Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine

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Painting A Fireplace

Where have I been the last few weeks, you ask?  Well, I’ve been missing my blogging, because I’ve been (extremely) busy working at that thing called my “real job,” and in my spare time I’ve been putting the finishing touches on various home improvement projects, including painting our fireplace – which is what you lucky readers will get to hear all about today.

While I realize my home is far from Maine, one of the characteristics of a Mainer tends to be an independent, ‘I’ll do it myself’ resourcefulness.  As a result, I really enjoy tackling almost any type of challenge, and I take great pride in the projects my husband and I have completed at our house, with our own two (or four, math has never been my strong suit) hands.

I’d been thinking about painting the fireplace in our den space for some time, and as our connected space between the formal living room and den continued to come together, it became clear that it was the right choice to get the look I want in the finished space.  But before I tell you how to paint a fireplace, I have to thank my mom – the room wouldn’t have come so far without her willingness to spend a long weekend on ‘vacation’ in NC helping me paint!  Her visits always make me feel more connected to my roots, and they almost always involve a project that leaves our house a little more beautiful than it was before.

My own inclination and my husband’s and mother’s encouragement ultimately led to my decision to paint the fireplace the same white as the trim of the room.  In so many ways, I’ve made it my mission to make the spaces in our home as light and airy as possible, so when it came to painting the fireplace, a cheerful, bright white seemed like the perfect solution.

The project itself turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated.  Here’s what you need to do, and why it’s not as easy as it sounds:

1) Prep the fireplace by clearing the area and cleaning it – I chose to vacuum my fireplace and use a water and vinegar solution to clean the areas that seemed to really need it.  Various sites I visited recommended using a wire brush on the brick, and then vacuuming.  While I didn’t use a wire brush, and I don’t think it’s necessary, it may be something you want to do – particularly if your fireplace has a lot of soot build up.

2) Gather your painting supplies – paint, trays, rollers (remember to get the thick roller covers for painting rough surfaces), paint brushes (I recommend using old ones, or cheap ones – the brick will destroy them by the time you’re finished), drop cloths, wet rags, etc.

3) Get down to business – the fun begins (and ends) with the first coat.  I began by rolling the entire fireplace, and then going over the trim and mantle using a paint brush.  It was exciting and fulfilling to get that initial coat on, despite the effort involved.  The difference between painting a smooth wall surface and a brick fireplace is substantial.  My arms rapidly began aching from the effort to press down on the roller and apply a decent coat…  and then I stepped back and realized just how many coats it would probably take to get the coverage I wanted.  Eeek!

First coat!

First coat!

But I persevered.  It took all weekend, three full coats with the roller, three coats with the paint brush on the trim and mantle, and an additional coat, using the paint brush rather than the roller, on the mortar.

My goal was to achieve mostly solid white coverage, with some of the brick texture peeking through.  For completely solid coverage, with all porous areas filled in, I’d recommend renting a paint sprayer and using that – it would be a heck of a lot easier!

Bright and fresh!

Bright and fresh!

I’m really pleased with the end result, even though it was, quite frankly, exhausting to get to it.  Next project: the updating the wet bar cabinetry and counter tops!

Are you working on any home improvement projects?  Painting tips for fireplaces you’d like to share?  Businesses you think I should write about?

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What do you love about Maine?

One week from today, I will be back in Maine, and I can’t wait.  Each time I go home, I experience the most incredible sense of well-being.  I don’t know how else to describe it – it’s as if the place itself reminds me of who I truly am.

I’ve already put together an ‘itinerary’ of sorts (sorry Mom, Dad, Nick, K, and Eddie – who will all be ‘privileged’ with the opportunity to participate in this madness) of places I want to go to and document for future blog posts.  I hope that excites you as much as it excites me!

With that in mind, I wanted to ask you – what do you love about Maine?  Is there something specific you’d like me to write about, and if so, what is it?  Maybe I can research it during this trip – or at least prepare to do so during future visits.

A few of the things I love about Maine are:

  • the people (their ingenuity, commitment to community, work ethic, and so much more)
  • the coast (who doesn’t?)
  • the mountains (for their recreational activities – hiking, skiing, snowboarding, etc.)
  • the seasons
  • the way Portland is becoming increasingly recognized as a ‘foodie’ city


There are two very distinct moments in my life (so far) when I’ve realized what a special place Maine is. Even years later, the clarity of these memories is very strong. The first occurred when I was about 15, driving our 4-wheeler home from a day of working and riding horses at Vienna Farm.  I was near our neighborhood, and drove up a hill overlooking a meadow.  When I came to the top and saw the way the sun filtered in through the trees, I was immediately struck by the simple beauty of it. I remember thinking that I’d never really seen Maine as ‘beautiful’ before – it was just where I lived, not necessarily special – it was the first time I could understand why Mom and Dad chose to live here and not leave. Now, as an adult, I’m sure there were other, more practical reasons as well, but as a fanciful fifteen-year-old, the beauty was what mattered to me.

My second ‘enlightening,’ you might say, came during a summer home from college as I was strolling through the Old Port. For the first time, I saw the Old Port through the eyes of a visitor – perhaps a prospective student – and the immense appeal of the place hit me at once.  I’d just taken it for granted – the charming cobblestone streets and brick buildings – the oceanfront – the great shopping – the excellent bar hopping.  And I could suddenly see why someone, anyone, would want to live here, whether they’d grown up here or not.

Old Port

Thanks for joining me in my trip down memory lane, and I do hope you’ll share a memory of your own with me, or a reason you’ve come to love the great state of Maine.  As I asked above, what do you love about Maine?

6 days to go…