Don't you just love sitting by a roaring fire on a cold winter night? When we bought this place, I was so excited to finally move into a home with a working fireplace. Wisconsin is the coldest place I've ever lived, but just thinking about sipping hot cocoa by the warm glow of a fire made me look forward to winter.
Four and a half years later we've yet to have one single fire in there for a number of reasons. One, I still haven't gotten someone out here to clean the chimney. Two, we need a fireplace screen and I have't found an affordable one that I like. And three, my husband thinks we're going to burn the house down.
Over the past few years, I've thought about how we can hide the ugly, unused firebox. Most of the ideas I came up with were either too expensive or involved too much work.
Big, beautiful ceramic vases would look great as would white pillar candles on chunky wood candleholders, but the price of filling such a large space with those things adds up. Plus, I'd really want to paint the brick black to make the decorative stuff stand out. And since, we might, possibly, someday have a real fire in there, we'd have to go with a heat-resistant paint. With our storm windows on for the season, that's not an option, because we'd need a ton of ventilation while painting.
Also appealing are the chic log facades I've seen. I do have a small chopped-down tree trunk in the garage, but I just haven't been in the mood to saw it into the slices I'd need to cover a big piece of board.
Then I all of the sudden got an idea for a cheap, easy, temporary fix (Thank you Pinterest.). No saws, expensive vases or oil paint involved. A large piece of canvas cloth painted with chalkboard paint and hung on a curtain rod would do just the trick to cover up the pit.
I happened to already have a ton of this off-white canvas (a drop cloth would work, too) and a spare curtain rod. Then I made my own chalkboard paint by dissolving plaster of Paris with water and then stirring in black acrylic paint (1 cup paint, 1/3 cup each of plaster of Paris and water).
Yes, I know this fabric is so wrinkled, but that's nothing compared to how it looked before 30 minutes of ironing. I hate ironing and I just couldn't keep at it any longer, so I went with a "relaxed" look canvas.
After measuring the fireplace opening, I cut the fabric to size and hemmed the raw edges. I also sewed a pocket for the curtain rod. I got lucky because there's a little ledge on the molding of the mantel that holds the rod in place. No nails needed.
I painted directly onto the fabric. I didn't worry about making neat straight lines for the edges, because I wanted it to look like I hand-painted the fabric. I'm going for a quaint, folksy feel here, not a formal White House Christmas look. Not that neatly painted edges would ever make this suitable for the White House, but it's just right for my house.
After patiently waiting for the paint to dry, I drew on the cozy, blazing fire of my dreams with a piece of white chalk.
The pit is finally disguised and I can admire my holiday mantel instead of being annoyed by the dark gaping hole underneath it.