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. Sera says:

    I love it! I’m so exited to see what you come up with! I too think maybe that beam lying on the floor would work instead of molding for the top. And I’m sure whatever paint job you end up with will look gorgeous! If you try to distress it and it doesn’t look right, you always have the backup plan of fully painted white. Either way, I’m sure it will look amazing. I realize as I write this that you’ve probably already painted it by now. You know you could always give us teaser photos, like detail shots. I know we wouldn’t mind at all. ;)

  2. cheryl seals says:

    Karen by the way i agree about the crown moulding, but u can have it replicated from some one who know how an since u don’t need a ton of it it shouldn’t be expensive…I had to have that done with the floor moulding last year when we tore out all the carpet an stained the floors…who ever put the stuff in decide to use very long nail so the first couple of boards split on us until we got our act together ! hehe And yes i refused to replace all of baseboards because of two pieces…Waste of materials an money…..hope this helps if you didnt think about that… cheryl

  3. beth says:

    You’re such a tease Karen. At the end of this post you said you were going to paint “today or tomorrow” then you hooked us up with TV recommendations! We are all dying to know what happened between you, the paint brush and the brick wall? When will the next episode air!
    I personally vote for a clean warm color, white, soft grey etc. And a false beam across the top of just the brick wall, maybe coming down along the dining room door entrance too. i am super curious as to what goes at the ground level in front of the brick wall, will there be any cabinets, or furniture in front of this wall? Curiosity killed the cat you know…is that what you are hoping?
    We had a scandinavian christmas this year, their style really is elegant and refined.

  4. Lee says:

    You don’t need to replace all the molding. I saw this on one of the DIY home sites.

    You can copy and cut your own molding.

    • Karen says:

      That’s a fun tool alright! But it isn’t for making moulding. It just copies the profile to make cutting and fitting crowns easier.

  5. Sandra says:

    Karen, I have just recently started following your blog, and I am hooked! You have tremendous talent and a lot of gumption. I love your sense of humor, sarcasm and wit, I often find myself laughing out loud. I remember you from years ago on television and I must say that you haven’t aged! I am looking forward to seeing the end result but definitely will enjoy the step by step as well. Thanks letting us into your home to share in your renovating adventures!

    I’ve always loved the look brick painted white – I envy you that wall – and the old house in general. I agree with the suggestion of covering the four inch gap with a sort of wooden valance, painted white of course, with some sort of lighting that will highlight the beautiful brick. As for that little hole in the middle of the wall, how about using it to display a small clever?..a bit of wit, and your trademark as well!

    Looking forward to your next post, from an Ottawa Valley girl, now living in the wild wild west!


    • Karen says:

      Welcome to my site Sandra. Glad you found it. Now go round up all of your friends and make them read it too. Where from the Ottawa Valley? My mom’s from Renfrew and I’ve been pretty much everywhere in the area. Even Wes’ chip truck on several occasions. If you don’t know Wes’ I’m gonna have to take your Valley girl card away. ~ karen

  6. Anita says:

    “More than one way to piss off a cat…” (Snort!) You crack me up! I can’t wait to see what crazy idea your inspired sister (inspired idea / crazy sister?) came up with. I’m sure it will be wonderful. By the way. If you are covering up any holes, you should hide something inside for future renovators to find and puzzle over… Maybe a picture of yourself holding a meat cleaver and the blog’s URL, framed with chicken bones of course! Or maybe just a cat toy (another way to piss them off…).

  7. Feral Turtle says:

    These are exciting times for your cats!! Are you loving your warm floor? The heat is so much different than forced air!

    • Karen says:

      I love, love, LOVE my floors! The amount they heat up the whole room is craziness. I might have to do a follow up post on them! ~ karen

  8. Diana says:

    Over the bricks I would build a special lightconstruction. A beautiful and smooth light.
    Maybe with satin glass….

    And you are so right… The thinking Person- I have never named it- is so annoying!!!

  9. Amanda B. says:

    Also, this question goes out to anyone who can answer… Since I am new to all this ( all this being blogging/blog sites ) I was wondering, how does one go about putting up their pic to go with their name such as Karen and several others have? -I’m sure there’s some totally simple and logical answer to this, I just don’t know what it is. Lol

  10. Amanda B. says:

    I am new to your site as I just happened to stumble across it about an hour or so ago and I’ve been hooked ever since ( which is saying a lot since by nature I’m not a huge reader but oddly enough I love books and quite frequently I’m found spending countless hours at our local Barnes and Nobel… but anyway what was I saying? Something about a squirrel? ) Oh yeah, nevermind that was another conversation I was having earlier today. First and foremost I just love your style and seemingly endless and vast array of new/practical ideas but what I adore most is your sense of humor. I mean what could possibly be better than being able to find just about any number of diy projects that are cheap, effective and fun and at the same time have a really good laugh or two in the process?

    Anyway, thanks for doing what you do and please don’t ever stop!

    ~Amanda B.

    P.S.I have a question I’d like to ask you, would it be okay to shoot you a quick email?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amanda B. – Just click on the “Ask Karen” button at the top right of the site. I’m not able to answer everyone’s questions (I spend a lot of time making up knock knock jokes and brushing my cats) but I’ll do my best. ~ karen

  11. Fifi says:

    Jeez Whiz….finally!!!! A kitchen update…I been waiting for a post like this to come along in my mail slot… so exciting you now have your Martha Stewart cabinets!!!I imagine it is like Christmas morning all over again , but better! Looking at those holes and missing bits in the brick wall, was making my eyes and brain twitch a bit…..but I think once you work your magic, it will look awesome and give the wall character. I was wondering about that little square hole in the middle of the brick as well….hmmmm…what would Karen do….make it a tiny art niche….use it for a salt and pepper shelf……stick a tiny skull in it….maybe a golden egg….oh this is killing me!!!!!! Take your time Karen….but HURRY UP LOL!!!!

  12. Cynna says:

    Lucky you! The other side of mine are clapboard and the great outdoors.

  13. Cynna says:

    Have fun! I spent an entire winter, five years ago, restoring four 150 year old brick walls that were unearthed during renovation. After researching and mixing historically correct mortar, I got to work replacing the bricks the electrician removed during rewiring–some of which had to be chopped to size to fit, and shoring up a zillion gaps, plus replacing loose mortar. It was a messy, tedious job and I have new respect for masons. One suggestion for you: insulate as much as you can behind and in between the brick since you’re now without the plaster wall in front of it.

  14. martina says:

    Don’t they make a brick veneer type material? You could maybe use that at the top where the real bricks stop. When painted it would look like it was brickwork floor to ceiling. Another thing, couldn’t any good cabinetmaker replicate your existing crown molding/moulding pattern and cut some more for you?
    Kilz primer on the brick, then paint it. Will make the job much easier-know from experience. We all know your kitchen will be magnificent when completed!

  15. Susan says:

    Didn’t you say you were going to use that brick wall as a kind of design wall? My first thought was similar to another already posted, which is to create a narrow box with a light that casts down onto the wall. Then, no matter what you do with it, it will be a striking part of the room, and whatever is on it will be nicely lit from above.

    Can’t wait to see the end result. Don’t envy you all the work, but do admire you for what you’re about to accomplish.

  16. Jeannie B says:

    Your wall will look beautiful, painted white. Wouldn’t it be great, if walls could talk. They’ve been there while generations of people, have come and gone.

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