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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson German Schmear Opener B And W 2

As you may have seen, we were back at the mountain fixer last week, designing away while our plaster guy gave our bubble rock fireplace a makeover. You voted for us to ‘work’ with the fireplace rock instead of demo-ing it out and starting fresh, perhaps opting for our dream stone or a totally new design (see this post for reference). We liked the idea of stone – it’s a mountain house after all – and Brian’s masculinity is highly attached to the amount of wood and rock in this house. 🙂 I like a good rock, too, but I wanted ours to feel either more aged and organic OR new and fresh. When we bought this house, it just didn’t feel right for the style that we were going for.

But, it took us a while to realize why. The tone of the stone isn’t bad – it’s gray, not too brown. The shape of those rocks are more round than I like, but I like circles so why is that a problem? It was built with real stones, not fake, in a fairly random pattern, not looking too forced. Nothing objectionable there. Well, eventually, we realized that it was the darkness of the grout and the depth of the rock that was the problem.

Nothing some schmear can’t fix. Now, after doing a little research and not really being able to come up with a clear answer, we realized (or so we think) the schmear is just how someone applies plaster. It looks rough, messy, organic and shallow. It doesn’t fully cover the stone but it comes close. (Is this the correct definition for a schmear? If anyone actually knows the answer, please leave it in the comments and we’ll update the post.)

It could be that for months, we were saying the exciting phrase “German Schmear” all day, every day when we could have been just saying “plaster”, but where’s the fun in that. For this, I will never repent.

Here’s a quick reminder of the pre-schmear “before”:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Fireplace Before Furniture Emily Henderson Lake House Before 1762

It’s hard to live with the above fireplace when all you want is the below.

Emily Henderson German Schmear Fireplace Mjolk
image source

That would be our dream stone fireplace, if we had old stones. But ours aren’t as flat or jagged and are a lot newer (from the ’80s or ’90s). We liked that the mortar was less deep and not as strong of a dark line. It was more monochromatic and natural, less “rock, grout, rock, grout.”

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 111
image source

This fireplace is one that we also liked that seemed more achievable. Sure, our rocks were rounder, but maybe we could add so much plaster in a “shmear- like” fashion to just have it be a really pretty white-ish texture with the stones just peeking out, desperate to breathe under that schmear.

We sourced a faux finisher from LA but didn’t find anyone who had this in their portfolio who was affordable. Lots of people said they could do it, but when our GC said he had someone up there for $1k, we went for it because anyone in LA would have charged more. The project has to keep moving and frankly I was skeptical that ANYONE could give me the fireplace that I loved, so what did I have to lose? Worst case was that we would plaster it over, dislike the color and then paint it white.

Emily Henderson Fireplace Plaster Color Options1

At first, he mixed some gray in the white plaster, but it must have been a fairly warm gray so it looked kinda brown (on the left). It just wasn’t as fresh as I was thinking. Next, they mixed cement with the plaster and it looked mostly like cement (right). Too cold and concrete like. Here, you can see them both together:

Emily Henderson German Schmear Plaster Options

They removed both of those before they hardened. It was 11:30 am at this point and we had to leave by 4 pm. I probed my contractor, asking him “Are these the only options?” and he said no but that he thought this was what we wanted so they were going to have to go get other options and it couldn’t be done today. And then I asked him if this was definitely how you schmear and he acted as if he had never heard the phrase before. It’s then that we were told that German schmear was just a technique, not a material (we think…again, we welcome any information or suggestions).

When we didn’t like option #1 or #2, he said that we could just try it in white and I thought…wait, maybe that’s what we wanted anyway? No time to get more options and again, I had very little hope that changing the slight tone of it would make it better. They said it would be REALLY white, and so I figured, why not?

He went for it. Here’s the step by step:

Emily Henderson German Schmear Step By Step1

I wanted to title this “DIY Plaster Fireplace,” but obviously couldn’t because I didn’t DIY it. George did. I know like anything that looks easy, it requires skill, practice, mistakes and troubleshooting, but I figured I’d give you the steps in case you wanted to give it a whirl. It’s my totally inexperienced opinion that when it comes to schmear, you can be messier than you would be with other types of plaster. If I had more time, I would have liked to try my hand at the technique and give it a whirl.

We gave George the direction to even out the rocks, but in a natural way. Some spaces would be deeper than others and then with the trowel and sponge he would make them even less even. The whole process took from 9 am to 4 pm – which I think is pretty darn fast. Watch for yourself 🙂

German Schmere German Schmear Emily Henderson Mountain House

That’s George. My plaster dude. He humored me all day and was lovely to work with. He didn’t like it when I said ‘schmear’ and I reminded it him the importance of recognizing Old World European phrases that make us kind of uncomfortable, while still being pretentious.

Here is how it looked before it dried completely when we left last Friday:

Finished German Schmear River Rock Fireplace

DEFINITELY better than the before. Brian and I (and all of us) were pretty happy already.

Yesterday my contractor sent me the below photo now that it’s dried:

Emily Henderson German Schmear Dried

Even better! I’m pretty into it!! My apologies for it being blown-out and pixelated. We’ll replace this as soon as we take a better one. Meanwhile, he’s suspended from being an SBEH freelance camera phone photographer.

*(P.S. as you can imagine, he thinks our whole social media experiment and how we create all this ridiculous on-camera Insta storyiPhonee content is HILARIOUS and is always like “Well, have you asked that audience yet”…SUCH a good sport. As soon as we are done with the project, I’ll tell you who he is if you want to remodel/build up here, but I can’t have anyone else hiring him right now. No distractions :)).

Back to the schmear results. We are pretty happy for now. I haven’t even seen the dried rock in person. I bet it’s even lighter than it looks in that photo.

The next thing up for debate is, of course, that mantel. While we were up there, we were playing with wood options for bedroom ceilings and kitchen cabinets. Before we left, I held them up to see if any of these could help guide our decision on what to do with the mantel. It’s a really dark orange stain that we don’t like and we don’t think it’s real wood anyway. Maybe in a perfect world, we would just get rid of it, but as you can see the stone juts in above the mantel so we can’t without altering the fireplace a ton.

To be clear – THESE ARE JUST PHOTOSHOPPED RENDERINGS OF THE WOOD ON THE MANTEL. Sara even put our flooring sample on the floor so we could see how that works with things (don’t judge the wood flooring; it’s BEAUTIFUL in person but we had to stretch a tiny sample to fill that triangle portion of the floor).

Mantle Options 1 And 2

1. WHITE MANTEL. Now this is FAR more special than it looks in that rendering based on just a small piece. This is beautiful reclaimed cedar wood that we painted white gloss for a potential kitchen sample. We didn’t seal it so the grain seeped through (despite 3 coats). Obviously, we would seal it but I wanted to show you how pretty the grain is in person, even painted.

Rustic Wood Painted White

It’s EXTREMELY textured and I’m very excited about it for the kitchen (stay tuned…also could I possibly make life more complicated?). I thought after the plaster dried it would be my favorite but at least from the photo, I’m unsure. It feels very BRIGHT WHITE. But less-so in person. Sometimes Photoshop takes texture out of things and makes it look fake when it’s not.

2. BLACK MANTEL. This is the same reclaimed wood stained a matte black (SO PRETTY) also as a cabinet option. In person, it actually looks like this:

Black Reclaimed Wood

The white parts are the holes where the white paint leaked through because it was painted white. This is stunning, but in the Photoshopped image looks super JET BLACK.

Mantle Options 3 And 4

3. GRAY MANTEL. This is the original reclaimed wood in its natural form. Also gorgeous. But up there, it looks kinda gray on gray on gray.

4. PINE TONGUE-AND-GROOVE MANTEL. We had it so we tried it. Too matchy with the ceiling.

Mantle Options 5 And 6


6. MEDIUM WOOD TONE MANTEL. Just for fun, I threw up the wood flooring sample to see if a medium tone would be good, but it’s not right.

So now, I have a few things I want to do…1. Google “stone fireplace mantel” to see what the other options are. That is how we design, by the way. And 2. Darken the slate stone hearth. It could be a rich black, which would then perhaps make the black on the mantle really work.

Mountain House Fixer Upper German Schmear Before Update1

There you have it. I think it’s WORLDS better. I can’t wait to see it in person and feel good about it.

*In case you are an ‘I design, You decide’ detective, you’ll probably notice that we didn’t end up raising the firebox. Nor did we create a taller bench and create wood storage underneath it like we originally planned in this post. The reason is that once we removed the original stove, we realized our box was completely intact. GOOD NEWS FOR ONCE. We had a perfectly functioning fireplace. To demo out some rocks to move up the box to then replace the rocks would have just been a waste of money because the ROI would have been very little. If I were to build it new, would I have designed it to be higher? Sure.

Overall, I’m pretty darn happy that in one day and with $1k (including materials), we transformed that very controversial fireplace into one that is super appropriate for our mountain house.

The only thing that I’m still considering is painting over the plaster. Not because I don’t like the stone but because I fear that medium tone of the stone with the medium tone of the ceiling is kinda competing. I just wish one were darker and lighter. We could do this:

Emily Henderson Lake House Fixer Upper Mountain Home Decor Fireplace Ideas Rustic Refined Simple White Wood Stone 221
image source

Before you go, I have a couple of questions…now that Brian and I agree on one thing (the new fireplace):

1. Do you want me to consider painting the fireplace an all-over light tone like above? I haven’t seen the finished plasterwork dried so I may think it’s PERFECT in person and maybe the combo with the ceiling won’t bother me.

2. What is your gut feeling on the mantel finish? I’m not sold on any of those, so any inclinations or suggestions would be lovely before I comb the web and stone yards for 19 hours. Obviously, a rustic reclaimed beam is an option…

3. Who wants me to just explore the idea of using that gorgeous black stain on the…CEILING???? Listen, the chances are 2% that it’s something we would actually do out of sheer fear of permanence. I’m as shocked as you are that I, Emily-White-Ceiling-Henderson, would even consider staining that massive ceiling black. But in person, the black stain is so pretty and now that the ceiling is walnut blasted, the texture would scream “I’M STILL WOOD” but in a quiet, dark, moody, dramatic way. Brian wants cozy and masculine (plus he’s dark, moody and dramatic!!) and I want the ceiling to have a more even tone while still definitely feeling like wood so the now-pretty fireplace becomes the feature. Perhaps this could be the answer? Brian is going to LOSE HIS SCHMEAR over even the suggestion of this one…and TBH, it’s likely not going to happen, but it’s fun to fantasize…

Update: Check out all of The Mountain House REVEALS here: The Kids’ Bedroom | The Kitchen The Kitchen Organization | The Kitchen Appliances | The Powder Bath | The Living Room | The Downstairs Guest Suite | The Loft | The Hall Bath | The Upstairs Guest Bath | The Dining Room | The Family Room

  1. It looks amazing! So impressed by how you solved this! Please don’t paint the stone. If anything, paint or stain the wood or vary your flooring. The stone is damn near perfect. The wood finishes need more considering. You are inspiring!

    1. Agreed. The dual tone wood ceiling didn’t stress me out when you first posted, but perhaps it’s now crawled into my brain. I think the mantel question isn’t the stone or the mantel, it’s the ceiling…

      1. Agreed.

  2. Fireplace looks great and for such a low price!!! Just goes to show some small changes can have real impact. With the new fireplace I’m kinda digging the idea of black stained ceiling. I just feel like a dose of moody drama works for a cozy mountain house. I also think here is your chance to create moody drama not happy go lucky white brightness. Basically Emo Vaguely Danish Emily is an interesting concept for all of us to watch. 🙂 That being said I worry that the moody drama of a black ceiling might change your other finishes and fixtures and I think you are well down the path on those items. But I’d like to see you go a deeper direction on something new. But I’m sure you’ll figure out something pretty!

    1. “Emo Vaguely Danish Emily” hahahahaaa 😊

  3. Am I the first to comment today? My my…:D
    I LOVE the makover! At first I didn’t know what the fuss was about: sure, the fireplace had this 80′ vibe, but I liked it better than your dream fireplace nevertheless:D.
    But seeing the work complete – booom! You nailed it!:D.

    As to the mantel colour – I like wood. I don’t know the exact tone, but I like it natural. No blacks and whites for me, thankyouverymuch. The same goes for ceiling:D.

  4. OH MY WORD! You are really amazing! I did not like the stone fireplace before – too me the stones were too round and it looked so “new”. NOW! it looks fantastic! Great job figuring out a good solution.

  5. The fireplace looks amazing!!

  6. Emily, congratulations on the new finish on the fireplace! It looks fantastic! I love it now, and don’t think you need to paint over it. The mantel is too dark however – anything to high of contrast will draw attention to the mantel and not the stone, so I think keep it light (I actually really like the pine to match the ceiling since it looks more intentional) but I think the reason none of the mantels look right (and maybe why the ceiling color is bothering you) is the flooring is too dark in the examples. A white painted floor would set off the modern look and make the ceiling look better too. That way black furniture and accents would look so cool against the background textures. And the flooring could be a rustic light stone or rustic white paint, but it would be amazing. Just my two cents. Anyway, great job, and best of luck!

    1. From the pictures, I also liked the mantel matching the ceiling look as in options 4 and 5 … and that the floor color might then need to be different like Denise suggests. But there is one thing we have come to know – it will be appropriate and beautiful whatever you decide.

      1. what an amazing transformation! i like options 2 and 4 but i agree that i’m not in love with the flooring? it feels too dark to me. can’t wait to see more of the process.

    2. Agreed! Wood mantel. Lighter floors.

      1. Another vote for that!

  7. The whole “permancy” thing is what’s making my opinion waver…but I’d love to see the rock painted white and the ceilings plus mantle stained black. It is gorgeous just as it is, but how striking to be in black and white (like the above photo). Good luck!

    1. I was thinking the same thing, actually! The stone has good color variance, but I think it’d pop better if it were brighter. Contrast on that would let it both blend (softer color, white on white), and stand out (with high contrast). Thank you for sharing!!

  8. While I think I’ll never take on a similar project: I love this post. Why? It brings out the creative process blow by blow and just introduces so much “play” into a renovation in ways I wouldn’t have necessarily imagined previously. Things are questioned that I would have assumed were an immovable “given”. But you blow that idea up and make it playful in a masterful and insightful way. This makes me think about my home differently: maybe that solid seeming wall in the kitchen could be exposed to create some niche bookshelves…

    The schmear seems to have created much more of what you’re striving for. As for the mantle, I don’t have a “YES!” moment with any of the images. It may be because I don’t know what you’re going to do with the rest of the room. That last photo of the kind of creamy white painted wall is beautiful. I had a “yes” moment with that and the darker grey flooring. 🙂

  9. Please don’t paint over the stone/plaster. It’s beautiful and rustic. In order to make it more modern-mountain, go with the black stained mantel, and oil/wd40/seal the slate hearth stone. It’ll pick up the black in the mantel and really ground the space. Great update so far!

    1. Great idea with the oil.

      1. Gwen that is what I was thinking with the hearth. Well, I didn’t have that exact formula, but I thought that there had to be way to make it darker without replacing. thanks for the formula.

        1. They make color enhancing sealers for stone. We used some on our slate tile backsplash and it really darkened it while also bringing out the texture and depth of the stone. Basically, it made it look like it did when it was wet, but not shiny. Try wiping the hearth down with water and see if the color works better. That will be a good way to temporarily test the effect.

  10. “Schmear” just means to spread! So yes, spreading your plaster on like peanut butter on toast is the look (and not the product). 🙂

    The new fireplace and chimney breast is a fantastic upgrade! Looking really good now. An – NO – please do not stain the ceiling black!!!

    In terms of the mantle piece – I would paint it grey. It blends in nicely with the stones and doesn’t detract from them. You might also want to consider what colours your fireplace “furniture” will be? A copper bucket for the wood? Copper tongs, poker, brush handle? Or will you go down the cast iron route?

    1. Oh – and I forgot to add – I’m pretty sure the last picture isn’t painted stone! That looks very much like a Cotswold limestone and mortar. Here’s a cottage (for holiday rent) in England with these kinds of walls for comparison …


      1. Ah – just realised it was the black ceiling you were using as a reference point in that last photo! (Not painted stone). It looks great in this image but the ceiling is much lower here… I think would come to regret it over time in your large room with a pitched roof.

        1. No I was talking about the painted stone! That’s very interesting that its limestone and mortar. Good call out and boy is that pretty. (and yes, with the black ceiling …. :))

          1. Having been to the Cotswolds, I believe if you want to go for that look, you need more of the schmear/paint…also, keeping ng the ceiling light will achieve the Scandinavian rustic look while staining it black might confuse the look…..I love following your work….thanks

      2. I agree! It looks like limestone, not painted stone. We have similar limestone in Texas, too.

      3. I was thinking it was limestone as well… there’s no way you’d have such good texture and color variation with painted stone.

      4. That’s exactly what I was suggesting – just couldn’t remember the ‘Cotswold’ part! 😀

  11. What a difference a schmear makes! I’m a no on the dark stain on the ceiling only because even with the natural light it will make the room dark. I like the black fireplace mantel though and no to painted rock!

  12. You nailed that fireplace! Went from the ’80s to a farmhouse in Italy. Well done on working with what you have and being an inspiration with a small budget! Mantle colours: nothing strikes me as right. Time to google it.

  13. Don’t paint – I’ve never seen painted stone (not brick) that looked good. Never.

    1. I agree, paint would make it look flat. I like how it looks right now, but if Emily wants it lighter I think it would look better to cover the stones with moore plaster than to paint them.

  14. Love the way the stone turned out! My input on your questions: please don’t paint the stone. It looks lovely as is. Please don’t stain the ceiling. I’m afraid the dark will be too dramatic and draw attention away from everything else you do to the house.

    In regards to the mantle, I think the white or the black will both work. I would consider the furnishings and accessories you plan to use. If there will be black used throughout the room, go for the black mantle. If you don’t plan on using much if any black in the furnishings/accessories, then go with the white. It won’t be as stark as the photoshop based on the photo of the beam you shared if you allow the grain to show.

    1. ^This. I should’ve read this comment before writing mine since it’s basically my opinion too.

  15. 1.) Do not make the fireplace all light-colored. It looks great the way it is now, very neutral and NATURAL. Plus, down the line you can always change it if you want, that’s an easy, non-construction-y change.

    2.) Mantle – When you added the darker floor color (with your light ceilings), I was attracted to a mantle that was on the darker side (vs the lighter ceiling color family). I do think exploring something more rustic is worth it, the straight mantle seems a little out of place?

    3.) Black ceiling…..um…..please…please….BANISH THIS IDEA FROM YOUR PRETTY LITTLE HEAD! 🙂 Or, tell Brian about it and I bet he’ll veto it for us!

    1. ME TOO!

  16. The stone looks great with the ceiling as is.
    I would Prefer a wood mantel, not black or white.
    I can’t wait to see the whole house!

  17. What a transformation! Thanks for going this route and showing us. I love it.

    I think your mantle solution is to go no mantle. It would make the fireplace feel more rustic and at the same time modern. Or if you really want a mantle for Christmas I think something like in your last picture, the thin metal shelf-like one would be more interesting and editorial. The scale of the mantle you are considering, cuts the drama of the stone in half and kind of reads, “requisite chunky wood mantle, check!” No matter the finish it is going to relate to the floor and to the ceiling in some way and be such a focal point, that I fear will always read a little 1980s because of the fact that it is a corner fireplace. I think you get some of that scandi-feel you like just by skipping a mantle. Also skipping a mantle would kind of do what raising the fire box would have. It will give it a different shape and feel from most fireplaces we see.

    1. This is an interesting option. And if something has to go there ( because we don’t know what type of structure is underneath the current mantel) maybe there is a stone slab option that would blend with the current stone.

      1. Love the idea of trying to make something to blend with the stone of the fireplace – maybe something plastered with the schmear or a mantel veneered with a matching stone, that will look like just a big chunk of stone (the kind I remember them using on This Old House to make outdoor stairs out of – they would just take a big chunk of grey granite that was like 10 inches high and use it for a stair step – that always amazed me). Of course that would be too heavy for the mantel, but I’m sure something lightweight could be made that looks the same. Anything contrasting seems like a no, you want something to just blend in.

        1. I loved those giant granite steps, too! So New England-y.

    2. That’s an idea, but how would you cover the area where the mantle used to be? I think Emily wants to keep the mantle because she can’t really lose it without having to deal with covering the “hole” up.

      1. I agree with no mantel if possible, too. We have a soaring stone fireplace with no mantel and I love it. (this is a listing photo from when we bought, so not our furnishings.)


        (first time flickr user to apologies if it’s a fail.)

        1. Just a follow up note that the stone is not glossy – it’s just the light from the sun/windows.

    3. The other reason she couldn’t really remove the mantle all together (as she states in the post) is because the stone above the mantle “juts in” – By this I believe she means that the stone below the mantle is a greater depth than above. Even if they could somehow fill the “hole” where the mantle was, the upper and lower sections wouldn’t line up!

  18. Wow, the German Schmear technique really worked on that stone. Looks much improved. I like the black stain for the mantel the best. Black ceilings and whitewashed stone would be stunning!

  19. I’m in the Option 3 camp!! Stain the ceiling black!! It would be gorgeous!! I think the contrast would be perfect with the now lovely, German-schmeared mantle. (P.S. My device for writing this comment absolutely detested my use of the word “schmeared” which leads me to believe it detests it, however I do not, so I persisted.)

  20. The fireplace looks great and I’m going to find reasons to say “German schmear” as often as I can now. Answers:
    1) Please don’t paint over the fireplace.
    2) This is a hard one and I don’t think a decision could be reached until the flooring is actually installed and the firebox has been darkened. Good luck and I’m sure it will turn out great. 😊
    3) Sure, 3-D render it, but dark ceilings just suck up light in photographs, generally. (Assuming you’re not using things to bounce the light around for every photograph.) Since this is not just to live in, but for content, the photographs could be a struggle. *Also, for what it’s worth, I’m not a professional photographer.

    1. ^This. I agree with all the points made here. I actually like #4 and #5 on the fireplace as is, but I really think the flooring needs to be done before you can get the full picture on the mantle. And the whole point of a mountain cabin is lots of wood tones so please oh please don’t paint that ceiling.

  21. Have you considered a single piece of limestone for a mantle? You can have a large piece of limestone cut into the shape of the current wood mantle. You can have the stone cut so that the edges are smooth and modern ( often you’ll see limestone cut with “jagged” or “rustic” edges, which would probably be overkill in this space. If you do not seal the limestone it will patina beautifully. I’ve looked all over the internet for images but I unfortunately can’t seem to find any, but my parents had a similar two story fireplace in their last home with a chunky limestone mantle and it was beautiful!

    1. Fantastic idea!

    2. Yes to 👆!

    3. I was just thinking that something natural stone would be my pick for the mantle, maybe even imitating the slate tile hearth, but I also really like this limestone option. Limestone is natural in my area (Kansas) so it gets used a lot, but brand new limestone is a beautiful bright color, and it wouldn’t darken too terribly much over time since it’s indoors (Limestone outdoors can get a very dark, black patina over time, but you can always brighten it back up with a good power wash/scrub).

      And PLEASE don’t go black on the ceiling!

  22. That’s an amazing transformation on the fireplace. The ceiling is not looking too shabby either. While the fireplace would look nice painted with dark black ceiling, it is probably okay as is. Assuming once you see the fireplace in person it looks as good as it does in the photo I would save the money for other things. But then the other option could be amazing…..

  23. lolove the way you make “schmear” into “old world flair”, even teasing the masonry guy about it I’ve got a few degrees in German, and a few years lived in a Germany, to Get the humor. Just hearing that word makes me smile. Reminds me of people back home in Ohio/Pa who say things like “warsh”. Also brings back memories of hanging with my then-toddler in N Virginia at Einstein bagels, which is all about the schmear.

    I’ll admit I was skeptical as I started reading this, and pleasantly surprised in the end at how much more I like the semi-final result. It’s the schmear that kept me here. Looking forward to your final touches.

  24. 1. No, don’t consider painting the fireplace right now. Maybe in a few years, maaaybe. I think it looks good as is, and I’d like to see how the stone tones wind up working with everything else in the room when the room gets furnished.

    2. I like the white option or the black option for the mantle. Otherwise, it’s just too much brown when you factor in the floors, the ceiling, furnishings… Also, I think the floor might be a bit too dark or too brown or something – it seems to be fighting with the ceiling.

    3. No, don’t do anything with the ceiling right now. Maybe in a few years, maaaybe. See how everything looks when the room is fully furnished at least. If I were being forced to paint it, then I’d do white all over, and maybe a white with a little tiny dab of blue in it (still white, but a cool white not a warm white).

  25. Love the fireplace! I vote “don’t paint it.” I also think the idea of a black stained ceiling is intriguing!

  26. I like the grey mantel. The color had a good moody feel, but most importantly, the combination of light schmear and grey mantal makes the oddly slight (too slight) difference in the width of rockwork above and below the mantel just melt away. That particular rendering looks nicely balanced and finished to me.

    Yes, I think it would be grand to play with a dark ceiling. Very distinctive, and a great move away from EHD wood + wood + white. Fun!

  27. Black mantel, yes. So modern.
    Black mantel, no. Bat cave.

    Since you asked:).

    1. Did you mean black “ceiling” for the Bat Cave comment?

  28. Leave the ceilings alone and leave the stone and mortar alone! They look SO GOOD now. The “schmear” took away all the dated 80s vibes and really brought out the classic cabin look. PLEASE do not stain those ceilings black or paint the stone!!! Refinish the mantel in a midtone that balances between the ceilings and the floors and the house is ready for the next step. You 10000% fixed the fireplace and made it look like a timeless cabin, now onto the next thing. Black ceilings or a white painted stone will make the cabin look so LA or Hollywood and take away all the character that makes it feel cozy and homey.

    1. Very much agree – well said.

      1. Agree. I’m really loving the stone now—I never dreamed it would look this good!

  29. YES to considering that gorgeous black stain on the ceiling!

  30. I really love how the stone turned out! I’m so glad you didn’t demo it!

    Oh, and when looking at the mantle options, I feel that because the floor colour is so off in those examples, none of them really works.
    I also would have the mantel as warm wood tone as the ceiling but darker colour. I think that the fireplace needs some warmth to it since the stone and grout are so cold grey. All of those options feel just a little bit off because they are so cold.

    Can’t wait what you are going to end up with, I just hope you don’t paint the whole thing white now that the stone looks so pretty!

  31. Wow, the German Schmear technique really worked on that stone. Looks so good! I like the black stain for the mantle the best. Black ceilings and whitewashed stone would be stunning! But I think you could get the same kind of look without the commitment if you just paint a wall black in the living room. Its the same kind of coziness without the permanence, plus its only paint, and like the stone fireplace it can be changed easily with paint if you don’t like the color it is going forward, its a easier diy project. I say go darker on the mantle. It will work with all the wood tones in your house… Good Luck! Can’t wait to see what you do!

  32. Holy Schmoley, that looks perfect! I love the color & love the texture of the stone now! and I surprise myself by liking the white mantle. I don’t want to like the white one, I want to like the black or wood… but the white … i think i embraces the scandi feel you’re going for without committing to painting the whole thing white, but I think mantle might need some white legs to surround the entire bottom, and to ground it. I’m making stuff up. But that’s my gut feel.

  33. Yes to a black mantel. So modern.
    No to a black ceiling. So bat cave.

    Since you asked;).

    NB: this might a duplicate comment?

  34. No to white washing the fireplace – if you plan to actually use it – it will get an awful noticeable heat line.
    LIke the darker mantle vs lighter – the white looks too stark back to the other woods in the room.
    don’t paint the ceilieng will feel off once you get it finished and you will regret it

  35. It may seem a little industrial, but have you considered a metal beam? It would coordinate without matching the dark cabinets you’re planning. There’s so much wood in the house (beautiful!) that a natural wood beam may not pop. This photo doesn’t depict “the one” but provides some reference to show that it can look modern, without the farmhouse vibe https://www.pinterest.com/pin/78953799695310869/

  36. I vote for painting the stone. That last picture is INSANE in the best way. I want it in my house! And it wouldn’t even work because it’s a new build craftsman. Anyway, I love the look of the painted stone.

    1. I agree!! I’m sorry but I don’t love the new stone. I think the thing that bothers me is that the stones are sort of “floating” in the grout, instead of resting on each other… does that make sense? I LOVE the light “painted” stone photo though!!! reminds me of the south of france. dreamy.

  37. My 2 cents: Leave your ceiling walnut blasted as-is, stain the beams black, paint the whole fireplace lighter like the picture you’ve referenced, stain the mantel black and darken the hearth to coordinate with the mantel. I think right now there are just too many competing tones.

  38. No. No black ceiling. No no no no. I can imagine what it will feel like to have that looming over you all of the time. And the expense? And the expense to fix it after? Ugh. And this is from a woman who thought she got a great deal on two beautiful and heavy Restoration Hardware inset, lit, chrome non-returnable medicine cabinets yesterday for $1000, only to realize this morning (looking at the shallow framing and the placement of the electrical pipes through the framing of the under construction bathroom) that they will NOT WORK AT ALL and now feels sick to her stomach at the thought of it, and of telling her husband, and of telling her snide contractor. And that’s for $1000. Think about that x10 (or more) for your ceiling – always hovering over you like the ghost of Christmas Future while your visitors inwardly duck and cringe at the feel it gives a previously lovely place.

    Also – if you are in the Chicago area and want to buy some medicine cabinets for what I paid, please let me know.

    1. Everything from Restoration Hardware since they became RH is so big, so heavy, so clunky.

  39. I say remove the mantel. I think it looks really strange, no matter the material/color. I don’t know if you would be able to find stone to fill in the gap, but I think the fireplace would look 10 times better without a mantel.

    I also vote “no” for both the black ceiling and painting over the stones.

  40. Hi Erin
    I Love the plaster .however the proportion of the mantel feels old fashioned and wrong to me .. one option already mentioned is no mantel at all which I like. Another option is increasing the depth of the mantel so that the space between firebox and mantel is less. I would rest a new bigger mantel over the old one ( made out MDF and possible clad in a slate or similar stone ) almost the colour of your hearth . The whole mantel firebox relationship would feel more grounded . I would double the depth of the current mantel

    1. Yes, per above comment. I’m starting to realize that it isn’t the color of the mantle so much as the size and placement over the firebox that is the real problem. I’m intrigues with a metal or limestone mantle possibly.
      Black ceiling? Please no. Love the fireplace schmear! We are working on our tall fireplace and are going to have to brick it and then schmear it!
      Can’t wait to see the next installment.
      Whitewash on the ceiling, depending what you do to the floor might be an option. As always you are terrific, Emily.

  41. Great job! For the mantel, go with a wood tone. It looks so much better than white or black. 🙂

  42. I LOVE the after and on the stone and I am so glad you “made it work,” rather than reconstructing. But please don’t paint that stone!!!!! It’s so perfectly cozy now. A black stain on the ceiling could really be a contrast!

  43. Mantel……..wrap in metal?

  44. I LOVE THE FIREPLACE NOW. You did such an amazing job and this is actually an attainable solution for many people’s not-quite-right fireplaces. I love the current look because it seems perfectly old world while not trying too hard to be cool.

  45. I think the fireplace looks absolutely great as-is – PLEASE don’t paint it! It has so much depth and character right now and it would just look so DIY’d if you paint over it.
    I prefer the idea of keeping the ceiling wood, making the mantle and hearth black, and then the mid-toned wood on the floor. I think that would give you a nice mix of finishes and colors that are slightly outside (but adjacent to) your preferred palette and still cozy and modern at the same time.
    I love all the mountain house content and wish you could share even more about it – this whole series has been fantastic.

  46. LOVE the fireplace! I love that you worked with it and made it into something so beautiful.
    1. Painting it doesn’t seem necessary, but it could work.
    2. I actually liked the ‘matchy’ options for the mantle the best. I like the natural look of it, and I feel like it brings the outside in more than the paint or stain options.
    3. PLEASE DO NOT PAINT THE CEILING!!! They look so pretty in natural wood! pleasepleasepleaseplease don’t

  47. regarding this, “just explore the idea of using that gorgeous black stain on the…CEILING”. I vote yes! I think it would be cool and alleviate your wood tone mismatch concerns. (Although that doesn’t bother me at this point at all).

  48. Can the mantle itself be plastered?

    1. I like this idea!! I know some people suggested no mantle, but that would leave a giant empty space to contend with. Plastering it would look seamless I think.

  49. Ha! When I saw that last photo I thought, why not stain the ceiling black in the mountain house as well and solve that dilemma. So I vote for the black ceiling

  50. I think the fireplace looks great!
    As for the ceiling, what about keeping the pine planks bare but staining the doug fir beams black?

  51. i love it! i wouldn’t add paint either – this alone adds so much character. great problem solving!

  52. Emily the fireplace looks gorgeous! Please don’t paint it! It might end up looking like every bad flip house that have been assaulting my eyeballs while house hunting lately – flippers LOVE painting fireplaces. Right now it looks amazing with the natural texture and color variations.

    My only issue with the mantle is that it seems a little chunky for the space. Can you replace it with wood that has a thinner profile? Alternately, I had a crazy idea that a metal mantel could be cool if done right – it would be a nice relief from all of the wood and add another natural texture to the room. Just a (crazy) thought.

    1. Indeed. Egypt Sherrod (sp?) has a new show for “virgin” flippers, and I caught one of the shows. She painted the gorgeous, period arts-and-crafts fireplace tiles in a century old craftsmen white. UGH. It was hideous. It looked so cheap when it was done.

  53. It looks amazing now! Don’t paint it!!!


  55. I’m surprised by how much I like the schmeared rock. It looks so much better! I vote for the BLACK MANTEL all the way!

  56. It looks so much better! I do love the white in the last picture, and that’s probably what I would do, but I don’t know if it’s mountain vibey (pretend that’s a word) enough.

    I have a question…I have a similar issue with stone on the front of my house. Would this technique work outside? We painted the rest of our house white, and I’ve thought about painting the stone too, but I think I would rather do something like this. I’m just worried because it’s VERY humid where I live and we alternate with drought/rain/hurricanes so whatever we do has to be durable. Thanks!

    1. Yes to outside schmear. Lots of Google pictures and how to’s

    2. yes-the fixer upper did an episode where they did german schmear on a house exterior.


  58. The stones looks great. I do think you could consider painting it as in the photo. Don’t love any of the mantel options, but perhaps the white, out of the options presented. I am going to say no on the black ceiling, only because then you are married to it. I would leave the ceiling as is.

  59. I’ll admit it, I was a naysayer. I didn’t think this fireplace could be transformed. I’m proven WRONG! It looks more amazing than I could have imagined. I wouldn’t paint it— I think it’s damn near perfect! But you’ve shocked me more than once so who knows what could happen 😉
    I am super into black tones and accents, I’m just having trouble picturing it in line with your overall vibe. Your bright white scandi cabin doesn’t seem to allow for a black ceiling or mantle. I think we need more mood boards to envision this potential new direction!
    I actually somewhat dig the natural wood-toned mantle options but I’m sure in person, with all that ceiling, it probably gives more of a matchy impression. Of the options you showed here, my gut says white, but I’m watching with rapt attention to see what happens next!

  60. I love that black stain and it could be beautiful on the ceiling! Would you go with lighter flooring then?

  61. LOSE HIS SCHMEAR! I’m dying!!! I’d love to see a rendering of the ceiling stained/painted black 😍😍😍 dark and moody 🤤
    Love the schmear! Love George! Can’t wait to see the high quality photos. Maybe some sort of white wash over the stones wouldn’t be a similR defect to painting it, but wouldn’t be so PAINTY. Still let a little natural stone color come through….or something like that. Zero suggestions for the mantel….you got your work cut out on that one 😉

  62. The fireplace stone is really pretty as is! I hope once you see it in person you’ll love it and not want to paint it white.

    My gut feeling on the mantel is that it would be ideal to have no mantel, but I understand there’s a depth difference above/below it, so something needs to be there. The large wall-to-wall line of the mantel, cutting the fireplace in half, is throwing me. You could consider removing the wood beam and installing a piece of slate to cover that horizontal surface, the edge sitting flush with the front of the stone. Essentially a no mantel look but still providing a surface. It would require additional stone/smear touch-ups and drywall repair on the sides, so it’s not the simplest or most economical solution.

    A black stained ceiling could be stunning. It would correct the pink toned beams, reduce the prominence of the knots, even out tone variations in general, provide contrast to the fireplace and flooring, and be an amazing backdrop for lighting. That said, it might be too moody for this house/location. I’d love to at least see a rendering of what it could be in an alternate universe 🙂

    1. in agreement with all of the above…

  63. In an ideal world- I would do a light white wash with chalk paint on the stone, then stain the ceiling & mantel black. I think the contrast would be impactful & tasteful. But since there’s only a 2% chance of that happening, I reckon you should repeat the ceiling wood on the mantle & leave the stone untouched. The schmear has worked it’s magic. Good luck! I look forward to seeing the project progress.

  64. Yes, yes, yes!!! I love the matte black on the fireplace, and on cabinets, and it would look STUNNING on the ceiling, especially if there is a lot of light coming into the room and the furniture is lighter tones. And painting the fireplace? Also a YES!!! We have the same dang thing going with the deep, ugly morter, so would love to see how it looks painted after the schmear (I will never be able to see that word without thinking of Chip Gaines and that German Schmear remodel!).

  65. Yes— pretty please darken the slate for some contrast. No painting the stone or wood in a mountain house… Dark mantle too would be very pretty!

  66. Paint the Shmear and black mantle are DEFINITELY my vote. Also don’t stain the ceiling

  67. Interesting, interesting! I would, no matter what you are going to do with the ceiling, paint the stones in a light tone! It‘s still rustic but more modern and cleaner together with the tone of the ceiling. Also I would definitely just think about painting the ceiling black, I mean why not think about it…;) Warmly, Kim

  68. I’d vote not to paint the rock
    Love the Black Mantle option
    Black ceiling could be cool but it is rather scary in its permanence….

  69. I feel really special that I had the same idea as you 😉 As I was looking through the pics on the post I thought, “why not make the whole ceiling dark”??? And then you suggested it! I’m thinking like a Shou Sugi Ban look. We have a brewery going in down the street (check out fieldbrewing on instagram), and they have dark siding that looks amazing. I’m not sure what technique they used, but I think it would look fabulous on your ceiling. So, I’m in love with the idea of the dark ceiling. I think it really modernizes the look!!

  70. My comments based on proportion and color tone from a graphic designer who loves reading your daily posts:
    1. Mantle proportion seems ‘off’ to my eye. It needs to be thicker (ie deeper)
    and thus more visually connected to the firebox. It now looks like 3 disconnected pieces trying to work together to me, they are each different color tones, different proportions and living visually separate lives; doesn’t work.
    2. The mantle width being different from the hearth is visually ‘disturbing’ to the eye. Seems to me as if they should be the same width, with the mantle having much more depth than current one.
    3. Painting over the stone is not the technique used to achieve the whitewashed look in the final pic example.
    Your stone could achieve very similar to that photo with thicker and lighter (more white) plaster finish schmeared over the existing very nice schmear that George has done. It would take away the roundness of the current stones and make it all work together along with a thick thick reclaimed wood mantle and the darkened hearth you suggested.

    I love being able to get the inside perspective of this whole reno project via your excellent posts!

  71. I think all these decisions to be made are starting to stress ME out. I don’t know how you all are doing all these projects at the same time.
    My head hurts.
    (Fireplace looks good btw. Glad you worked with it)

  72. Fireplace looks INCREDIBLE. So, so good.

    I think at least one other commenter suggested this as well: why can’t you go mantel-less? Just a ledge of the existing stone. I think this would give you more interesting Old World European vibes – a chunky wood mantel feels a little 90s Pottery Barn to me, don’t you think? At least consider a solid stone mantel or even just a skinnier wood mantel like in your inspiration pic.

    Am I spelling mantel right? My toddler is on my lap *helping* and I literally cannot be bothered to even scroll up and check. #sorrynotsorry

  73. DO NOT PAINT THE STONE!!! I was a huge skeptic of changing the fireplace at all, but I truly think it looks AMAZING now and so much better. I’m shocked I’m saying that, but it really does. Please don’t paint it. It looks beautiful and rustic now.

    I think I like the white mantel, but really for me it would just depend on how the rest of the room finishes out. I think you should wait to decide until the furniture is finalized.

  74. What about a natural juniper log? Juniper has two tones that look similar to two ceiling beam tones, so that you could keep the ceiling as is. Then would consider painting over the stone with a white tone.

  75. I think you should white wash the flat (non-beam) parts of the ceiling. Then you’d have your contrast between the fireplace and the ceiling, and you’d solve the “two types of wood” problem. I do kind of like the all white plaster fireplace idea, though…

  76. I love the stone now…painted or left as is…no opinion. The mantel bothers me, but I have no suggestions. 😬 Don’t you dare touch the ceiling!!! I think if you change the mantel the ceiling will be fine.

  77. 1. No, no, no, no, no, no. no…. No, please for the love of everything mountain-y and honest and special about that house please don’t paint the stone. I unfollowed Sarah Sherman Samuel when she did that in her A-Frame, and A Beautiful Mess when Elise did it in her family room– I just cannot get on board. I think this plaster looks FANTASTIC and is such a wise fix for that super dated stone – I really love it and wouldn’t be able to tell that it had ever looked so unappealing before. Really phenomenal.

    2. I think you should pick the mantel finish after the floors are in and you’ve settled on the final treatment of the ceiling – it will be more clear at that point how to coordinate/contrast with the other finishes.

    3. OMG. Yes – but just on the beams, not the T&G. You might also look at Opaque woodstain. It goes on easier than paint, and really maintains the wood grain.

    I am loving this house. And this process! Thank you for bringing us along on the process!!!

  78. What about painting the beams on the ceiling that beautiful matte black? I wasn’t sold on white beams, but the black could be absolutely STUNNING. I think the black+wood would be old world, but also chalet, in a very cali-pnw way. #notadesigner

    and I’m also team reclaimed mantle! But please don’t paint the stone until you see it. From the pictures, i think it’s perfect.

    1. I just had to link to a photo I found on pinterest with giant windows, a stone fireplace, and a wood ceiling with black beams.
      feels so chalet meets cabin to me!

  79. I love the fireplace now!!! Would a slate mantle be an option??? I feel like that could be so beautiful and unique!

  80. I am in the minority, but I think painting the fireplace an all over light tone would be great. I also think a wood mantel will look best. The white and black both feel too stark. I feel like a pretty walnut or reclaimed wood, while obvious, would be the right call.

  81. I’ll second the lighter floors comment. Everything looks great individually, but they aren’t meshing well together and I think it’s because things are skewing too dark. Given that the floors aren’t in yet, that might be the easiest element to lighten up, a la this inspiration pic:

    Also, your original inspiration pic of the stone fireplace is set off by lighter floors. Then, I would go with the white stained mantel to add to the lightness, although I might consider a different lighter shape for the mantel as well.

  82. The fireplace is amazing! Don’t do anything else to the stone. I love the white mantel. Do not paint the ceiling black!

  83. white painted fireplace, black-stained ceiling, white oak floors!

  84. What if you did a colored stain on the reclaimed wood mantel? Something in a green or a navy where the texture would still show through?

  85. Don’t paint the stone. Definitely go with the black ceiling.

  86. That fireplace makeover looks better than I could have imagined! It seriously looks like your favorite inspo picture. Yay!!!!

    I have zero problem with the medium gray stone and the medium brown wood ceiling. Like I can’t even see your point about it. Ok, higher constrast might be good in a black and white photo of the space but the colors and textures are so different that there is more than enough contrast as is.

    The mantel is a tough nut – I don’t like any of the options really. More context with the rest of the room would help. Will there be more black trim like steel windows to tie into it, or white elements all around the room?

  87. The fireplace is soooo much better! Nice win/win on style vs cost. I wouldn’t paint it… talk about permenance! I think the mantel issue needs to be grouped with the ceiling issue. It’s the pinkish hue in the beams you don’t love, right? What if you used that gorgeous black stain on them and the mantle, pairing it with the sealed slate? Carry that into the kitchen, maybe the central cabinet wall or the island. Keep the pine ceilings and work off those knots for your medium floor tone. It would all feel masculine and rustic, but less overwhelming than the entire ceiling being black. I can imagine it feeling too cave like, especially in your writing loft in August. Balance it all with a little California Goop and you are good to go!

  88. 1- Don’t paint! Paint screams to me: “I don’t have the budget to redo this dated fireplace”. The schmear worked wonderfully in bringing it away from 90s while looking original!
    2- I really like the black. I just feel like it balances the firebox the best.
    3- DO ITTTTTTTT. See, I can say that because I have no fear since if it doesn’t look good it’s not my house 😉

  89. I came back tfrom this to look at it again. I still like the grey mantle best. You’re right that it doesn’t have a lot of oomph, but it isn’t supposed to. It’s supposed to hold whatever you display on it (the mountain cabin must have lots of pine trees, for easy clipping, right?). Put something in a bright accent color on it, and let it demurely and gracefully play its supporting role.

    My reaction to the ceiling is still the same: really? After the whole thing you just took us all through, you want more scaffolding? Let it rest. See how it feels to live there with the lovely natural wood ceiling, or maybe stained if you must, but that is such a drastic step.

  90. I would definitely paint the stone all one color like that!

  91. I think that if you wanted the white color all over the fireplace, you needed to use large quantities of white plaster over the existing rocks rather than just painting them after the fact. I think painted white rocks is going to look cheap and you won’t have the same awesome character you are seeing in your inspiration picture. Also, I don’t think your inspiration pic really fits a mountain house- an English country house, sure, but not a mountain house. All that to say your fireplace looks SO GOOD the way it is, please don’t paint it!!!

    I don’t hate the idea of a black ceiling- but I’m not 100% sold.

    I am not sure about any of your mantle choices- they all seem bad, but I think that’s just photoshop issues.

  92. What if you did a concrete or a stone-clad mantle instead of wood? I don’t love the three tones of wood idea, and the concrete would match the old-world style of the stone.

    Also, I think the black ceiling would be amazing!

  93. I have a strong preference for the white mantel— I like how it breaks up the fireplace, but maybe that’s weird? Also, wow the schmear was genius!

  94. So stoked that you listened to your loyal masses and made a plan instead of just demolishing and starting over. So satisfying to watch the process. We love when you make a plan that we feel we can try…I know you’re not a 100% DIY girl and neither is this project/house…just saying: well done. It worked a treat.

  95. Fireplace looks good – the problem is the ceiling. Too many shades of too many colors. the beams not matching the cieling is a problem. Convince Brain to paint white!

  96. Love the fireplace! Don’t paint it! My vote is for lighter floors (more Scandinavian), black mantel, and white ceiling.

  97. No to painting the fireplace, no to black on the ceiling. Yes to white mantle or reclaimed wood mantle. I can’t believe how awesome the schmear turned out!!!!!!

  98. Any idea if the “schmear” process would work on a brick fireplace?

  99. I think the reason why you aren’t sold on any of the mantel mock-ups is not the color of the mantel but the crispness of the mantel shape. It is incongruously straight and square against such an organic/rough background of stone.

    Separate thought: have you considered painting the walls instead of the ceiling or fireplace? I agree with you that everything is kind of blah together now, but I think a dramatic wall would bring the contrast you need while causing your husband fewer aneurysms. Imagine a dark blue?

  100. Wow! So impressed with how the fireplace turned out! I LOVE the idea of the black stained ceiling. I love the moodiness it would create and let you do any color on the floor.

  101. Looks so good and is just what I was hoping for! (as though it’s my house, haha) Don’t paint it! I think with the mantle color nailed down (black?) and some modern furnishings, and this room is going to be stunning.

  102. I love the narrow metal mantle in your last photo. You could use whatever metal matches or looks good with the tools that you intend to use on the fireplace. Adding that small touch of black or copper metal could be nice since you have so much other wood to coordinate. The narrow mantle is so unexpected and adds a touch but not a block of interest. Love the stone natural.

  103. The fireplace looks fantastic. I vote for a rustic reclaimed beam for the mantle!

  104. Cannot believe how wonderful that turned out. I’ve seen similar fireplaces (sometimes even entire walls!!) in listed homes, and while it’s not a dealbreaker, it does seem problematic. Now I know what I would do! I’ll just need to find a George here.

  105. Hi, what kind of plaster did you use?

  106. omg, that black stain! my pulse quickened upon laying eyes on it. what a thrill it would be to be brave (heroic?) and stain them ceilings -sigh, so good… buuuut, the entire ceiling, or just the beams.!? hhhmmm, no idea. so, i searched pinterest to see if my heart racing response to the idea of using the luscious black stain on the ceiling would be confirmed visually -but alas, not so much with the examples there. which makes me wonder if there is a good reason -would it be too dark and ominous as other commenters have suggested or, is it just that few people have lacked the courage -the gumption!- to attempt it..? to further explore and understand the conundrum, i started a pinterest board for you -i mean Me! (board: “Emily Henderson’s mountain fixer upper” : )

    oh my goodness Em! congratulations on the outcome of your Schmear Campaign!!! i heartily agree that the now lovely and appropriate-for-the-space fireplace should absolutely not be painted but would be open to discussing the incorporation of limestone and mortar? just wait until all the other elements are in the space as this current fireplace might be even more perfect then.

    on another note…
    i’m feeling pretty strongly that the mantle issue is mostly about one thing: SCALE. i do think you should wait until the hearth is darkened, the flooring is in and a ceiling decision has been enacted before choosing a mantle finish but i don’t think any of the options you shared here will ever feel ‘right’ because the depth and height are just wrong. what happens when you photo shop the mantle at the same depth as the lower part of the fireplace? and not so tall? something that minimizes that change in depth of the stone? right now, even if you found the perfect vintage beam for the mantle, it will still create/continue that disquieting break the eye simply does not want or need.

    minimize the mantle so it doesn’t reach way out onto the wall beyond the fireplace itself. i feel calmer and more at ease just imagining this adaptation : )

    absolutely love following along in your master ‘mountain fixer upper: design & renovation’ class -ahem, posts ; )

  107. 1. I’m NOT into the idea of painting the stone. Try living with it for a while. Seems great, especially in the fuzzy dried picture!

    2. I love the idea of a rustic reclaimed beam for the mantle. Do that!

    3. Black ceiling??? Open to it theoretically, but it doesn’t say Emily Henderson. You’re too happy for a black ceiling! I could be proven wrong here, but tread carefully on this one!

  108. I LOVE how the schmear turned out!!! It looks 1000x better 🙂

    I also love the idea of the black ceiling (hoping you can convince Brian!) I played around with it a little in photoshop and actually really like option 1 seen here: https://flic.kr/p/27Urhwf Option 2 feels too stripe-y with all the black.

    Can’t wait to see more updates from the Mountain House!

    1. whoa -awesome photo shop Danielle! (the light mantel with the dark ceiling is divine : )

  109. Yesssss go for the moody black ceiling!

  110. I would say leave the fireplace as it is and go with a white mantel. I am interested in what you’re thinking for the hearth. I think the look of the fireplace is great now for a mountain house but don’t know if I’m loving the hearth…maybe add a beautiful piece of stone to the top and front to cover? And my vote is to leave the ceiling as is until you get the floors in and more of the items – like the idea of the natural wood in a mountain house.

  111. I LOVE this. It’s so awesome. I wouldn’t paint yit.

  112. Wow! its beautiful, such an amazing transformation some schmeary plaster can make. Please don’t paint over the fireplace, but maybe investigate the black ceiling further. or a white wash stain on the ceiling to make it more cohesive if the black is too heavy.

  113. Really like the fireplace as is and don’t like the idea of painting it. Secondly, I really like the mantle you have if its current tone can be brought down like 1 or 2 shades. I like its warmth in contrast with the stone while still being darker than the ceiling but more medium than the floors. There’s a perfect fit out there. Also

  114. I would wrap that mantle in silvery metal and repeat the metal in the fireplace screen.

  115. Stain comes in colors ( gel stains), so why not a navy or an olive green? Or a deep plum or grey?

    Other than a color I love the darker tones/black-ish one.

  116. so yeah, I really love your dream fireplace example…have you considered staining the stone and plaster rather than painting it? (You could always paint it after if you still hate it.

    then I think id like th black (or white) washed cedar. love that grain.

  117. 1. I really think the all-over light could look ah-may-zing

    2. Definitely black


  118. Emily!! Don’t paint the ceiling black!! Remember…you are trying to keep the woods in a warm range, and it’s a cabin! I think you should do a light or medium wood stain on the ceiling. As for the mantel, I like the gray or a warm wood. I love the combo of gray with warm, medium woods!

  119. LOVE the schmear treatment! Good call on the white. I say keep the mantel color in tact and paint the fireplace box black 🙂


  120. Go for black mantel or some sort of reclaimed beam. Bring a few black accents in and I think it will give the room a depth and richness and coziness that is better suited to this home than a white mantel. No to the black ceiling, but I do think there must be some sort of subtle stain that will make the ceiling a little less textured and knotty. I’m impressed with the schmear!

  121. Definitely go black on the ceiling and paint the stone white too. Be bold!

  122. The fireplace looks AMAZING! And none of the mantel options jumped out at me.

    But I have two thoughts about the mantel to throw into the mix: (1) is the mantel too high? It looks a bit high to me and I’m not crazy about how it divides the space (a reason to use a lighter color IMO). (2) If you were open to replacing the mantel, I think a repurposed, weathered gray wood mantel would amazing in your space, something like this: http://www.elmwoodreclaimedtimber.com/sites/default/files/styles/hero_image/public/hero-gallery/10×10-Hand-Hewn-Reclaimed-Mantel.jpg?itok=Zsyb0aS0

    1. wow -linked mantel is BEAUTIFUL

  123. Bravo on this unique solution! The finished product is wonderful.

    1) As another commenter mentioned, I believe that last photo is not painted, just very light stone and light mortar. Regardless, I wouldn’t paint it!

    2) The mantle I like best is the black stain paired with a darker slate hearth. Definitely Google to find alternatives though (and then show us)!

    3) Definitely fun to dream about a black stained ceiling. My initial reaction is no… But I could be swayed depending on your other selections for this room 😉

  124. I love the fireplace and think the black mantel would be gorgeous! and with a black stained ceiling it would be so lovely and dramatic.

  125. I vote white mantel (I like the ‘fresh’ look), and no for painting the stone – live with it for a bit and see how it comes together. You can always paint it later.
    Also PLEASE don’t stain the ceiling black. I think it would be too overwhelming, and feel really heavy.
    Love how its all coming together, and enjoy following along.

  126. I love the way the stone fireplace turned out. I wish the ceiling was not so raw new wood-looking (at least on my monitor). Perhaps Axel Vervoordt would provide inspiration for new direction on ceiling.

  127. Paint over the plaster. Make the ceiling black. I love being inspired by blogs. These two choices are pushing the comfort zone, and that’s what I personally want to see. Not to mention how hot Restored by the Fords is going on….they’re all about painting painting the brick and it seems like they’re getting a following……NY Times article and all.

    1. I had that show on my dvr when it came out, but took it off after watching a few. Everything is so stark and white and samey looking. Her (Leeann’s?) own house looks like she hasn’t moved in yet. Not my vibe at all!

  128. WOW! I love it! And paint it. 🙂 I am totally doing this to my house. 🙂

  129. Do not paint over the stone!

    I also love that matte black, and I’m typically not a matte black kind of person.

    Can I also say that your kids are so obviously siblings. So cute.

  130. I vote for option 3 – “explore” staining the ceiling black. The fireplace turned out so insane, I can’t believe what a transformation and for so little time and cost – what?!?! It’s amazing! But, the ceiling is REALLY throwing me off – it’s hard to get excited about any of those mantels with the ceiling the way it is. And I think a dark stain on the ceiling would be like, jaw-dropping-stunning. PLEASE consider it!! 🙂

  131. I love following along. We’re doing a very similar remodel in our new Connecticut house. We are currently considering painting our stucco fireplace, so I’ll be interested to see what you do there. Also, I’m SUPER into the idea of staining your ceiling black! Wow! Bold, beautiful choice! Don’t know if I could do it, but it just sounds super sophisticated, and cool! Thanks for sharing your process! I so enjoy your beautiful work!

  132. Gut reaction- match the wood mantel to ceiling. Expansive matchey matchey rooms are what define cabin interiors for me. You don’t have to go whole hog and place matching timber furniture in there as well- but the permanent fixtures could all be close relatives.

  133. the fireplace looks amazing!!! way to find a solution that worked with what you had!

    I could get behind a black stained ceiling. I am also team ‘paint it white’.

    For the mantel, i like the suggestions to try a metal option, or a limestone. Or maybe a cool patina’d piece of reclaimed wood. I also like the suggestions to have no mantel but understand that might be harder than just installing a new mantel

  134. Paint on fireplace. And I like the black stain as well.

  135. YES to painting the stone all white. YES to black ceiling. And, I would also consider adding a metal shelf for the mantel, similar to the one in the last picture. There is nothing better than wood, stone and metal combined in a modern way. But, this combo is not for everyone…it is pretty bold.

  136. Paint it lighter/white! (Regardless of what you decide on the ceiling….. black would be lovely!) Totally with you on the contrast/competition. It’s almost like your eye doesn’t know where to go between the stone and the ceiling, although it may read differently in person. 😊

  137. I like the idea of painting the fireplace and all-over white tone and think that would look great with the tone of ceiling as it is. Not a fan of a dark stain on ceiling for the main family room area – maybe if it was a man cave/study/library!

  138. Yesssss, Yes, YES! to painting the stone. The current situation is pretty but still blah (sorry don’t mean to sound rude). Leaning too much towards ‘hey! I’m a cabin, look!’ Than look I’m this cool, earthy but subtle and understated thing! It’s too ‘there’. Your inspo pic for painting it is gorgeous and yes to a stained black sealing! It’ll look ammmazing like some of the RIVA cedar furniture and be elegant, different and understated at the same time. As a Scandinavian design fanatic I’m waiting to be blown away.. pretty please!!!! Paint and stain 😉

  139. I’m amazed by the fireplace transformation and can’t believe how much it looks like your inspiration picture. Who knew that was even possible??! As for mantle, I actually like the grey (or some variation of gray). I think it’s nice that it sort of blends in. As for the ceilings, I think you should leave them alone. They look great, the tone is nice, you need the woodsy element for Brian’s masculinity, and the amount they stand out will change anyway once you get the furniture in. I’m curious what the wall color will be?

  140. Can you add a couple of simple, somewhat beefy in scale, (similar size to the width of the mantel shelf) decorative corbels under the mantle? Very simple and puritan in style, to match the style you have going on?

  141. I would try a natural vinegar and tea stain (steal wool seeped in white vinegar and tea for a few days.). I’ve had wonderful, very natural results with that to age wood with a grayish tone.

  142. Fireplace looks great! If you do white mantel, can you do a much larger (in height) one – more of a modern look? That height looks a bit generic and anything smaller would look out of proportion. One of double height might give it a really cool modern/simplistic vibe . . .

  143. isnt your wood really roughed up after the walnut blast? You’d probably have to sand it all down to stain it, at least I would want to. I just am not a black ceiling person, though. The light wood seems much more Scandinavian and bright.

    I think the fireplace looks so much better! Good job, George! I don’t think you’d be able to get that limestone look with paint on round stones, and am afraid it will just look like paint on round stones. I’d keep it as is with an ebony stained mantel. Or charcoal. I think the jet black is too stark (as is the white).

    1. Yeah, white paint on those stones will just look cheap and unimaginative — cheapskate landlord chic.

  144. For the mantel, i would try a natural vinegar and tea stain (steal wool seeped in white vinegar and tea for a few days). I’ve had wonderful, very natural results with that to age wood with a grayish tone. It requires some testing of course, especially because tone varies with type of wood.

    I also recently soaked clothespins and smallish wood frames in black dye to brilliant, imperfect result. I have no idea how feasible it would be to soak a large piece of wood. But I’m going to try.

  145. After all that, please don’t paint the stone. It looks amazing!!
    Definitely reclaimed chunky cool wood mantel.
    Not sure on the black stain….. :/

  146. I did not vote to make the stone work, because I honestly didn’t think it could work. I’m so happy that’s I was wrong. It looks amazing and very close to your inspiration pictures. I don’t think you should paint the stone. In the photoshop renderings I can see what you mean with the competing medium tones, but in the pic your contractor sent the ceiling and stone look good together.

    If we’re just fantasizing here, I would go with the whitewashed ceilings. That would be my vote over black. In reality, I think what you have will look beautiful in the end.

  147. 1. Definitely paint the fireplace an all-over light tone. The schmear got you closer to what you want, but knowing what I’ve learned about your design style, you’re going to want more uniformity in the fireplace aesthetic. (If the fireplace had been older, like the one in your “ideal” photo, you wouldn’t need the uniformity. But because it isn’t–I think you will end up wanting the cleaner scandi-look.)

    2. My vote is for black.

    3. Instead of making a statement, I think the black ceilings would just take over the whole house; I vote no.

  148. What about a Corten steel mantle?? I think the texture would be so cool and you wouldn’t have to worry about conflicting wood tones…

  149. What about doing a char technique?

  150. Personally LOVE the idea of painting the fireplace an all-over light tone like your inspiration image – so calm and peaceful!

  151. 1000% LOVE how this turned out!! Please don’t paint it!! Figure out a mantle/floor combo you’re happy with but leave the fireplace–it’s awesome!!!

  152. love how you changed the fireplace so much. I vote for the ceiling and mantle to be black, why not just go for it!! and then after you can decide if the fireplace stays the same or you might want to paint over it like the picture you posted. Good luck, I know it will be amazing!

  153. Love the way the stone turned out. Honestly, the first pic with the white mantel was my favorite – but I think it’s because it looked like the walls. Would it be super weird to do the mantel in white plaster? Or what about a stone/slate veneer that looks like the hearth or the rest of the fireplace?

  154. I LOVE THIS. I’m stunned that adding some plaster could have such an impact.

  155. I love the idea of a black ceiling! Would be so dramatic with the stone. Which, by the way, looks a million times better after being schmeared!

  156. Yes to black-stained ceiling. Then decide if you want to paint the stone white.

  157. Soooo many comments already, but I agree with those suggesting a plaster or stone mantel.

    Of all the options, I like how the white looks in this pulled back shot, kind of blending in with the wall color – you could concrete or plaster over then paint it the same color as the walls, to make it look like continuous part of the wall.

  158. much improved
    Could you cut off the ends of the mantle that extend beyond the stone work (make them plaster like the wall). I think that would take it a step closer to what you want; and then I suggest a treatment that brings the mantle into color harmony with the stone – rather than having it pop/contrast with the stone.

  159. 1) The fireplace looks SO GOOD now! My opinion is no paint.
    2)I think a stone mantel could be a really interesting option (not sure if that’s even a possibility? haha)
    3)The idea of permanency with the black ceiling gives me anxiety…but I sooo want to see at least a rendering of it!!

  160. It looks great! FWIW, we have lots of houses around here with old stone fireplaces similar to your after and when people renovate, they almost always paint them, and it always looks… bad. I dunno why, but I’ve never seen it where it works. It looks cheap and fake somehow. Team Don’t Paint It! 🙂

  161. Whatever you do, don’t paint the stone! If you want it lighter, use Classico Limewash by Romabio. It’s so easy to work with and you can achieve the level of coverage you want. If you don’t like the effect, take it all off — easily. Buy a quart and play around with it. https://romabio.com/all-products/classico-limewash/ While I don’t really like the end result in the video included in this link, if you google around, you’ll find lovely examples of this product being used. The end result depends entirely on the artistry of the individual doing the work. They call this stuff “paint” because that’s how easy it is to use. What you get when you buy it is slaked lime. You add the water, so you are in control of how dilute it is. By the way, where I live we refer to the technique used on your fireplace as a glove finish, because the mortar (not plaster) is finished with a gloved hand to give it that messy, old world, high-end look: more mortar, less stone. The fireplace before had a very surburban look. Not the look you want for a mountain house. Unless you’re dry-stacking your stone, white mortar and a glove finish is ALWAYS the way to go to achieve that old-world look you are after. If you do the limewash AND stain the ceiling black, you will have a modern AND masculine room. That’s a win-win. Decide on the mantel later. That’s an easy add after the bigger elements are decided. And what about the loft railing? That has to figure into the equation.

  162. Does the fireplace have to have a mantel? I don’t know what is behind the existing mantel but it would look so pretty to not have a mantel. Just the stone rising all the way up to the ceiling. That is my vote! 🙂

  163. How about using a stone veneer in random lengths, maybe 3 or 5 pieces, to make it look like a real stone lintel?

  164. You just added 100 years to that stone — very, very nice. I love the mantle as it is, but oil that hearth for sure.

  165. I love it! It looks so much better. I think the ceiling looks great as it is too. I don’t think you need to paint the fireplace, and I love the white mantle.

  166. I’m going to be totally cliched, but I don’t care: that fireplace improvement is epic!

  167. Would it look too accidental to use the Shou Sugi Ban technique (Japanese wood burning) on the mantel? Like perhaps the fire got out of control & burned your mantel? We used the technique on our chicken coop and it’s quite lovely.

  168. Okay, this may be way out there, but how about a mantle wrapped in zinc? A touch of metal might be a highlight in a room with so much wood.

  169. Please don’t paint the stone! Kudos for a great, creative, inexpensive solution to the bubble rocks. Very inspiring.

    It’s not usually my style, but I’m kinda intrigued by the black stain on the ceiling!

  170. Love the new fireplace! Bravo! What about a concrete mantel? Something modern and refined but visually congruent and connected to the stone?

  171. The re-do on the fireplace looks great. Have you considered a steel mantel?

  172. Honestly I think lighter on the ceiling would be better than darker in this space. It’s show-stopping in that inspo pic but I think you have too much ceiling in there for it to be so dark. Bleaching or lightly whitewashing the ceiling might be options?

  173. 1) Don’t paint the stone. It turned out great!
    2) Is the options shown I like the gray best. Something minimal that lets the Schmeared stone be the star.
    3) Intrigued by the idea of a black stained ceiling.

  174. Leave the rock
    Leave the ceiling
    Dark mantle, dark the hearth
    All beautiful!
    Distracted by the semiopening to the kitchen!.?

  175. Yes please paint over with some lighter tones to take the too gray away. It clashes with the pink and yellow woods of the ceiling.. 😉

  176. I like the exposed stone… it feels more mountainy

  177. LOVE the idea of staining the ceiling black!! Maybe try that and then see what you think of the fireplace. If it still bothers you, you can soften it after!! Great job EH!

  178. rustic reclaimed beam for sure! so pretty… Also, definitely a darker slate hearth xx

  179. Do it do it do it!!! Paint the fireplace and stain the ceiling!!! The way it is now feels very rustic and it’s not coming across as anything you are dying in love with. I think taking those two risks would reap MAJOR rewards.

  180. PAINT IT!

  181. Yes to painting the fireplace light!!! So crisp!

  182. I like the results! It no longer looks stuck on. It looks structural.

  183. I LOVE the idea of you painting the stone. I think it’ll look really special. I also think staining the ceiling black would be…amazing???? I love it. Darker brown wood (last option) for the mantel, just because I think you need some warmth with the combo I suggested. 🙂

  184. I like the stone as-is and am in the no paint camp! I also like the black mantle, which kind of surprised me. I’m confident you could design it into the room beautifully. Black ceiling scares me though!

  185. Yes on the black stained ceiling! A perfect idea!

  186. Wow! This post was super enlightening about the decisions you have to make. I thought the stone looked fine before (I totally would have “lived with it”) and, reading this, I was skeptical. But the afters looks so, so great! So much better than I could have even imagined. THEN you ask about a ton of options for a mantle and it was decision overload for me. So much stuff to consider with so many wood tones. THEN you want to stain your ceiling matte black? Ugg. I love it! But such a commitment (but I say do it). Also, I think everything painted white on the fireplace would also look great. And this is all just the fireplace. I can’t wait for this whole thing to be done and have a million photos of it.

    This really is an amazing series and so much fun for me (who is a longtime reader)

  187. It looks amazing! Great job George and excellent choice Emily!

  188. It’s taken me a while to figure out how I feel about the new fireplace look, and I finally realize that what I dislike is the hearth. It accentuates the corner placement since it extends way past the actual fireplace and it’s too low (but rightfully not worth spending good money to raise the whole thing). I LOVE the inspiration photo you show at the end, and there is no heart in that. Could you demo out the hearth and figure out some way to protect the floor (looks like they used brick in your inspo pic)? That would TOTALLY help the fireplace not feel so crunched in the corner.

    I’m into the black ceiling idea, and I’m more of a light-and-bright modern/contemporary person myself. But, I think the fireplace and would ceiling together lean too “cabin” (in a too dated/rustic way), and the black could lend itself very well to more sophisticated, refined, but warm furnishings.

    I vote for painting the stones if the color is too gray in person. It’s hard to tell, but again, your last inspiration photo is just so beautiful, warm, and understated.

  189. May be duplicate thoughts, as I don’t see my original post going through.

    It took me a while to figure out how I felt about the fireplace, and I finally realized that the heart is not right. Of course it’s too low (as you note, but not worth spending money to raise). But, it also accentuates the weird corner placement of the fireplace, as it extends way beyond the upper stone. Can you demo the hearth and protect the floor, similar to your last inspiration picture? (It looks like brick in that example.) Oh gosh, I LOVE that inspiration picture.

    Although I’m usually white-and-bright contemporary/modern, I vote YES on the black ceiling. The stone fireplace and the natural wood lean too rustic for me (and somewhat dated, when together). So I say GO FOR IT. I think the black would make it all look so sophisticated and would lend itself well to warm, simple, not-trying-too-hard furnishings. Refined, elegant, and somewhat modern… but still warm.

    I also vote to paint the stone if it is gray in person. You need warmth from this fireplace, not gray.

    Thanks for listening! I can’t believe I’m hemming and hawing over this (for hours!). It’s fun to be included.

  190. Keep the ceiling with a white mantle OR paint the ceiling white, hearth and mantle black, but the floors would have to lighten up to something like a pickled oak. I still think you should ditch the mantle altogether. Finish off (plaster) the bump out as a cute little edge and then it’ll feel like the monolithic focal point it is! The mantle feels slapped on and in its current form weirdly breaks up the vertical line of the fireplace. Its such a narrow strip in the context of the full height of the stone that it feels dinky and something feels off about the angled connection to the wall on either end. (Now that I’ve beat the dead horse) Don’t paint/stain the ceiling dark or my question to you would be, what’s the hierarchy of elements in the space? To me it’s that fireplace, then the floor (to ground everything), the ceiling provides texture but if it’s loud it competes with the other 2.

  191. Have you considered trying a black iron mantle? I wouldn’t extend it wall to wall. I think adding an industrial element into the mountain lodge would be a tad unexpected and compliment the wood ceiling and floor.

  192. Paint the ceiling!! It would look amazing.

  193. I like the plastered stone! I think the white is gorgeous, but wait to see what it looks like in person. Also, I vote for the black mantle but not the black ceiling! I like the idea of that, but think that it is going to be too cozy for summer visits when you want a lighter feeling.

  194. I agree that none of the mantel options are great. I think you should consider alternative materials (not wood). Possibly metal? The contrasting texture would be stunning. Theoretically all the heat should go up the flue so that shouldn’t be an issue but that might need to be tested!
    As for the ceilings , YES stain them black! That would be so striking and would make each element of the space stand out beautifully.

  195. The stone is perfect. At least for now. Maybe in a year or three you can paint it, but honestly, leave it as is. I LOVE the painted look, but that is so easy to come back and do. I have done it. I also LOVE the black mantel. I am not sure I would darken the base…maybe too patterend…A-B-A-B look. Again, darkening that can easily be done later and make for more content down the road. Leave it! The ceiling is also less offensive to me now that you have Schmeared. (I married a German and the first letters of my name are Schmie……..) My family has made wise cracks for 25 years regarding his name using none other than, “Schmear”! Maybe the round knots were overly competing with the round rocks? Anyhow, I would also leave the ceiling as is for now. Again…more content in a year or five. Let the rest come together and it may work. I love the scandi look beyond belief, but the black ceiling and whitewashed looking fireplace in your inspiration photos are really taking it that direction and I’m not certain that is what Brian wants???

  196. The makeover is extraordinary! The fireplace is both perfectly rustic (for a mountain home) and equally modern and chic! I love the soft grays. In a few months, I’m envisioning the finished mantle styled with several large pieces of art, and baskets of wood at near the firebox – it will be dreamy!! As far as the mantle finish, my hunch is that it might look best if it ultimately matches the finished ceiling beams.

  197. 1. Don’t paint the fireplace. It looks awesome.
    2. Go with a real wood mantel. Have you thought about a unedged log with tons of cool character?
    3. Why not make the beams black and keep the pine t&g as is?

  198. Please don’t paint the fireplace–it looks fantastic the way it is! For the mantel, I like the idea of a dark mantel if you darken the slate. (Can that be done?) Someone suggested an iron mantel. That sounds awesome! And I just can’t picture a black ceiling. It reminds me of a restaurant.

  199. Thank you for the informative post – its a major improvement and transformation. Please do not paint the stone, its in a cabin in the woods! Natural stone is more rustic. It is hard to comment on the mantel without clear direction on the ceiling and floors. I think a black ceiling might be too dramatic and trendy, however, a “light -ish” black stain could add depth and stay rustic/masculine in a more timeless way. Its fun that you want to experiment. I think black could be interesting but in small doses.

  200. 1. Please don’t paint the stone! I think that defeats the whole purpose of the heavy schmear and working with it! The stone looks perfectly natural for a mountain cabin now.
    2. I actually don’t mind matching the mantle to the ceiling because it looks more intentional, but I agree with everyone saying hold off until the floors are done to decide. It does seem a bit chunky to me but I wonder, as somebody else commented, if wrapping it in metal would look nice? A raw steel would patina nice or even perhaps a darkened copper wrap? A steel I Beam might also look cool, although maybe too industrial for you.
    3. While I adore the idea of the black stained ceiling, please don’t! It seems like such a waste of money after spending SO much to walnut blast. Maybe think about staining the beams darker, although I don’t think I would do black. All the wood is lovely and what makes it a mountain cabin.

  201. Fun keeping pace with all this. I’d leave the ceiling. It’s a cabin in the woods and that’s what wood looks like. I’m a little prejudiced as we have a woodsy home near a ski area and we love the coziness of natural wood and how non-decorated and natural it looks. As to the mantle my least favorite is white. You’re doing a great job!

    1. Just adding, I LOVED the weathered big mantle linked to above. I think the proportions and color are perfect.

  202. Yes! Paint the stone! Yes, paint the ceiling black and make the mantel white!

  203. The fireplace stone now looks perfect! Don’t paint it!

    Gosh, I don’t have a clue what the mantel should be. Aren’t I helpful? 🙂


  205. 1. Please don’t paint.
    2. If cost is no option definitely the reclaimed wood option.
    3. If you ARE going to paint – white

  206. The stone is perfect, clear evidence that making it work is the superior option every time. I feel like fussing too much with the mantle will make it look contrived so tread carefully.

  207. Paint it!!! That last pic is gorgeous 😍

  208. Since there are so many comments, keeping the votes brief:

    1. Don’t paint the stone. It looks great, and it’s impossible to “unpaint” it.

    2. No opinion on the mantle. I think it’s too hard to decide without seeing more of how you want to decorate the room. Will there be lots of black? If so, then the black could be good. If not, it may look jarring.

    3. What do you think about staining the ceiling grey? It would look moody, and cover the pink, but not be as dark as black.

  209. I would say paint the top half of the fireplace above the mantel a rich cream color… mantel same color as top fireplace. You get to keep the stone around the box but it breaks up the visual back to back comparison with the wood ceiling. Look great!!

  210. I am so glad that you worked with the fireplace that you had. It’s nice to see your creativity work with the ‘as is’ and I LOVE how it turned out.

  211. Paint the stone!!!!

  212. White mantle, white ceiling!! Let the fireplace be the star!! 😍 yes, that ceiling would stress me the heck out too!!!! I would have to paint it! 😬 sorry Brian!

  213. Gosh, I think the black ceiling would be cool. And I’m usually light and bright! And I think stained black mantel is the way to go no matter what you do with the ceiling 🙂

  214. Because the stones aren’t a super special material, I’d vote to paint them out in that lighter tone. It’s a little more modern but will still speak to the cabin vibe. Either way, I’m loving what you did and you and your team clearly put so much work and thought into it.

  215. 1) sure
    2) white or whatever matches your accents, but I think dark will compete. White or #4 should blend in nicely and create beautiful textures in the background.
    3) not now. You have the space for it and enough natural light. But Its too dramatic and you cannot go back. Wait 10 years or more until you are bored wirh that house. Or buy another house later where you visualize darker ceilings from the start

  216. I would like to see the stone painted. It’s better now, but I don’t love it. If you keep it gray, I like the lighter, more natural wood for the mantel.

    I’d just like to see you really go for it with this fireplace!

  217. 1. I love the fireplace now, the stone looks done! and a beauty!
    2. I think the mantle should be slate like the hearth and deepen it.
    3. I love love love the ceiling. I would do the floors the same lightness as the ceiling. Then decide on the beams.

    It’s so impressive what you are doing!! I love your vision, I just think it gets hard to step back and edit and see beauty in what you’ve already done.

  218. Stone looks awesome! What an improvement and good on you for making into work and not tearing out perfectly good stone. That would have been such a waste. What if you grey out the ceiling a little with a wash and made the beams black with a dark mantel?

  219. The ceiling didn’t pose as a problem to me so I think the stained black mantel would help bring out those darker tones in the ceiling and help tie it together. The fireplace is beautiful now that it is partly finished.

  220. Why do you need a mantle? I say – no mantle. Put up a large piece of artwork. Think tapestry or some sort of wood sculpture (driftwood?). If you are going to do a beam I vote a reclaimed beam in a much lighter wood tone, but it’s difficult for me to visualize that and I don’t do photoshop.

  221. Don’t paint the rocks. White mantel, dark ceiling, but maybe with lighter floor color.

  222. Maybe the beams could be black? It would take care of the different wood tones. I’m scared that all black would be too heavy. Not sure about the mantle…

  223. Keep the stone as is! Or what if you do a plaster wash over the stone instead of paint? Love a rustic wood mantel, esp if you are going to treat the ceiling. It is a cabin!

  224. Beef up the mantel.

  225. Loving the new fireplace! It looks aged and original. Paint will take away character. We moved into a mcm a couple years ago. They coated every surface (mahogany beams and t&g ceiling included) in ugly tan color. -except the nondescript tan-Ish brick fireplace….even though i wish brick was diff color I can’t bear to paint away another original feature of this 1963 beauty. I think staining just the beams black would be awesome !!

  226. Oh man, that fireplace looks so much better! And please please try the black stain on the ceiling! Please! I love the idea of that space having a bit more drama!

  227. Paint with walnut mantle… it’ll remind one of the Cotswolds!!

  228. Hmmm I’m sorry but even after the replasgering and filling I’d still def give that “hideous “ fire place a nice light coat of “lime wash “ like they do in France 🇫🇷 & Greece 🇬🇷 Or knock it down and build a new one ! I couldn’t even begin to choose any of those Mantle colour choices ! They’re too straight and all most emphasis the 70’s boulders stuck to the wall . I’d go for something very subtle like a big piece of reclaimed organic & naturally coloured & shaped drift wood for the mantle

  229. Chip & Joanna Gaines have done some German Schmear. Maybe check the Magnolia blog posts?
    A chunky old railroad tie, or something similar with age, would make an amazing mantel. And the black ceiling sounds intriguing

  230. The fireplace looks amazing, please don’t paint it!! I never thought I would say this, but I am very intrigued by the black ceiling idea, or maybe as other commenters suggested, just painting the beams black? That would take care of the issue with their “pinkish tone.” I feel like three different tones of wood (on the ceiling, mantle and floor) might be too busy but also worry that an all black ceiling may feel too dark? Can’t wait to see what solution you come up with!

    1. I am into the idea of painting the ceiling but I would be concerned then that the fireplace would come off too gray and not warm, inviting, and cozy the way you want a mountain house to be. I agree it’s hard to weigh in on the mantle without knowing the direction of the floor, ceiling, or even the fireplace. I feel like there might still be this male vs female, modern rustic vs traditional rustic internal design battle going on. My instinct would be paint the fireplace (you’ve compromised by keeping the stone so the schear and paint would be the chalet touch); and hold off on painting the ceiling so it still holds the original mountain house feeling and charm that you both were attracted to. I know whatever you decide in the end will be beautiful. I hope you find the balance in styles that you are looking for. 🤗

  231. Black matte stain on the ceiling!! I love the idea. My only concern for you would be how the stain looks once dried with how textured the wood is.

  232. Totally agree the stone is perfect. Awesome job! I like the grey mantel. But was also thinking what about white wash wood ceilings (and floor? I havent followed this entire reno so don’t know your progress). But that would be almost exactly like your dream room you posted a photo of above (and would look beautiful!)

  233. The fireplace looks great!!!I love what you did with it! Please do not paint the stone! I feel like painted fireplaces are so 2010!!!! But then again, you always seem to make thIngs work. Go with your gut!

  234. Love option 3 is my fav other than the black one. Love the color!! The tones are nice with the color of the stone. I’d given the choice, I’d definitely do a wash on the fireplace. Love the colors of the wash in pic you posted with the black ceiling. Not sure yours would work so well with a black ceiling. I’m a fan of more light in a cabin. I’d like it better in darker color if it were lower. I’d do a black exterior in a second but inside gets dark if everything else is not super light. Tough call but love the inspiration pics. Definitely on the right track!

  235. I vote for white painted rocks and black ceiling— because that inspiration photo is insanely gorgeous!!! 🤗

  236. I think I could get on board with the black stain if you do the darkening of the stoop as well. Right now I would agree with some other comments that the flooring is throwing me off. The tone of it seems off with everything else. But a darker stoop would help balance out the black mantel more. Otherwise I think it needs to be a natural stain in line with the ceiling tones but darker (kinda like your “after” but without the orange that you say is present in person. No to black ceiling and painted stone – I get it and enjoy those pics, but I think you should stay the course here.

  237. So many comments. Didn’t read them all, but am I the only one that is bothered by that small strip of stone under the hearth? Plaster over it completely and stain black, along with the hearth, and do the mantle in black too.

  238. Your “before” fireplace reminded me of candy–I wasn’t a huge fan of it either. It’s much better now. The mantels I like best are the white one and the one that matches the ceiling. The fact that it matches the ceiling doesn’t bother me a bit. It’s hard to imagine what a white fireplace will look like in that room. If you’re bothered by the mantel matching the ceiling, wouldn’t you be even more bothered by the entire fireplace “matching” every wall in the room? And I agree that painting the ceiling black would be an utterly ridiculous notion–it would be like a big box store or movie theater where they paint the ceiling black to make it disappear. I think the detail or texture that you describe would be lost at such a height. If you wanted to have a black ceiling, I’d try it in a smaller room with a lower ceiling.

  239. Hi Emily. The fireplace looks fantastic! So glad you explored the chance to work with what you have, as so many of us have to do. It is a real inspiration to see the lovely results. As for the ceiling, I would whitewash it to show the natural grain but tone down the “woodiness” of it. A reclaimed beam would be my choice for the mantel. I love it and trust your instincts!

  240. THIS look is lit. I’m game for the light wood mantel

  241. Black ceilings!!!!!!! 🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

  242. Don’t paint over it! I like the schmear as is–it was a great idea. And I like the cedar or the grey mantle. I know you think it is too matchy and usually I don’t like when things match either but there is something about the vastness of the space that makes it work. Love how everything is coming together!

  243. Is no mantel an option?

  244. I think the issue might be now that the fireplace stone looks old world, the ceiling looks new. I like both, but together there’s a disconnect. Maybe paint the ceiling to age it some?

  245. Ok so I was heavily anti-schmear but now that I see it dry, it looks GREAT! For the mantle I don’t love any of these, I think you should do a walnut blasted fir wrap to help tie in the beams, it would go so far to make things feel cohesive. And I think black ceilings are great but not here for it on this project!

  246. This is a fantastic post. I’m a stylist and designer as well and I see so many *not quite right* stone fireplaces. Why is this? Most of the time it’s because they are installed in urban/suburban homes and don’t make sense. That said, sometimes the house is appropriate but the materials weren’t applied well and the question of how to fix things when a complete tear out isn’t an option comes up all the time. Your posts are so often a master class and I thank you for that! As for thoughts on your questions – I say 1) sit with the current stone finish and see how it plays once the floors are installed; 2) imo no on the black ceiling – I don’t see any way that it will enhance or support the direction you are heading in with the rest of the design (I’m guessing?) 3) mantel – I did actually like some of the natural lighter looks even though they were somewhat close to the ceiling color. Perhaps mid-toned salvage would work nicely.

  247. Looks great! A great solution for an expensive redo. Love that the 90’s is gone and it feels more old world, early 1900’s river rock!👌🏼 Can’t wait to see it all done!!

  248. I vote painting the fireplace an all over light tone with the black ceiling. Black ceiling no matter what! It would be the perfect contrast.

  249. The stone is beautiful & my vote would be to definitely leave it as is! I think a reclaimed light-medium toned wood beam would work well (something with a little bit of beaten character on the edges so it’s not perfectly smooth, and not glossy). What about a light white wash on the ceiling if you’re not 100% on it now or if matching ceiling, mantel and floors isn’t working?

  250. The fireplace is gorgeous – it definitely speaks cabin but more 2018 than 1965. I love that you worked with what you have, which is what most of us have to do. It’s also better for our planet.

  251. Completely LOVE the idea of a black/dark ceiling. So down with that!

  252. I’d paint the plaster, but make sure to keep it textured (as in the picture above) and more lime-washed than bright white. I think you could go on that ceiling, with its height, and if natural light isn’t a problem. I’m all for substituting a nice hunk of rustic timber in place of that mantle. Dark grey slate rather than black. Is it possible to extend the slate down over the edge to cover those “toothy” rocks? They remind me of a badly designed path edge, little rocks all standing in a row! 😉 Remember less is more, but have fun with it. xx

  253. Best option for whatever.
    I have heard some times stones also works in numerology. One believe or not but I believe on power of stones. But I agree with your lots of points. I also prefer these things for my agency https://www.divasofindia.com/ (DIvas of India)

  254. YES!!! Paint over the plaster – the white painted stone in the photo is gorgeous and I like it even better than the current fireplace update (which is pretty amazing what a different that made, btw).

  255. I love the image you installed with white stone & the minimal metal mantle. But since you can’t go that minimal with your mantle, I feel you may regret painting the ceiling black. I’m inclined to try the rich black mantle but agree with feel that finalizing that choice after the floor is installed might be smart.

  256. Thank you, thank you! This could solve my problem.

  257. why not try for the mantel some kind of metal instead of wood, or a very large stone piece. it would break up all the wood happening and would add a nice masculine element. think I beam or something metal that is indigenous to that area. Just a thought. Looking good

  258. Beautiful! I think there is something about the natural wood tone that sets the mood for the house. I think staining either the mantle or the ceiling would change the mood of the home. Think light and natural! I would leave the mantle as #4 to match the ceiling and leave it until you move in and get settled. Once you are settled you can then get a feel for how you want it to look. Fireplace looks amazing! I wouldn’t change It. ☺️

  259. Love, love the schmear on your fireplace!!! It changed from a totally 80s look to classic. I agree with another poster that it isn’t your mantel it’s the ceiling. Your inspiration photo shows white wood walls and a white wood ceiling which makes the black mantel and accent pieces pop. Very classic, bright and clean. I would definitely paint the ceiling white which would work with any of the mantels and not fight your flooring color.

  260. It looks far better than the original. Great results!
    But if you are going to paint it white,
    I am thinking it needs more ‘schmear’ to look at the sample pic…………..?

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