Need fireplace update ideas! 3 way brick fireplace

Help! We need ideas to update the massive 3 way brick fireplace that dominates the living room. It runs floor to ceiling. One issue is making the footprint smaller is trying to match the hardwood floor around it. Also, there is a 2nd fireplace downstairs, so there is probably a 2nd flume requiring this to be so wide.
q brick fireplace update ideas, concrete masonry, fireplaces mantels
  30 answers
  • Lee Cunningham Green Lee Cunningham Green on May 18, 2015
    Well that is a dominant fireplace wow, well I would try to break up the brick with paint, paint it creme, eggshell or white and I would then create a mantle or three to again break those lines above each fireplace opening. There is nothing wrong with having plenty of fireplace but I can see how that makes it tough to decorate around. and of course with no furnishings this center piece is dominating the space, furniture and area rugs will certainly help to soften this .

  • Shelby77 Shelby77 on May 18, 2015
    Thanks for your reply. We are considering buying this house, so that's why there is no furniture here. Our current thinking is to demolish this beast and rebuild a normal fireplace against the wall, as this thing is so massive it takes over the room. We have no idea how much that will cost, and the implications to the floor, roof, and the fireplace on the floor below. It's truly hideous, but we're trying to decide before we purchase the house, which otherwise is quite nice.

    • Lee Cunningham Green Lee Cunningham Green on May 18, 2015
      @Shelby77 well I have to agree with you there, and if it is something someone else would love maybe it's not the house for you. I will tell you honestly I wouldn't want to deal with it. Unless the rest of the house is your dream home, then that could be a huge amount of work.

  • Idyllic Pursuit Idyllic Pursuit on May 18, 2015
    Check out youtube videos by Chalene Johnson. In several of her videos you can see her fireplace in the background. It's stunning!

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on May 19, 2015
    It's a big 'un! I would strap it and drywall it above the mantle.and right down along the brick that protrudes a bit on the side facing the photographer if feasible. You could also clad the bottom three rows of bricks on the front. Then I'd reassess its impact on the room.

  • Martha Martha on May 19, 2015
    I would paint all of he brick white and put in wood mantels to tie in with the floor. Adding mirror's above the mantel's would take away from the massiveness of the structure and make it seem more open.

  • Theresa E T Theresa E T on May 19, 2015
    The wood in the surrounding room does not compliment the fireplace. It could be stunning as it is if the wood complimented it.

  • Dianna Wood Dianna Wood on May 19, 2015
    So many possibilities. I would encourage you to work with it. You can have something unique that most would destroy. Wish I had those kind of options and choices. Don't buy the house if can't visualize. Some people would love to have this to work with.

  • Dianna Wood Dianna Wood on May 19, 2015
    Here are a few pics to help you visualize different possibilities:

  • Shelby77 Shelby77 on May 19, 2015
    Thank you all so much for your suggestions and support! I am adding a couple more pictures to give more perspective on how this fits in the room. You all are making me think maybe it's not so bad after all! :) There's an ocean view here and a feeling like living in a tree house. The house is in Monterey, CA. The downstairs 2 way fireplace is much more modern.. spanish style.

  • Ki Klein Ki Klein on May 19, 2015
    looking at the photo's and the layout of the floors and building., this is the feature of the house, not only that, its stunning, imagine a cold winter, that chimney breast will warm up thru all the floors taking the chill and draughts out of the home., by the time you place some furniture around the room, it will not look as overpowering as you maybe think, some beautiful white overful rugs, chocolate brown leather, maybe an animal skin on the wall or go for some bizarre artwork, large., phew, i'd live there..., x

  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on May 20, 2015
    It does have a large footprint that takes up a lot of real estate. It might require some effort to destruct the hearth and mantle shelf and then cover the entire fireplace with ceramic tile. Then fill in the flooring with matching tile. It would be a more modern look. Whatever you do, replace the screens on the fireplace with glass or it will suck the warm air out of your house faster than you can warm it up. With both a fireplace and stairwell in the same living room you don't have much room for living.

  • Deirdre Sullivan Deirdre Sullivan on May 20, 2015
    There are a lot of ways you can makeover an old fireplace. Here are four great ideas that won't break the bank:

  • Therese C Therese C on Jul 11, 2015
    Holy crow I am sooooo envious!!! There are a million things (ideas) running through m head right now! One idea is to leave it like it is and just add a brushed nickle wrap around mantle. Or just leave it and I will come sit by it for awhile.. ;)

  • Shiree McCarver Shiree McCarver on Jul 14, 2015
    I would subway tile the brick a neutral shade with splashes of color or faux stone face the bricks. Then I would add matching rectangle seat cushion to add extra seating to the area.

  • Teddie Simpson Teddie Simpson on Jul 14, 2015
    It's beautiful; I'd add pillows for seating. The reason it looks massive is because you don't have furniture or accessories in the room. All these suggestion would be beautiful I'm sure but personally, I would not paint beautiful brick. Sooner or later, probably sooner exposed brick will be the in thing and it's seems impossible to remove it. What's to say we have to have the very latest for something to be beautiful. Leave it alone and enjoy it.

  • Laurie Powell Laurie Powell on Jul 18, 2015
    In the 'search' at the top type in 'DIY Fireplace Makeover'. They used all paint & a little bit of tile. You could even add a nice piece of wood for an added touch by adding a mantle. Here is the link to it too Copy & paste it into your browser.

  • PainterNoni PainterNoni on Jul 18, 2015
    Ao you use the fireplace?...........Put heavy wood beam shelves in pleasing plants/mirrors............pillows........If you don't use it.......make a wonderful built-in aquarium...........

  • Teddie Simpson Teddie Simpson on Jul 27, 2015
    Shelby, I'm been following this. I'm curious as to what you decided. Really hope you didn't paint it.

  • Brandi Lynn Brandi Lynn on Aug 09, 2015
    Update with different stones it's easy to lay them over the bricks no need to tear them out ,there are some that would match your floors perfectly.

  • JC Sipes JC Sipes on Sep 14, 2015
    There are thousands who would love to have what you are tossing away...!

  • Carol Carol on Sep 14, 2015
    I would paint it in a white wash allowing some of the definition of brick color to show threw. Then have a carpenter make a mantel that goes around it and frame up the whole top in wood and paint it white. This way it would not seem so overpowering in the room.

    • Nadine Nadine on Nov 14, 2015
      @Carol I really like your idea. I think it will look great if Shelby77 follows your advice. The only other thing I would do is get rid of the ledge on the bottom. It's taking up valuable floor space and is making the fireplace even more overwhelming.

  • EllieH EllieH on Oct 25, 2015
    My SECRET TECHNIQUE for "instant" fireplace makeovers is to use semi-transparent exterior STAIN, NOT PAINT. If you don't want the extra hassle of taking out the hearth (which provides extra seating), try staining it light grey or warm white. Stain is slightly transparent, so you get a bit of the original colour coming through, which makes it look so natural. Use a few coats of stain to get greater coverage for less of the original colour coming through. Please post photos of your results. LIKE us here: VISIT us here: FIND my art & boatloads of ideas here: Cheers, Ellie Hanson

  • Kristy Champion Kristy Champion on Nov 06, 2015
    Gas or wood-burning? If wood-burning, paint might not be the best choice. I hope to cover my dark red brick soon, and I'm having trouble deciding too. Mine is gas. I have done much reading/research. I have decided I want lighter, beige/taupe/tan neutral colors and I want it to still look like brick. I am leaning toward base coat/primer in the grout color and sponge painting individual bricks in various shades to create natural brick look. I think go with easy hand on the paint (almost drybrush amounts) so it won't look "globbed on" and will leave all the natural texture of the brick exposed. I found this Lowe's example very helpful. I'm following your post...can't wait to see what you choose for your makeover!

    • Oksana Radionova Oksana Radionova on Jul 06, 2016
      I'm currently remodeling an abandoned 1930 bungalow that has a wood-burning fireplace right in the middle of the newly converted open concept living space. I'd love to know why you don't recommend painting wood-burning fireplaces, as that is what I plan to do. Never done this before (or renovated an entire house, for that matter), so any advice would be appreciated! XO

  • EllieH EllieH on Nov 08, 2015
    I can't think of any reason why it wouldn't work, since some colour "sticks" to the surface, while some sinks into the porous brick. If you're skeptical, I suggest practicing on some scrap bricks or picking up a few similar coloured bricks to experiment on.

  • Susan Rawlings Susan Rawlings on Dec 23, 2015
    You could try painting the brick with a special brick paint. There are products out there that offer muted tones, and aren't as starkly white as some of the paints I have seen used.

  • MN Mom MN Mom on Jan 24, 2016
    Would you post a picture of what you decided to do? Would love to see your end result!

  • KJSacramento KJSacramento on Sep 05, 2016
    First any good decorator would love this fireplace and want to enhance rathe than hide it. Hanging decor, furniture and adding overhead spot lighting on a brick wall breaks it up, expecially such items as groupings of black and white photos with large white matting, or other decor that pull in the eyes. A large modern vase with wooden branches (3 ft) just to the left of the hearth here would make a huge difference at a very low cost. Add some bright throw pillows to the corners or bright bowls/vases or a tree in the corner. Accents can make amazing differences. There are also many brick stains now available and a lighter color might make it less imposing ... such as sand or a soft mocha. I would start there. Painting loses something of the uniqueness, but is an option. Check out some of the looks on Pinterest. Check peer pressure, since you likely loved it if you bought it, but as a more extreme modern look, some of it could be covered with large rectangular tiles or modern bamboo panels. Laminam is one tile that would interest me here for a large part of the wall, or large rectangular marble, wood or glass tiles... not to cover the area around the fireplace itself, but most of the wall above and to the left here. Then add a modern light-colored wood mantle and possibly tile or cushions on the hearth seat. A strip of small metallic tiles added to tiles could accent some of the lines and glam it up. Another alternative would be to keep the wall but cover the whole thing in a modern faux stone. There are a world of options, but think of bringing things into the picture to break up the expanse before thinking about a complete redo.

  • Kathy Haines Cramer Kathy Haines Cramer on Oct 12, 2016
    I'm curious, did you end up buying this house????

  • Kelli Cook Kelli Cook on Apr 30, 2020

    Great fireplace!!!! Paint it, put up wood beams and get rid of the bulk of hearth.

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Jan 17, 2021

    Hi Shelby, here's a few beautiful ideas that might inspire you