We have a fireplace in our living room which is also paneled with ‘70s knotty pine. To many people’s surprise, we intend to keep the knotty pine! We think it’s a cool part of history. If it really doesn’t work after all our attempts to make it look intentional, we’ll think about sanding it down to stain lighter or even stain it black but we’re hoping to keep it as is.
Anyway, today we’re talking about the fireplace. It’s traditional brick with a horrible gold surround (which has now been removed). The brick isn’t nice brick. It’s the striped kind that looks like it was made in a factory by a machine. It also has lots of scorch marks – it’s pretty bad actually.
Our plan is to do a German schmear, then paint the brick.
What is a German schmear? See gorgeous house above. It’s basically where you fill in the grout lines with mortar (or plaster) so they’re nice and shallow, then “haphazardly” add some to the front of the bricks to get a nice casual look. (I was the 6-year-old who put beads on a necklace in a pattern so achieving a haphazard look will be tough for me.) This can also be done with natural stone and is very beautiful.
Usually the German schmear is the final step and you’d leave it with some of the natural brick/stone showing, but I don’t like the color so we’re going to paint it. Also, German schmear can be really good or really bad in my opinion. It has to look like it naturally wore off, but often it looks too intentional. Becki Owens collected lots of examples here. I love a few, like a couple and hate the rest.
You may be asking why bother with the German schmear if we’re just going to paint it. The German schmear is for texture. As previously mentioned, I hate the texture of our brick so I want to minimize that. Also the grout lines are very, very deep currently and it’s just not the look I want. I want it to look very textural and imperfect.
So, I (very poorly) mocked up some colors in Photoshop. This was pre-removing the gold insert (which left a huge gash on the back of my calf – fun!). We’re leaning toward the green/teal color, which is opposite red/orange on the color wheel so should be a good contrast to tone down the knotty pine paneling. I also really like the tan and the pink (which was a Photoshop accident, not even something we were actually considering).
What do you think? Which color would you choose? Do you like a German schmear?