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Chocolate Chunk

For a little over a week, our house has been warmer, more energized, more chaotic and more comedic than ever before – and we can thank the newest member of our Vargo family for that. Everyone, meet our sweet girl, CC (shortened from Chocolate Chunk, as was dubbed in her adoption description). Those lips! The floppy ears! That gummy nose and those pretty, pretty eyes!

After finally – finally – realizing that Chicago has our heart, we bought this house. And while we’ve spent more time bundled up indoors (hey, thanks, winter!) than we’ve been able to enjoy outside since moving in, we have a yard. A yard! For us, this was a non-negotiable (it was the only item on Jack’s home-hunting-wish-list), as Scott and I had every intention of adopting a rescued sibling for our Jack. (After all, Maddie and Libby have each other!) We wanted them to run, play and spin circles in their very own grassy patch right here in the city. We were in no hurry for this dreamed-up scenario, but for months, we’d been meeting with foster pups, going to adoption events and checking in on our favorite rescues a little too often.

It was so important for us to find the right fit for Jack and the girls, and we knew (hands down!) we wanted another lovable, smooshable Bully breed in our lives. (You know that raising positive breed awareness has been a cause near and dear to our hearts; Jack approved, too!). Truth be told, there were a couple of less-than-stellar meet and greets, and although that was a bit disheartening, we told ourselves that the right dog would come along. I had mentioned this in a conversation with a former Pet Shop partner, Bridgid of Project Rescue Chicago, and she casually mentioned that we should meet their adoptable Chunk. She’s easy peasy!, she said. She’s great with cats! She would be so happy with another dog!

All these things? They were true. (Also true: She’s 4 years young and 65 lbs of sweet, sweet sugar.)

Jack and CC’s first meeting went phenomenally well at the adoption center, which was then followed up with another seamless play date at our house. We signed the adoption papers a month later (this was entirely due to Jack’s stitches that needed to heal properly), and we have just been swooning with excitement ever since! (See our adoption photo right here!) We have become enamored with her every move. Our phones are overwhelmed with daily photo sessions – CC eating, CC sleeping, CC sitting, CC deep in thought. And when her and Jack play / sleep / kiss / snuggle? Well, forget it. Hearts. Exploding.

Welcome to the family, girl. (You’ve got an incredible brother to show you the ropes.)

PS… Better Homes & Garden has nominated these two kids as the top 5 in the Decorating category of their Blogger Awards! Have you voted yet? (We’re in pretty fantastic company; we urge you to check out all the finalists!) Voting can be done once an hour and runs through Wednesday this week. Winners in each category will be mentioned in an upcoming issue of BHG – crazy! Click here to vote. Thank you; we love you. XO.

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - March 4, 2014 - 6:27 AM

    Oh she just melts my heart. How adorable are those lips and she looks so content and happy.
    I’m all for positive bully breed awareness! They are great and it’s so sad how many of them have to die every year because people are clueless.ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Aucoin - March 4, 2014 - 6:42 AM

    Welcome to the Sociabulls family, CC!ReplyCancel

  • caroline [the diy nurse] - March 4, 2014 - 7:18 AM

    So freakin sweet and cute!ReplyCancel

  • - March 4, 2014 - 7:19 AM

    Ahwwwww she is adorable! Love that smooshy face. So glad you adopted.ReplyCancel

  • Sara J - March 4, 2014 - 7:47 AM

    I am pretty new to your blog (LOVE it by the way!). I didn’t realize until today the wonderful work you’ve done to help our bully friends find the loving forever homes that they all deserve. As the lucky Mom of two of the sweetest and silliest bullies ever, thank you SO much!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - March 4, 2014 - 8:30 AM

    omg. i can’t handle them together. so cute!!! congrats on your new baby girl!ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ Adventures of a Dog Mom - March 4, 2014 - 8:39 AM

    Oh my gosh…. she’s such a cutie pie! (I’m smiling so big right now.) She’s got an amazing home and a super cool brother to show her how things go. Congrats on the addition!ReplyCancel

  • Shannon - March 4, 2014 - 8:39 AM

    Ahhh CC is adorable!! Reminds me so much of my parent’s Lola!! :)
    How exciting!! :)ReplyCancel

  • zandi @ radical possibility - March 4, 2014 - 8:40 AM

    omgggg congrats on your new family member!! she is so beautiful!! haha im often jealous of your house, but now i am most jealous of the fact that you get to have TWO big dogs!

    now that you have a yard, do you think you’ll still take the dogs out and about as much? i have a teeny little older boston who can only handle so much running around before she just wants to sleep and snuggle, but we are always looking for new places to take her! her favorites are palmer square, the montrose dog beach, and the wicker dog park (just because thats where her all friends are / the only place we can trust her off-leash), but if you have any more suggestions for pups in the city, send em my way! :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 4, 2014 - 8:43 AM

    Aw. Yay! She’s so sweet. CC, you’re a lucky girl! Congrats, you guys.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - March 4, 2014 - 8:48 AM

    Welcome to a Family CC! I love the top pic in the bath btw, it’s like she’s giving you the look of, “is this really necessary?” But the 2nd pic seems that she’s perfectly ok with it.ReplyCancel

  • Jackie - March 4, 2014 - 8:56 AM

    Too much cuteness to handle! CC is a lucky girl. :)ReplyCancel

  • andee - March 4, 2014 - 9:00 AM

    She is beautiful! Oh this makes me so happy! I LOVE pet adoption stories. She is a little chunk monster. I’m looking forward to seeing her around the blog!ReplyCancel

  • Liliana - March 4, 2014 - 9:07 AM

    Congratulations, she is adorable! The two kiddos will have loads of fun! Just voted for them ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - March 4, 2014 - 9:09 AM

    Yayyy!!! How exciting :-) CC is gorgeous! What a beautiful girl and how lucky to have found her forever home with you all. I just wanna squish her little face lol and Jack is as handsome as ever- looks like they get along so nice.
    Your post made my day – so happy for your family :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 4, 2014 - 9:12 AM

    Thank you, guys! CC and Jack are cuddled up right now. Be still my heart.

    Sara, thank YOU for being momma to 2 Pitties! They’re amazing, aren’t they?

    Zandi, oh man. This winter has been BRUTAL as you know, so taking Jack out (and now CC) on long walks has been so hard. The few times we’ve tried to go on longer walks, Jack gets uncomfortable, and he is such a pansy in extreme weather (forget about rain!). Thank goodness for our yard this year, because they spin their circles, do their business and run back in for quick potty breaks, but we are really looking forward to long walks in Humboldt Park, Palmer Square, Logan Square Farmer’s Market and the dog beach! It truly looks like all your favorite spots are ours, too! Although… because it’s been so cold, we do take Jack to Home Depot with us (they allow dogs there!) so he can stretch those legs as we pace the aisles.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 4, 2014 - 9:14 AM

    And Kelly – yea, that pretty much summed it up! She hated her bath but LOVED her head being massaged.ReplyCancel

  • Elly - March 4, 2014 - 9:25 AM

    Aw, super cute! Love her! :)ReplyCancel

  • Julie H - March 4, 2014 - 9:28 AM

    Just voted. Best of luck! And CC is a doll. She is so blessed to have you two as owners! You officially may have an animal kingdom now?? Hehe.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY - March 4, 2014 - 9:33 AM

    Congrats you two (or should I say, you 6?!)! Such awesome news. CC is precious =)ReplyCancel

  • Hannah - March 4, 2014 - 9:36 AM

    Those pictures in the tub kill me, so unbelievably cute. My parents have a rescued pitt and she’s the loveliest thing that ever lived, I’m so glad to see you are spreading the pitt love!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 4, 2014 - 9:37 AM

    Julie, we really do! So much fuzzy love in this house.ReplyCancel

  • misie - March 4, 2014 - 9:37 AM

    oh.mah.gah. stop it. you guys… awesome!!! i want to snuggle up with them! our lil buddy needs a friend but its not the right time, much to my chagrin. I shall live vicariously through Jack and CC.ReplyCancel

  • Kiira - March 4, 2014 - 9:45 AM

    I have been anxiously awaiting this post for a few months now! I’m so happy that the little mush face fits right in…I’d met her a few times, including at the open access facility that day she was pulled. Thanks for saving another bully! Jack and CC look delicious together. And that last picture is amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - March 4, 2014 - 9:45 AM

    Congrats to you all! I’ve adopted one dog from Project Rescue and fostered five, and boy does Bridgid know how to pick them. Wishing you all lots of happy wiggly pittie butts in your new*ish* home.ReplyCancel

  • Hannah K. - March 4, 2014 - 9:57 AM

    Squealed. Out loud. At work. So happy for your little (growing!) family! ALL those photos make my heart so happy. Hopefully we’ll get to meet her (and Jack!) in person someday!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 4, 2014 - 10:08 AM

    Hannah, move to Chicago! ;)ReplyCancel

  • christine - March 4, 2014 - 10:25 AM

    Yay, congratulations!! She is so smushy and gorgeous and she and Jack look precious together!ReplyCancel

  • Kyley and Ammo the Dachshund - March 4, 2014 - 11:00 AM

    So cute, welcome to the family CC!ReplyCancel

  • Julia at Home on 129 Acres - March 4, 2014 - 11:13 AM

    Super, duper congratulations. How great for you and Jack. I know you’re not official dog trainers, but I’d love to hear more about what you went through to find the right fit for Jack, how you handled the intros, the move-in. Since getting our guy last summer, all I can think about is how much he’d like a friend. I’d love to learn from your experience, as it looks like you found a perfect fit.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 4, 2014 - 11:19 AM

    Thanks, Julia, and great questions (inquiries?). We put a lot of trust into the people that worked with the rescues we were considering. Our first attempt at meeting a forever dog went downhill pretty quickly, and the dog trainer/rep from the rescue (and a great friend of ours) told us that she didn’t see a good fit for us, Jack or the girls. Other meet and greets went similarly, although less dramatic. Jack wasn’t interested in them, or vice versa. They stayed on leashes until they could get a sniff of each other – although in a couple cases, we didn’t make it that far! Again, a lot of trust and faith was put into the people behind the rescues, who really know what they’re doing. They were never pushy and were very honest with us about the behaviors they were seeing.ReplyCancel

  • Marie - March 4, 2014 - 11:44 AM

    No doubt CC will have a wonderful life with you. She’s finally found her true family. I wish you LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.ReplyCancel

  • OhMelvin - March 4, 2014 - 11:47 AM

    Hearts exploding here too! Jack hit jackpot (and so did she!!!). Love.ReplyCancel

  • jackie - March 4, 2014 - 11:50 AM

    awww she is so so cute. and i’m a huge advocate of adoption, so glad you found her!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - March 4, 2014 - 11:58 AM

    Congrats on your newest addition! I look forward to more cute pet posts!! I recently added a second bully breed to my household too and she has brought so much entertainment and joy to our lives. Wishing you the same!ReplyCancel

  • Katie - March 4, 2014 - 12:16 PM

    Favorite post ever! Can’t wait to see/hear more of her :)ReplyCancel

  • Adrienne J - March 4, 2014 - 2:09 PM

    Aw. Congratulations!! We waited 2 years to get our first dog a sister. She absolutely loves (and hates) her, just like sisters would. Haha.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 4, 2014 - 3:24 PM

      Adrienne, aw, yes. I suppose it’s inevitable, right? Jack and CC each have their own bone, but they want the bone the OTHER dog has. Of course!ReplyCancel

  • What a sweet looking girl! I love the bath pictures :) I’m so glad your family is growing by one more furry face!ReplyCancel

  • Theresa - March 4, 2014 - 3:59 PM

    Congratulations!! And, thank you so much for helping with positive awareness of bully breeds!!ReplyCancel

  • rachel h - March 4, 2014 - 4:41 PM

    EEE! She is perfect! I love the name too! I just adopted a new baby myself, and although they said he was lab mix, he’s got some bully showing through as he grows!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - March 4, 2014 - 5:43 PM

    She looks like such a lovebug and this post made me smile big-time. Congrats!!ReplyCancel

  • Monika - March 5, 2014 - 9:26 AM

    Too cute!!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - March 5, 2014 - 9:48 AM

    Oh my gosh – what a cutie, congratulations!! I love bullys, they are great life companions! We also just added a dog to our ‘construction crew’ and our house has also never been as chaotic and full of love! (

    Congrats again – I can’t wait to see more updates!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 5, 2014 - 10:11 AM

    Amy, congrats to you as well! Shibas are sooo adorable!ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - March 5, 2014 - 10:21 AM

    I love her!!!! I’m so happy you found a good fit for your family. More pics!ReplyCancel

  • ryan - March 5, 2014 - 1:14 PM

    that face! so sweet. and i love seeing one tail at a time on your list of partners :)ReplyCancel

  • Brandi - March 10, 2014 - 4:02 PM

    You guys made Buzzfeed for the adoption!

    She’s adorable and congrats on your new addition!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 10, 2014 - 4:31 PM

      Oh my goodness, that just made my day! Thank you! Look at her sweet face! AHH!ReplyCancel

  • Jeanie - March 11, 2014 - 6:32 PM

    Congrats on the new addition!! She looks adorable and seems to be adjusting well to her new digs (snuggles already!). And those bath photos — so sweet.ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - March 12, 2014 - 11:06 AM

    OMG CC is such a cutie!! We are bully parents and we love our Izzy girl so much! Cant wait until the day we own a home and can get another one! They are the best breed, just need some good loving and they have the most gentle souls! Congrats on the new family member!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 12, 2014 - 1:43 PM

    Thanks, Kelly! Thank you for being a bully parent too!ReplyCancel


Flor, Take Two

I suppose we’ve been on a bit of a cleaning frenzy. Going back to what I said earlier this week, we’re trying to be mindful of balancing a few things: sanity vs. productiveness and spending money vs. free right now.  So, you know what’s (mostly) free?


We cleaned the negative energy out of our home (which, by the way, totally counts; consider us on the smudging train!). We cleaned the chimney (for the minimal cost of this spray). And finally, we pulled our old Flor rug out of hiding and cleaned that too:

We’ve talked before about how much we love Flor (and we still very much do), but we had yet to experience the actual swapping of tiles, the tearing up of tiles and the re-placing of tiles. With our little nook being far from done but so close to okay-for-now, we decided that until we can find something we love for the rug, we should use what we’ve got. We’ve mentioned that our chair is a placeholder, and for a little while, so will be our Flor (this is Roadside Attraction in Frost) – but something we weren’t expecting was that laying down those tiles again wouldn’t be as simple as the first time around.

You know we have a home full of pets, and while we vacuum, dust and keep things clean enough for my type A ways, we quickly realized that these carpet tiles were – let’s get real here – filthy. When it lived in our old living room, we would spot clean spills (and dog drool!), but the wear and tear was very, very noticeable:

We had never thought of it before (although it’s so obvious, isn’t it?), but when you pull up each individual tile for later use, the traffic patterns of the room will be noticeable the moment you lay them back down – unless you, say, label each tile and arrange them in the exact same way. We had plans to clean all the Flor tiles regardless, but numbering them would definitely have made for a less visible worn-in look.

We do have a couple of back-up new tiles (above, the tile on the right was new, whereas the one on the left was most definitely Jack’s favorite place to lay down), but that really just emphasized how run down our Flor was. We spent a good hour cleaning each of our tiles; Scott and I took turns agitating them in the bathtub with running water and a small amount of our DIY suds, then laying them out on towels around the studio and ultimately stacking them on the steps of our ladder (to keep that air circulation flowing).

During the times we were home, we placed a box fan on them to get them as dry as possible, and a couple of days later, they were good to go. Much better!

By no means are they spotless – I suppose we shouldn’t expect them to be. There are still some squares that aren’t quite the vibrant Frost we once had, but it’s close. Close enough.

And so, we have our first rug down! We do like how it looks it with the adjoining living room, but it’s not The One for the nook. When the right rug does come along, maybe this could go… in our bedroom? The guest room?

All this to say, we would definitely suggest labeling your Flor tiles before pulling them up, but we still love the versatility Flor tiles provide – with pattern, color and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to really clean them! Any other Flor users out there? What has your experience been with swapping, tearing up and re-placing of tiles?

  • Laura @ Rather Square - February 28, 2014 - 9:58 AM

    I like it! The pattern seems to tie into your entryway tile floor somehow. And hey – so much easier to clean carpet squares than one bigger entire rug! At least you had that in your favor.ReplyCancel

  • Angela - February 28, 2014 - 10:37 AM

    When we moved into out new place we went all in on FLOR tiles to create a runway for us (mostly the dogs) from front door to back and protect the hardwood floor. It was quite a big investment at first (although we happened to be shopping during one of their big sales, so that helped), but we love them…especially when you have an Alfred who does things like chew open the brand new ink cartridge that just got delivered in the mail all over your entryway rug! We picked up the squares with ink spots (there were many), washed them off in the sink, let them dry, and then plopped them right back into place. FLOR for the win!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 28, 2014 - 10:53 AM

    Laura, yes, much easier to clean individual squares and less pricey than having a large rug dry cleaned!

    Angela – oh, Alfred!ReplyCancel

  • Cassie - February 28, 2014 - 11:54 AM

    I installed flor in my downstairs entryway for two reasons; the tiles can be arranged to the angled walls and weird turns of the entryway, and House Pet tiles are super durable for a dog that likes to go in and out of her dog door, alot, in the rain. I’ve had them over a year and there’s less mess upstairs and the flor tiles still look new. Win!
    My only complaint is these particular tiles have a felt backing instead of rubber backing, so they don’t “stick” to the concrete floor as well. With a 65-lb dog running (full speed) in and around a corner, the tiles always came apart. I added more sticky dots which didn’t work. I may have supplemented the dots with clear packing tape about 6 months ago. It’s working beautifully. =)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 28, 2014 - 3:58 PM

      Cassie, yes, we’ve seen similar carpet tiles with more of a felt backing, and we wondered how that would work with pets! Good to know :)ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Bagley - February 28, 2014 - 3:42 PM

    These rug tiles are in short….amazing! What possibilities! My husband and I want to move to hong kong after he’s done with school and these would be great because they have like no carpet there. And I’m a barefoot gal :) Great post.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - March 1, 2014 - 1:16 PM

    I love the carpet tiles idea! Also, where did you get your fabulous wooden & upholstered chair???ReplyCancel

  • erica - March 2, 2014 - 12:01 PM

    I just want to say, I found your blog today via BHG and I’m so glad I did! You guys are seriously top notch – I look forward to becoming a regular reader. xoxoReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 3, 2014 - 8:29 AM

    Lisa, thanks! The chair was found on Craigslist years ago, but you can see the transformation here:

  • Kim - March 3, 2014 - 8:30 AM

    Erica, and we’re so happy you found us! Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - March 3, 2014 - 12:31 PM

    I love flor too and have had tiles in our home. But our cats wore them down so much that they didn’t last all that long. Yours look great after cleaning. Love that pattern tooReplyCancel

  • Kim - March 3, 2014 - 12:36 PM

    Thanks, Julia. I suppose with so many pets in the house, it’s easy for them to get worn down much quicker!ReplyCancel

  • Becky - March 3, 2014 - 8:48 PM

    A Commercial Flor rep told me you can wash them in the dishwasher. I have never tested with ours but from what I can find online online, it seems to have worked for a few others. It would definitely be a faster way to clean them, that’s for sure!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - March 4, 2014 - 9:02 AM

      Wow, I would think the heat from the dishwasher would warp the rubber bottom? Interesting! It’s worth a try (after double checking with a rep, ha!). It’s only too bad we don’t have a dishwasher, otherwise, we’d have been ALL over that. Thanks for the tip!ReplyCancel

  • Jennie - April 7, 2014 - 2:00 PM

    I had never thought of numbering the tiles when moving, sounds like a good plan. I have a wheat colored FLOR rug in my living room that gets a lot of use, we rotate it often to keep even wear on it. Plus I have pulled up several tiles through out the last year to clean due to a potty training puppy :P While it does save your rug having the ease of cleaning individual tiles, I have noticed when I lay them back in place each tile starts to look more and more different from each other. I have been wanting to swap out for some new ones on the heavily used tiles but the fact that they discontinued the pattern I originally bought has made lag on what to do next. I still love FLOR and think it’s very versatile but am finding out every type of rug is a battle to keep clean! :pReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 7, 2014 - 2:12 PM

      You’re smart to rotate them while you have them! And I agree, it’s such a bummer that FLOR will discontinue some styles, so it’s hard to replace them later. I guess it’s a lesson learned that it’s best to order a few extra tiles the first time, so the problem won’t arise in the future!ReplyCancel


Chimney Sweep, Sort Of.

When working on a house this old, it’s so easy to get distracted and want to do all the things!, and it’s equally easy to question the order in which to do so. You all know that our lack of baseboards in the entryway (and living room and studio) are driving this girl right up a wall, and while we keep saying, it’s next on our list!, it’s totally not. We don’t think.

This is partially due to funds (each room will be upwards of $200+ on the low side due to the much larger trim we chose) and partially because there are other items that are more important. (Oh, studio, studio. I’m looking at you.) There’s also the need for much needed down time (as we recently discovered during life’s messy moments), and we’re also at a point where we need to pick and choose how we spend our money. In between the more costly projects, we also need to do things that’ll make an impact on us now without requiring too much receipt tracking and account draining.

So! Over the weekend, I finally took care of something I had meant to do before we painted the studio pink. Again, sometimes the order gets fuzzy when you have tunnel vision – and in that case, family in town meant painted walls were way, way more important than this nagging to-do: Cleaning that chimney!

The chimney in the studio was uncovered when we tore down the crooked wall that divided the room in half, and at this point, it’s purely for aesthetic purposes. (You might remember that our contractors added support into our first floor ceiling to handle the weight.) It’s not gorgeous by any means – tuck pointing, anyone? – but we love the added element in the big, open floor plan. It’s charming. It has imperfections and flaws, and it’s well over 100-years-old, still standing, and we love it.

The one thing we could easily fix though? The black soot that trailed down the front. It never once crossed our minds to paint the brick (a few of our friends asked if we would do so, but we love the look in its natural state), so it would need a good scrub down. My first round of internet searching for what to do, what to do? brought up a whole lot of nothing (mostly a good power washing – um, no!), but I eventually stumbled upon this forum thread suggesting Greased Lightning, which by the way, can do about a hundred things – laundry, household cleaning, wine spills! We’re not affiliated with them in any way, just genuinely impressed! Here’s what we did to get our perfectly imperfect brick chimney looking its best:

Greased Lightning
Spray bottle with water
Old towels
Handle bristle brush (soft-medium)
Coarse bristle brush
Protective respirator  mask

WHAT WE DID: The process was really simple, although it did require some muscle and a couple of hours. Before doing anything, I wrapped a few old towels around the base of the chimney to catch all the gunk. I then worked in small sections down the front (and a little bit around the sides where the soot had trailed over), starting at the top and working my way down. Over and over (and over again), I did this: Saturate with Greased Lightning, scrub, rinse with water, repeat. I did each section 2-3 times, allowing my softer bristle brush to do most of the legwork and switching over to the course brush for really tough spots. I also found that if I sprayed some water after the Greased Lightning, it would suds up more, which I liked. Note: This stuff smells pretty strong, so I’d recommend a respirator mask!

After completing each section, I did a final rinse with a lot of water, pointing the nozzle at a downward angle to direct the grimy water towards the base of the chimney. Every 15-20 minutes, I’d rinse my scrub brushes and wipe down the surrounding walls of any splatter.

Two hours later, I was done! I’ll admit that it was a little bit of a guessing game since the brick was so wet; right after completion, everything looked pretty dark:

But the next morning, we had a clean chimney! There’s a small section down the front left side at the top that’s a teeny bit darker than the rest of the bricks, which might maybe mean it’s still wet – even now (is that possible?). Or are the bricks just a bit discolored after decades of soot filth? Overall, the Greased Lightning really did the trick, and now that it’s clean, I can’t believe we let it go for this long. (But isn’t that always the case? I’ll be saying the same thing about those f@!*ing baseboards.)

One last step that we’ve considered is sealing everything in, either with a low sheen Polycrylic or a made-just-for-this brick sealer. We don’t have any issues with the chimney being dusty or crumbly, so it might not matter at all – but perhaps it’ll be just what it needs. Have any of you sealed your interior chimney/fireplace surrounds, and if so, did it make a difference?

Now, just imagine the studio with baseboards! (Okay, I’ll stop with that. For now.)

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - February 26, 2014 - 7:36 AM

    Love the exposed chimney and cleaning it made a total difference. It might be a good idea to seal it with brick sealerReplyCancel

  • Sarah @ 702 Park Project - February 26, 2014 - 8:11 AM

    Wow, it looks great!! What a cool feature! :)ReplyCancel

  • Brandi G - February 26, 2014 - 8:19 AM

    Just found your blog and love it. We are seven years into a remodel of a 1950′s ranch house and still don’t have baseboards. Soon though!! Good luck with your reno.ReplyCancel

  • Helen - February 26, 2014 - 8:46 AM

    I did seal some similar aged brick on our second floor and it made it noticeably darker and most definitely orange-er. I think the brand of masonry sealer I used was called Jasco? If it’s not dusty or crumbling, I might skip it. If you want the color to look richer and darker, go for it!ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ Rather Square - February 26, 2014 - 8:50 AM

    What a difference! It really looks great. I think I’d go ahead and seal it, just to keep all your hard work protected for years to come.ReplyCancel

  • Cait - February 26, 2014 - 8:58 AM

    The chimney looks great! I’m still totally jealous of the exposed brick. Crossing my fingers that our fireplace is brick under the tile and can be salvaged.

    And I know what you mean when you say “I can’t believe we let it go this long”! Sadly I feel that way about a lot of things around our house.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - February 26, 2014 - 9:04 AM

    Thanks, guys!

    Helen, oh, that’s good to know! I didn’t even think of it potentially changing the brick color. Hmm, something to think about.ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ hurricane sandwich and the casita - February 26, 2014 - 9:04 AM

    This is such a fun feature in the room! Also, we are in the midst of similar projects… halfway through baseboards after many months in the house, and noticing how sooty the chimney is looking. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - February 26, 2014 - 9:57 AM

    Wow! What a difference that made!! I will definitely have to look into that type of cleaner. (and your baseboards will be in at some point and they will be gorgeous :-))ReplyCancel

  • Jessica@CapeofDreams - February 26, 2014 - 11:16 AM

    The brick will probably be easier to clean in the future if you seal it. It looks great!ReplyCancel

  • Jackie - February 26, 2014 - 7:56 PM

    The chimney looks good :)

    On a baseboard related note, have you looked for a door & trim store in your area, as opposed to just a hardware store or home improvement store? When we replaced ours we found they were *significantly* cheaper at the specialty stores.ReplyCancel

  • Marie - February 27, 2014 - 9:08 AM

    The sealing idea looks great, I’d vote for it. With the great job done, it’ll keep it as long as possible without you needed to clean the chimney too soon.
    About the baseboards, I can’t wait to see it done, too. What about a whole post on the subject ? I’d like you to show us how to do because I’d need your advice, and also because I LOVE your awesome US baseboards. We don’t see them often in Europe, most of the time only flat boring ones. What a shame. Please, baseboards post, please ;-)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 27, 2014 - 10:16 AM

      Marie, thanks! We’ll keep that in mind. We have so many rooms to do, so a better break down of what we do / how we did it could be helpful. Thank you for the input!ReplyCancel

  • stephanie@babasouk - March 5, 2014 - 11:07 AM

    Wow this is impressive work guys! It looks so clean now…incredible. Hard work pays off!ReplyCancel