My Husband Loves Our Ugly Brick Fireplace

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

Please, please don’t ream me out. I’m just a meek little housewife with four spoiled brats darling kids— and a husband. He’s handsome, built and makes a good living. He’s good to me; no complaints.

So what’s the problem? It’s my home; my new home. It has not one, but TWO of the ugliest fireplaces God ever created. One is ugly brick and one is ugly stone.

I know what you’re thinking. Why did we buy a home with two ugly fireplaces? That’s a very good question, Laurel and I’m going to tell you. It was June, we lost out on the home I really wanted.

We had to live in that neighborhood because of the school district. It was June. The closing was in August.

Okay?

There are parts of the home that I like a lot. It’s got a great layout and lots of light. I think there’s a lot of potential.

The other thing is, I lied. I do have a complaint about the husband. He says that he likes the brick and the stone or at least is not interested in making any changes.

He thinks that we need to use that money for the kids’ education. That’s true. I’m not going to spend tens of thousands of dollars to remove the stone and brick. That would be nuts.

Can I paint it? I’m afraid to mention anything to h until I’m armed with a solid plan.

Thanks so much,

Sabrina Brykschitz

 

Hi Everyone,

Sabrina Brykschitz ;] is a fictitious character. She’s an amalgam of situations I’ve encountered over the years or read about.

And I know that a lot of you are chomping at the bit to have this post about what to do with your brick and stone fireplaces.

 

However, this is a verrrry broad topic because there are many things to consider:

 

The:

  • Style of the home
  • Age of the home
  • Location of the home
  • Size of the fireplace and the surrounding brick/stone

 

 

Since there is much to cover, I’m only going to talk about The Ugly Brick Fireplace today.

 

For the purposes of this post, I am going to assume that you are looking for a traditional or classic contemporary style and that your home was built in the last 60 years or so.

 

But, there are so many  styles of homes and most of us don’t have brick with a lot of character.

 

rustic exposed brick fireplace mantel and wall | Logan Killan Design

Logan Killan Interiors

Like this one.

 

And we don’t have the 20 foot ceiling either.

 

Please note that this is definitely not a working fireplace as the hearth is made of wood!?!

 

Here’s what I would do if I had an ugly brick fireplace that needs to change.

 

Walk around your home and see it as one entire composition.

The fireplace is only one part, but it has to work with the home as a whole.

For instance, if you have a rustic home that’s primarily stained wood and a brick fireplace and you paint it white, it’s going to look bloody weird.

In fact, white-painted brick with a big wood mantel looks horrible, IMO.

 

Important info before I go on.

 

I realize that some have very strong opinions about whether to paint brick or not. That’s fine, but what’s not fine (by me, that is) is to insult folks with absolutes, like “it’s gross to paint brick.”  Stuff like that.

But sometimes folks  although well-intentioned make mistakes and I’ll be getting to that in a sec.

Let’s look at some other situations where the brick is left in its natural red brick color.

Mia Maestro craftsman home with a brick fireplace and wood stained trim and fireplace surround

Mia Maestro’s Home in Lonny

It certainly looks appropriate in this craftsman-style home. One thing I tried to find is a great looking room that has walls painted in a coordinating, rusty-bricky-reddish color. That is often a great solution if one has a husband that refuses to budge. The brick will virtually disappear.

Katy Skelton - exposed brick fireplace

Katy Skelton

This exposed brick looks appropriate in this Brooklyn Apartment. My old apartment that I lived in on the upper westside of Manhattan in the 80’s had an exposed brick wall and high ceilings. I rather liked the character it gave to the renovated building.

Hally

hallys deli london via we heart

But I think it’s also cool to paint old brick.

What I’m having a problem with about 95% of the time is the white-washing look. It’s supposed to look uhhmmm, country, rustic, weathered?

But, it’s inside.

And it almost always looks horribly fake to me. Sometimes the brick comes out looking either a sickly pinkish color or a sickish gray color. I don’t see that as being much of an improvement. In fact, sometimes it looks a lot worse.

 

Here’s a whole page of white washed brick fireplaces on pinterest.

And there are hundreds more out there.

 

There are two techniques for getting the white washed look.

 

  • The diluted paint method – Just what it says.
  • Lime Wash – A complex technique which is typically done on exterior brick and stone but I believe can also be done in interiors.

 

A good overview of lime-washing, white washing and mortar wash

This is a nice post on Sand and Sisal with a pretty outcome after whitewashing the red brick.

 

But, for the most part, I think that if you’re going to paint the ugly brick fireplace,

then just bloody paint it.

 

A slight bit of antiquing is okay. I think that if it’s a genuinely old home that one has more liberty with the antiquing. But that’s not what most of us have.

 

Most of us have something like this.

ugly brick fireplace

 

Let’s Talk About What To Do With Our Ugly Brick Fireplace

 

The easiest and cheapest thing to do is paint.

 

If it’s raw brick, you will need a wonderful primer.

Cathy Dickson who commented here recommends Zinsser Bull’s Eye 1-2-3 and I have heard other good things about it too. She follows up with Benjamin Moore Cloud White in the matte formulation.

She’s done this many times as she’s a house flipper and says that it always looks terrific.

 

An excellent post on A Beautiful Mess about how to paint brick and stone.

 

Re: paint sheen.

 

That is another bugaboo. I usually prefer a flatter finish (matte or eggshell) but if you don’t, that’s cool. I would prefer an oil based paint if it’s satin or semi-gloss however, but that’s difficult to come by these days.

If anyone has had a lot of experience in painting brick fireplace mantels and recommends a type and/or brand of paint, that would be wonderful. We’re all here to learn and make our homes more beautiful.

Moving along.

 

After painting comes the next bit of expense and that is a mantel.

 

And I realize that I sound like an incorrigible snob. But it is very difficult to find really well-done make-overs and some are just plain wrong– not because of a personal preference. I will explain why.

And some are okay jobs but then there’s some furniture that looks cheap or too precious or something.

 

One more thing. I’m posting images I found on the internet. In a couple of cases, I intentionally removed watermarks because I do not want to embarrass anyone. The purpose is not to berate anyone, but to improve on the good work they’ve done.

 


There are some problems here and some are a safety issue.  I don’t think that the white washed brick wis working with the more formal mantel and trim. The mantel’s proportions are off.  The crown should not fan out that much and not be so heavy as well.

 

But actually what should happen is that the legs of the mantel should be out further.

 

There is supposed to be a minimum of 6″ of non-flammable brick, metal or stone between the firebox and mantel.

 

After that, and this is a very common thing. I would tile the inset or use a black honed granite slab or soapstone. This makes it look a lot less like a mantel that was just slapped up in front of a brick wall.

Christy Ford – photo Patrick Cline

This is a great example of a slab of honed granite or soapstone maybe in this case.

I love that and have specified it often.

 

ugly brick fireplace with a lovely wood mantel

 

A lovely addition is this return if the brick comes out from the wall a few inches.

I think this one would’ve looked amazing if the brick was painted the same color as the wall. And then if I would add a black honed granite around the firebox.


beautiful white-washed brick - painted white brick with wood piece on the top of the mantel - designed by Ron Marvin

Ron Marvin

I think that this is a clever way of dealing with a low brick mantel.

An elegant crown/shelf is the perfect addition.

beautiful painted brick and old stone fireplace mantel designed by Michelle Willis Adams

Michelle Willis Adams

An old stone fireplace is wonderful over this old painted brick. This is undoubtedly in an urban setting such as San Francisco or maybe New York. It’s one of my favorites.

Ari Heckman - old painted brick and antique fireplace mantel

Ari Heckman

This old mantel is awesome and the home is genuinely old.

I think that’s a screen covering up some of the brick.

 

However, in most cases, I think that the most beautiful way to deal with the brick is to build over it.

 

A lot of the examples I’ll be showing are DIY and if we’re talking covering up, it is not a DIY project unless one has extensive building experience.

 

And please research the design if you don’t have a designer.


Here’s an example of what I mean. I love the paneled surround but the mantel is overlapping the panels and looks odd to me. I would put the mantel shelf over the panels and extend it to the ends. The hearth should be some sort of stone, not painted wood. And for the firebox surround, I would either put stone or keep it the same white color, in this case.

Satori Design For Living

They did a terrific job and included a terrific tutorial about how they covered up their ugly brick.

 

ugly brick fireplace

My diy habits

This is a before (duh) and a really great looking after with tons of posts and tutorials.

 

Dillard Jones Builders

This is a case where it depends what else is going on. I think it’s a great job. My personal preference would be to have all of the brick painted white with a slab of honed granite for the top of the hearth with a 1″ overhang, if possible.

Donna Moylan via Lonny

A very elegant mantel, beautifully in scale with brick painted black. There is a special paint that’s heat-resistant for inside the firebox. It looks like the hearth might be painted too. Not sure.

 

Giannetti Home - beautiful painted brick fireplace and wood mantel to match the walls

One of my favorites from Brooke and Steve Giannetti.

 

designed by Melinda Woodruff - beautiful brick fireplace with built-in book cases and shiplap

Melinda Woodruff

I love the look of this dramatic fireplace with built-in bookshelves and shiplap.

 

beautiful white painted brick fireplace

Front + Main

This is from a home in Milwaukee. When I lived there in the late 70’s, I had a friend, who had this exact configuration. Fond memories!

classic white fireplace surround over a brick fireplace and rustic beams

This is one of my favorites. It’s a wonderful blend of traditional and rusticity. (source unknown)

There was a request to have some black painted brick. While there are some around the firebox, this is handsome in this setting. But I would be careful with the black. It depends on the look one is going for. (source unknown)

 

beautiful paneled fireplace surround over a brick fireplace

I adore this one too! Love the herringbone pattern. This may be more of a decorative fireplace.(source unknown)

 

ugly brick fireplace

please pin this graphic!

 

Well, I hope that gave y’all some ideas for dealing with a not-so-great brick fireplace. There are lots of options for keeping the brick, painting it and building over it.

xo,

 

 

  • Natasha Kalita Design - December 30, 2016 - 5:19 PM

    By far the best post on brick fire places I have yet tofind, and also incredibly timely for me.
    I have a hideous entire wall of brick with a fireplace, and we have been tossing around ideas about what to do with the obscenity since we moved in. We are leaning towards covering the entire thing with built in bookcases, building a mantle and paneling above for a television. My husband is going for all of this even though he likes tbe brick monster, so I will not fight the Designer in me that hates tv’s over fireplaces. I know where to wave the white flag. Thank you for this awesome post!

    Natasha KalitaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 30, 2016 - 9:51 PM

      Thanks so much Natasha and all the best with your fireplace!ReplyCancel

  • Susie - December 14, 2016 - 9:38 PM

    The painting/tiling combo can come out gorgeous and it’s easy to do in a weekend. It’s one of my favorite DIY projects that my husband and I did when we were first married (22 years ago). Of course you need to know the proper clearances for mantels – it’s larger if you have an unvented gas fireplace. Those suckers put out a ton of heat! I like the dark granite or soapstone options. Also, there are mineral paints (like lime wash) that bond with the brick and simplify the painting. Nice post!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - December 13, 2016 - 11:29 PM

    I’ll be unusually short this time-you’re simply the best(c)

    Never had brick but witnessed a lot of suggestions, (heated)discussions etc. on the subject.
    That’s by far the best most helpful and comprehensive post ever. Great examples, and was surprisingly impressed with the image of the black brick one.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 14, 2016 - 5:30 PM

      Oh Jenny,

      How sweet you are! Hang on for stone (feeling a little stoned today- lol) fireplaces!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Meals - December 12, 2016 - 10:59 AM

    When you say you would add black honed granite around the firebox (I’m referring to the image of the lovely return, the one where you said you’d paint the brick the same color as the wall), do you mean something like this?

    http://cdn2.bigcommerce.com/server3200/85027/product_images/uploaded_images/facing-diagram-detail.png

    Sorry, I was trying to get a visual for what you meant for clarification.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 12, 2016 - 11:06 AM

      Hi Rebecca,

      Yes, that’s it! I’ve never seen a ledge though, but it actually makes sense to keep stuff better contained but I think fire screens are always a good idea.ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - December 12, 2016 - 12:18 AM

    Hi,
    The the fireplace with shiplap above it is from, Dillard-Jones Builders, llc.
    2013 All American Cottage.
    I enjoy reading your blog.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 12, 2016 - 1:05 AM

      Hi Carolyn,

      Thank you so much for that. I made the credit change.ReplyCancel

  • Leslie Harlow - December 11, 2016 - 10:43 PM

    Great info. This just has convinced me that DIY fireplace remodel is not for me. On a side note I clicked on the A Beautiful Mess site, I question who’s idea it was to use the slick marble (you can see the reflection of the brick walls flanking it,) for flooring on the back porch.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 12, 2016 - 1:00 AM

      Hi Leslie,

      Glad to be of help. As for the other, who knows? :]ReplyCancel

  • Gerri - December 11, 2016 - 6:46 PM

    This post could not have come at a better time! Just had a decorator come to suggest redecorating FR with those soaring 20 foot ceilings and the Fugliest faux-Stone gas fireplace in existence. She suggested boxing it out in wood, with board and batten, but based on my HB comments, that would cost a fortune. I would be most happy with drywall and wainscot detail. Cannot wait till your next post when you post other pictures with stone fireplace re-do! Hurry!
    Love tour posts and look forward to them.❤️ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 8:39 PM

      Hi Gerri,

      Glad you found it helpful. The next post will probably be this Wednesday or a week from today at the latest.ReplyCancel

  • Noreen W - December 11, 2016 - 5:24 PM

    What about a clear satin glaze over a reclaimed brick fireplace? Our fireplace is a dust catcher because it’s so rough and ragged. But I can’t find a paint store who knows which product would seal and smooth the rough texture, but still allow the each brick’s color to come through…….ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 8:35 PM

      Hi Noreen,

      I’m gathering that the fireplace is giving off dust, not so much as catching it. I don’t know the solution to that. But whenever I’m stumped I always google it and somewhere there’s almost always someone else with the same problem. Perhaps there will be a good solution that way.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - December 11, 2016 - 4:25 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    Thank you for all the work that went into this post. And for the example of a black brick fireplace. It’s beautiful & certainly fits the room.
    We had a contractor come out this past week to get an estimate on some brick work I’ve been thinking of having done. We have a corner fireplace built in a cropped corner wall. I had thought that having that whole cropped corner wall bricked would turn it into a real focal point. But your comment of having it look like mantel that was slapped up on a brick wall is giving me pause. Maybe I should just replace the current mosaic tile with brick & leave the rest of the wall alone.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 8:33 PM

      Hi Mary,

      Hard to say without seeing what you are talking about, but sometimes the simplest approach is the best.ReplyCancel

  • Maggie - December 11, 2016 - 4:04 PM

    I love this post and I really appreciate that you covered it so thoroughly and so well. Lovely images here. I have a fireplace with light colored bricks, which I actually kind of like, as I have never been a fan of red or orange bricks indoors. It has these light gray-brown bricks with cream-white flecks which actually look quite nice against the Cloud White walls, BUT the orange oak “mantelpiece” ( i.e. plain shapeless slab of wrong colored wood) is quite awful. I have definitely warmed to the idea of painting being preferable to whitewashing the bricks, I see what you mean on that topic Laurel. You’ve given me lots to think about here. I showed your post to my hubby to educate him on how our fireplace could be improved. He said, ” Okay, give me a plan once you figure out what you want to do.” Really?! That was uncharacteristically easy! Time to put on my thinking cap. Thanks again for this wonderful post. There are so many terrific options and ideas. (I agree with you that the BEST solution is to build over it. Just don’t know which plan we will be able to agree on. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 8:31 PM

      Hi Maggie,

      Well, it should tie in with the rest of the home, so that usually helps to narrow down the choices. But glad it gave you some good ideas and also that you’ve made inroads with hubs. That’s huge! lolReplyCancel

  • Laurie - December 11, 2016 - 1:31 PM

    As a stager and designer I’ve had great results using thin tumbled travertine tile over brick, old marble tile etc. it takes a glaze coat very wel, is easily cut (it’s the height and length of a brick but only 1/4 +” thick), and it’s ok with a working fireplace. It’s applies with grout, which can also be colored if desired .ReplyCancel

  • Joann - December 11, 2016 - 12:56 PM

    What perfect timing! I’ve finally hired a contractor to do a whole house remodel and the worst of the existing house (well – almost the worst) are the two fireplaces with floor to ceiling brick in the most awful solid orange color in existence. I was going to have them covered up with wood and board and batten trim but it was too expensive to do now so I’m just going to have the fireplaces built out with drywall and painted (with a mantel installed, of course). Then I’m having bookcases built in on either side. For now, I’ll paint the brick that will still be exposed around the firebox, but later, I’ll cover it with tile. This post gave me some great ideas – thank you so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 1:05 PM

      Hi Joann,

      Sounds terrific! So glad that you got some great ideas from the post!ReplyCancel

  • Shirley - December 11, 2016 - 11:49 AM

    Laurel, thanks for the many options that folks have in dealing with “ugly” stone or brick fireplaces that are out of step with the overall design/decor of the home. I’m still not a fan of painting fireplaces especially those in older, antique homes. Consideration must be given that the fireplace was heat source for the home. Often the brick or stone surrounds were intended to conduct heat from the firebox, hold it and give off that heat over time. Unless the stone/brick has been primed properly there’s potential of the paint bubbling or peeling over time. Also I’d be concerned with a brick/stone fireplace that does not have tile surrounding the firebox face and painting the surround face up to the firebox. Glass doors help to eliminate fire hazard of paint igniting but I’d be concerned with the paint off gassing – heat alters chemical composition that close to the firebox, similar concerns of using mastic rather than mortar to apply tiles to this area. This is why cement/Hardy board is used to cover all wood framing on built out fireplace surrounds. I agree with you that this is best left to the professionals. If in doubt, a quick call to the building inspector’s office can help to avoid any hazards.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 12:42 PM

      Hi Shirley,

      Great advice. It’s really not a DIY project as we’re talking about intense heat/fire hazard. That is… if the fireplace is used. lol But otherwise, there is a lot that can go wrong and with dire consequences!

      That is one reason why DIY sometimes makes me nuts.

      Look at what we did for $150 that’s going to set the entire home on fire. Hope their insurance is paid up! ReplyCancel

  • Catherine Marcquenski - December 11, 2016 - 11:28 AM

    Great post, Laurel! What is your opinion on those fireplace inserts that are still wood-burning, that sit inside the existing firebox, like you would find in England? My fireplace is awful and needs some work, but I would hate to make it worse by adding to the awfulness. ( The brick surround is not even real brick, only facia fakery stuff that needs to come off, an unfortunate 1970’s home construction. Our other thought is to rip the whole thing out! ) I would love to know what you think of the inserts, and I do not mean the fake gas holograms or anything, just a wood stove look that sits in the box. This home is in Wisconsin, and of course I have yet to find an insert here that doesn’t look like crap…but am holding out hope that there are available somewhere in the US! Unless you hate them. I trust your opinions! Do you ever come across these kind of inserts? Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 12:38 PM

      Hi Catherine,

      There are different kinds of inserts and it might not be necessary to have it or it might be making things more efficient. Maybe get a consult from a fireplace company?

      If you need one, some are better looking than others. The shiny brass ones usually don’t look so great.ReplyCancel

  • Marsha Stopa - December 11, 2016 - 10:00 AM

    I love painted brick!

    All of these painted brick fireplaces are white with the one black exception. Is that because white is more acceptable or traditional, or just the style of homes you chose?

    I ask because I’m thinking of painting the entire brick fireplace wall in the lower level rec room Rolling Hills, and painting the fake wood paneling and suspended ceiling Dove White.Not an interesting mantle to speak of – a plain piece of red oak. Think 70s ranch.

    It’s my art studio; hence the white walls but I’d love to add a bit of character and mood with the dark rich green. With your permission, of course. 😉ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 12:35 PM

      Hi Marsha,

      Great question! And I tried in vain to find examples of painted brick that wasn’t white or black or gray. No luck. But I’ve seen it and clients have done it, but no pics! I can’t say for sure, not seeing your studio, but I think that Rolling Hills would be a handsome color for a mantel and the entire brick wall, though. And I could see some black accents. That’s really key.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Lambert - December 11, 2016 - 9:48 AM

    Ugh, shiplap. Shiplap is today’s version of the fake brown paneling everybody put up in the 60s and 70s and people will be so anxious to rip it out in 5 years. Don’t spend your money. In it’s way, it is even worse than the paneling because it has such horizontal lines, thereby making a room appear shorter. It’s always best to use vertical lines that make a room look taller – especially with the low 8′ ceilings that many homes have. And in the case of NYC real estate – the exposed brick was never meant to be exposed. It originally had plaster over it, and presented a more finished look. The hippie movement treasured exposed brick, but it has seen its day and should have no place in modern design, unless you are going for the industrial look, which is already passé.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 12:55 PM

      Hi Cynthia,

      Well… tell us what you really think! lol I don’t like to encourage a lot of debate because I feel that what’s good for one person may or may not work for someone else.

      I happen to like shiplap. To me, it’s like the siding of a house. I think it may have gotten started when someone put an extension on their home and the outside of the house became an inside wall.

      And that is how I see it used. One wall. Not all four of them. And it also depends on where the house is. I think it looks great in beach homes or Cape Cottage style homes. But sparingly.

      As for exposed brick, yeah… it was very popular in the 70’s but the brick fireplaces have been around far longer. And there are some homes that were built in the 50’s and 60’s that had exposed brick walls. I know, because I grew up in one, in Indiana. Hated that brick. It was the weirdest kind of sandy, gold color. yuck. It would’ve looked a thousand times better painted. I can see the room so vividly. It had a lot of potential as two walls were windows to the ceiling with very low sills. ReplyCancel

      • Anita - December 14, 2016 - 5:12 PM

        Hi Laurel,
        It’s possible that’s one way that shiplap got started, but I think it’s more the fact that when renovating an old house you will usually get down to the original wood walls, which are true shiplap. A few years ago it became popular to leave them exposed, either natural or painted (much like exposed brick walls I suppose), and then it took off as an over-done trend using planks from Home Depot. Being in the process of re-building an early 20th century house, I have plenty of the original wall lumber, which I fully intend to use as “shiplap” on some walls. I have been planning this for at least five years, before the “fad” really took off. Cynthia’s reaction is my fear – that by the time I actually get my “real” shiplap walls done, everyone will think it’s just an overdone and “over it” trend…Oh well, it will still be my dream home to me.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - December 14, 2016 - 5:32 PM

          Hi Anita,

          Oh, I did not know that. I am wondering if that’s a regional thing. I don’t recall ever seeing it here in the the New York area. I’ve seen old homes which have lathe behind the plaster walls but nothing that looks like shiplap. But that makes a lot of sense. I need to look into that.ReplyCancel

          • Anita - December 14, 2016 - 9:24 PM

            Yes, it may be a more regional thing. Five or six years ago when I started haunting old house real estate sites, I started noticing it. I suspect the popularity of the Gaines’ show on HGTV (which I cannot bring myself to watch, but have seen plenty of on Pinterest and other sites) had a lot to do with it (and they are based in Waco, TX, about 100 miles from me).

          • Laurel Bern - December 14, 2016 - 9:35 PM

            Ahhh… Texas. Okay then. Yes, building is different there. Different climate, I imagine is a lot of it.

            I’ve NEVER watched that show! haha

      • Cynthia Lambert - December 13, 2016 - 2:07 PM

        Haha, I know, I don’t hold back, do I? I’m a woman who knows her own mind and is not afraid to share it with the rest of the world. 😉 Sorry to be so opinionated. Okay, I’m not really, but let’s move on, shall we? And YES! I remember those exposed brick walls of the 50s, now that you mention it. I had totally forgotten about those. I’m sure that they have all been painted over many times by now, if not covered with drywall or paneling. And rightly so. I’m still not feeling it with the shiplap, though. I think it will disappear into the great failed decor idea abyss, but only time will tell.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - December 13, 2016 - 4:17 PM

          Hi Cynthia,

          That’s cool. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And I do agree that shiplap doesn’t always look appropriate and is often over-done. ReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - December 11, 2016 - 9:23 AM

    Great examples! And you know I love painted brick!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 12:29 PM

      Thanks so much Nancy! Paint is a wonderful thing! When I moved into my apartment and started furnishing it. I painted everything in sight just about. It was a lot of fun and therapeutic too!ReplyCancel

  • Eleanor - December 11, 2016 - 8:57 AM

    I painted the built-in shelves and the walls in my living room BM Cranberry Coctail to help the oversized brick fireplace recede a bit. It worked! The rest of my house is painted in colors from your collection and it doesn’t really fit the color palette of the rest of the house I picked from your collection so it is on the list to be repainted next year and I will probably go ahead and do the fireplace as well. Additionally, I forgot to take my dark reddish floors into account and it is just much warmth and red tones…not wretched but not complimentary. I continually learn so much from your blog. A year ago I never could have figured out why it wasn’t working.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 12:28 PM

      Hi Eleanor,

      So glad the Cranberry cocktail worked out with the brick! And yes, it’s as I always say– that everything as a whole needs to be looked at. Most people just focus on one or two things at a time and then the pieces of the puzzle no longer fit. But you’ll get there! Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Patricia Flournoy - December 11, 2016 - 8:49 AM

    The painters just left after painting our Living Room and Kitchen … Shoreline and Simply white…Gorgeous! Will send you a photo when we finish putting the room together…Thank you, thank you…your Paint Essentials is one of my best purchases yet.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 12, 2016 - 11:10 AM

      Hi Patricia,

      I commented to this yesterday, but somehow it didn’t go through. Thank you so much for such a sweet comment. I would love to see the end result!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 12:25 PM

      Thank you so much Patricia,

      That is so kind of you and I’m so glad that you’re enjoying the Paint Collection!ReplyCancel

  • Dolores - December 11, 2016 - 8:23 AM

    Another wonderful post that helped me so much! I just love Christy Fords soapstone fireplace surround, and I can see it possibly working in my living room.I already have a black slate heart.Unfortunately, some decades ago, when I was very young, I had my husband tile the fireplace surround, which I now know was a mistake.It happens.But now I know ‘how’ my mistake might be fixed.
    I also wanted to thank you for being the inspiration for having my husband pull up the 5 yrs old hall and landing carpeting, after which we had the floors professionally sanded, stained and refinished. With the new dustless sanding systems used, there was virtually no mess, and no sanding dust anywhere!
    My husband also painted the handrails and the banisters- and Laurel- they look so wonderfully crisp and clean, and, as there are only the two of us, they won’t get an outrageous amount of wear. Did I tell you how much I love those floors now? 🙂
    https://laurelberninteriors.com/2016/03/12/3-common-staircase-design-mistakes/ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - December 11, 2016 - 8:04 AM

    While I have never painted a brick fireplace, I have used the Zinsser primer you recommended….. it is a must in anyone’s arsenal when redecorating. I
    used it to cover over black marker that no amount of primer/ paint could cover. One coat of the Zinsser …… problem solved!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 11:13 AM

      Hi Lynn,

      Thanks so much for sharing that. I always say that I’ve learned a tremendous amount since blogging!ReplyCancel

  • Thea - December 11, 2016 - 7:58 AM

    I can attest to the “limed” look not looking great! I am the owner of an east coast center-hall colonial, built in 1978…and the multi-colored brick fireplace! My entire neighborhood has them! Over the years I’ve limed it, painted it solid and both were ok “solutions” for a while…the solid paint was tough to clean from the soot of the fire…most recent transformation was to rip down the brick, have wood work re-done and some grey stone covering raised hearth…nice and simple and in keeping with the “look” of my pseudo-Williamsburg abode. And I did it all before pinterest! Loved all these examples!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 11:12 AM

      Hi Thea,

      How did we ever live before pinterest? lol Oh yes, we read the magazines and tore out photos. Well, at least I did!

      Every time I see the name Thea, I’m reminded of a friend my son has with that name. In high school, they called her “The A” – Always makes me chuckle thinking of that.ReplyCancel

  • Dolores - December 11, 2016 - 7:48 AM

    Hi Laurel! This is another post that made me tingle all over, because I see a solution for a problem, but it will cost my husband money 🙂
    I just love that soapstone fireplace surround by Christie Ford that you show-it’s just gorgeous. I have a slate hearth, and decades ago( before I knew better!) I had my husband tile the fireplace surround, which I now do not like. This can happen!
    I also wanted to thank you for being the inspiration behind pulling up the hall and staircase carpeting and then having it all stripped and refinished. https://laurelberninteriors.com/2016/03/12/3-common-staircase-design-mistakes/ )The floors look beyond wonderful!My husband even painted the banister and handrails white, and since there are only the two of us, they won’t get a lot of abuse.
    So thank you again!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 11:04 AM

      Hi Dolores,

      Well, tile can be painted too! I have an image of that, but should get that on the next one.

      So glad that the staircase post helped too and that you’re so happy with the results of your labor!ReplyCancel

  • Dawn Kramer - December 11, 2016 - 6:53 AM

    Laurel, thank you. I’ve lived in my house for 13 years and hate our family room brick fireplace. I’ve wanted to build over it with marble and wainscoting but never could find the right configuration. The build overs with tutorials is exactly what I needed. Also, I am a proud owner of both of your paint palettes but I don’t believe I received the giveaway notice so can you send it again?

    Dawn KramerReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 11:02 AM

      Hi Dawn,

      I’m sending the notice out in a little bit. It’s a bit of a problem because if the products were purchased with an email that’s not the one you’re using, you won’t get notices or updates. And I’m extending the date one day because I wrote that the drawing was the 12th in one place and the 13th in another. ReplyCancel

  • Betty - December 11, 2016 - 6:33 AM

    Fireplaces are funny things, a lot of people dream of the roaring fireplace and sitting in a leather overstuffed chair with a glass of brandy and a Russian Wolfhound curled up at your feet. LOL Like the room with the dead animal on the wall and the black fireplace. Smoking jackets anyone? My fireplace is old (1900 old) dusty, non-working and when it was converted to a potbelly stove at one point in time, it left a 5′ brick hearth that extends into my living room – try and work with that. I’ve learned to ignore that particular elephant in the room – until I trip over the edge LOL The brick is old and ugly, but fits the house and I’m no longer obsessing about changing it. I do like the fireplace that has the flamingo in it – a bit of whimsy. Ms. Brykschitz should give her fireplaces a chance, she may learn to love them. Thanks for all the beautiful examples of fireplaces and what to do with them.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 10:59 AM

      Hi Betty,

      Too funny! I meant to make a comment about the dead moose (I think it’s a moose).

      I think the best way to deal with a red brick fireplace that has to stay that way and it’s not a cool one in an old building is to paint the walls to match. Then it becomes a neutral. Put up lots of cool art and a gorgeous rug and great furniture and it could be a great, cozy room! That’s for a room that isn’t a barn!ReplyCancel

  • Ginger - December 11, 2016 - 12:21 AM

    In regards to painting fireplaces what is your opinion on doing a Smear Mortar Finish? This is done in Texas on the outside of brick houses that maybe people were not in favor of color wise? Here is the link.

    http://www.oldtexasbrick.com/gallery.phpReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 11, 2016 - 12:35 AM

      Hi Ginger,

      My feeling about it is the same as crackle finish on furniture and on top of it is 5 coats of poly-urethane. lol It’s like, who are we kidding? It’s way too even. If it’s intended to look rustic, it’s not really working for me. The houses are too big and new looking, for the most part as well.

      I have seen this or lime-wash which has a similar effect but probably more authentic looking. It’s hardly ever done here in the northeast.

      I think it could work, but actually needs to be heavier in some spots and lighter in others, I think. ReplyCancel