Lime Washing the Fireplace

One of the things I’ve both loved and hated about our house since we moved in is the brick woodburning fireplace.

I love that it’s brick and wood burning. I also love the design with he curved hearth and the recessed walls.

I hate that the room, which is north facing gets so dark with little natural light coming in. I also hate how creepy the dark corners are, and how dated the red brick can seem.

When we firstlooked at the house, our realtor suggested we paint it white, which at the time I thought would look tacky and eventually dated as well. So I started looking for alternatives to painting it and I happened upon lime wash.

Hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide) is also termed pickling lime and has a bunch of practical uses on a homestead.

It’s used to clean, seal, and brighten chicken coops and milking sheds. It helps keep mites away from chickens, and it helps with temperature and moisture control. Not to mention that it gives brick a pleasantly washed out, slightly weathered, 18th or 19th century cottage feel.

So, I went for it. Disclaimer- no matter what the guy at the hardware store tells your husband, pelleted hydrated lime with magnesium is NOT the same thing as food grade calcium hydroxide. In fact, if you try to limewash with the former, you’ll be disappointed by the chemical-y smell as well as the muck brown color.

I actually used a bag of Mrs. Wages pickling lime I’ve had in the pantry for over 2 years.

Finding the right consistency is somewhat of an artform. Too thick and you’ll go through your lime quickly and end up with a caked on, painted look. Too thin, and well you may as well not even bother wasting your time for as little difference as it makes. It comes down to personal preference, and how much lime you have to work with.

In the end, this is how it turned out

Before
Until it gets some kind of light, that corner is still dark and creepy.
After

I think I like it. I mean, it does seem brighter, especially when the afternoon sun comes in. And it definitely makes Gram’s painting pop. But it isn’t as dramatic as I had hoped.

I think once all the little projects come together and the stuff stacked here, there and everywhere actually finds a place to be stored, it will start to feel like home. But there are only so many waking hours and many of them are spent just surviving motherhood. So, until next time!

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