique is…..dob,dob. If that idea seems worth a try, you will need to put a little paint in a large shallow tray to dob the sponge in. As I have no idea what look you are going for, this idea can be trashed after reading the first five words.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. No trashing necessary. But sponge painting isn’t the look I’m going for. I’m not sure what the look I’m going for actually is, but a little playing around and I’m sure I’ll figure it out. ~ karen!

  46. Jamieson says:

    Looking forward to seeing the results! How’s about I take pictures and bring them to show you whenever I visit you at the looney bin you may wind up in when you’re done?

  47. Amie Mason says:

    Super, super exciting! I love the first photo from Carol; no overhead cupboards either. Can’t wait for the big reveal!

  48. Jane says:

    Well, they all look great and I think your plan is best…..just start and see what happens! If all else fails….the solid white still looks fantastic!!

  49. Ella says:

    You go, girl!

  50. Carla says:

    Kitchen porn before bed time, I love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Seed Starting Calculator

  • About Karen