In the past few weeks as progress has continued here at our 22 mile home, we are nearly reaching the time that I’ve been waiting for ever since we ripped down the first piece of old sheet rock from our walls… making things look pretty again. On such a Sunday as this, I’m sure a lot of people have got football on their brains, but I cannot help but be the odd man out here as I’ve got something nothing but concrete and shiplap on my mind.
As we get closer to being ready to pour our concrete counter tops in the kitchen, our cousin Misty inspired both Kendall and I to pour a concrete hearth for our fireplace to tie in with the counter tops. Now Kendall may be the concrete pro, but all of his expertise has been put to use outdoors. I was thankful for our cousin’s idea to pour the concrete hearth as this presented Kendall with the perfect opportunity to “practice” for our kitchen counter tops.
My fireplace and the two window seats on either of its sides are by far one of my favorite features in our home. While the original house still had the fireplace, it did not have the windows. Kendall had the thought to put a couple of our extra windows on both sides and then I made up the design with the window bench seats. They came out exactly how I had imagined them in my head and I think it frames the fireplace to create a unique bit of character.
Once the set up prep for the hearth began, I tried to make myself scarce in an effort to give Kendall the complete concentration that needed. He has a “concrete zone” that he goes into whenever he pours, and since he was working on my fireplace, I sure as heck didn’t want to mess this particular project up. So though I made myself scarce, I tried my best to document each step.
Kendall started out by making the forms to hold the concrete together. It’s in these beginning steps that he never ceases to amaze me as he works patiently and meticulously to ensure that he has set things up the way he knows they will work best. Me, now I’d be all too anxious to see the end result so I’d rush the process… but not Kendall. As you will see here in a bit, his patience will have paid off ten-fold.
The next step was to mix the concrete. Kendall somehow managed to lug in the overly heavy concrete mixer that my Grandma Lucy had bought us for Christmas. Then he brought in the six bags of concrete mix, each weighing in at over 90 pounds. Kendall hooked up the extended garden hose and ran it into the house from the outside, creating his very own little concrete plant. I was impressed.
Once the concrete was mixed, the pouring began! I think the hardest part from this whole entire process was keeping our curious wiener dog Susan away from the concrete. Later once the concrete had been all poured, she attempted to jump up on the still wet hearth to see what the fuss was all about… but thankfully, I caught her just in time and was able to save both Kendall and I some heart break.
Even though I married the concrete guy, I still only have the slightest concept of how this whole process works. But as I watched from afar, Kendall continued to patiently pour and trowel and pour and trowel the concrete some more.
Once the concrete had been all poured and the sides edged, we just sat and watched the concrete dry. I was still in a daze and maybe even a little bit of disbelief that the concrete hearth had actually been poured! Once reality hit, I refused to go within even five feet of that fireplace for fear that just even looking at the concrete would ruin its perfect finish.
For the next six hours, Kendall would intermittently tap on the sides of the concrete forms with a hammer to help release some of air pockets that still might’ve been trapped. *That’s a concrete professional tip right there… you’re welcome. He tap the concrete and then troweled the top a little bit more, resulting in a perfect finish.
This morning it was as though it were Christmas morning all over again at the Critchfield house. Kendall and I both popped out of bed to see how the concrete had dried over night. We discovered that Kendall’s constant love and care paid off and the hearth turned out even better than I expected. All dressed up in his church clothes, Kendall removed the concrete forms to unveil my beautiful, freshly made hearth.
Once we arrived home from church this afternoon, the first thing we both did was come in and stand in front of the fireplace and just stare at it in all its glory. As if my excitement couldn’t heighten anymore than it already had, Kendall commenced to hang the shiplap! I think seeing the finished hearth made us both desire to see the finished fireplace as well!
It’s made pretty obvious in the picture below that I didn’t have the patience to wait to write this blog post until the entire fireplace was covered. I was far too thrilled to show it off. Once it is all hung though, I plan to paint the shiplap a nice clean white color and then add the raw wood mantle on the top.
Even though this past week has personally been a little overwhelming for me with the sheet rock dust and saw dust covering over everything I hold dear, it’s seeing this kind of progress that makes it all worth it in the end. To me, this shiplap and concrete hearth is a reminder to me that the end is in sight and making one small area in our house look pretty gives me the energy to go on another day.
As I sit and stare at this fireplace, I can’t help but think about all that this one small aspect of our home will mean to us. If we carry on some of the traditions as were done in my family, this fireplace will one day be the spot where our children sit to take their picture together after a birthday or music school program… It’ll be the place where our stockings will be hung and the place to discover what presents Santa brought to each of them… And most importantly, it’ll just be a focal point to gather around and sit with all of the people that we hold most dear. Oh my beloved little shiplap fireplace with the concrete hearth, this story is only the beginning for you.
Our doors are open and you are always welcome…