After living with a dated, faded fireplace for 15 years, we embarked on a dramatic redo. We were already, ahem, fired up because the chimney needed work.
To the rescue: New York interior designer Craig Kellogg
, who suggested tearing out not only the mantel but also the raised hearth and replacing it with a floating soapstone slab.
Then, to revive the brick, Kellogg proposed an inexpensive DIY alternative to authentic plaster, as he'd seen done at SoHo design store BBDW
. "You buy buckets of premixed joint compound and just slather it on," he said optimistically.Shown:
Two coats of joint compound, a coat of primer, and two coats of pure-white latex semigloss later, and we were ready to reclaim the room. Our new fireplace needed just one more touch: Kellogg propped a 1970s Yoruba tribal staff—a legacy of my husband Irwin's Peace Corps days—against the now-fresh-and-modern brick, bringing this DIY makeover to a happy close.