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Fireplace surround and mantel makeover

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If you're one of my Facebook friends, or you follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter, you may have noticed a recent change here at OneandSeventy.

Hands up if you spotted it!


How about another look...


Earlier this year

Harry cat sleeping off a hypo

Earlier this week

Do you see it?

There, in the background...

Yes! Our mantelpiece has gone from icky brown...

Mantel Makeover | www.suzy-homemaker.co.uk

...to wonderful white!

Mantel Makeover | www.suzy-homemaker.co.uk


I researched (to the nth degree!) how best to paint that fire surround and spent pretty much the last year swinging between the 'prime 'n' paint' or 'no prep chalk paint' options.

I'd previously been almost warned off chalk paint, in favour of a good shellac primer and Farrow & Ball paint. But wow… that's expensive!

Although I did buy some, I'm still reluctant to use an oil-based primer due to clean up, odour and WAY more chance of Mrs Clumsy ruining something.

But oh... the results are SO GOOD!

I also had reservations about the "chalky finish". If that was decorating speak for the unfinished texture of stoneware or terracotta or (as I like to call it) the "nails down a blackboard" finish {shudder}, I was in trouble.

What to do... 

When this post landed in my inbox from fellow blogger, Shannon, over at Fox Hollow Cottage, my mind was made up.


I wasn't even sure if there was a UK supplier of Americana Deco Chalky Finish Paint but then I found Calico Crafts, whose customer service was superb. Unfortunately, "Everlasting" was out of stock, so I plumped for "Lace". A little more "antique-y" than I was going for, but nice all the same.

Aside from not having to sand or prime most surfaces, one of the other big selling points of this paint is its "one coat coverage". But after the first coat had dried, I realised someone must have actually CHOSEN that icky colour and used a stain, because the brown was bleeding through the white.


Mantel Makeover | www.suzy-homemaker.co.uk

I should have started with a stain blocker.

Mantel Makeover | www.suzy-homemaker.co.uk


Mantel Makeover | www.suzy-homemaker.co.uk

Well I wasn't about to wait around for another delivery (just call me Miss Impatient!), so I gave it another coat… 

Mantel Makeover | www.suzy-homemaker.co.uk

and another...

Mantel Makeover | www.suzy-homemaker.co.uk

It took THREE coats, several spot touches and almost the whole of the 8oz/236ml tub to cover that beast, but I would not be deterred.

Cover it I did.


Mantel Makeover | www.suzy-homemaker.co.uk

Chalky finish paint is particularly popular for creating distressed furniture. But I was going for a more contemporary look and since I didn't want my handiwork to get marked, I applied a couple of coats of Americana Decor Light Satin Varnish to protect it.

And here it is in all its decorated glory...

Mantel Makeover | www.suzy-homemaker.co.uk

The instructions state that this varnish is non-pooling and non-yellowing, but I'm afraid I cannot agree. There WAS pooling, both on the mantel and around the embellishments… and the next day, said pooling had turned an unattractive shade of pale yellow.

Not ideal. But thankfully, not awful enough to anything but the most critical eye. Having lived with it a few days, I can confirm this critical eye can live with it.

For the moment.


Although not entirely impressed with the varnish, I am thrilled with the paint. The Americana Decor went on nicely, dried quickly and was easy to use.

And no nails down a blackboard!

Of course, it would've been even easier had it not been for the extra coats, but I am nevertheless sold on chalky finish paint for furniture makeovers.

Now there will be times when more detailed preparation is absolutely essential but seriously... why would you want to spend time sanding and priming if you don't have to? 

Ain't no-one got time for that!

I'll certainly be using the Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint again but sadly, I shall have to find an another supplier. 

As I was writing this post, I discovered that tragically, due to a fire causing total loss, Calico Crafts has had to cease trading for the present time. Thankfully, it seems no-one was hurt in the fire, but my thoughts are with the owners and the staff at this difficult time. I truly hope you are able to get back on your feet soon.

A hui hou,


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  • Guest
    Shannon Fox Saturday, 04 October 2014

    OH Suzy it looks wonderful! I really love it... when I scrolled down I said out loud "oh my that looks good!" Don't fret, it's hard to cover some woods, three coats with white is totally common. It has the least pigment, but it's so worth it!! It really looks great. So gald you had a mostly good experience with it :D Cheers to chalk paint!! All the best, Shannon

  • Suzy Homemaker
    Suzy Homemaker Saturday, 04 October 2014

    Thanks so much, Shannon. I'm really pleased with it and I have you to thank for finally taking the plunge. The only problem is, it's totally shown up the rest of the living room, so I'm currently knee deep in undercoat and emulsion!

Leave Suzy a comment

Guest Monday, 26 October 2015