Here It Is– The Ugliest Stone Fireplace You’ve Ever Seen!



Last Sunday we explored ugly brick fireplaces and today,

we’re going to have a look at the ugly stone fireplace.


A lovely reader, Amy just sent me hers.

It’s by far, not the worst I’ve ever seen.

This one is

Or maybe this one… I have no idea what is going on here.

Or someone had the brilliant idea to paint their fireplace fire-engine-red in high gloss,

but you must check out what the very clever Sarah of Food, Wine and Home did to fix it.

This is not exactly the worst stone fireplace, but it goes on and on and on…

When I see a rock stone fireplace, I expect to see a rustic home.



If the home is not rustic, then what is a rustic stone fireplace doing there?


Oh, just stop it!

Somebody paid a lot of money to put Mount St. Helens in the middle of their great room!

I am struggling to see how they could’ve gotten a Certificate of Occupancy.


Okay, enough of this.


There are some natural stone fireplaces that do feel like they belong


Ruthie Sommers

The home is rustic and the stone fireplace is a natural extension of that. The furniture is way cool, too!

Patina Farm – Home of Steve and Brooke Giannetti

This is from Brooke and Steve Giannetti’s magnificent dream-home that they built 80 miles north of Los Angeles a few years ago– Patina Farm.

patina farm parged stone fireplace and exteriorCan you believe that this is a new house?

The Giannettis used a French Limestone and I believe it was acid washed, as well.

And then they had it “over-grouted” to give it the look of a stone wall that had been there for centuries. They have this all over their amazing and yes– rustically beautiful home.

This is also known as a technique called parging. Typically, parging is done to repair cracked or damaged masonry and may not be applied so artfully. Here, the type of grout or mortar used gives a chalky appearance of an old-world wall.

Brooke’s blog Velvet and Linen has a great section that tells all about how they built their home from design concept to completion.

Lisa Sherry, photo: Patrick Cline

I can’t tell if there are more rustic features in this home, but no matter, the room is lovely and this stone fireplace does not feel out-of-place to me.

via Lonny

What do we think? I think that the stone fireplace looks too cramped in between the two doors, for starters. But let’s say this is what you have. It’s a very lovely room, otherwise.


Two options I can think of to make the stone fireplace more in balance with the room are:


  • Paint the walls a similar gray and then paint the door and window frames – black. I think that would be quite striking.


  • Paint the stone white. We’ve already seen one gorgeous example of this in Nancy Keye’s amazing home that she shared with us recently.


Other successful examples of a painted stone fireplace are below


Design Sponge

This is perfect for a young family home.


A terrific treatment for a beach or country home.

See how the stone almost disappears? It’s really just a wonderful texture in this contemporary white on white room. Sorry, couldn’t find the original source.

Most Lovely Things

I love the chalky look of this white painted stone fireplace.

Greige Design

Please check out the before images in the post.

Coastal Collective Company

This is a terrific before and after.  I think the paint job here is superb. And there’s an excellent tutorial by Anneke McConnell detailing how she did it.

Anneke linked to Amy Howard Chalk style Paint  but she also recommends Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

I think  that this is an excellent job here and the stone looks so much better. Again. Gray stone looks great with gray walls. (source unknown, despite the watermark)


And, like our brick fireplaces, another option for a stone fireplace is to build over it


via  DIY Network (but please don’t do it yourself)

SF Girl By Bay

Did you  know that you can also paint ugly tile be it stone or ceramic? Yes, you can!

And that goes for bathrooms and kitchens too.

Sew A Fine Seam

This isn’t stone of course, but a well-done job of painted brick with just the right amount of antiquing, if so desired. Jill Flory, the author used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint but since writing this post is now waxing poetic about this chalk paint –  Paint Couture


Oh my, I keep forgetting.


Nell Hill’s Blog


All of this talk about mantels and I want to share with you my newish

pinterest board that is all about decorating holiday and Christmas mantels That Will Make You Plotz.

It’s a group board, so if you’d like to get in on the fun, just put in your pinterest url in the comments and I’ll add you.



PS: Congratulations to the winners of the laurel home blog giveaway – selected at random via Susie Marentis, Katy Thomas and Judy Hogan


  • Michael Aiken - March 4, 2017 - 9:47 AM

    Laurel, most of the finished that you liked in the photos can easily be achieved with ROMABIO’s BioCalce Classico (washoff), BioCalce A (solid)
    , or BioCalce S (semitransparent). These products are also used on exterior brick or stone as well and very easy to manipulate since they are specially formulated to create these effects. Visit Great post!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Gaggion - December 22, 2016 - 8:39 AM

    Laurel, i don’t always get to them in a timely fashion but i thoroughly enjoy your blog posts. I’m a member of the IDC on FB and enjoy reading your input there too. Keep up the great work!
    Please add me to your pinterest board. thanks and happy holidays!

    • Laurel Bern - December 22, 2016 - 11:18 AM

      Thank you so much Jennifer! And I added you to the board. Happy Holidays!ReplyCancel

  • Patti Phillippe - December 18, 2016 - 12:25 PM

    Merry Christmas Laurel!

    Your post on fireplaces couldn’t be more timely for me. I don’t have an ugly fireplace, but it’s about to look awesome when I paint it a chalky white as shown in one of your pictures. Woman you rock! Reading your blog is truly a pleasure and I learn so much!
    Here’s my Pinterest address. Thank you!

    • Laurel Bern - December 18, 2016 - 1:14 PM

      Hi Patti,

      Thanks so much!

      I added you and merry Christmas to you too! ReplyCancel

  • Casey johnson - December 16, 2016 - 10:34 PM
    • Laurel Bern - December 17, 2016 - 7:01 PM

      Hi Casey,

      I couldn’t see which Casey Johnson you were, (there are several!) so I invited you by email. ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Meals - December 15, 2016 - 5:07 PM

    I love this! I have an ugly brick fireplace, but there are tons of great ideas here, too. I’d love to be added to the pinterest board!

  • Teresa - December 15, 2016 - 9:20 AM

    Wow, there are a couple fireplaces you have found that make me feel a tad bit better about mine. That’s quite a feat, Laurel.

    And, you have a fireplace like mine in an example. Greige Design. Mine goes one step further with pinky beige tiles though. My husband has declared that he is ripping it out. Not sure which century that will be so I may need to paint it for now ,hah.

    Seems fashion and interior design have something in common at times. When that desire to be different, create something unique goes off the rails. Although I’m sure, like fashion, if you are famous enough you’ll get away with some of it.

    I’m struggling to understand what takes a room with a stone fireplace to an o.k. place design wise. In the more obvious first picture I see a lot of wood, I get that.
    But the example further down (Lisa Sherry) I’m seeing a rustic stump of wood as a table and the twig ladder, but everything else I have seen in rooms considered classic design that would not have a stone fireplace. Is that the trick, strategically incorporate a couple rustic elements to tie back to the stone?But not too rustic, as I see the stump has a shiny lacquer on it? I’m not challenging your opinion, I like the room too, just truly trying to figure it out.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 15, 2016 - 11:07 PM

      Hi Teresa,

      Well, re: the Lisa Sherry room. The stone would not have been my first choice or even the 10th, but it is okay. And I imagine that the stylist came in there and added a bunch of stuff. Who knows? I think the balance of pale colors, whites and touches of black also make a big difference in the over-all look and feel of the room.ReplyCancel

  • Linda Leyble - December 15, 2016 - 7:26 AM

    Hi Laurel…Great post! I can’t tell you how many times I have counseled homeowners to change or paint their out of place fireplaces. Two months ago I staged a vacant renovated home and while the house was updated top to bottom, the investor left the ugly brick fireplace – and made it worse by having his painter paint it a bright red – and then they added a bluestone top and sides. Ridiculous! I showed them pics of white painted brick fireplaces and some stacked stone ones – and finally he relented and changed the ugliness to a stacked stone one. The house sold quickly!!

    Here’s my Pinterest address.

    I will post the before and after of that home!!


    • Laurel Bern - December 15, 2016 - 11:04 PM

      Thanks for that tale Linda! People are so funny! I added you to the group board too. ReplyCancel

  • Anne Waddington - December 15, 2016 - 4:55 AM

    Thank you Laurel, from blustery blighty….p.s Did you notice the unnerving camera hiding amongst the stone on the ‘cramped fireplace’ from Via Lonny??? 13th image? Happy Christmas.ReplyCancel

  • Traci - December 14, 2016 - 11:57 PM

    OMG! Cracking up at the first half of your post. Makes me happy I have the brick fireplace that I have lol. Mine is not so bad after all 🙂 I still want to re-do it. How do you feel about limestone plank fireplaces such as this one here?

    I have a similar look of home and am trying to talk my husband into updating ours.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 15, 2016 - 12:48 AM

      Hi Traci,

      Was it you or was it someone else that showed me the same pic last week.

      I’m having some issues with the room as a whole. Like those weird clerestory dormer windows. I’ve come to realize that while I love tall ceilings, two story rooms most of time don’t do it for me. Yes, there are some stunning ones, but for me, that’s tall (but normal) windows and mouldings, etc.

      I don’t think the limestone is bad, but it’s not my taste is all.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - December 14, 2016 - 11:52 PM

    Yes..I don’t get this preoccupation with stone-unless it belongs. Our GC was so surprised:
    -you don’t want to do a stacking stone?!

    hmm. no. why would I? how does it relate to the house in So Cal?
    and judging by his genuine surprise-it’s probably very popular here.
    So Cal is big of for couple hours, there’s Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear for you, and mountains and forests with very clever bears around, and then this stone will look like it makes sense.

    I think that painting stone should be done amazingly well for it to fly. The idea to blend it with the walls is truly great.

    Together with this, I was advised against painting doesn’t hold well, and here I’m inclined to believe my GC. As a temporary solution-great maybe.

    Of all the house, we didn’t redo just the kids/guest bath-tiles are..ok not to be rude..not to my liking.
    Instead, I accessorized the heck of it lol. We just moved in, and I’m so proud..actually was proud just two days ago, but now it seems that every shower taking by my kids brings a flood with it lol. I’ve no idea why. The walls are dry, the vanity(new) doesn’t feeling of pride kinda starts dissipating. Turning into a feeling “We should have bitten the bullet and redo it too”…)))ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 15, 2016 - 12:44 AM

      Hi Jenny,

      Although I’ve never done it, I’ve had clients who have painted tile and if it’s done correctly, holds up amazingly well. There’s an epoxy paint that clings very nicely. But that too is an art and I would still go over the grout because painted grout is weird–especially if shiny.

      There are videos on youtube, if you’re interested in investigating it.ReplyCancel

  • Phyllis E - December 14, 2016 - 10:28 PM

    Thanks, Laurel, for these great posts on dealing with plain jane or ugly brick and stone fireplaces, since so many of us have them.

    I’ve been trying to figure out why some brick and stone fireplaces or walls appeal more than others. Do you think that, in addition to the color of the brick or stone itself, that the color of the mortar and how much contrast there is between them, has a lot to do with the overall appeal, or lack there of, of the masonry? Just wondering.
    As far as stone fireplaces goes, I think it must takes a talented mason with am artist’s eye to create a gorgeous stone fireplace (along with nice looking stone, of course.) When I lived in California, the available local stone was not very attractive.

    By the way, I love the transformation of that first red-painted fireplace! Sarah did an amazing job! I was going to comment on her post, though it is an older one, and tell her so, but it wouldn’t let me without using some other account like Google. SO Sarah, if you are reading this–I love your transformation. It probably looks better than the stones did originally!

    Also, I LOVE the painted, antiqued brick fireplace from the Sew a Fine Seam blog.It has to be one of the best examples I’ve seen and one of the first that makes me want to paint my brick fireplace. I would love to see how she did that, but when I try to go to her site, I keep getting a “Dangerous Web Site Blocked” message from Norton. Perhaps a computer virus has attacked her site? Has anyone else experienced this problem? If her web traffic has dropped recently, that might be why.

    Thanks again for the interesting post, Laurel.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 14, 2016 - 11:07 PM

      Hi Phyllis,

      That is an interesting point about the mortar. I prefer a mortar that blends with the stone and yes, it is a big problem when there’s a lot of contrast, I think.

      Oh Blogger blogs. Some do have a place to put in name/URL, and some don’t. The wordpress log-in thingy doesn’t work and neither does “open ID”, so that leaves google and if one doesn’t have a google account, you can’t comment.

      I am not having a problem with Sew A Fine Seam, however. But maybe it’s your browser? Don’t know. Just a wild guess. If you have another browser option, perhaps try that. I’m using firefox.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa D. - December 14, 2016 - 10:18 PM

    Well, the second photograph looks like it belongs in the Flintstone’s living room, and the sixth one, OMG, I’m at a loss for words. Love the way Steve and Brooke Giannetti have their fireplace open on opposite sides. They have a beautiful home. This post is just full of wonderful and useful information, Laurel. Thanks so much.ReplyCancel

  • Gigi - December 14, 2016 - 9:04 PM

    I would like to send a photo of my new stone fireplace and mantle. How can I send it to you? I think it is pretty nice and fits our 200 year old home.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 14, 2016 - 9:27 PM

      Hi Gigi,

      If you’re a subscriber, you can just attach it to an email that I sent you. I get everything. ReplyCancel

  • Terri Benton - December 14, 2016 - 8:49 PM

    Enjoyed your post on fireplaces, and what not to do!!!

    • Laurel Bern - December 14, 2016 - 9:26 PM

      Hi Terri,

      I’m so sorry, I found you and am following you, but it won’t let me add you.ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia Lambert - December 14, 2016 - 8:36 PM

    Hah! Laurel, you made me laugh with the Mt. St. Helens comment. Very appropriate. What were they thinking? Those were some crazy fireplaces. Personally, I never saw a stone fireplace I could really cotton to, but that’s just my opinion. They all look like the contractor forgot to finish them out. I’m sure there must be one someplace that looks appropriate, but give me a great carved or paneled mantle any old day to make a room beautiful. I love fireplaces, and in a perfect world I would have one in every room, including the bathroom.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 14, 2016 - 8:42 PM

      Hi Cynthia,

      I’m with you 100% on the vast majority of stone fireplaces. Unless the home is made primarily of wood, with wood beams, it doesn’t make much sense.

      I’m not a fan of the so-called great rooms most of the time anyway. But the rest of the home is quasi-traditional and then there’s the soaring stone monolith. Doesn’t make sense.

      A fireplace in every room sounds heavenly.ReplyCancel

  • Holly - December 14, 2016 - 8:29 PM

    Thank you, Laurel, for the pictures and the “okay” to paint tile! I am getting ready to paint the green tile surround on a fireplace in my home built in the 1900’s, because I don’t like it! Others seem to think it’s sacrilege. I also painted all the orange, natural woodwork. More desecration.
    And those fireplaces……..!!! The second one (after Amy’s) looks like a foot with six toes, and the one you referred to as Mount St. Helens looks like a Brontosaurus stepped through the ceiling. I love your blog, by the way.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 14, 2016 - 8:31 PM

      LOL – I say we call child protective services! And good for you Holly! Stick to your guns!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Hoffman - December 14, 2016 - 8:21 PM