Brick Wall

Once all three bathrooms in this house were complete, we could get to work on the kitchen. Finally!

Today’s post is brought to you by classic DIY television. You know, back when they used to teach you things on HGTV and TLC and The Discovery Channel.

Just kidding. None of my posts are brought to you by anyone. This gig is non-paying. But I do want to give a shout out to old-school TV designers. You guys rock! I’m not sure where I’d be without you.

The only things that we liked in our kitchen when we bought this house were the Jenn-Air double ovens that the previous owner installed and the charming brick tower that housed them.

ovens

I’m not a Tuscan/Mediterranean/French Country kinda girl. More like industrial loft/super-old exposed brick or mid-century brick features (think Brady kitchen and living room below the stairs). This tower could work in any of those styles and we’re definitely keeping it!

I thought it would be fun to do a brick wall at the back of the kitchen to match the oven tower. It’s an exterior wall, and therefore totally believable as a spot that would have exposed brick. At first I was worried that my idea was a bit dated, but this year’s Parade of Homes assured me otherwise. We saw several exposed brick walls in gorgeous, upscale, brand-new homes and I was for sure convinced. (Made it easy to convince the hubs, too.)

There are a dozen ways to approach a faux brick wall. Pinterest is full of methods if you want some other options for your own home. Lowe’s and Home Depot both sell faux brick panels, and there is also brick wallpaper available if you just want to replicate the look.

I’m totally not judging anyone who uses the wallpaper or those panels. They both provide a great look of brick, especially if you alter them with paint or a little bit of plaster or joint compound. Check out what Katie Bower did in her second son’s room.

Since I have actual real brick just across the room, I really felt it needed to not only look like brick from far away, but look and feel like it when you’re up close. That left me with a few options.

  1. I could install actual brick. That seemed like a lot of money, labor, and mess.
  2. I could use a brick veneer which is real brick, but thin. Many homes that you might think are brick have what they call “brick veneer siding.” This seemed like a great option, but I was having a difficult time finding it to match my brick colors. It’s also pretty pricey and would still be a lot of work and mess.
  3. I could use that one method I saw Debbie Travis use a million years ago. Yep, classic DIY design shows for the win. I’m going off memory of a dozen years ago, but I know she used joint compound in a kitchen. It was kind of a late 90’s Tuscan-inspired thing. I remember hating it. (Wish I could find a youtube link for you.)

I used to just jump right into projects I hadn’t attempted before (what better way to learn?), but now I’m (sometimes) smart/patient enough to do a test run first. I’m so glad I did a test board of that faux marble technique Christopher Lowell told me to try back at the turn of the century. Lesson forever learned!

You can use any ol’ piece of scrap board for this. You’ll also need masking tape and, of course, joint compound. A level is also a good idea. Not only does it keep lines straight, but it’s the perfect size for a brick spacer.

space bricks tape1

I switched to black tape for the vertical pieces so you guys could see it better.

tape2 tape3

(This tape is a bit wider than the spaces in my real brick. It’s sufficient for testing this technique, but I need to find the right size for the actual wall. Home improvement stores don’t seem to sell anything smaller than one inch. Craft stores should have more options. Or paint stores. Maybe even automotive stores. I’ll let you know where I find some.)

Then I covered the whole thing with a thick coat of joint compound, being sure to leave a bit of my tape exposed so I’d know where to pull it off after the joint compound dried a little.

joint compound perfect edges

You could wait and pull the tape until the joint compound was completely dry (it’s soft enough that you could still pull through it), but that seemed like it would be more difficult and messier since I’d have dry pieces falling and cracking everywhere. My method seemed to work fine, but do whatever you think will work best for you/your project.

I knew the next step would be the most difficult aspect of this project. I’ll be back with part two in a few days. Have a good weekend!