Dated Brick Fireplace gets Painted White

Updated April 17, 2016
before and after fireplace makeover
Before & After: white painted brick fireplace & mantel

Fireplace Mantel Makeover Contest: Rhoda Vickers

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Older houses come filled with surprises. I'm helping a friend update her 1950s home, which has never been updated. Red brick fireplaces were all the rage back then, but this one makes the whole room look dated.

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Old brick and tacky paneling call for a new coat of paint. Revamping color with paint is my No. 1 go-to for making over a space on a budget.

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Fireplace Mantel

If you too would like to paint your fireplace, here’s how I did it:

1. First, if your fireplace is dirty or greasy, you need to wash it down with a degreaser and let it dry well. Most brick should be fine without this step. Just give it a good vacuum to remove dirt, dust and cobwebs.

2. Using a good water-based primer (or oil, if you're brave), paint the entire fireplace brick with primer. Primer will ensure paint goes on smooth and with good coverage.

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3. Let the primer dry overnight. Then it’s time for a thick coat of paint. I chose a Satin finish. One coat with a roller was all it took. I used a ⅜-inch nap on the small roller, which worked well for getting in the grooves and depositing enough paint on the surface of the brick. Get the paint into all of the cracks and crevices and cover the brick well. Use a brush if needed. Be sure to look for drips as you go and brush those out. I used a soft greige color for the brick, called Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore.

4. Paint the mantel a contrasting color, if this suits your look. I used a deep charcoal gray, a color called Urbane Bronze by Sherwin-Williams. It took two coats of paint for the mantel. Let it all dry completely before accessorizing.

Fireplace Accessories

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We shopped for a few accessories to really make an impact on the newly painted fireplace and we love how it turned out. Accessories are like jewelry to a room. Adding just the right number and keeping scale in mind are two keys to your finished look.

I wanted to add a nice piece of art over the mantel and the canvas print of birch trees adds a pop of color, plus a casual statement to the entire fireplace.  

We searched for just the right size canvas print to fill and fit the space above the mantel.

Take a tape measure with you when you’re shopping for accessories. This way, you’ll know you’re buying the correct size and avoid returns.

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Next: greenery. Real plants are a big plus, but sometimes faux will just have to do. In this case we found pretty, preserved boxwood topiaries. The white planters are a nice touch on the dark mantel. The other side of the mantel holds a chunky lantern in natural wood and black iron for a rustic feel. This piece is a nice addition and balances out the height on the right.

Below on the hearth, I added a blue and white ceramic garden stool for a bit more color.  The soft greige of the newly painted brick is a wonderful backdrop for color and adding blue to the space brings in a colorful feel. On the right, I added a pretty textured basket in shades of blue and natural browns. Mixing up textures in accessories adds interest and coziness to the space.

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And finally, we added a new fireplace screen. Fireplace screens aren’t cheap. They run between $150 to $500 depending on style and durability. However, a screen is a functional accessory that makes a big statement and lasts forever. The screen the homeowner had before was ornate and dated, and didn’t really match the fresh new style of the fireplace mantel. I purchased one that’s more modern and contains clean lines.

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The rest of the room is getting painted as well, and soon the whole room will feel light and airy, as opposed to the dark cave it felt like before. The new fireplace will certainly be the focal point.

Total Cost: $910

Rhoda Vickers writes on her blog, Southern Hospitality, and stays busy collecting DIY inspiration on Pinterest.

Vote for her Fireplace Mantel Makeover submission here.

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