6 Tips for DIY Renovators

If you’re taking on a new DIY renovation project, we have a 6 tips that will help make your experience a great one. Our goal is to help you keep your excitement for DIY alive throughout the whole process, even after you’re finished.

DIY is a great way to build sweat equity and your self-confidence. After you tackle that first project, big or small, the courage you gain in the process inspires you to dream bigger and to do more. Speaking from experience, once you catch that bug, there is no turning back.

A Little Background

As seasoned DIYers, Nick and I have made our fair share of mistakes. What’s important is that we learned from them and now every project we undertake is easier because of those experiences. We want to share what we’ve learned with you so that you can hit the ground running on your project.

Tip #1: Visualization

Have a vision for the finished product. This may seem simple, but it really is critical to any DIY project. If you know what you want, then it eliminates the hours of dithering that occur when you don’t. Can you tell we’ve been there before? 🙂

Whenever we do a project, we browse Houzz and Pinterest for ideas and formulate a picture in our minds of how we want the end product to look. This removes the uncertainty from the equation and we can move forward with a single, unified idea.

If you do not have an exact vision in mind, then pick a few key words that describe the look you want to achieve. Basically, it helps if you create a “brand” or “theme” for your project. For our beach house remodel, our theme was light, bright and beachy. Everything we chose for our home followed along that theme. There wasn’t a rigid picture in our minds, but we had a definite path to follow. Picking a few key words can really help clarify your goals and ensure that the final product is what you wanted.

Tip #2: Buy Everything You Need BEFORE You Start Your Project

I cannot stress the importance of this tip enough! Our first major renovation project was to build a 450 square foot deck off the back of our house in Orangevale, CA. This deck was a massive undertaking, especially since it stood 8 feet off the ground. Unfortunately, we made this mistake constantly during the course of the project. Every day we worked on the deck, we had to run out to Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace or a local lumber company to get more supplies. It was a huge waste of time and increased our project timeline substantially.

Do not make the same mistake we did! Write down a list of supplies you need to complete your project, validate it against other sources (You Tube, Pinterest, etc) and have all of those essential tools with you BEFORE you start working. It also helps if you arrange them in an easily accessible area. It will save you loads of time spent looking for them if  you do.

Helpful Hint for Saving Money

This does not mean that you have to buy everything you need all at one time. Instead, you can slowly acquire the supplies you need for a project over time before your start. We are actually doing that right now for our guest bathroom and have been for about 3 months. We find that this method helps spread the cost of the renovation and is basically like a forced savings for your next DIY project.

Tip #3: Do Your Research

Nick is particularly good at this and we’ve found some great resources as a result. These are the methods we use most often:

  • To the You Tubes!
  • Pinterest it Up
  • Leverage Your Personal Network

There is one You Tube channel that we’ve found particularly helpful, especially since he has so many different projects that we’ve done already on his channel. His name is Shannon and his channel is called HouseImprovements. We like this particular channel because he always explains everything VERY thoroughly. We usually take a look at his videos before we decide to take on a project. This helps us get a very solid picture of what’s entailed before we start.

Pinterest is great for the smaller, more artsy or wood-working projects. We always look here before we build or design anything. It helps us round out our ideas and make sure we have thought of everything.

Over time, we have developed a pretty solid network of friends and acquaintances who DIY as well. We also have a couple of contractor friends who help us out when we need advice. It’s always helpful to ask someone who’s done your project before and can help give you tips and ideas. Don’t be afraid to ask! Most of your fellow DIYers are just dying for an excuse to talk about anyone’s next project!

Tip #4: Do a Test Run

Sometimes, you’re just not sure if what you want to do is going to look good. We’ve all been there! We are only human after all. There is one sure fire way to make sure that your project turns out beautifully and that is to test anything you’re uncomfortable doing before you actually do it.

For us, this discomfort occurred when we started to texture our ceilings and patch our walls. Rather than going for it and texturing the whole ceiling, we tested our method on a small scrap of drywall and realized that we sucked at texturing. So, we called a professional. 🙂 It was good to know that this was not our cup of tea before we re-textured all of our ceilings and then had to scrape it all back down.

We also started with one small section of mudding on our wall. That helped us ensure that we were doing it properly before we started on the other 10 patches that needed work. Starting small and doing a dry run on something that isn’t important to you or permanent, will help ensure that you love your final product.

Tip #5: Keep a Clean Work Space

We are not suggesting that everything needs to pristine by any means. If you’re renovating, your house will be dirty, that’s just the truth for most projects. That being said, you should definitely make an effort to keep your work space clear of debris and unused equipment. I am totally guilty of this, but do not walk by the same obstacle 10 times before you pick it up! It never ends well…trust me…I know these things :-). If you follow this tip, it will limit the opportunity for injury and help regulate the risk of cuts and other frustrating mishaps along the way.

Tip #6: Know Your Limits

This one is pretty standard, but it is definitely a requirement for all DIY enthusiasts. Sometimes, it’s just better to call a professional and it’s important to know when that time arrives. We like to use Home Advisor, if you don’t have a good contact for what you need done. The reviews and certifications are super helpful to know you’re getting a good contractor.

There are two rules that will help you judge when it’s time to call a pro from a safety standpoint:

  1. You have no experience with the project you are trying to accomplish


  1. You don’t have the foundational knowledge required to do the project

Nick and I have done plenty of projects without ever doing that exact project before. But what you do need in your toolbox are the skills to do the job. That foundational skill-set is what will get you through the project successfully. This is especially important if the project you are trying to accomplish can be dangerous. While we are big advocates of DIY, we do not recommend undertaking a job that can cause injury due to a lack of experience.

Another piece of advice if you do call a pro, watch what they do and ask questions. Most of them are happy to discuss what they are doing as long as you aren’t impeding their work. We had a closet installed earlier last year and we watched while the handy-man built a wall. We now know how to add onto a wall, which is critical for our kitchen expansion project…start date TBD.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed our tips for new DIYers. Welcome to the club and we hope that your next renovation project turns out wonderful! As always, if you have any questions about your current DIY project, feel free to ask us. We’ll answer what we can and get you any resources we have for what we can’t. Also, don’t be discouraged if things go a little sideways while you’re working on your project. It happens to everyone! You are not alone! Just remember that almost anything can be fixed and that there are a lot of resources out there to help you.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out our other DIY Renovation posts: Beach House Renovation Story, How to Remodel Your Kitchen for $1,000and White-Wash a Stone or Brick Fireplace.

Florida’s Fresh Water Springs

When most people picture Florida, they see white sandy beaches and bright blue water. They envision the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, dotted with beautiful resorts and condominiums. Or they picture cruising on an airboat through the dark swamp water of the everglades and sighting alligators.

But did you know that the northern/central part of the state is home to a ton of fresh water springs? The water is a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit, crystal clear and bright blue. They are popular dive and snorkel locations, as well as lazy river float haunts for college kids. They are a wonderful way to see the state in a different light and give their visitors a nice reprieve from the state’s summer heat.

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto is an incredible spring located at the bottom of a sinkhole, for lack of a better description. It looks as though the earth fell away and opened into a rocky cavern of crystal clear water.  It’s spring fed and has that same cool, constant temperature mentioned above year round.

We dove Blue Grotto and it was a fun, but short dive. There are a lot of rugged rock structures and interesting fossils to see while you’re down there. There is also an underwater lookout point that is filled with breathable air. This is kind of awesome from a novelty standpoint. Getting to be underwater and taking off your mouthpiece is a trip!

However, as far as animal life is concerned, it’s a closed system so there isn’t much in the spring. This is part of what makes it a short dive. Once you’ve explored the upper and middle caverns, there’s not much else to see. However, there is Virgil! Virgil is a lovely female, soft-shelled turtle who has lived in the cavern for years. She is pretty much tame and sneaks up on you when you least expect it! She is absolutely beautiful, so we’ve embedded a video for you guys to see.

Rainbow River

Rainbow River is by FAR my favorite fresh water dive and actually ranked closely with the kelp forest dive we did in Monterey Bay, CA. It’s a drift dive in an absolutely spectacular location. You start at the Rainbow River Park and take a boat up to the mouth of the river. Then you jump off the back of the boat and let the current take you down the river while you scuba.

The water is crystal clear and you are surrounded by spectacular trees with Spanish moss waving from their branches on the ride up-river. Then, once you get underwater, it is even more beautiful. There is a ton of vivid green, waving sea grass and quite a few caverns and structures during the dive. This is mixed with plenty of colorful fish and turtles swimming all around you. I wish we had more dive footage of this, but the go-pro images we had didn’t really convey the peaceful serenity of the experience. It seems like there’s something special about this dive that doesn’t quite translate on camera. Guess we’ll just have to go back and try again…darn! 😉

I did, however, find a really cool video of the fresh, underground spring water bubbling up from the sand. This is compliments of our friends Joe and Nora, so thank you guys!

Places to Stay

The best part about most of the springs we’ve visited is that they are open for camping. On this particular trip we camped at Devil’s Den, which is another awesome spring just a short drive away. However, you could definitely check out the camping sites at Blue Grotto or Rainbow River and be just as happy.

As a side note, if you do decide to visit Devil’s Den, I would not recommend scuba diving there. We did that the first time we visited and it wasn’t really worth it. It is definitely worth snorkeling though!

Tips for Fresh Water & Spring Diving

Before I finish this post, I wanted to share a couple of tips for fresh water diving and the temperature in the springs. The first tip is that you will definitely want gloves, boots and a 5 millimeter wet suit. Though 72 degrees Fahrenheit doesn’t sound that cold, it is not warm at all. I can’t imagine doing this, or any spring dive, without a wet suit of at least that thickness.

The second tip is with regards to buoyancy. For those of you who are newer to fresh water diving, the weight needed to achieve proper buoyancy is much less than in salt water. We dove in Blue Grotto first, which is a super easy dive to use to adjust your weight. There is a floating dock right by where you will dive and you can add or remove weight as needed right there, without impacting the enjoyment of your dive. If you are going to do both dives, I’d do that one first so that you get your weight right there instead of at Rainbow River.

Final Thoughts

If you are not a diver but love to snorkel, then all of the springs mentioned in this post are still incredible locations for you! Diving is not required in any of these places and I think you could have a great experience and see a lot of what the springs have to offer if you snorkeled instead.

As always, we hope you enjoyed this post and please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you might have! If you’re interested in more dive spots, check out our post on Belize.

Donuts Coffee Beach

Does it get any better than a great cup of coffee and sticky-sweet donuts shared with a beautiful view? If you said, “Nope”, then we definitely agree! A morning shared with great company, delicious food and the sound of waves crashing onshore is an amazing way to kick off the weekend.

This has become a bit of a tradition in the Torres household. One Saturday a month, we pack up our beach chairs and a couple of to-go coffees and head over to our favorite local bakery. Then we pick out our favorite donut spread and make our way over to Jax Beach Pier.

It’s a great place to spend your morning, watching surfers catch waves and fishing enthusiasts snag their daily catch. This time of day is also the quietest and most peaceful, as few have ventured out for their beach outtings yet. So you can just grab a donut, sip your coffee and relax to the peaceful soundtrack of the ocean.

Cinotti’s Bakery

Cinotti’s is our favorite bakery in Jax beach, specifically for their donuts. They are fresh baked and delicious every morning. They have plenty of selection and, during this time of year, seasonal flavors! I am crazy excited to try the pumpkin donut the next time we go. Nick says I’m going “basic”, but I don’t really know what that means so I choose to ignore it :-). I’m going to eat my pumpkin donut and love every minute of it, thank you very much!

Any Recommendations?

We are always looking for ways to broaden our horizons and try new things. If you have an awesome coffee and donuts location that we need to try, please comment and let us know what you think. We hope you enjoyed this post and we will definitely have more to come on our awesome hometown!

Square Foot Gardening

There is nothing more satisfying than going out to your garden to harvest food for dinner. Nick and I trim arugula, baby chard, romaine, and bay kale every couple of days for mixed green salads. Maybe it’s just me, but the flavor of the greens is so much better because they’re fresh picked from our garden. When we started growing our own food we learned that many of our friends don’t garden, though they would love to start. We also found that the primary thing holding them back is space.

Thankfully, there is an solution! Square foot gardens are an incredible way to maximize your space and still grow great food in your garden. This method of gardening makes home-grown fresh food possible for anyone, no matter what kind of  space restrictions you may have.

Pick Your Plant Mix

The key to any successful garden is to plant the foods that you enjoy eating most for each season. This ensures that you will not throw away veggies that you are putting effort into growing in your garden. Keep in mind that anything you cannot eat, can always be put to good use and composted.

Right now, Nick and I have three square foot gardens growing in our backyard. Two are lettuce gardens for fall and one is a mixed vegetable/root garden for winter. We planted lettuces because I like to make a salad every night with our dinner. Nick would probably prefer just to replace this with a potato or meat, but growing it in the garden makes him more amenable :-). The mixed vegetable garden is a combination of the veggies we eat most frequently.

In the next section, I’m going to show you guys how to calculate the proper spacing between plants. That way, you can create a garden using whatever combination is best for your palate without following a rigid guide.

Calculate Your Spacing

Take a look at the back of your seed packet or on your seedling’s planting instructions. You will see a section for plant spacing and one for row spacing. All you need to worry about for a square foot garden is the plant spacing.

For example, a beet’s row spacing is 18″ whereas the plant spacing is only 4″, which means that you can plant 9 beets into a single square foot.  As you can see, if you had followed the row spacing, you would loose a lot of valuable space.

Below is a general guide for some common spacing configurations that you would see on seed packets or seedling cards. I’ve also included the basic mathematical formula to calculate plants per square foot, for those of you who are so inclined:

Formula if plant spacing is less than or equal to 12″

  • (12″/Plant Spacing)^2 = plants per square

Formula if plant spacing is greater than 12″

  • (Plant Spacing/12″) = number of squares for each plant


Our Square Foot Vegetable Garden

The square foot garden we planted this year consists of the following roots and veggies: Beets, Radishes, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts. They are all still seedlings, as you can see to the right.

Before we started planting, we created a square foot template for our 4′ X 4′ garden beds using scrap wood, a table saw and small finishing nails. It helps to have a template when you are planting your square foot garden, just to be sure you have the dimensions correct. You can use anything you want to make this template, but this is a simple method.

After we laid out our template, we looked at the plant spacing instructions on the seed packets. We primarily used these guidelines as a precaution against over-planting. For example, we only had 12 carrots to plant, though we could have used as many as 16.

Once we calculated the number of plants per square foot, we arranged them within the square using the plant spacing requirements as our guide. At this point the process goes very quickly, as you’re just planting plants.

We also hit any newly planted seedlings with a good, organic liquid fertilizer and plenty of water. This combination seems to help the plant transition to its new location. We also find that, when used properly, liquid fertilizer increases the growth rate and overall yield of your plants. We are all for anything organic that increases the speed of growth for our plants while keeping them nice and healthy!

Final Thoughts

We hope that you enjoyed reading through this post and that it inspires you to try your own square foot garden! Whether you use it for a small herb garden or for a full veggie and root garden, it’s a great way to get fresh food on your table for you and your family.

Growing your own food is also a great way to get those pickier eaters in your family more interested in greens and healthy food. I find that whenever Nick and I have grown something we are not wild about, we end up finding a way to like it because there is a sense of ownership for it. If we put in the effort to grow it, then we are going to eat it!

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help answer anything we can. If you’re interested in reading more about gardening, please check out our post on Growing Plants from Seed.

Southern France

The Village of Eze

During our visit to the French Riviera, we stayed in a picturesque village called Eze. Conveniently located between Monte Carlo and Nice, it’s a great home base for a peaceful trip. When Nick and I go on vacation, we like to be away from big cities and spend our time in nature. This was the ideal location for that as it was the most beautiful place we’d ever seen.

Bed & Breakfast

We stayed in a wonderful bed and breakfast called Domaine Pins-Paul.  It’s a stunning stone home, tucked into the cliff-side that overlooks the old castle of Eze. The home has historic charm but all of the modern amenities. We do highly recommend this as a place to stay, but be sure that you request a room with AC if you get hot at night.

The breakfast is delicious, especially the pastries. There is also an infinity pool that is cut into a cliff and that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, lounging in the sun and reading.

Places to Eat

There isn’t much to eat in the Village of Eze, but the Village de la Turbie is a quick 5 minute drive away. The village is situated on a large cliff, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It’s home to quite a few delicious restaurants and the coolest soccer field I’ve ever seen. We both WISHED we could have played there just one time.

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo is everything that you’d expect and more. How to best describe it? The palace and the casinos were lavish and full of wealth. Everything looked as though it had been scrubbed clean. The gardens and landscaping were spectacular everywhere we went.

We made the mistake of going on a Sunday, not realizing that everything would be closed. We want to pass this information on because we want to make sure you don’t make the same mistake.


Nice was very pretty, but to us, it was just another big city. However, we spent a great day there shopping and eating lunch by the ocean. The perk of this big city is definitely the shopping. Europe has a tendency to be a little more fashion forward than the United States. So, you can get some great clothing there that’s unique.

Final Thoughts

Because we tacked this trip onto the end of my master’s program trip, we didn’t have as much time as we’d have liked. It was truly the most beautiful place we’d ever been in our entire lives and we’d definitely go back. The cliffs and the Mediterranean Sea are absolutely breathtaking! Though if you’re planning to spend anytime on the beach, please bring water shoes because you’ll be walking across large rocks to get to the sea.

We hope you enjoyed the photos and reading about our trip! Please reach out with any questions if you are planning a trip to the region.


Visit Oregon

Nick and I enjoyed a quick 4 day trip to Oregon. We started in Portland and visited the Gorge and then made our way towards the coast. This was one of my favorite vacations because it was so incredibly beautiful. The scenery in Oregon is unlike anything you will see anywhere else in the world.

The Gorge

We spent a full afternoon driving through the Columbia River Gorge and enjoying the natural beauty. The forests are vivid green and teaming with waterfalls. We just got lost and explored all of the scenic lookout points and parks it had to offer. There are a lot of signs that direct you to these areas, which makes it very easy to find your way around. But if you’re a planner, then this site on travelling in the Gorge is a great resource to help you plan your adventure.

The Oregon Coast

After our sightseeing adventure in the Gorge, we drove out to the coast. Even the drive from the Portland area out to the coastal towns is absolutely spectacular. We saw mountains and miles of picturesque farmland as we drove towards the Pacific Ocean.

Sand Lake Country Inn

We stayed at the Sand Lake Country Inn, which is a bed & breakfast located between Oceanside and Pacific City. It is easily my favorite B&B to date. The hosts were fantastic and breakfast was truly to die for every single day. Though, the best thing about staying here is the COFFEE! If you request it, they provide you with a french press every morning. Best way to start your day EVER!

Things To Do

This was a very short trip for us, but we made the most of the time we were there. We went horseback riding on the beach with Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides in Pacific City. We then spent the day in town and and enjoyed some delicious wine at Twist Wine Company’s local tasting room.

We also spent an afternoon and evening in Oceanside, walking on the beach and hiking through a small cave in the rocks. When dinner time came, we had a wonderful meal at Roseanna’s Cafe. The restaurant sits up on the dunes above the beach and the view is both romantic and completely serene.

On our last day there, we went on a short nature walk/hike and then visited Cape Meares Lighthouse in Tillamook. The forest was filled with massive trees and lush greenery. The picture of the fallen tree with the person in front of it is actually of me. I’m about 5’6″ and that photograph shows just how massive the tree’s root system is. Stunning, isn’t it?

Final Thoughts

This wasn’t my first trip to the coast, so I wanted to share a quick thought from my first visit. Further south along the coast near Florence, there are some pretty amazing sand dunes. They have dune buggy rides that are wild and crazy fun! So, if you have more time, it is definitely worth the day trip!

Oregon is a beautiful place to spend your vacation. It’s peaceful and relaxing, without the hustle and bustle of the city. We both loved this vacation and plan to head back that way sometime in the near future. We will definitely make sure we stay longer next time.

Grow Your Own Pineapple Plant

This short video shows you exactly how to grow your own pineapple plant using the stem of a store-bought pineapple. Just to set expectations, once you plant your pineapple it will take about 2 years to bear fruit. So be patient! It’s a very pretty plant while you wait, but it will take time before you see edible fruit.

Adult Beverage Anyone?

Once we use our nifty little pineapple cutter, we like to make a cup and cocktail from the pineapple skin. We’ve included our recommendations below and a picture of the our pineapple plant that is currently growing nicely in its pot. Hope you enjoy!

If you’re interested in growing more plants for your garden, please check out our post Growing Plants from Seed.

Easiest Garden Beds EVER!

Want to create garden beds in a matter of seconds with no effort whatsoever? Then keep reading because we found an incredible product that allows you to do just that! We simply cannot say enough good things about this method for creating raised garden beds.

Our Search for Easy DIY Garden Beds

When we decided it was time to expand our garden area and transition from pots to raised beds, we went on a hunt for good quality products. A very helpful employee in the Home Depot garden center pointed us in the direction of a single product that literally changed the way we garden.

The Key to Easy Garden Beds

She led us down an aisle in the garden area and showed us a grooved cinder block. This block has four perfect cutouts in it where you slide wood into place, thus making the world’s easiest garden bed.

The best part about it is that it allows you to easily add onto your current set up and create an attractive network of raised beds. You can select any configuration you want and adjust them to any height you want. The flexibility alone is a huge selling point, not to mention the ease of use.

Finished Product

We chose to create 12″ tall 4′ X 4′ raised garden beds using these blocks. We did this by stacking two of the cinder blocks on top of each other and simply sliding two pieces of wood into each of the grooves. No nails or any other hardware is required to create these garden beds. The grooves simply hold the wood in place and keep the soil inside. Below is an example of how this will look once it’s finished.

When you try this, please let us know if you love it as much as we do! Hope it rocks your world like it did for us :-).

Beach House Renovation Story

Living at the beach was a big dream of ours and last year we decided to make it a reality. We bought an ugly house in a great neighborhood and fixed it up. The full renovation took about 12 weeks. The reason it took a little longer is because we totally burned out for a couple of weeks and took a break. We had a little bit of help from friends, family and professionals, but did most of the renovations ourselves to save on cost. When you’re working that hard for a long time, it helps to just take a break once the house is comfortable enough to be livable. That is exactly what we did.

Interior Renovation Components

Below is a list of everything we did to transform our ugly house into our dream home.

  • Tear down 9 walls to create an open concept living area
    • Repair drywall from wall removal
  • Replace floors
  • Replace baseboards
  • Replace all interior and exterior doors
  • Build a closet for storage
  • Replace all fans & install canned lighting
  • Install a dining room chandelier
  • Re-texture ceilings in bedrooms (rest of house still pending)
  • Paint the interior walls & baseboards
  • White-wash the fireplace
  • Remodel the kitchen

In the following galleries, you will see all of these components come to life. We hope that you enjoy!

Beach House Renovation Gallery

Our Beach House Before

Renovation: Week 1

Renovation: Weeks 2-3

Renovations: Week 4-6

Our Beach House After

White-Wash a Stone or Brick Fireplace

When Nick and I first moved into our new home, we had quite a list of renovation projects. We took down 9 walls, re-textured the ceilings, replaced the floors, remodeled the kitchen, repainted and installed new lighting fixtures. After we finished the majority of these projects, we realized that we needed a quick face lift on our fireplace. It looked absolutely hideous with our new gray-blue paint and beach wood floors. So we did a little research and came up with an awesome, quick way to make our fireplace a statement piece in our home.

Fireplace Before

This is what our fireplace looked like before we refinished it. The pictures give you a good idea of what we mean by “hideous” with the new color scheme in our house. My husband was convinced that we would need to completely re-tile or hide the horrible stone. But I’d seen some successful transformations with white-washing brick and stone fireplaces. I convinced him to give me a chance to prove that it was just the color that was the problem, not the stone itself.

Fireplace After

Once the fireplace was finished, Nick agreed that the white-wash looked great and added awesome appeal to our family room and entry-way. It took me a few hours to create the look and very little in the way of supplies or cost.


This project has a pretty short list of supplies, most of which are pictured to the right. The only other tools you’ll need are a sheet of fine grit sand paper and a roll of blue painters tape. I always tape before I paint because I don’t color well within the lines :-). My husband teases me all the time about my shaky hands and lack of ability to draw anything remotely resembling a straight line. He’s not wrong about that either. But, if you don’t have that problem, then feel free not to tape.

The Chalked paint is for white-washing the stone and High Gloss paint is for repainting the wooden mantle piece. The brush is for the hard-to-reach grooves in between the stones and for the mantle. The lambswool stain applicator, pictured on the far right, is for white-washing the stone. This is the one tool that is totally worth the purchase. It will cut your white-washing time in at least half.

If you’re wondering about the reasons behind the paint choices, there is a method to our madness! The reason I used the Chalked paint is because it is a completely matte finish and it looks very natural on the stone. It’s the perfect base to create a beautiful white-wash. The recommendation for high gloss paint on the mantle is strictly for cleaning purposes. I like how easy it is to clean mantles and windowsills when you use high gloss paint. It’s simple, fingerprints and dirt smudges don’t stick to the high gloss finish. But, if you don’t like the way it looks, you can definitely use semi-gloss instead.

How to White-Wash Your Fireplace

One comment before we continue! You can use this method on either brick or stone fireplaces. The steps will be the same and the white-wash will work just as well on either material.


Tape the outside edges of your fireplace to protect your wall paint. Also, tape around your mantle to protect the wood if  you do not plan to refinish it. Taking this first step just helps you ensure that you do not have any messy mistakes to clean up later.

Prepare Chalked Paint

Open the paint and stir it until fully combined. Pour the chalked paint into your tray & mix with water to thin. Add water until the paint is the texture of a stain. It should be easy to spread across the stone, but still stick to it. You can use a test area to get the right consistency. If it’s too thin and drippy, just add more Chalked paint. If it’s too thick, then add more water.

Apply the White-Wash

Soak your lambswool stain applicator into the thinned paint and liberally spread the paint all over each of your stones. It only took one full coat for me to get the look I wanted, though I had to go over some stones more than once. I do not recommend using this tool to get into the crevices between the stones. Though, you can use it for the exterior edge of the fireplace.

Once you’ve finished with the stones, it’s time to get into the crevices. Soak your paint brush into the white-wash and liberally apply it to the spaces between the stones. This is the part that will be a little more time consuming. The more paint you can get soaked into your brush, the faster it will go. There is no real art to this, as all you need to worry about is large drips. If you see them, just smooth them out with your fingers or your brush. Otherwise, just do the best you can to cover all of the visible crevices with the white-wash.

Optional: Re-Paint Your Mantle Piece

If you have a mantle piece on your fireplace, now is a good time to repaint it. Once your white-washed stone is completely dry, tape around the mantle to avoid getting high gloss paint on your stone. Use a fine grit sand paper to rough up the sheen on your mantle. This will allow the new paint to stick to the wood.

Open the your high gloss paint and stir it before use. Once the paint is fully combined, use a clean brush to paint the mantle in long, smooth motions. You want to avoid short strokes as it will leave splotchy areas in the paint job. If you dislike the finish, a foam pain roller will help correct any consistencies. Though, I didn’t have much trouble using a brush. It will take two full coats before the paint achieves full coverage.

Enjoy Your New Fireplace!

At this point, you are done with your project and you should end up with something that looks like the transformation pictured below. We hope you find this simple project helpful! If you have any questions, as always, please reach out. We’re happy to help in any way we can.

If you’re interested in more DIY renovation projects, please check out our post on Budget Kitchen Remodels.