Limewash Fireplace Transformation

My family bought our 1980s Williamsburg-style home, in Peachtree Corners, GA, in 2006. The home is tucked near a nice little cul-de-sac, deep in a subdivision full of 1980s Williamsburg-style homes. The homes are not too varied, interesting, or exciting, but do we love our home, our yard, and our neighborhood. The previous owners, who were the original owners, had made some quality upgrades to the house over the years. We have enjoyed continuing with numerous renovations ourselves.


One update we made a few years ago was kind of a big leap for me. It wasn’t a huge project, but was definitely a commitment. We limewashed the brick fireplace surround. When it comes to painting brick, there’s no going back…you can’t really “unpaint” brick. I’ve always felt that brick and wood are some kind of Sacred — you just can’t paint them on a whim! I realize many people feel this way. …but many don’t!

To my eye, the brick in our family room was a drab color, and while the surrounding oak bookcases were a great quality and of nice workmanship, I was tired of the heavy, honey-colored oak. That whole end of the room was dark.

This is from 2016, before we limewashed fireplace surround and painted the woodwork. Even with the inset lighting, that end of the room was dark and kind of blah. The wood and brick colors blended too much.

I looked into adding a fresh, current tile over the brick to update it, but after looking at pricing and logistics, we decided to try the limewash (since it’s inexpensive), and if we hated that, we could reconsider the work and expense of adding tile.

I was inspired by a few photos I found after Googling “painted brick fireplace” and settled on the limewash effect. We went with Romabio Avorio White Limewash Interior/Exterior Paint, which was in stock at Home Depot. I liked the limewash because it wasn’t going to completely cover the tones of the brick. Limewash paint gives a unique “whitewash” effect. The product we chose is a one-coat process, no priming required. That’s what sealed the whole deal for me.  According to the Romabio website this product is toxin free and environmentally friendly. Romabio Limewash is mineral-based and is derived from sustainable materials. . . . Bonus! And we were thrilled with the results!

The limewash process gives an old-world, antiqued/weathered look. Some of the brick color remains exposed, which results in a warmth you just wouldn’t have with a painted brick.

Here is a terrific sampling of the Romabio Limewash colors, found at brick&batten.com.

We decided to keep the oak mantle in place, as is, as it compliments our oak floors, and has a nice, neutral style.  So after taping off the edges by the mantle, bookcases, floor, and ceiling, we were ready to experiment.

The application was very easy. We went with the recommended 50% dilution (see chart below; the .67-gallon can was plenty for our fireplace surround). Before applying the limewash, we misted a 3’x3′ area of the brick with a spraybottle of water. Once the brick was damp, we used a paintbrush to apply the wash. It soaks right in!

Keep your brick damp with water as you apply the limewash.

We adjusted the look by applying plenty of the product and then washing off in random areas, so the brick color would peek through. We were able to balance out the intensity with some vigorous buffing, and there was lots of stepping back to observe, adding or removing the wash, and more observing after that!


This was at the end of the first day. We did remove a little more the next day, as it was a little more opaque than we wanted.

Removal is possible for up to two days after the initial application — very forgiving. This product can be re-applied to add color depth, even past the two-day removal limit. Since the finish is flat, touchups are undetectable. Nota Bene: the product dries more opaque and it looks “thicker” or “darker” when dry than when it’s wet. We ended up removing quite a bit over the next couple of hours, adjusting the amount of brick color and the “location” or “pattern” of the red that showed through.

Romabio Classico Limewash dilution recommendations


1L/1QT.2.5L/0.67GAL15L/4GAL
50%500ml1.25L7.5L
70%700ml1.75L10.5L

After the wonderful transformation with the limewashed  masonry, we decided to go ahead and have the woodwork painted to coordinate with the wall color, Silver Strand (7057, Sherwin Williams). The paint colors we used are: bookcases “Attitude Gray” (7060); wainscoting “Unusual Gray” (7059); all Sherwin Williams colors. 

‘White Rose Trio’ over mantle, by Tatyana Klevenskiy

This update truly brightened this part of my home. Adding the limewash to the fireplace surround and then painting the woodwork gave everything a fresher, cleaner, more updated feel. I just love it!

Low Mortgage Rates Benefit Many — Not Just Buyers

Mortgage rates are continuing to hold below 3% this spring. Rates were at record-breaking lows throughout most of 2020, during the unprecedented real estate market during the global pandemic. After rising a fraction in early 2021, the rates for a 30-year mortgage were averaging at 2.98%  on April 29, 2021. It’s natural to see homebuyers as reaping the real benefits from this. But consider others who benefit … even if you are not in the market for a new home, you could benefit from these low rates.

Advantage for buyers

It’s obvious that homebuyers are the most directly benefiting from the low interest rates. Says Realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale, “Today’s mortgage rates give home buyers a much needed boost in purchasing power that will help them navigate higher home prices, which nearly every housing market across the country is seeing right now.” Perhaps reluctant would-be homebuyers are actually ready to act now in response to the lower interest rates. With the usual springtime increase-in-inventory, the market is turning a little more friendly to buyers the coming months.

Now is also a great time for 2nd-home buyers to make their dreams come true. Even if a great purchase price bargain is hard to come by in today’s housing market, you can still lock in at a respectable low interest rate and save a lot of money in the process. If owning a beach condo has been a goal for your family, this is a great time to buy, as the market for condominiums is not quite as competitive as the market for single-family detached homes.


Advantage for sellers

The climate of today’s housing market is by far the most advantageous for the seller. Low mortgage rates spur buyer demand, plain and simple. The more buyers, the more bidding wars and the higher the sales prices go. This also gives more negotiating power to the seller. 

Houses are on the market for a shorter time right now, with the average days on the market (DOM) being 18, as compared to the average over the last few years being 35-50, depending on the city. Higher DOM can make buyers wonder what’s wrong with the home, and after a few weeks, as interest drops, the appeal of the home drops. 


Advantage for the homeowner not planning to sell 

Lower rates are a positive incentive for refinancing, which can reduce monthly mortgage payments.  An increase in the homeowner’s equity can result, as well as the possibility of eliminating the pesky mortgage insurance.

All this can enhance a homeowner’s overall financial status. Quoted on the CNBC.com website, Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst for LendingTree says, “One of the best things Americans can do right now is build up their savings while trimming their debt.” When any loan balance is high compared to the original borrowed amount, credit scores are lower. Eliminating debt leads to financial security and peace of mind.

Even an advantage for renters

Landlords may take advantage of refinancing their rental property, which can lower their monthly payment and thus eliminate the need for increased rents during the hard times of the pandemic.

Many Americans are purchasing rental properties, taking advantage of the low interest rates. This makes more homes and apartments available to renters. “There’s just been extraordinary demand for rental homes in a lot of these secondary cities, tertiary cities, suburban markets, where a lot of the single-family rental properties are located,” said Gary Beasley, CEO of Roofstock, a marketplace for buying and selling single-family rental properties. According to an article on money.com, large portion of rental purchasers are first-time investors and many of those are moving from renter to landlord. Many of these properties become short-term rentals, through Airbnb or VRBO platforms. Since the onset of the pandemic, there seems to be a move away from hotels and motels and a trend of vacationers choosing detached homes, or condominiums, which don’t require as many close physical interactions during the vacation stay.


What’s next?

Mortgage rates are inching upward monthly. March saw the first dramatic increase over the previous 12 months, but the trajectory has slowed back in the last month. Rates are expected to stay below 3.20%, which is still a relatively low rate compared to the last few years. 2021 looks to be a safe time to make that home purchase, or secondary home purchase. Still, it’s good to keep in mind, the market is volatile, and speculation is just that. But home value growth is sure to remain in 2021.



If you are interested in selling or buying a home, I’d love to be of help as your Harry Norman Realtor. As a seller listing your home with me, you can be assured that your home will have the best market exposure. Harry Norman properties are featured on thousands of real estate websites visited by millions of qualified viewers. No other Atlanta residential real estate brokerage offers greater local, national, and international exposure. We are relocation specialists, so your home will be marketed not just to local Georgians, but specifically to the thousands of buyers relocating to the Atlanta area. We will present your home in the best light, with an eye toward the shortest time on the market and the best selling price. As a buyer’s agent with Harry Norman, I will work closely with you, taking in to account your specific and individual needs in the home buying process and I will be your exclusive advocate. It is to your advantage as a buyer, especially in this erratic market, to have a realtor who can make sure your offer stands out from the others, and that the contract is aligned with your best interests.

If you have questions about your neighborhood housing market trends, or are interested in buying or selling, I’d love a chance to chat with you about it all. Please contact me via email at ElizabethKay.Pinder@HarryNorman.com so we can set up an in-person or phone appointment.

Elizabeth Kay Pinder, Realtor ~ Harry Norman, REALTORS ~ 404-394-4646, mobile ~ 404-394-2131, office ~ ElizabethKay.Pinder@HarryNorman.com ~ ElizabethKayPinderWeb.HarryNorman.com

Sources

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/28/the-fed-keeps-rates-near-zero-heres-how-you-can-benefit.html

https://www.realtor.com/news/real-estate-news/mortgage-rates-drop-home-prices-rise/

https://www.opendoor.com/w/blog/why-days-on-market-matter

https://money.com/historic-low-mortgage-rates-new-investment-property/

Gone Thrifting!

[For “1969 Poodle Wall Plaque” giveaway, see end of post and leave a comment!]

Do you ever go “thrifting”? The phrase is trending, but the act itself has been around for decades. As a teenager (early 1980s), I loved heading to Little 5 Points, in Atlanta, to visit the vintage clothes stores (Stefan’s, Junkman’s Daughter) and then head over to the AMVETS thrift store on Moreland Avenue, for hours of perusing. I scored all kinds of wonderful, magical things in those shops…clothes, of course, but also jewelry (they don’t make ‘em like they used to!!) shoes, purses, scarves, gloves, and at AMVETS they sold household items as well — I got some fantastic blown glass vases and some glasses, framed art, all the fun stuff! I still have a lot of the things I bought. Some are put away in boxes, but some are out, about my home, and I enjoy them every day! 

Currently I frequent just two thrift shops in the Atlanta area, City Thrift in Lilburn, GA and the Goodwill near my home in Peachtree Corners.  I have scored some SERIOUS loot at these places! I want to share some of the amazing finds I’ve had recently, and how I’ve upcycled some of the items. I also want to note how appreciative I am that people are willing to take the time to donate items they no longer need.

Visiting a thrift shop can be overwhelming, so I have a few tips to share for folks who are interested.

Tip 1 — Visit often, keep it short.

I found that if I visit the shop often, say — once a week, and stay for about 30 minutes, I tend to be able to spot great stuff easily. Some items will stay on the shelves for weeks, so if you visit regularly you will stop noticing the things that don’t interest you and be able to recognize the new inventory. Taking in everything on the shelves or racks can be overwhelming. Thirty minutes is about the maximum time I can focus while thrifting, too.

Tip 2 — Focus on one or two departments per trip.

This is related to my first tip: One thrifting trip might be a visit down all the “home goods” aisles — kitchen items, home decor, small appliances, and outdoor decor such as flower pots and garden items. In another visit, focus on shoes, handbags, belts, hats/scarves, and jewelry. Or focus on looking at just jackets and sweaters. My brain gets foggy when I try to take on much more than that. I do admit, I always head straight to the small appliances, though, every single visit. I am obsessed with finding espresso machines — I’ve found three so far (gifted them to two of my sons)!

Tip 3 — Fuel yourself!

Make sure you aren’t hungry, thirsty, or in need of a bathroom visit. Sorta ruins the fun otherwise…

Tip 4 — Keep your eye out for the unusual, and keep an open mind!

Most everything is cheap in a thrift store. If something really catches my eye, I will buy it even if I don’t want to keep it “forever”. As my sister-in-law once said, “Think of it as a rental program! Buy it, enjoy it a while, then re-donate it!” That actually makes a lot of sense to me. I’ve always been of the mindset that, when I buy something, I’m going to always have it, and I’d better make the best use of what I have. I do that to a degree, but thrift shop items are low cost, and it can be fun to buy something a little outside my comfort zone or my taste, and get creative with it! Upcyling (refashioning something thought to be useless into something of greater value) can be delightful and rewarding, too!

Tip 5 — Prepare for AMAZING finds!

Read on to see the fantastical stuff I’ve found while thrifting!


This Italian-made espresso machine retails for $200+ and it was new, in-box when I spotted it at City Thrift! My BEST buy ever!!

Unique Barware

George Briard Mid-Century cocktail glasses, on eBay for $50+, and have real gold detail. Festive at the holidays!
Another set of fun holiday glassware!

More kitchen and housewares

This German dessert set looked as if it was never used! It was one of my pricier purchases, $50. It’s so much fun to use in when friends are over. I love the curve of the coffee pot, and the sassy style of the cream and sugar set!
Some 99-cent items, and how I use them.
These square vases caught my teen’s eye. He used them to create a vignette of succulent plants for his nightstand.
This wicker trunk is from Bombay Company. It matches my decor perfectly!
I found these frames on different visits at City Thrift. I like to look for unusual shaped frames, and especially tiny frames! These are pics of me with each of my sons:)

Fun Apparel


Unicorn Thrifting Find — A 3-D Printer

This 3-D Printer had just been rolled out onto the floor when my son and I walked in to Goodwill, in late 2019. We already had a 3-D printer but this one had additional features and was half retail price (it came with original receipt from Amazon!). It took the guys a little work to get it going, but now they use it for most of their 3-D projects.

Upcycling

I love these medallions, but decided to upcyle them to fit with my bedroom decor. I do love using the chalk paint!

This mirror was on its way to the thrift store from my dad’s garage. The frame is plastic, so I decided to try chalk paint on it!
In its finished space, it looks like a fine wood-carved frame! I love it!


Do you enjoy thrifting? Have you had fun and success, upcyling? I’d love to read about your experiences. Please share in the comments!

***If you’d like to enter my Thrifted Giveaway, (randomly chosen 4/30/21) to become the lucky owner of this adorable pair of 1969 Miller Studios Poodle Wall Plaques, please leave a comment below!***

These plaques measure approximately 6″ x 9″ and are painted plaster, 1969/1970 Miller Studios originals. Similar here!

A corner of my kitchen

I have a spot in my kitchen that is all set up for making espresso drinks. I can remember how, when I was growing up in the 70s, my mother would sit for hours and hours at the kitchen table with her sister and their friends, laughing, talking, and pouring and sipping their coffee. Mama drank hers black. She liked good strong coffee! Coffee for her was something to be savored and enjoyed and crafted. As an adult I liked the coffee she made, but I never had a big cup, a small cup was plenty for me — and I definitely had it black, too. I like to taste it!

That’s why an espresso machine is perfect for my taste in coffee. It’s just a small amount at a time, and it’s nice & rich. It’s crafted. I like it.

About 6 years ago I got my first espresso machine. I paid $5 for it at a thrift shop. It was a little Krups machine that probably cost $99 new. I wasn’t fancy. It just had one button and one knob, and a steam wand for the milk. It was a perfect intro to espresso making. Through trial and error I learned how to make a good espresso and I enjoyed that machine for a few years.

Usually when I’m having a latte, I brew the espresso directly into the cup then pour the steamed milk on top.

This time, with my Krups machine, I steamed the milk first, poured it into my cup, and then brewed the espresso into the milk, just to see what it would be like. This is what appeared: an image of Mother and Child. I couldn’t have designed this myself if I’d tried!


Eventually the portafilter (where the grounds sit) started leaking, so I gave it to my son, who took it to our basement workshop where it will be taken apart (probably for the pump inside). 

I spent some time (ok, a LOT of time) online, researching espresso machines. I wanted a new one that was simple to use, with not too many bells and whistles, that was affordable, and one that would be a step up from the Krups. I did find a great machine — the Italian-made Gaggia Classic.

It makes terrific espresso shots, and the steamed milk is pretty decent, although I think the newer models have improved the technology in that area. Anyway I don’t have lattes too often — I usually just enjoy just having a simple espresso shot in the morning.

I upped my game and got a fancy grinder Christmas 2019. That was fun! It’s niiiiiice.


I have some lovely accoutrements which bring me great pleasure while I have my coffee. This little café caddy belonged to my late mother and houses my collection of special cups and mugs and flavorings.

Some are thrifted, some were gifts, and some were Mama’s. I bought the two pretty glasses in Valencia, Spain and they cost about 50 cents each. The shop owner recalled to me how her father and his friends used to drink their coffee out of those exact kinds of glasses every day. I liked the idea of that! (Why didn’t I buy more than two??)

One of my favorite things in the caddy is this little coffee pot salt & pepper set I inherited. Mama bought it online about 15 years ago. She was very surprised when the set arrived, because she was expecting a full-sized double-burner coffee warmer! She didn’t know it was a miniature salt & pepper set. “I wondered why it was so cheap…” she mused! Mama had such a great sense of humor and she didn’t mind laughing at herself. She always kept the little Lockhorns cartoon with it, tucked underneath!


The very best part of my espresso experience is the coffee itself. No matter how awesome the equipment is, if you don’t have good coffee beans, it won’t taste good. It just won’t. I am very lucky because my brother Rob owns a coffee shop, Java Lords Coffee House & Bar, in Little 5 Points, Atlanta, GA. He roasts the coffee beans himself — they are super fresh and Fair Trade, too.

My favorites are the beans from Yirgacheffe and Tanzania. There is a natural, subtle variation with every batch Rob roasts, but these particular beans tend to have a warm, sweet, fruity aroma! Rob always has a terrific house blend on hand, which he calls “Lord’s House”.

Other special roasts include Mourning Blend (that “u” changes the meaning, right) Dead Souls’, and Darkness Blend. He also roasts beans from Sumatra, Thailand, Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Brazil, Nicaragua, and other places as well. In my opinion, Java Lords sells the best coffee beans. When I can’t get over L5P to replenish, I do like to buy Allegra Coffee Beans from Whole Foods. They are pretty good and I enjoy those espressos, but when I get back to my Java Lords beans…it’s just soooo good! 

I’m lucky to have come up with a great combination of elevated equipment, my pretty tableware, and the unparalleled coffee beans. It’s a nice start to my day and I just love it! Do you have a coffee ritual, or a machine you love? Do you have special mugs or other accoutrements that give you warm feelings? Leave me a comment! I’d love to hear…