"Stripping off old plaster and paint allowed us to restore our historical fireplace and create the centerpiece of our holiday decorating."
Moldy, crumbling plaster hid the potential beauty of the fireplace in Amy and Lukejohn Dickson's 1890s Savannah, Georgia, house. "We tried to repair it, but it just crumbled off," Amy says. When the couple spotted the original Georgia-clay brick underneath, they decided to completely expose it. "After a few days of cleaning with a chisel and a nylon brush, we stopped because the plaster that remained created an effect we liked—a whitewashed look all over the brick," Amy says. The wood mantel, coated with 10 layers of paint, eventually came clean with a stripping solvent. Now painted white, the mantel represents a fresh start with respectful ties to the past.