What do I need to do to achieve this?

October 4, 2012

I have a brick structure around my cooking area. Pretty much like this Boone's:

The only differences are:

1. The side walls of mine are half as wide

2. The opening of mine comes lower to the cooktop (or so it seems)

3. It goes all the way to the (9') ceiling.

I want to cover it to achieve a look similar to some combination of these:¤t=kitchenrevealpix005640x480.jpg

Basically, I want the following:

1. Cover the brick (as it is not in a very good shape and is creating dust) all the way to the ceiling.

2. Lower the opening to 32"-36" above the cooktop in order to install a custom hood power pack, so that it won't be very visible. (My current vent situation is similar to Boone's).

3. Paint the cove and the (future) surrounding floor-to-ceiling cabinets in one color so that the cabinets look as part of the wall rather than kitchen cabinets.

4. For that, I need to increase the depth of the structure (front to back) by 0.5" as the existing 24" deep cabinet next to it is sticking out ~0.5".

Do we need to cover with something like a plaster sheet or plywood?

If so, should we then apply some sheetrock to it?

There is a house in our neighborhood that had all brick siding. Before selling it, the owners painted the brick to make it look like Italian plaster of a sort. Somebody told me that they "just painted" over the brick but I doubt it as it has no visible brick at all. The house has been sold and I cannot contact the former owners to ask as I never knew them.

I Googled and read several websites that talked about plastering over brick but the opinions were split (of course!). Some say that it is "a piece of cake" and some say "don't do it", while others recommend smearing mortar over it. ETC.

That is why I am asking you, savvy GWers. :-)


Here is a link that might be useful: Cove similar to mine

Comments (16)

  • live_wire_oak

    Rip it out and start over. Doing what you propose will cost a LOT more than starting from scratch with a blank slate. And it frees you up to consider other design possibilities outside your current setup.

  • eleena


    That is what I was going to do but I was told it would be expensive to eliminate it and repair the wall.

    There are, however, two more reasons why I am considering keeping it.

    I like the look like on this picture (see link). People pay $$$ to create it, don;t they. It adds something to the kitchen. Everyone who comes to my house seems to love it.

    Could you elaborate why it would be more expensive than a tear-down and how much more?

    Thank you!

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  • eleena

    Oops, forgot the link.

    Here is a link that might be useful: [Arch pic[(

  • Annie Deighnaugh

    To me, the arch looks great but is very impractical. I need at least 2' clear counter space on either side of the cooktop to cook...I'm a chop and drop cook and work off of woodboards cutting veggies and dropping them into a fry pan or a soup pot. That would be impossible with that design...I'd have to chop someplace else and then it would end up on the floor trying to get it to the pot.

    Also, those spices in the side racks should be kept from heat and moisture, but that's not going to happen when they are next to the cooktop, and they are going to get splattered with cooking grease and fumes.

    Unless of course you don't actually cook...then it won't matter.

  • eleena


    Thank you for your valuable points!

    Clarification: I did not mean to follow that inspiration picture literally, just the look of the cove.

    I am putting two small 12" cooking units so I have 18" landing space on each side.

    I do cook - everything from scratch, so I know what you mean! :-)

    I will keep the interior brick or cover the back with SS.
    Not keeping spices there either, just salt and pepper. Even the cooking utensils will be in a drawer.

    I asked on the Kitchen forum how somebody did it in their house and it is totally do-able. But that was a new structure, not working with an existing one.

    Just trying to figure out my options.

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    What type of electrical is run to the interior of the brick? How far are you planning to build out the surface? What type of pipe runs through it? Is there any way to access it other than by tearing out brick on the interior or siding on the exterior? Have you measured the actual interior space for this to see if an insert will even fit without having to do 100% custom? Is there any insulation in the cavity around the pipe?

    I suspect that there won't be the right size wire to be able to power a hood, or enough room for an insert, or the right size pipe for a decent vent, and all of the brick will have to come down to even begin to work on it. To restore it after all of that hacking will cost more than just demolishing it and starting with a blank slate. And, as previously mentioned, it locks you into some bizarre choices if you are considering doing doing 2 12" units. That would render the kitchen more awkward and non resale friendly than even the current brick arch does. That is NOT a wise use of funds in a kitchen redo.

    I'd expect any "renovation" of something like that to be MUCh more difficult in place than removing it and starting over by a factor of at least 1.5. Building a stucco hood usually runs between 5-6K with parts and labor, and I'd expect trying to alter what's there to run about 1.5x as much.

  • eleena


    Thanks for the input!

    Let me try to answer your questions. The current cooking area inside the cove is 58.5" wide and has a 30" gas unit with 14.25" landing area on each side. The gas connection and a 120 V electrical outlet for the ignition are behind the base cabinet and are perfectly accessible, as far as I know.

    I am doing 2 12" units not because I have no other choices but because I want both gas and induction. I love induction but having gas is a "must" due to power outages. I know people said they'd use their outdoor grills, but after Katrina, having gas indoors is non-negotiable for me.

    I figured that at any given time, I was using only 3 out 4 burners on my gas cooktop b/c the fourth one becomes unusable when I have two of my large pans on the cooktop. That was my reason for having 3 burners (instead of 4): 1-burner gas unit and 2-burner induction. And honestly, that is all I need most of the time.

    I have one of those "large small kitchens" with 9' between the cooktop center and the sink. I do most of my chopping/cutting over the sink and I am one of those "cook as you prep" people, so I am really sick and tired of running between the two all the time. That is why I was going to have one additional 1-burner induction unit on the peninsula which is on the same wall as the sink.

    For re-sale, I was going to replace the two 12" units with a 28" or 30" gas cooktop.

    My current vent is an in-line box sitting right under the ceiling. It has a working motor (thus, wire). It is simply old, weak, and dirty with no good way to clean the filter. The ceiling itself over the area is not brick but a regular ceiling, as far as I can tell, covered by a piece of plywood.

    According to an electrician I consulted, the duct starts as a round 6" duct, then becomes an 8" and then a 10" one going to the outside.

    I have an attic above the kitchen and easy access (according to those guys) which should make wiring simple, should it not?

    The last guy who came over (who was highly recommended by many and sounded like he really knew what he was doing) said he could build a custom liner (like a soffit) inside the cove. It will not be a hood, just something to surround a commercial liner with a blower. The cove opening depth from front to back is 15" or 16" (don't remember for sure) and - after a long search - I have found several 12"-14" deep blowers with decent power. Also, most of them are "deep" only at the bottom. If I bring the curve down, I can "borrow" additional depth below the brick. The total depth is ~19".

    He said he'd done it before but he did not say how much that "soffit" would cost (it was going to be part of the overall quote). I am not very clear how it is done, that is why I was concerned about the cost.

    I am not sure I have addressed everything you said. Have I omitted anything?

    Also, I have read on a website that an easy way to cover a brick wall with plaster would be using plaster sheets. Is it a viable option?

    Seriously, I am not "married" to that brick. :-) My original plan was to tear the structure down. I even had an elevation done accordingly. But then I started second-guessing b/c some folks tried to talk me out of it and also because - literally - everyone who comes to the house, starts "wow-ing" about it, LOL. And I was one of those people myself when I bought the house. :-(

    That is why I want to be absolutely sure that tearing down is the best option. I do have budget constraints so I am trying to "optimize" the cost to get "the best bang for the buck".

    Not sure if this makes any sense. :-)

  • eleena

    Below is the link to the website where someone said that plaster sheets could be used instead. (You have to scroll down almost to the end.)

    "I just saw a program where the carpenters laid a full piece of fireproof drywall/sheetrock flat on the floor, put huge plops of �mud� (drywall compound) on it, slightly spread it around and raised the sheetrock against the red brick, secured it with a few masonry nails at the corners, sides, top and bottom...cut out the opening to the fire box, filled the nail holes, installed the new glass firescreen doors...and the job was done.

    You could eliminate the fireplace completely...or just give it a new wall.

    You may find that the plaster or stucco will just become another dust collector...or posssibly crack or chip in the future."

    Here is a link that might be useful: Plastering over brick

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    The ONLY way to do stucco properly is with wire lathe and multiple coats. The "easy" way will never be the durable way and you don't want a hunk of it falling into your marinara sauce.

    I'd also caution about deciding if stucco is a correct style decision for your home. If it's in Arizona and is an adobe, or it's very very country Italian, it could possibly work. Otherwise it's not going to really look at home. Examine the bones of your home and choose things for it, especially permanent things like windows, cabinets, and hoods, that go with it's bloodline. There is nothing more of a turnoff than finding a rustic Tuscan grapery inside a standard center hall Colonial.

    You need a designer and a contractor NOW to be able to do an actual site assessment and draw up plans that build on the strengths of the home, and do it properly and up to code. A slew of postings on the internet without even any actual pictures to give examples is doing nothing more than confusing you and causing you to know just enough to make yourself dangerous and an annoyance to whatever trades you eventually do hire. The professionals on this site have given you information as the best that they could without any concrete photographs showing what you are talking about and without you having the background to understand what it is you are trying to figure out. Find a trustworthy contractor and let them hold your hand through the project. They won't come cheap, but the type of project and project manager that you will need to make your project happen never do come cheap.

  • eleena


    If every designer and contractor knew well what there were doing, there probably wouldn't be a need for the GW home forums, except maybe for the DYI people (and there are DYI forums).

    I have not been around for too long and I have already seen one too many cases when the poster's hired KD was "wrong" in some way and the GW designers like you had to either correct the mistake or propose something more optimal.

    I had a designer when we started 4 years ago. As I said, the elevations were done assuming that the brick had to go. But the remodel did not happen and I started re-evaluating my options, especially because I did not know then about steam ovens and now I want one, so the ovens have to go to a different wall, closer to the water source, and it changes the layout. My designer is unavailable right now and, hopefully, will only have time to do the final drawing for the GC.

    I am not looking for "cheap", I said "budget constraints" but almost everyone here has them as far as I could tell. I suspect that people who are independently wealthy, do not hang around the GW, they have already hired the best designers and contractors and built their "Mac Mansions". :-)

    And I have had several contractors come to my house. They all said different things, some outrageous. How much time do you have? I can tell you my saga. :-)

    That is why I am trying to figure out what I CAN do, so that I can decide what I want to do.

    My current kitchen is done in (somewhat) Italian style. The owners advertised their house in the real estate listing as "Mediterranean". It had arches, a brick surround, some brick flooring, and faux-finished walls.

    I have stucco on several outside walls but that is not the look I am looking for. I do NOT want plaster as such, just whatever finish is appropriate. The question was not how to stucco but how to best cover the brick in order to keep the cove. For example, the Lenox residence I linked has either painted brick or brick-like tile (perhaps).

    The North Shore one has neither brick nor plaster.

    Also, the Woodland residence (that I really like for "looks") does not seem to have plastered walls either. It looks like a regular wall with some textured paint on it, the same as on the other walls. Someone commented that it looked like it was done using RL ragging technique. Functionality aside, that kitchen will be perfect in my house in terms of the looks.

    See, I am not asking to evaluate what style goes with my house only how to achieve that look. That is, not if I SHOULD do it, only if I COULD do it. All the stuff about pipes, vent, and electrical is important and I have thought about it. But for this post, it is secondary to the wall question.

    As far as I could tell, only two designers posted to this thread (you and LWO). Please note that both of you commented on the cost and the downsides of this project but neither of you said if it can be done and how to do it.


    Here is a link that might be useful: [Lenox residence.[(

  • PRO
    Sophie Wheeler

    "neither of you said if it can be done and how to do it."

    That is because so much depends on site conditions and what currently exists. I've already said that attaching mesh to a properly constructed and supported base with 3 coats (brown, scratch, and finish) is the proper way to do it, but that's the decorative portion. There still remains the functional portion of the hood insert and pipe. A lot depends on the actual structure of the current brick hood itself as well as the home itself.

    If you want more than the wildest of WAG here, then at least provide some pictures of what you're dealing with. At a minimum, the vent piping is going to have to be changed from 6" to at least 8" all the way from the vent insert through the roof. How that can be done depends on the access to the interior of the brick arch that we only so far have seen described. You will also need a dedicated electrical source to run the vent insert that the arch will need. You haven't provided the information as to whether or not that currently exists.

    Please provide a picture, along with a measured drawing of the space, as well as a picture of the attic and roof above it. Also provide the information about your electrical, siding material, roofing material and slope. Also define exactly what type of material you want to clad the brick with, as that has a huge bearing on materials and labor.

    To even consider doing this, you need to know if the brick arch is structural like a chimney would be (highly unlikely, but possible), or is a mere veneer finish on top of a regular stud wall framing? If so, is this decorative thin brick, or was a structural brick ledge formed and the whole thing done like a veneer brick home? If it's thin brick, then applying another material on top of it isn't recommended, but it will be very easy to remove and start over with building whatever you want from scratch. If it's full sized brick done with a proper weight bearing foundation, then it can probably support the heavy additional weight of some other type of cladding on top of it, but there isn't any real guarantees that they used the proper brick strapping and have the proper support under it. Are you on crawl space or slab? If slab, then it probably has enough support. If on crawlspace, then maybe not. You'd need to get underneath it and see how they supported it. Can you get into the crawlspace to view?

    A custom stucco or plaster surround is one of the most expensive options when it comes to a custom hood option. More expensive than a wood hood, and just as expensive or even more so than a custom metal hood, because it is more labor. I do know people who have done it DIY, and saved themselves 4-5K, so it is possible to do if you are a DIYer. Otherwise, $300 to demolish what is there and $1200 for a new standard sized chimney style hood to replace plus the freedom to not be constrained physically by the brick enclosure or the literally set in stone parameters that it forces on your kitchen design would seem to be a no brainer.

    The biggest question here is, if the brick didn't exist, and you had the freedom to create whatever kitchen you wanted, would you be choosing to do something so nonstandard as 2 12" cooktops and a stucco type hood? If the answer is "no", then I think it's totally obvious that you shouldn't plan an entire kitchen redo around something that you wouldn't build from scratch given the chance. Not when it would be easier and cheaper to get rid of it and start over.

  • eleena

    Thank you!

    DH and I have been seriously discussing this since yesterday b/c we need to finalize (at least) the appliances.

    We have agreed to remove the brick structure, except for the back wall. I'd like to keep the latter as a back-splash as well as for decorative purposes IF AND ONLY IF it is feasible w/o being a major expense.

    The thing is, even if I remove the structure, I am only gaining ~12" as the area is "bracketed" by the fridge and a tall cabinet. But I will have a lot more flexibility with the hood, that's so true!

    And yes, I still want 2 12" modules (could be one 12" gas and one 15" induction, depending on the brand). I have just finished cooking enough meals for 3-4 days and used 3 burners and the oven. If Gaggenau or Diva 24" 3 burner induction cooktop were available in the US, I'd do that with a 12" gas wok unit, but they are not, so I'd have to go with a 2-burner.

    Just curious: how many burners do you normally use?

    If I had 4-5 kids, then I'd definitely want a 36" cooktop (or larger) but it is only 3 of us. :-)

    OK, now I have a related question.

    Could the side walls be removed without causing much damage to the back wall?

    All four walls are made of "real" full-sized brick, not a decorative one. We are on a slab. The only method that I know for taking the walls down is a sledge hummer. But I am guessing it wouldn't "do" in this case. :-)

  • eleena

    I think I have found the answer to my question.

    Google is always your friend, isn't it? Unless it gives you too much conflicting info, that is. :-)

    TX for all the input!

  • eleena

    I would like to thank you again for your input!!!

    The brick is gone and what a relief! I have no clue why I spent so much time looking for ways to salvage it.

    In my defense, every person who came to the house "salivated" over that brick. Every contractor who saw it went out of his way to convince me to keep it. Even my ex-ID (who came over a few days ago for a different reason) spent a lot of his time (that I was not paying for, LOL) telling me to keep it.

    Who wouldn't "cave" under such pressure?

  • annzgw

    So where's the before and after pics?? : )

  • eleena

    No "after" pix yet.

    Still debating if I can be brave enough to ever post them b/c I guard my Internet privacy above everything. Some days, I am afraid I said too much online, iykwim. :-)

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