Corner Fireplace Makeover

There was nothing redeeming about the house I bought when I was single, and still own today, save for the walk-in closets in the bedrooms (what shoe-loving girl wouldn’t love that)!

Once of the worst features was the fireplace. Don’t you just hate corner fireplaces? I don’t understand why builders install them. Here’s how our fireplace looked before we bought the house:

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One day when I was at work, hubs enlisted a friend to make it over. They started by busting out the hearth. Luckily the former owner had left a box of tiles for just such an occasion.


As you can see from the picture above, the brick is just awful; the builder used the same rough brick that was on the exterior of the house.  To combat the lint trap, we refaced the brick with cement board to smooth it out.

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Since the brick was so uneven, shims and cement were used to fill the gaps and provide a level surface for the cement board. The board was set into the wet cement and then screwed into the brick with masonry screws to hold it securely.

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Hubs and his friend did a beautiful job of skim coating over the entire surface after the board was up but forgot about the tape. It’s not necessary to skim coat the whole surface, but don’t be tempted to skip the tape and mud because the seams will crack and ruin your final finish.  I only discovered that little known fact about the missing tape a few weeks later when my beautifully applied venetian plaster developed cracks! I had to tape over the seams and start the whole mudding and finishing process all over again. I guess that’s what happens when a women isn’t there to supervise 🙂

Moving right along, I tackled the disgusting firebox which was covered with years of soot. I started off with soap and water, but had to resort to a chemical cleaner. It was better after scrubbing but still showed the telltale signs of neglect.

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Right after that is when I applied the venetian plaster – the first time!



After a few layers, letting it dry in between, I then sanded it to a smooth lustrous finish:corner-fireplace-makeover-122_bof

Now I had to tackle patching the floor tile.


Demolition is my favourite part; I smashed out areas of half tile so I could add full pieces back in.

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Once the area was cleaned of debris, I started the process of re-tiling. I built the underlay up to the same height as the rest of the floor by inserting a piece of leftover cement board over the plywood.

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I filled in the field tiles.


As I measured the ones that had to be cut, hubs cut those for me as I went.


I let the thinset dry for a day. The picture below is just before I grouted the tile.


You couldn’t even tell the floor was repaired after it was grouted!

Here’s how the fireplace looked for a few years before we got tired of it and moved onto phase II of our makeover:

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The room was ok for a few years, but it was repainted and redecorated to make it more bright and airy! A custom made sisal area rug was cut to the shape of the room to hide the majority of the original ’80’s tile floor, leaving just enough of a border around it so you can still see my tile repair work 🙂


Here’s another reminder of the before:

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Now, it’s so cozy at night when it’s lit:

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The installation of a new gas fireplace is a welcome addition for the warmth (and now I don’t have to look at soot residue either)!

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Looking back on pictures of how the house looked when I first bought it, it has come such a long way. I’m sure the previous owner wouldn’t even recognize it now.

Like so many of our other updates, cosmetic changes can have a big impact.Covering up the ugly brick took the fireplace from dated to modern and was well worth the effort!


For more home improvement and DIY ideas, check out the home page for a listing of projects.

You might also be interested in my new craft blog where I just posted a tutorial and video for this remote control holder I made hubs for his mancave. You can find it here.

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Duct Tape Pop Art Portrait

Watch the video of me making a duct tape portrait to reveal whose portrait I’m making.

All you need is duct tape in about 9 different colours (the more, the merrier), scissors, a piece of foam core or plastic for the backing and a paper cutter (the paper cutter is optional).

When I get 50 subscribers to my Youtube channel, I will post the full how-to tutorial on Birdz of a Feather Craft (my new blog site dedicated to crafts and hacks) so you can make one too. While you’re at it, subscribe to my new blog too!

Sharing the video in your social media groups will help me get to 50 new subscriptions faster so help make that happen! Hopefully I’ll see you soon at Birdz of a Feather Craft with the full tutorial!

If you enjoy home and garden projects, follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather Home (link in footer or on homepage) or Bloglovin (link below) and you’ll get an e-mail next time I post a new home-related project.

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Industrial Bottle Display Shelf

A few years ago, we took a trip to Dundurn Castle on a beautiful summer day and I snapped a shot of a car that was being used for a wedding taking place on the grounds. On a whim, I posted the photo to the Jones Soda site on the off chance they would use it for one of the labels on their pop bottles.

I soon forgot about it and about 8 months later, I got a letter in the mail congratulating me on being chosen for one of their production runs and a few copies of the actual label with my photograph of the car on it!

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Hubs was so excited he went on the hunt to find my lable on the myriad of bottles being sold in convenience stores and he was able to find four of them over a few week period! We’re not soda drinkers, but the color of the pop in the bottle was a stunning yellow so we put them away in the cupboard for an idea to strike on how to display them one day.

Now that my craft studio is just about complete, the entryway was looking a little boring and bare – with the exception of the awesome chalkboard hubs made for over the pocket doors and surprised me with! That sliver of wall was going to be the perfect spot to display my bottles.

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You can watch the full video before you read the how-to:

Hubs gathered up some items:

  • Green painters tape
  • Screws
  • A scrap piece of cedar upcycled from a fence project. It was cut down to 20 1/2″ long and was 4 3/8″ wide by about 5/8″ thick.

He drilled three circular recesses into the wood to hold the bottles and spaced them 5 1/4″ on centre from the middle. Each circle was 2 3/8″ wide by 1/4″ deep; just deep enough so the bottle would nestle into the recess and not tip over.

Then some gas pipe fittings. He worked with 1/2″ material:

  • Two flanges
  • Two caps
  • Two clamps
  • Two pipes measuring slightly longer than the width of the board (ours measured 5″ long)

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Hubs mapped out the studs on the wall and prepared all the measurements. He also marked the centre of the board and approximately where the supports would be located.

To tie it all in, I enlarged a picture of the actual car I had shot to 18″ x 24″. I framed it so we could hang it above the bottle display shelf.

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For the supports underneath the shelf, we used the 5″ gas pipe, a flange, a cap, some screws and a clamp for each one. Hubs used some bluing liquid to turn the screws and clamp black to match the pipe, then cleaned the pipe with mineral spirits and sealed everything with spray lacquer, as he did for the industrial inspired table he recently did for his mancave.


I was originally going to hang the picture at eye level and we even put it up on the wall, but then we realized that it had to be much higher to make the proportions work once the shelf was in place. Oh well, luckily the hole gets hidden by the picture!

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Once we found the height of the top of the picture, we marked it with some green tape. Then it’s just a matter of measuring from the top of the frame down to the hanger wire on the back of the picture.

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Our measurement was 2″, so that determines how far below the green tape on the wall the hanger will get nailed into the wall. Don’t forget to also measure for the horizontal centre of the wall to position the picture hanger.

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Then nail the picture hanger into the drywall:

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Once the picture was hung, we turned our attention to the shelf. My husband predrilled holes for the flange in the drywall and then screwed them into place. Note that if there are no studs beneath, you will need to add drywall anchors to support the weight of the shelf on the wall. Then he placed the shelf over the supports, positioned the clamps over the pipe and marked the underside of the board so he could also pre-drill the holes for the clamps.

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Once the holes were drilled, he then positioned the shelf onto the supports again, popped the clamps over the pipes from below the shelf and screwed the clamps onto the underside of the board.

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As an aside, because we had access to the wall in between the pocket door and we didn’t hit a stud on the side closest to the door, hubs was able to add a piece of plywood behind the drywall to screw the flange into. Otherwise, we would’ve had to add some plugs to the wall before we added the flange.

It was only then that we realized that the car on the lable was a mirror image of the picture I took – how cool is that!

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Hubs likes to restore vintage heaters and has a collection of them. Our last bit of staging was to add one of them in the corner underneath the shelf. Given the black and yellow colour, it was like it was all meant to be together! He gave the heater needed a bit more height by placing a wine box underneath it (a good call on his part!).

Now it all relates; I love how the black, white, yellow and wood tones came together in the end but in an upcoming post, my entry doors are about to get a blast of colour of their own! Come back in a few weeks to see the reveal of the doors; it will be the final project to finish off my craft studio.

Practically, there may not be many of you that would display a pop bottle (unless there are some Jones soda pictures that strike your fancy and you want to display them like I did). However, our shelf idea would also work great to display special wine bottles combined with a picture – or grouping of pictures – of where they were shared!


Speaking of my craft studio, that’s a great segue to remind you that I’ve started a new blog site specifically for crafts. Check out Birdz of a Feather craft at this link. I have a cool industrial remote control caddy coming up, so follow if you want to receive new projects via e-mail when I post! Here are a few of the projects you’ll find at Birdz of a Feather craft:

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Not into bottles, but interested in building your own custom ledge to display pictures? Have a look at this post:


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Bathroom Vanity Makeover

You may recall the bathroom renovation we completed for my Mom last year. When we revealed it, we still hadn’t painted the vanity we saved from going to the landfill.

Here’s how it looked before:

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When the guys came to install the glass shower doors, they could be heard laughing away when they first arrived: undoubtedly, they thought the vanity was going to stay that way!  I have to admit that once we renovated the bathroom, the vanity did look like the ugly duckling. I couldn’t wait to pick a paint colour and breathe new life into it too!

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Hubs tackled this project because painting is his forte. He started by removing all the doors and hardware.


He cleaned the surface of the cabinet fronts and vanity and gave it all a light sanding. He actually did a paint test on one of the doors to see if he would need primer first and determined he didn’t need it. He painted the doors and drawers with a spray gun to give it a professional looking finish, but he had to paint the rest of the unit on-site by hand.

He put down a paint cloth on the floor so he wouldn’t accidentally spill on the new tile.

Then he taped off all the areas he didn’t want to get paint on. The side walls and floor got protective paper and painters tape, while underneath the countertop etc. he only put painters tape.

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Here’s a reminder of some of the tiles we chose for the floor and walls.

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I chose a mid-tone blue paint for the cabinet to coordinate with these colours.


Hubs applied 3 light coats of the paint (he did it over the course two days to let it dry between coats).

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Once everything was dry, he put the doors back on their hinges and hung the doors.


The finishing touch was to install new cabinet pulls in a chrome finish.


In the vanity area, we replaced the mirror, lighting and countertop but I’m so glad we kept the old vanity! Why throw away something perfectly good when a little work and prep can make it look brand new again? Here’s a shot of the before and during….


…and a final reveal of the after. Unfortunately I shot this picture at night, so it looks washed out and you don’t get the full beauty of the colour, but it looks stunning in person! If only the shower glass door installers could see it now!

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If we had only done the vanity area, it would have made a huge improvement to the bathroom, but we did a full renovation for my Mom and it turned out better than I ever expected. To see the full post, where I show you how to maximize bathroom space, click here.


In an upcoming post, we’ll be showing you how we made over our fireplace taking it from this…


… to this:


Other renos we’ve recently completed include removing a wall and installing sliding doors in our dining room…..


…and of course my new craft studio!


There are tons of other home and garden ideas on our home page, so have a browse.

And if you haven’t done so already, visit my sister blog site and subscribe! Birdz of a Feather Craft  is where I showcase inspiring craft ideas and hacks like the one coming up where I take an empty dental floss container that was about to be tossed out and turn it into….. well, you’ll just have to subscribe to find out!

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