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Apothecary Halloween Mantle & a Fireplace Update

Today I woke up to cloudy skies and 63 degrees and for the first time it felt like Halloween weather. I've never been a huge fan of decorating for Halloween. I'm not really sure why that is, although we always carved pumpkins, I just never really got into it all. Thinking back, it's probably because I didn't see spending a lot of money on decorations that only lasted 30 days or less. I usually just focused on Fall decor and items that I would get more use out of my budget.

Although I have never spent much on decorations, I have a daughter, who is almost 20 years old now, and she adores dressing up and going all out for the holiday. When she was a senior in high school, we decided to have a Halloween party for a small group of her friends and we had a great time creating a spooky house for them to hang out. So although I had never gathered Halloween decorations before, I now have more of a Halloween collection that I used some to decorate this year's Halloween Mantle.

One of the reasons I decided to decorate the mantle was because I was basically tearing it all down to re-paint the mantle and do something with the ugly brown tiles. Did I mention I don't like brown? Seriously, every builder in the country, over a decade ago when my house was built, used brown tiles on floors and backsplashes. Ungratefully, I am now stuck with the task of updating the suckers. I have watched many DIY'ers paint tiles on floors so I thought I might give it a go. I figured that if it didn't turn out, I was going to tear out the old and replace with a more current and better designed tile choice.

Here is the before after I started painting the tile and mantle. Guys! They did a horrible job on this tile, I really have no words!

Before pic

They even used left over floor tiles to finish the tiling job on this hearth. I wasn't sure how it would look painted all the same color but I did believe that anything would be an improvement and I really wanted something lighter.

Painting Tile

The first step was to prime with a product called Kilz premium 3, heavy duty high hide sealer and stain blocker. I used one coat of the primer to lightly cover the tiles for the purpose of providing adhesion for the top paint coat.

For the top paint color I used a Sherwin Williams Summer White, you can see from the photo where I started painting the top coat and the first few tiles at the top left. It's an ivory color that I use often when painting furniture. After painting it with the summer white, I didn't really like it!'s where it got complicated. I really thought the paint color should be a little darker and maybe more cream or greige. However, I was too lazy to go to the paint store. When you combine laziness and the desire to just get the project done, you end up with using what you've got, which I do have a lot of paint. So here's what I did:

I decided to paint another light coat over the Sherwin Williams Summer White with a color matched paint for my trim color in my house. I don't have the paint color but it is a creamy tan or almond color that if I'm being honest, I'm not a fan. However, I knew it would match better to the rest of the house. I applied a very light coat over the white and dabbed some of it off with a damp paper towel giving it a variated color palette that let some of the white show through. Here is a look at that process and I was starting to like it better at this point.

I forgot to mention that I re-painted the mantle before I started painting the tile, using Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black, which I plan to use on my kitchen cabinets in a few weeks. You can see from the second before photo the updated mantle color when I primed and started painting the tile. It's a darker richer black that I like better. I had another Sherwin Williams black on the mantle before, but it was just a little more blue.

At this point I liked the color better on the tile, but decided it needed a little more variation in the hearth part where the bigger tiles where added in order to tie it all together.

I used Sherwin Williams Revere Pewter, which is a brownish grey to swirl and dab in some spots and then smooth out with a damp cloth. The faux painting technique is not complicated, but you just have to play with it until you get the look you want. I was trying to duplicate the look of the brown tile and variation only with a lighter paint palette to make it look more like fabricated tile rather than just something I painted. At this point, I had painted over the grout lines and I felt like in order for it to look like real tile, I needed to paint the grout lines back in to look authentic. I used the darker gray brown Revere Pewter and with a small paint brush, I painted back in the grout lines. It seems like it would be tedious but honestly, it didn't need to be because these tiles are all irregular in shape to begin with so the grout lines aren't perfectly even.

Here is how it all looked once it was done along with the Halloween mantle decor.

We call this mantle the "Apothecary Halloween Mantle". I had my eye on a beautiful wooden Apothecary sign from another blogger's Instagram account, but when I clicked the link they shared from Etsy, it was $130.00. Now, if you're really into Halloween and you plan on using your fancy sign that you paid good money for, then I'm not knocking it, I just couldn't justify it because that is money I could spend on boots or handbags, ya know? So, because I did love the sign, I decided to take an old cutout from an outdoor mantle that my husband had built and make my own "Apothecary" sign. It's not as fancy, but it does the job!

Apothecary DIY sign

I found a digital graphic online that I paid $3.50 for, scaled it up in size for my sign and printed it out. I used a pencil to sketch over the back of the lettering and then taped it to the sign. When you trace it, the pencil that you filled in on the back of the graphic transfers to your wooden sign so that you have an outline to paint. YAY! I purchased a black paint marker at Target for $6 and traced over the pencil outline and painted. After the paint dried, I used a 220 grit sand paper and distressed the graphic to look old and worn.

I added some old books, a glass apothecary jar with acorns, old bottles and jars with wooden lids, a skull, my favorite little raven named "Henry" (because why not name him), and lanterns and candles. The piece de resistance is the mortar and pestle that I bought for $16 at Target, which my daughter has always wanted anyway. It came together wonderfully and was a fun and budget friendly way to create some decor for my little Halloween fanatic.

So what do you think of painted tile? Are you a fan or not a fan? So far, I'm liking it and I am planning on painting the kitchen backsplash tiles, because's the same brown tiles of course! I'll decide then wether it stays or goes but for now, it's better than the original brown!


Next week, I will be sharing a look at our hardwoods that we installed in our bedrooms and hallway. The carpet in those spaces needed to be changed and I'm not really a fan of carpet. Anyone else like that? I would much rather have hardwoods throughout the house. To me, carpet is just too hard to keep clean and I would much rather add area rugs under the beds to give it a crisp clean look. The other great thing about using area rugs is that you can change them out a lot easier and it's just another layer of design that is pretty inexpensive to change. That's a win in my book!

Until next time....



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