How To Modernize A Rock Wall Like HGTV's Chelsea DeBoer On Down Home Fab

Just because a home needs a refresh doesn't mean you have to completely take away its identity. Chelsea and Cole DeBoer, hosts of HGTV's "Down Home Fab," love modernizing the classic details of South Dakota homes. Their glamorous ranch house renovation from the first episode of their show (via YouTube) is a stellar example of how to refresh a living space while still holding on to the original features that make a home unique. For an especially inspiring country home revamp, check out the DeBoers' rock wall design. They transform an old-school rock wall and give the fireplace a budget-friendly upgrade by whitewashing the stone and incorporating matte black and natural wood details. 

Before you balk at the idea of painting over the natural detail of a beautiful material like stone, know that whitewashing does not need to be the dreaded "landlord special" (also known as clumsily painting every surface with white paint). The DeBoers take special care to work in harmony with the stone, emphasizing the rocky texture and using other natural materials in the space. "It still holds, like, the character of what the rock was," the homeowner expresses upon seeing the refreshed rock wall and fireplace. "It looks just so updated but still, like, has this cabin vibe, cozy feel." If you have some stonework in your house that's feeling a little outdated, whitewashing and an infusion of natural wood could be just what you need to create an aesthetic that's light and modern yet authentic and homey. 

Whitewashing a rock wall

You can hire a professional to do interior whitewashing on your rock wall or stonework, but it's also a very simple DIY project if you'd prefer to save some money. For materials, all you'll need is white paint and a brush. You may also want to get a paint sponge, since this can be a useful tool for getting paint into all the textured areas and crevices of the rock. If you're dealing with an untreated stone surface, latex paint is probably your best option for adhesion and durability.

Before you paint, if you have a fireplace, make sure it's turned off and cooled down. You should also lay out a drop cloth and use painter's tape to protect any surrounding surfaces. Next, clean the rock wall — you don't want any dirt or dust to get encased under a layer of paint. Regular soap and water should be enough to give your rock surface a basic washing. After the rock is clean and dry, apply a primer/sealer to the porous stone, then you can paint it white. Cover it in a few coats of opaque white for a really bright, modern feel, or retain the natural texture of the rock by only using a thin coat of white paint. Some folks add a little water to their paint so that it's extra thin, allowing more of the rock to show through. Try testing the paint on a small section of rock before committing to the style you like best. 

Styling a modern rock wall

To keep your whitewashed rock wall from looking too sterile, it's important to be mindful of the details. For instance, Chelsea and Cole DeBoer paint the brass on the fireplace a matte black, which has a more modern feel but also has a soft, flat finish. You can do a similar effect with any metal hardware around your stonework, or you can keep it simple by just giving the metallics a nice polish to refresh them. Cleaning brass is easy — a homemade polishing solution, such as vinegar, should do the trick. 

The DeBoers also use a lot of natural wood in the space to evoke that farmhouse vibe. If you have any existing natural wood in your living space, keep it exposed; and if there's room, find places to add extra wood elements. In the case of the ranch house renovation, Chelsea found the wood beams and stacked wood essential to the room, saying, "I thought leaving the beams would give it that rustic touch, and then stacking up the wood on either side of the fireplace to bring in that warmth." Easy ways to incorporate wood for a rustic aesthetic include wood floating shelves, a DIY wood mantel, or some classic wooden furniture. To finish off the look, take a page from the DeBoers' style and create a hint of glamour with rich ranch decor, such as a fancy lighting fixture or luxurious, upholstered furniture.