Have You Ever Considered…? (A DIY Series!)

Hey all! Welcome to Week 4 of my DIY Series talking about the things that many of us either have never considered making ourselves, or assumed it’s “too hard” to do…when it’s often not so bad (or more fun than one might think!). Now, I’m not to the level of Ultimate DIY Badassery as, say, DIY Diva, who in January showed us her cabinet-building skills in Wherein I Built Some Motherf*cking Cabinetsbut I do find a LOT of inspiration in her projects. Hell, my husband and I twice built clotheslines based on her plans…although this second time around we’ve learned that husband did not dig a deep enough hole for the post, and so because of that we have the leaning tower of Pisa going on (thanks to the wind out here on the North Coast) that we’ll have to somehow fix up this spring so we can hang up clothes again 🙂

Anyhoo, so this week I thought I’d share with you a current projects that I currently have in progress. My trusty assistant/sidekick Dan (aka Husband) helps me with the heavier lifting and the occasional precision cutting, but otherwise, these are things that I definitely am managing (Note to my female readers: Us gals often say “we” on projects that are really OURS because we’re told from a young age that we’ll sound cocky and god forbid we take the credit for what we’re doing…and you know what? Fuck that…we need to OWN OUR SHIT more and hell with the naysayers! So that’s what I’m doing).

These projects come, as no surprise to those who know me, from my Pinterest boards much of the time, or at least start there and I develop a plan inspired by those.  So for the first project, we have the hearth where someday we’ll have some damn heat again via a kickass wood stove. Here’s my inspiration photo from Pinterest:


Super modern/industrial, yeah? I have always loved mixing this kind of stuff into a more farmhouse feel like we have in our, well, farmhouse. Looking at this initially, I was thinking this involved tiling, which I’ve yet to tackle in my 45 years on this planet, but then realized that I’d seen a post last year on Pinterest about what’s called “feather finishing” countertops, which makes them LOOK like concrete without the actual pouring (or weight!) of real concrete). So…why not do this to a hearth, right? Cool. But then came the MoFo that is planning this type of project – i.e., dealing with your reality. Like our stovepipe coming out of the wall and the “it looks like a car drove into our living room” leftover brick situation that I couldn’t figure out how to deal with at the time.

So here’s the basics of where we started, all the way through where we’re at as of today:

Top left: this is how things looked when we got our keys. Dang, those nasty-ass dust-filled chiffon curtains still give my throat PTSD from ripping those down. Anyhow, it was a gnarly old dying non-DEQ woodstove on a pink brick hearth with giant cracks going down it – some where you could physically pull a brick from the wall! – and brass hooks. Ew, 1980s. Grew up during that decade, don’t need to relive. Now I can appreciate a nice dark RED brick hearth, but pink is not ever going to be acceptable for a hearth, and dilapidated is just not my style. The hardwoods were installed AROUND the base so I knew that this would be there forever. Sooooo…how does a weak-armed gal take down a brick wall? Why you go onto Pinterest and find the easiest solution that comes up, of course, particularly the note at the end which said “If a rotary drill is not available, use an 8-inch cold chisel and steel mallet to remove the bricks and mortar.” Twenty bucks later at the hardware store and I had everything I needed. Top right: So you can see that I was able to remove the bricks (which I ended up tossing onto black plastic sheeting to weigh it down as we are currently killing grass in our front yard-to-soon-become-a-flower-garden), which came down way faster than I anticipated (amen for the “let the mallet do the work” tip that I read early on), but there was still the issue of the brick mess coming out from the chimney (the other side of the chimney is in our unheated garage, so there have been bits of cold air coming through, fun stuff in winter! Bottom left: My first idea was to just paint the hearth bricks dark gray as we like that color, and so I did that with some of the leftover Annie Sloan chalk paint we’d used on the kitchen/dining floors, but then I realized those gnarly bricks in the back couldn’t come out and so it still looked…trashy. And that’s where the idea to build OVER the existing hearth into something nice and smooth came along. Again, thank you Pinterest for educating me on how to do this. Bottom middle: I then built a frame with 2x4s (and my lovely assistant holding up pieces while I screwed the wood into the studs, who also did the honor of drilling the base pieces into the brick for me…woo hoo for a couple of masonry bits!). The wood was 100% donated from my neighbor who had a big old pile in her yard that we let dry and, while it wasn’t perfect, it was FREE and that was rad. Bottom right: HardiBacker is simply those waterproof sheets they use below your bathroom floors (and it’s fireproof as well, which is essential if you’re going to have a wood stove, so with the essential help of my awesomely patient husband who wore the goggle/ventilator combo to cut the HB for me (and cut it again when I effed up the measurements a couple times, hence the awkward seams in the picture…thank goodness I measured thrice before he cut the hole for the stovepipe!), we now are ready for the big part – feather finishing!

This last part will be happening later this week as we are finally expecting a seriously rainy day (finally? whodathunk as February was super gray…here on the farm when the sun shines you get your arse into gear and do your outdoor projects because who knows how long it will last) to do, but it’s really “just” a couple boxes of Henry Feather Finish mixed with water, and applying a few coats and sanding in between as needed, then sealing. It will be a big-ass mess, but considering we don’t have a wood stove nor the budget to buy the one we want (honey this one burns for 20 hours AND has a tiny side/rear clearance requirement, as I do NOT want to worry about that silly wall next to the hearth, it’s a badass), it’s one of those projects we can luckily do in chunks.

Go team go!

So…what big scary project are you working on or want to get started on this Spring? Please share your plans!!! And check out this video from one of my favorite organizations, Oregon Tradeswomen…truly awesome!



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