...because home doesn't happen overnight.

painted brick 1

It’s done. The brick is white! But let’s back up.

brick before 1

Let me explain why I decided to put brush to brick. The brick and mortar were in good structural condition {no cracks, no crumbling} but I couldn’t get past the reddish tones, the stains and the rough texture {it was nearly impossible to wipe down}. HH and I toyed with the idea of painting the brick fireplace during renovation and never really protected it from the renovation mess. There were chunks of joint compound, caulk and other gloppy stuff dried to the mantel, hearth and brick.

brick before 2

Even after scraping everything off with an electric scraper, the stains remained. I tried soaking them in a vinegar + water solution and scrubbing but that didn’t do much. A stronger chemical solution may have helped but I don’t like using harsh chemicals indoors. At that point, I decided 100% to paint. It was something I had been leaning towards since day one. HH still had reservations but he trusted me. That’s trust, people!

To prep, I removed the gas insert frame and covered the gas insert with an old towel to protect it. I vacuumed the entire fireplace surround then sprayed on the same vinegar + water solution {1:2 ratio} and wiped it as best I could with a rag. Then I let it dry thoroughly for 24 hours. I taped off the floor around the fireplace with painter’s tape then set to work painting. I had a surprisingly good experience with the Clark + Kensington primer and paint in one in the everything room so decided to try it on the fireplace. I had heard about all sorts of tricks for painting brick {use a separate primer, use a nappy roller, use a smooth roller, water down the paint, apply glue before painting to fill in nooks and crannies, etc.} but I chose to stick with what was familiar – a gallon of primer + paint and a 2″ angled brush – and keep it simple. No funny business.

painted brick 3

I had the paint color-matched to Benjamin Moore white dove. You know my history with having paint color-matched between brands, right? It hasn’t always worked. But I wanted the fireplace to be the same color as the rest of the trim in the house and I wanted to try the C+K primer and paint in one so I took a chance. It paid off! The color was spot on and the primer + paint offered great coverage. It took only two coats plus some touch-up. I did apply a third coat to the top of the hearth just because it sees a lot of action in our house. The brick soaked up a half gallon of paint. {I’ll be using the leftover paint to finally paint the interior doors!}

It took me ~5 hours to apply the first coat to the roughly 13’x4′ fireplace surround. I used my paint brush to push the paint into all the little pinholes and crannies. The second coat went faster – maybe 3 hours? My hand was hurting by the time I finished but it was so worth it.

painted brick 2

The white brick really brightens up the family room! I’m not going to lie. It was a shock at first. I liken it to a brunette going blonde. But we’re on our second day of living with a white fireplace and the novelty is wearing off. It’s feeling less ! and more :)

painted brick 5

I opted for a semi gloss finish so the fireplace is completely wipeable now. No more vacuuming brick – yay! Many of you wanted to know if I was going to try whitewashing first. I didn’t. Whitewash gives a more rustic or country feel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It can look great in the right context but I don’t think it’s appropriate for our midcentury ranch.

painted brick 6

The height of the mantel coincides with the height of the planking in the everything room. That was premeditated. When we installed the horizontal planking in the mudroom, we were already thinking about painting the fireplace and figured the planking feature would look best if it were the same height as the fireplace. There’s definitely a better flow visually now that they are the same color too.

painted brick 7

What’s left to do? We need to add quarter round along the bottom of the fireplace, caulk where the drywall meets the mantel and finish off the area above the mantel/frame the TV with horizontal planking. We’re going to live with the gas insert black for now but might tweak it in the future.

As with just about any space in our house, the fireplace wall is still a work in progress but it looks so much better with a few coats of white paint on the brick. The painted brick is the fresh, clean backdrop I was hoping for. HH and the kids have confessed to liking the white too. Whew.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

82 Comments

26.August.2013

This looks amazing! So fresh and clean. Makes me want to turn my 1912 house in for a mid century modern bungalow. Can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

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26.August.2013

I love it! I’ve always liked painted brick, although I do like it left alone in some cases. But this looks great. I’m glad you didn’t try whitewashing it first!

I love your house. I was so sad to see you sell your amazing house but I love this house so much. The style you have given it is awesome. And, you use a lot of stuff from Target and Ikea so I can picture a similar style in my home lol.

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26.August.2013

Looks great! And the fireplace looks bigger & cooler with the white around it!

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26.August.2013

I looooove it! It looks so clean ( but you already said that) and seems to help the transition to the everythung rooms wainscotting. Very timely too in light of the great fireplace disaster of 2013 over at YHL.

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replied on August 28th, 2013

Disaster?? I think not, Robyn. Just two different fireplace treatments. You don’t have to like both of them, but you also don’t have to insult everyone who does.

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26.August.2013

Wow I love it! Especially against the dark hardwoods and the planked ceiling! The chevron poufs really pop against the white as well:) sooo pretty!

xo, amy

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26.August.2013

Maybe you’ve mentioned it but can you talk about why you’re layering the rugs in the living room? I seem the recall the bottom was to rough so you purchased something softer by why did you keep the bottom one there? For size? Trend? Laziness? :) especially with the flipped up corner?

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replied on August 26th, 2013

I kept the bottom sisal for size and then layered a softer, smaller shag rug on top. And I’m lazy ;)

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replied on August 27th, 2013

UPDATE! As some of you may know, the flipped up corner of the sisal rug has been my arch nemesis since entering the house. Well guess what, I’ve been winning! I roll it up really tight and set an end table on it over night, each night. It’s slowly submitting to laying flat.

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26.August.2013

It looks amazing! Well done – the room is coming together beautifully. I personally like the black fireplace insert just the way it is, but I appreciate your need to tweak ;)

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26.August.2013

Your fireplace is looking awesome! I pretty much did the exact same thing with mine. I used a brush too. I put one coat of primer and then two coats of paint. My hand was way tired too. I love the look and how much brighter it now looks. The brick just seemed to suck up so much of the light. http://jennnash.typepad.com/blog/2013/06/making-progress-painted-fireplace-complete.html

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replied on August 26th, 2013

Your painted fireplace looks great!

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The white looks great Dana! It really brightens up and modernizes the room. The wipe-ability factor is almost enough alone to make it worth it! Great job :-)

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26.August.2013

looks amazing.. Great job… Really brightens the room and makes it look so fresh and clean.. Great job!!

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It looks so good I squealed when I saw it! I love the direction you’re going with this house

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26.August.2013

It turned out great! I’m hoping to convince my hubby this is a good idea for our brick fireplace :)

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26.August.2013

Absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, the RIGHT choice! The transformation is incredible. It’s so clean, and fresh, and bright – love, love, love it. Perfect for your house style and looks fantastic next to those dark floors. Bravo!

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26.August.2013

I’m definitely on team white fireplace. It looks much more modern and really fits the rest of the house really well. Kudos to you for taking the risk! It definitely paid off

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26.August.2013

beautiful! is there a chance we may see the dark gray of the everything room make an appearance over the mantel??

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replied on August 26th, 2013

It could happen! You know how much I like contrast. The wall above the mantel continues over into the kitchen so that would be the only thing holding me back. Who knows?!

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26.August.2013

Love the fireplace but my heart aches for you now with all these boob speakers!

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replied on August 26th, 2013

Thanks for the sympathy Becky!

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26.August.2013

I agree with others; the white makes the whole space seem bigger and even brighter than it already was. But I’ve always been one to paint brick or wood if it makes -you- happier in your own space.

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26.August.2013

It really looks so much better!! Seems fresh & modern…much more what appears to be your style.

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26.August.2013

Paint really is a miracle. Love that you ditched the ugly brick and freshened up the whole place with white. It rocks.

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26.August.2013

Really nice work Dana! Any details on your Joss&Main event?

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replied on August 26th, 2013

Not yet…the majority of the work takes place behind the scenes months in advance. I’ll keep you posted though!

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I love it! It makes the room feel so much brighter and fresher with the white fireplace.

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26.August.2013

LOVE IT! instantly brightens up the space and…in my opinion….white always looks cleaner! is it hard to stop staring at? ;) great great job!

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26.August.2013

It looks so much better! More your style, for sure.

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26.August.2013

I just adore it! I’ve been in the works of trying to convince my husband to let me do the very same thing. He likens it to painting beautiful woodwork. Except, it’s not wood. And definitely not beautiful! I can’t wait to show him your pictures! Ammunition baby!!

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replied on August 26th, 2013

That’s what I’m here for…to persuade all those “don’t paint the cabinets/oak trim/brick!” persons into at least considering the paint option. Haha!

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26.August.2013

So, yours is pretty much my favourite blog and this is pretty much awesome. Looks fantastic! And you are a very good wife for working with the boob speakers. Cant wait to see what else you have planned!

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26.August.2013

Looks fabulous! I’ve been thinking of painting my fireplace white, too, and I’ve been looking forward to seeing how you would do yours. I’ve been doing some hand wringing over it because I don’t know anyone in my (non-virtual) life who has done it. Thank you for all of the advice and info!

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26.August.2013

Yes! So good! Definitely the right call for the space.

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26.August.2013

Looks great! Good job

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Looks great! Every winter I kick myself for buying a home without a fireplace…this year the butt kicking is starting a little earlier than normal.

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26.August.2013

Ooo!! Looks great! I’m a brick painter too, however, our brick fireplace was already painted a lovely mauvey-salmon color. It was, um, super fancy. I only waited a few weeks before I was painting it again and stripping the wallpaper off the paneling. It’s amazing how much everything lightens and brightens just like your fireplace. Can’t wait to see the finished product and then the tweaks that will follow after that.

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27.August.2013

This makes SUCH a difference! Totally modernizes the space! I’m so glad you went for the full-on bright white rather than the white washing! LOVE!

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It looks amazing! I love how you made the planking in the next room the same height. Now that the brick is white it really flows so well. Can’t wait to see what you do with the wall above it!

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It looks great! Such a great choice.

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27.August.2013

It looks fabulous! We did the same thing a couple of years ago and never looked back. Best decision ever!

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27.August.2013

LOVE the white! It truly is amazing how paint can transform a space :) And great design decision on having the planking at the same height as the fireplace..it really ties the spaces together nicely! Can’t wait to see the rest of the transformation of the fireplace wall.

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In complete LOVE! I am now really wanting to paint my stone WHITE… Love how this is all coming together!

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27.August.2013

Love it! It looks so good and now I can’t wait to redo my fireplace.

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27.August.2013

Looks fab! I am actually wondering where the blanket on the back of the big comfy chair is from. I have been scouring the internet for blankets and am coming up totally empty handed :(

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Love love looooove this! I think it’s a breath of fresh air in the space, and flows nicely with the rest of your house. Great work! :)

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27.August.2013

I love it I love it I love it I love it I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I saw the first photo and immediately scrolled down to comment before even reading this post!!!!!
It.
Looks.
Awesome.
Ok. Now I’m going back to read this post.: )
Leah

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

HAHA!

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27.August.2013

EEEEEK!!! Me again – OK, first I couldn’t wait for you to paint that brick (I knew you would:) and now I can’t wait for you to plank that wall!!
Leah: )

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

“now I can’t wait for you to plank that wall”… me too, Leah. Me too!

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27.August.2013

Looks GORGEOUS! Can’t wait to see it all come together once the TV situation gets finished!

Now go get yourself a manicure and make them massage your arms for a good 20 minutes! 5+ hours of painting deserves a reward!!

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27.August.2013

I am curious about the light fixtures you have on either side of the fireplace and below the TV. What kind of light do those emit? I guess I should first confirm that they are light fixtures… :). Also, I love your posts that show projects in progress. It is so nice to know that it takes other people so long to get things right. Not everything is picture perfect.

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

Those are actually speakers. I hate them; HH loves them. You can read more about the dreaded boob speakers here…

http://www.housetweaking.com/2012/08/20/honest-mondays-surround-sound/

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

Gotcha. Compromise is a work in progress just like a house. Thanks for the reply!

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27.August.2013

Looks sooo good! Well done!!

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LOVE it. Thinking about doing the same in our den. It’s 80 year old brick, so I’ve been hesitant and nervous. Your pics are helping to amp up my gumption…

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28.August.2013

Love this – looks great against the dark hardwood. Very nice!

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28.August.2013

Looks amazing! I love all the accounts around the fireplace as well. You may have mentioned it, but can I ask where the adorable mirrors which flank the television are from?

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

Joss & Main!

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28.August.2013

Did you find another home for the painting that you originally planned to mount in front of the television?

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

Yes! I’ll let you know where soon. True to my nature, I will be tweaking it now that we’ve decided not to hang it above the fireplace.

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28.August.2013

Love the white brick! Great choice!

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29.August.2013

Looks great! I have a brick fireplace that takes up the entire wall of my family room and it was painted a mustardy color by the previous owners. You’ve inspired me to paint that puppy white. Pronto!

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

I love mustard – but I don’t think I’d like it on brick!

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29.August.2013

I was pretty much 50/50 on the painted brick, have seen some recent shockers, but I love this. Very clean and how clever matching the room detail heights can’t wait to see the finished trim. Question of the day…the throw on the couch…love it, where is it from? So nice to see a pop of colour, I love watching this room come together over time/in real life…as most people make a house a home.

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

Good eye on the throw! It’s a vintage kantha that I found for cheap on ebay.

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29.August.2013

I think now white color is in fashion, so you did right. And yeah, the fireplace stands out great. Would you color the mirrors in black? I think if you color them in black and white stripes they will look even better (but that are only MHO). I just prefer black and white combination everywhere, as it makes room, furniture anything look expensive. What would you say to that?

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

The mirrors have a distressed wood finish which I like so I probably won’t paint them.

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29.August.2013

I LOVE it! Good call! I know it’s a commitment once you’ve painted the brick, but it really looks great. :)

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29.August.2013

I love it! I’ve seen some very “meh” painted brick, but this is perfect.

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30.August.2013

Looks clean and fresh and bright and more harmonious with the space. How wise of you to live with the original brick until you were as sure as you can be that you really would prefer it painted. Looking forward to the reveal when you and HH have time to finish off the above-mantel space. And of course, get back to that 2nd bathroom. :) Of all the blogs I enjoy for the personality that shines through the writing, the tutorials, the DIY skills I lack, and all kinds of things I’d never think of myself, I gravitate to yours more than any other because it best reflects my style.

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01.September.2013

Aaakkk! I am obsessing over fireplace painting. Had just committed to no paint, now I’m on the fence again. Here’s my big concern- my hearth is similar to yours, but topped with brick. We use our fireplace (which has a stove insert) almost every day. How do you think the paint on the hearth will hold up? In my mind it gets all scuzzy looking, chipped, etc. from logs, soot, etc. I love the white, but I fear hating it if starts looking grungy. I’ve considered tiling the hearth and just painting the rest. This is among the million other options I’ve considered. (Tile, stone veneer, whitewash…. )

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replied on September 3rd, 2013

I would be inclined to paint the hearth a darker color or cover it with something a bit more forgiving – like tile.

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01.September.2013

It looks great! I even really like the black fireplace with the white brick. I wouldn’t change it!

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03.September.2013

LOVE IT!!! It’s a breath of fresh air and just gives that room a finished look (even with the exposed TV area still there). And I think the look of painted brick really goes with this style of home and the whole mid century vibe. I swear I’m beginning to copy every thing you do here in my own home…and now I’m just dying to paint our brick fireplace as well, except we rent and I don’t think my landlord is game :-( Can’t wait to see how it all turns out! Love seeing your home evolve!

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06.September.2013

LOVE IT!! I’ve never commented on here before but I found your blog last fall while googling something ridiculous like “kitchen with gray walls, black granite, white cabinets” bc that’s what I wanted and we were remodeling…I LOVED your kitchen remodel in your previous house and totally used your expertise for our own remodel (I keep intending to send you pics).
Anyway, we have a floor to ceiling HUGE red brick fireplace (literally it’s 14 bricks wide and floor to ceiling) and I have wanted to paint it but feel like I shouldn’t (like I felt like I shouldn’t paint our oak cabinets which I did (thanks to you) and have never even for one second regretted it). The hearth is covered in Saltillo tile of all things, and the rest is a light red brick. I’m totally sending these before/after pics to my husband. It literally made me feel like it’s easier to BREATHE with the white than with the brick just looking at those pics. So much more spacious and less oppressive.
Do you think I could somehow tile OVER Saltillo tile on the hearth top? That part is going to be the trickiest part to figure out.
Thanks AGAIN for the inspiration!

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replied on September 6th, 2013

I would try painting the red brick first {per hubby’s approval, of course} then see how the saltillo tile looks after that before trying any tiling. It might surprise you!

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replied on September 6th, 2013

Thanks for the reply! If you want to see my before/after kitchen pics (read: the pics where I TOTALLY copied your previous kitchen!) :), let me know an email address to send them to and I’ll send them your way. I love my new kitchen every.single.day! Thanks so much for sharing your talent with all of us.

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replied on September 6th, 2013

danarmiller@hotmail.com

11.September.2013

Ok, this room is so perfect!! I love the shelves on the back wall. I need a source list! haha! Where is your coffee table from?? and when do we get a house tour of the new house!!! love the blog love the house!! big fan

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replied on September 11th, 2013

The coffee table is actually a slat bench from Overstock.com!

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