We painted our fireplace!

We have this awful fireplace. Imagine big, and then double that, it’s a room hog.

This is a picture of our living room on our walkthrough before we settled on the house. I hardly recognize it now! We painted the walls and trip almost immediately and were so happy with the difference it made, we settled. But that stupid, black-grouted, enormous fireplace really bothered me.

Here’s a pic of it at Christmas time… not a great representation, but it’s all I could find. I think this comes from a deep-seeded ashamedness of my fugly fireplace.

There is something about painting brick that is controversial, right? I remember years of watching Trading Spaces with my parents where they would purse their lips & shake their heads, like they couldn’t bear to watch brick being painted! (And ceiling fans being removed! GUESS WHAT? We want those gone too. But anyway) I drank that kool-aid for awhile, now I’m very pro-fireplace painting. Where do Obama and Romney stand on that, I wonder… Anyway, it took me a while to convince my very own, liberal husband that this was a good idea. That it wouldn’t kill our home’s resale value or make us want to throw up every time we entered the room. Even the day of I don’t think he was 100% on board, but I motored through, unilaterally deciding.

It sort of was “my” project. Instead of forcing a commitment of help, I went about it as my thing. I researched how to do it, I picked up paint samples, I bought the paint. He did end up helping me though, because I was doing a shitty job at priming. He’s a nice husband. (Young House Love seems to be the authority on painting fireplaces. They actually painted an entire brick room… consider me impressed.)

It really wasn’t that hard. Er, it started out hard and got easier, to be precise.

  1. To prep, I vacuumed as many “crumbs” off the fireplace as I could. We had really rough brick, so I probably could have kept doing it to infinity. I saw several blog posts about wiping down the brick but was too lazy for that.
  2. Tape.
  3. We used oil-based primer, which I saw suggested since we had some soot stains. It was SUPER DUPER SMELLY, so I’d advise clearing out your home of children if you intend to use this. The first coat was the toughest, with lots of backtracking with a paintbrush and getting in little crevices & holes. But all of that work was rewarded when coat 2 was SO EASY. Or maybe I just perceived it that way bc I was all high on fumes…
  4. Then we painted. We went with gray (we did a Lowe’s paint match on Sherwin Williams Dovetail SW7018). It was a point of contention between me and Scott. It’s basically a standing argument whenenver we paint anything. He wants “that, but several shades lighter.” And I’m like “LET’S GO FOR IT! DARK COLORS.” This was darker than Scott wanted, but not as dark as I was initially lobbying for. It worked out; I’m fairly confident we both love it. Oh, and it was suggested to go with satin, which was a great call. It’s slightly shiny, and reflects some light so it’s no longer the black corner of the room.
  5. Touch up. We’re so lazy, still getting around to that one 😉

I used this chance to sort of rearrange the room a little, making a little “nook” for Margo. She seems to like it (although she’s not READING, but playing with Mommy’s phone. *sigh*)

We also painted the wood beams on this renovation. I think it opens up the room quite a bit.









And another note: we don’t USE our fireplace. Hence the painted wood cover… Scott made that from a garden trellis board when Margo turned 1 and became fixated on the ugly wrought iron grate we had on the fireplace… I just like the way it looks 🙂


8 thoughts on “We painted our fireplace!

  1. Like! I’m with Scott, don’t think I would have gone any darker than that – it looks wonderful. The room is much more open. Have you thought about painting the garage and french doors white (or gray or black) too to bring it all together?

    I am still wavering on the painting of our faux-brick kitchen…but I have to face all our neighbors that think it is “gorgeous” (of course, they all walked through when the house was for sale. I finally talked Jon into painting the laundry room paneling instead of waiting 10 years until we get around to putting up different walls! I need color in my life! (It’s not even just brown wood…that alternates with panels of fake “caning” like on a chair seat.)

    • Ah, the caning wallpaper! Of course I remember that. I was like, is your wall… caned?

      I think this is the same link I have in the post, but if you scroll down they have an ENTIRE room that’s brick that they painted. It brightens a room so much, I’d totally support you painting that brick wall! http://www.younghouselove.com/2011/06/fireplace-happenings/

      It’s time consuming, but honestly not as bad as I anticipated. And worth it. 🙂 *chants* do it! do it!

      • thanks for the link! I am so ready to brighten up that kitchen. I stare at that ugly wall all day long. And also the “caning” in what is essentially the entryway — those are the two highest traffic areas of our house. Any tips for painting the paneling? (I got “cover stain” primer at the store – they said if I use that I don’t have to spend time de-glossing or sanding it….)

      • We painted some paneling in our downstairs bathroom. We definitely primed the crap out of it, maybe 2 coats. We painted over wallpaper in that bathroom too, since it was not peeling off anywhere. Lots of primer does the trick there. Not to influence your caning room decision… lol.

  2. It’s amazing how much different a few coats of paint make. We started with a truly hideous brick fireplace with ugly concrete top and even uglier beige tiles in front. Several coats of white paint later, we ended up with a blend-into-the-room space with a custom wooden mantle on top and a pellet stove insert inside. Amazing.

  3. I’m with Kelly the doors need a paint job as well. White would help brighten and bring everything together. The beams got painted why not the doors? The fireplace does looks absolutely fabulous! I’ve always thought painting brick was scary. It’s supposed to be beautiful, not something one should cover up but sometimes it’s just gotta be done.

    • I’d love to paint the doors… they’re on our list to replace (they’re super old and drafty) in the next few years. And if you’re willing to come over & tape them, I’d do it! Neither my husband nor I are motivated enough to tackle that…

      & thanks for your comment & compliment 🙂

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