Fireplace makeover - need ideas

Currently renovating a 1930 bungalow that was previously abandoned for 20 years and need ideas on what to do with the fireplace. It's currently not up to code and will need to have some depth added to the front.
I am hoping to either clean the brick and prime and paint it white, or built up an even brick wall all around it - and then paint it white. I know lots of people are against painting natural materials, but I have really set my mind on a neutral, soft palette throughout.
Does anyone have any other ideas on what I could do with it? Which of my ideas makes more sense? Any additional fireplace makeovers are welcome! Thank you in advance!
Below are a few progression photos of the space.
q fireplace makeover need ideas, concrete masonry, fireplace cleaning, fireplace makeovers, fireplaces mantels, painting
q fireplace makeover need ideas, concrete masonry, fireplace cleaning, fireplace makeovers, fireplaces mantels, painting
q fireplace makeover need ideas, concrete masonry, fireplace cleaning, fireplace makeovers, fireplaces mantels, painting
q fireplace makeover need ideas, concrete masonry, fireplace cleaning, fireplace makeovers, fireplaces mantels, painting
q fireplace makeover need ideas, concrete masonry, fireplace cleaning, fireplace makeovers, fireplaces mantels, painting
  19 answers
  • Vera S Vera S on Jun 17, 2016
    Whitewash the Brick and install a Mantel to decorate for all seasons
    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jun 17, 2016
      Hi Vera, thanks for your suggestions! I do plan to install an MCM mantel, but I'm not a big fan of whitewashing. I want the brick painted completely white. Have you had any experience with painting fireplace brick? Any things I need to consider or watch out for? Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!
  • Tricia Jackson Jones Tricia Jackson Jones on Jun 17, 2016
    Check out Fixer-Upper. I have seen one of their shows with exactly the same fireplace in the middle of the room.
    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jun 17, 2016
      Ha, everyone keeps telling me that, and I know exactly which episode you're referring to! It was a couple in Nashville, but their fireplace was two-sided and unusable, so unfortunately that's a different scenario than ours. Thanks for the suggestion, though! I do love that show!
  • KatAych KatAych on Jun 17, 2016
    This won't be the "popular" answer, but I'd make it a focal point and paint it a fun color to have it stand out rather than have it blend into the rest of the room! We have a brick fireplace in our living (not centered or free-standing like yours, though). We left it brick colored because we painted the walls a bold blue color; and even though the crown moulding is white, we like the way the brick stands out against these 2 other surfaces.
    • See 1 previous
    • KatAych KatAych on Jun 21, 2016
      Hi, Oskana -- the key is that you have to CLEAN, CLEAN, and CLEAN it again! Use a wire brush and TSP (with gloves and goggles) to get every speck of dust and dirt off of it. Then prime - a stain-blocking, oil-based primer should help keep future soot off (or at least easier to get off) in the future. When you paint, you can use indoor latex paint, either flat, semigloss, or gloss, that is rated to withstand temperatures generated by the fireplace (generally about 200°F), and a roller specifically for textured surfaces. And you may find you'll have to paint several coats. If you want to paint the interior fire box, you'll have to use a special heat-resistant paint there. Good luck!!! It's already such a huge transformation - can't wait to see how it ends up!
  • Margo Goyette Margo Goyette on Jun 17, 2016
    Taking the wall out was a huge improvement. I'm personally not crazy about brick. So I would put stone on it. I wouldn't paint, unless you can make it look like brick. Some people would leave it natural. If you don't have the money to make it work. You could put a candle arrangement in it.
    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jun 21, 2016
      Thanks so much, Margo! Totally agree on the open concept improvement! We're definitely hoping to salvage the fireplace, as it is one of the few original pieces of the house that has stood the test of time. Stone is definitely a nice option; I was considering a charcoal gray for a more modern look.
  • We had an ugly yellow brick fireplace... I dont like painted brick... so we opted to sheet rock ours... my husband did 1x2 and screwed them in place and screwed sheet rock to the 1x2 then he taped and floated then we textured and painted and put an insert in.
    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jun 21, 2016
      Wow, props to your husband – it looks great! We're going for a more contemporary aesthetic, so I don't think a traditional mantel like the one you have here will necessarily work in our space. Plus, the fact that it's free-standing creates another challenge. I'll let you know what I come up with!
  • 9530106 9530106 on Jun 18, 2016
    Clean it really well with a scrub brush and good cleanser, like Krud Kutter. Then prime with a good bonding primer, before you paint.
  • Ranger Ranger on Jun 18, 2016
    I would 'box' the brick and add a mantel all the way round, and then affix tiles to the boxing. There is such a variety of tiles these days, from the much-favoured blue and white, to themes such as vineyards and baskets of grapes, or fishing and hunting. Perhaps choose warm colours to enhance the flames... The options are endless.
    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jun 21, 2016
      Thanks so much for your input, Ranger! We're going for a more neutral, contemporary aesthetic. We'll see how it turns out!
  • Marilyn Marilyn on Jun 18, 2016
    Because of the placement of the fireplace and brick, I would knock the brick off completely, put dry wall up to patch the wall. Bring the material used to finish it off a couple of feet to the right of the opening. Finding old wood, either barn or wide plank ship-lap, to which a whitewash could be added. If you can and if you have gas accessible I would definitely use gas. Clean brick inside and enjoy!
    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jun 21, 2016
      We're definitely going for a more contemporary aesthetic, and whitewashed brick strikes me more as "farmhouse" style, but we'll see! Thanks for your input, Marilyn!
  • Jennie Lee Jennie Lee on Jun 18, 2016
    Of course, the most important thing is to make sure that anything you do will be acceptable to the building code folks! I love Arts& Crafts style, and to have a 1930 bungalow sounds like a dream come true to me! Even if you don't plan to decorate in that style (it looks like you're going modern), maybe it would be nice to look at Craftsman style fireplaces on Pinterest and consider using one or two aspects of that style to give a nod to the history of your home. (Ranger's right--tiles!)
    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jun 21, 2016
      We're definitely leaning more towards a contemporary aesthetic, but with enough traditional details sprinkled throughout to keep some of the house's charm. Thanks for your input, Jennie!!
  • Susan Rawlings Susan Rawlings on Jun 19, 2016
    I think depending on the color of the room and the rest of the decor, the paint could be a very good choice. I think leaving it too dark might distract from the rest of the space which is now open and nice.
    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jun 21, 2016
      Yes, I totally agree! If I was going for a rustic glam/cottage vibe, leaving the red brick could've worked, but I'm hoping for a more contemporary aesthetic. Thanks for your input!!
  • Susan Susan on Jun 21, 2016
    As a fireplace dealer and code compliance adviser I would be concerned with the dark staining. It could be a sign of creosote leaking. I would have a licensed mason check it out before putting too much into it. You may have to go with a gas or electric insert.
    • See 1 previous
    • Susan Susan on Jun 21, 2016
      You are welcome. Good luck!
  • Charmaine Cummons Charmaine Cummons on Jun 21, 2016
    You should try whitewashing it. It will give it a distressed look. It's a very inexpensive technique as well as quick. You can start out with a little bit and add till you get the results you want.
  • Nancy Nancy on Jun 30, 2016
    Try cleaning it with Kurd Kutter available at lowe's or home depot. If that doesn't work, be careful and use an oven cleaner. My home was built in 1937 and the fireplace has a lot of dark soot in it. Now be cautious and have adequate ventilation. Do not mix the products. Take it a step at a time. I used a hard floor scrub brush and got most of it off with the Krud Kutter. I used old heavy bath towels to wipe the gunk off. I waited until the bricks dried and a few days later, I used the oven cleaner on the interior soot. I could not use muriatic acid or anything stronger because my hearth was in very good condition and I didn't want to ruin it. This is messy and stinky. I finally rinsed it with a vinegar and water solution. Take a good picture of the entire wall. Since the fireplace is so far to the left, think about adding a bookcase the exact same height to the right. Extend the mantel of your choice all the way across. This may help you decide to keep the fireplace and make the wall look more balanced. Patience and messy work. Worth the effort if you want to keep the fireplace. Don't try to paint over dirty brick, you will never be happy with the results. If you prefer a whitewashed look, do your homework first before painting. Good luck.
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  • PAMELA PAMELA on Sep 18, 2016
    Clean it up, take the advice about creosote, seal it....This is a historical piece of art in your home, design with it..eglectic beauty, painting white will ruin it. I would make sure it is safe to put a fire in it..perhaps candels or other earthy items would look great, even old large glass jars. The contrast of it's original patina is art!
  • PAMELA PAMELA on Sep 18, 2016
    Calm you design with nature fibers, old baskets, but minimal.
  • Sandra. Jackson Sandra. Jackson on Sep 23, 2016
    Clean the bricks first as you might like the look, if not you good always cover it with wood then you still have the bricks underneath if you change your mind.
  • Snapoutofit Snapoutofit on Oct 14, 2016
    I love the "open concept" you created by removing the walls around the fireplace. I love the color of the brick although, you're right, it needs to be cleaned more. I saw something like this on one of Chip and Joanna Gaines shows
  • Ktg311722 Ktg311722 on Nov 08, 2016
    Your fireplace probably originally had an insert. The Art Deco phase has many of the modern aesthetics you can use to achieve your vision. I think the grey paint with an insert/surround would look awesome.