Asked on Feb 10, 2020

How can I make over this old fireplace?

Agnes ChrzanowskaSawHorse Design BuildJ Brown


wondering what to do with kitchen fireplace? Thinking of trying to adhere tile.. any suggestions? More specifically the grey around the mantel. House was built in 1840s so really love the character and charm of the brick. Just stumped on what to do with the spot around mantel where there is no brick.

19 answers
  • Gk
    on Feb 10, 2020

    Hello Danielle!

    Is that a really old fireplace in a really old house? Not sure because I am looking at the electrical outlet right above the mantle. Wondering how they got it there without any conduit on the outside of the brick! Curious!

    If it is old and antique I don't think I would adhere tile to it. You might be able to install ship lap over it to hide the brick. You would have to build/add some sort of wooden frame to attach the shiplap to.

    Interesting quandry!

  • Johnavallance82
    on Feb 12, 2020


    You could have the above mantel area Plastered smooth, Paint it with brick and tile paint, or add a thick timber across to hide the concrete. Or maybe have the whole lot clad with random slate..........enjoy the journey......

  • Morgan McBride
    on Feb 12, 2020

    I would add a really thick chunky wooden mantel to cover it. I agree, love the brick! Other idea - tin or decorative metal of some sort?

  • Nan W.
    on Feb 12, 2020

    Danielle: Paint would pull all the textures together. Paint the mantel in a different color tho. See this project with mismatched mortar, etc...

  • Lifestyles Homes
    on Feb 12, 2020

    No ship lap or flammable materials within 18” of the fire box, per Code.

    Plaster is going to be tough to get the soot of of the pores.

    I would buy real brick veneer & it is about 3/8” thick. It will take you some shopping to find the dimensions & colors that look right . Or contrast it entirely & make it look cornered, like the picture below.

    First, go to the big brick manufacturer’s sites to shop. Then ask them where their retailers are that sell what you want.

    You’ll need to rent a tile saw and therefore, plan on your cuts before you rent the saw to keep the rental costs down.

    To hold the bottom course in place, you’ll need to build a temporary ledge and figure out how to keep it in place. It may require masonry screws into the mortar.

    It’s not hard, it just requires planning.

  • Lifestyles Homes
    on Feb 12, 2020

    I forgot to show the corbeling picture.

  • Kelli L. Milligan
    on Feb 13, 2020

    It looks like interior brick that you would find under plaster. I would suspect the original plaster and mantel was removed. At this point it is no longer period correct so do what you want. The mortar will continue to deteriorate and leave sand residue on the ground even if you seal it. It's meant to be covered up. I think putting back drywall and adding tile around the opening and hearth with a full mantel would look great.

  • Cynthia H
    on Feb 13, 2020

    There is some beautiful stone veneer available. Depending on your style a flat surface like marble would make it much sleeker. I'm wondering if the surface you have is a full brick, or a more easily removed veneer .

  • Cindy
    on Feb 13, 2020

    You could put a thicker mantle right over the current one. Check out your local salvage yards. There are some beautiful mantles out there that have been removed from homes. You might even luck out and find one from the 1840's.

  • William
    on Feb 13, 2020

    My observations. Back in the day they didn't have fired brick made in a factory so they just used regular house brick. Looks like the bottom was repointed with fresh mortar and a bad job at that. The gray around the mantle was probably the original solid block mantle. Somebody chipped it away and installed a wooden mantle. That's why the lintel below the mantle is also solid to carry the weight of the original block mantle. Best solution I have would be to frame out the fireplace with 1x2 boards and install cement board covering the whole fireplace. Then you can install brick veneer or tile over the cement board. If you plan to put up wood or anything else then install fire rated drywall instead of cement board.

  • Maura White
    on Feb 14, 2020

    It would look awesome if you painted the brick a couple shades lighter than the cupboards!

  • Homeroad
    on Feb 14, 2020

    I would paint the brick with a white wash leaving some of the color for character.

  • Holly Lengner - Lost Mom
    on Feb 14, 2020

    Paint can transform the look of anything!

  • Angie Forster
    on Feb 14, 2020

    Paint the brick. I painted mine and it looks beautiful

  • J Brown
    on Feb 14, 2020

    Give Whitewash a try. Cheap, easy and change is amazing. Did our huge brick fireplace wall couple years back, WOW the change it made.

    You can check it our here on Hometalk

    > Massive Brick fireplace whitewash success

  • SawHorse Design Build
    on Feb 14, 2020

    I don't think you need to do anything to that wall. The wall is fine the way it is and has a nice patina and character. A quick fix would be to replace the 6" recessed light with a nicer LED directional art light. Remove all of the items off the mantle. Find a piece of art to put on the wall centered that will cover up the outlet that you are not using. Less is more and don't add layers of finishes that you will later regret.

  • Agnes Chrzanowska
    on Apr 1, 2020

    love love fireplace in the kitchen!!! I think only new mantel will be perfect just slightly wider

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