My Vacation Project – Fireplace Redo

My Vacation Project – Fireplace Redo

NOTE: If you were looking for some guidelines for painting brick, scroll down to the bottom of the blog. Michelle added the technique she used!

Amidst all the holiday cheer we took some time to finish up a few household projects that have been on our to-do list for awhile. There were some moldings that needed to go up, some closet shelves I’ve needed for ages and my big project was updating the fireplace in our family room. It is one of the those built in the 70s full wall of brick deals. I love having it and enjoy its unusual shape but the dark orange brick sucked all the light out of the room and made it feel as though you were sitting in a cave in the evening.

Since the day we moved in, over five years ago now, I’ve toyed with the idea of painting it but was reluctant to cover up the ‘real brick.’ There is no going back once you start. But I was ready for a massive change in the room and decided to try for a faux brick finish first… just in lighter colors. I went into the project armed with a stack of sponges, various paints used elsewhere in the house and accepting that in the end I might just end up painting the whole thing our trim color. There was a layer or two of color that had me doubting the whole project but the final results ended up very close to what I had been hoping to achieve and we are all enjoy our fresh ‘new’ fireplace.

BEFORE – Dark, dirty bricks

SCARY – First coat of paint

AFTER – Much lighter, brighter room

EDIT to add some details. I’m hardly an expert here but I will give you an idea of what I did. NOTE: I did not paint the inside at all… just the front so I didn’t worry about fire safe paint. Obviously if you are painting an area that might be in contact with flame you will need special high heat paints… ask at the hardware store.

First I dry brushed a coat of our off-white trim paint. I’m not sure I needed to start there but it seemed like a good way to lighten up the base. If you have very dirty bricks… you will probably need to clean them before this step. From there I worked in sections so that the paint didn’t dry between layers of color… I wanted to colors to blend. I mixed up a bit of the white with our yellow wall paint to get a cream/beige color. I sponged it on fairly thick but still leaving some of the cracks free of paint and was super careful not to get it in the mortar. I mixed another color of more yellow, little bit of white and a bit of brown that I had a small sample jar of from picking our outside trim color. I sponged that on only some of the bricks… in a random pattern. I had another mixture that was a bit more of the white and just a touch of the other colors that I did over that – to tone it down again. The last thing I did was touch some of the darker bricks with just a bit of the straight up brown. This was truly a trial and error sort of project. Mainly you need several colors that blend well together that you layer over the bricks using sponges. You can buy Fireplace Painting Kits… just google that term. It did not take much paint and my project took about 5 hours. Hope that helps somewhat.

Michelle ~ Wee Folk Art


  1. You are so brave, Michelle. I don’t think I would have the nerve to do what you did but look at how beautiful it turned out! I have a dark monster fireplace that I’ve told my husband that it looks like the entrance to Hades!!! I have a very talented friend that I think could tackle this. I’m going to show her the blog and she what she thinks. I can’t believe how differenbt it looks. thanks for the on going inspiration!

  2. Looks absolutely fabulous. What a wonderful change. I would have definitely been panicking after the first coat of paint–scary is right.

  3. I keep flipping back and forth between your before and after pics. Amazing! We live in an old cottage. When we moved in there wasn’t any heat source, just a pot belly stove. We’ve slowly been making improvements. (Heat came first, naturally!) But two walls in my kitchen are a dark brick. I have thought about painting the walls and my DH and mom have talked me out of it. I was thinking of painting the entire wall, mortar and all, one solid color. Now seeing this I can see where I can paint the walls without loosing the individual bricks. Any chance you can explain the process in a little more detail? I’d really like to give this a try but not sure where to start! Totally understand if you don’t have the time but I love these so much. Thanks, Michelle.

  4. Beautiful!! I painted the ugly dark brown brick (floor to ceiling!) fireplace wall in our last house to white and it made the whole room look bigger and brighter. I was terrified to start and knew that once I did that I couldn’t go back but never regretted it after we did it. Way to go!!

  5. This is a great way to start the new year! I’m the same exact way, although I don’t have anything big planned this year.

    I did the same project with my cultured stone fireplace three years ago. The people who lived here before us painted the dark stones white, and it was ugly and dirty and washed out the room. So I painted the stones to look like flagstone, and painted the mantle a high-gloss black for contrast. It looks awesome, and people think it’s real stone!

    I wish I had had my blog back then so I can share the photos. I love transformations like these!

  6. I love what you did with it! We are in the process of doing the same thing with our fireplace. We had really dark red brick with soot stains, and we wanted to go for a lighter, cleaner look but still keeping the “brick” look. I haven’t been able to find anything online about it. How did you do it? What were your different stages of painting? I would love to hear the details of your project!

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