Asked on Nov 18, 2015

I need advice for updating a very large brick fireplace wall

by Theresa
Our family room has a very large brick fireplace wall. Does anyone have suggestions for updating it. I have heard white wash and stone veneer. I'm leaning more towards stone veneer but open to other suggestions.
Large brick fireplace wall in family room in need of update.
  39 answers
  • Ginger Robinson Ginger Robinson on Nov 18, 2015
    1. White washing would lighten up the area and stone veneer would give you the cabin, rustic look which is nice. 2. reclaimed wood would look good, Have you thought of refacing the lower part with wood and making the niches into nice storage. Redoing the fireplace cover with paint or replacing. And then do a different treatment to the upper half of the fireplace. It's large enough that you could make a really neat large clock from reclaimed wood or pallets that would look amazing.
    • Theresa Theresa on Nov 18, 2015
      I have contemplated doing different treatments since it is such a big area.
  • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Nov 18, 2015
    I just think the brick is to busy...its hard to see antlers mounted above. Easiest thing to do would be to paint it an accent color to match color of room to tone it down.
    • See 1 previous
    • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Nov 19, 2015
      @Theresa YW, my parents have a large granite stone fireplace (full wall)in their den, decor used to be rustic but is more refined today. Painting was not an option, but accent pieces were used to tone it down, mirrors, plants, upscale looking fire screen and grate....toned it down enough that the rustic and finished look play well against each other.
  • Lisa Wood Lisa Wood on Nov 18, 2015
    Paint will be the least expensive. Faux stone facing would really change the look. We used that in our home and used a faux stone siding that was super fast to install. You could also add wood accents, plaster it or sheet rock it. So many fun ideas. I love the "bigness" of it! You can make a great statement for sure.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Nov 18, 2015
    See what this homeowner did.
  • Nananator Nananator on Nov 18, 2015
    I had a similar situation with a fireplace in my living room. I put drywall (you can remove the brick or drywall over it)above the mantle and used grey marble tile on the bottom. I am not a fan of brick inside the home
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Nov 19, 2015
    I would drywall the upper portion and paint that the same colour as your wallls. Then see if that does the trick. If you still don't like the brick bottom portion, then you can resurface.
  • Charro Charro on Nov 19, 2015
    A very inexpensive fix would be to whitewash the brick. It would be perfect with your sofa style and it would give the brick an aged look.
  • Tracy P Tracy P on Nov 19, 2015
    I would probably paint it to minimize it because it's so large. Even beautiful stone might be too much.
  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Nov 19, 2015
    Hi Theress! What an amazing room! Obviously everyone agrees that the brown brick has to go. I agree that painting or white washing would be a more economical choice. Adding a stone could be quite pricey, I imagine, so at least with the paint, you haven't invested a ton and can decide if a light stone would give you the look you want. But, I notice that you have a white washed plank ceiling, along with the light carpet. So whitewashing that brick wall will give you another large white surface. So, I am thinking that you might consider one of the softer colors that are in your sofas? Still white-wash but not with white. That would tone down the brown brick but not make everything look the same.
  • Susie Lee Susie Lee on Nov 19, 2015
    Beautiful room! I'd paint the mantel white and trim out the entire shape of the brick area with a chunky crown molding. I'd even frame out the two little coves with a fluted molding with rosettes at the corners so no mitering. Paint it all a creamy white to match the mantel. It will brighten up the space while keeping the integrity of the bricks. Add a mirror over the mantel or several rectangular mirrors, since it's such a wide mantel. If you still don't like it...paint the bricks!
  • Patty Loveless Patty Loveless on Nov 19, 2015
    I recently redid my daughters bedroom and painted over an old red brick fireplace and the results were amazing. I used Zissner Bullseye 123 Primer. It can be tinted. It even covered the black soot marks. For a light color brick. the primer sealer could be diluted with water to make the paint go farther. I did a second coat with the same white latex I had painted the wainscoting and it worked so well I wet on to paint the brick bar. A bit of time as you had to paint in the creases but used a roller for the rest. Well worth the effort.
  • Mary-Ann Mary-Ann on Nov 19, 2015
    I really like your room, just the way it is. I agree with Sue that you will end up with something bland and uninteresting if you paint your brick. It seems to me that you would then have to change your wall color and your carpeting to bring it together again. I would have a tendency to make some changes with the area above the mantle, before changing anything else.
  • PhilCo PhilCo on Nov 19, 2015
    It is obviously down to personal taste, but I would be more inclined to pull the carpet back and give all the brickwork an acid wash (there is special acid you can buy for cleaning brickwork) that would rejuvenate the whole wall, and get rid of years of grime that have accumulated on the brick. I would also sand your mantelpiece and give that a new look. It will be time consuming but not expensive.
  • Barb Barb on Nov 19, 2015
    I would not touch the brick. It is timeless and beautiful.
  • Valori Stoican Valori Stoican on Nov 19, 2015
    I've seen a white-wash applied to large brick areas like this that allow the variations in the brick to show through, keeping much of the character others have reservations about painting over.You can also apply it to the mantle, paint the mantle white in contrast, or replace it with a more organic natural wood tone piece...burlwood? The rest of the room appears light, from this picture. I would change out the vertical wood strips on the side walls to horrizontal rustic wood indoor siding now available in a variety that has an adhesive backing. I would stay light with the new walls and go dark wood on the floor. Add an area rug. That's what a lot of buyers are looking for. Dark wood floor, rustic touches, undamaged "history", light and bright indoors (which usually means light walls if the floor is already dark). Just remember to explore what YOU like. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. also, if you do the above, you may also wish to replace the insert or paint the brass with heat-safe black paint.
  • Mickey Baron Mickey Baron on Nov 19, 2015
    I agree with PhilCo, Try a good cleaning, sand the mantel, pull the carpet back. Get down to basics & see how it looks. Go from there. Visit decorating sites, pinterest,... You may just want to go with the hardwood floor look, a large area rug for your furniture.. etc etc. Loose that ceiling fan. Replace it with an appropriate chandelier. Your room has TONS of potential. Do your homework. Good luck!
  • Cornelia Schott Cornelia Schott on Nov 20, 2015
    We moved into our house a year ago and felt the fireplace was looking tired. I used Dawn dish soap and scrubbed the fireplace from top to bottom. This process removed years of dust and rejuvenated the fireplace. We may change the fireplace doors/screen, but for now it works. Good luck on your decision.
    comment photo
  • JOHNNY JOHNNY on Nov 20, 2015
    Beauty I s in t he eye of the beholder ! brick can be acid washed, or veneer would change the look totally. Veneer is basically just place like tile w/ thin set. What I would suggest, is removal of the Mantel or doing I, and using Mirror's w/ flag stone. the mirror will give the illusion of a larger room, running it above the mental to the ceiling, also extending the mantel to the ends, also running electric in to the mantel so you have the ability to run lights, a lamp or x- mas on the mantel w/ no exposed cords.
  • Alicia Duncan Alicia Duncan on Nov 20, 2015
    I would suggest either white-washing it or the other option would be to drywall it to the mantle, then tile below the mantle in a nice modern, soft tile of your choice.
  • Veronica Roach Veronica Roach on Nov 22, 2015
    Changing the fireplace doors to a more modern style & slipcover over the flowers would help - that 'old brass doors and flowery couch' look is 1975, generally a more sleek and simple look feels more current - not that we HAVE to be 'current' - there is room for everyone to do their own thing and have their own particular look, whatever YOU like is what matters !
    • Theresa Theresa on Nov 24, 2015
      @Veronica Roach Yes we are planning to update the fireplace doors with high heat black paint or replacing them. Thank you!
  • Passionately Grounded Passionately Grounded on Nov 22, 2015
    Personally, I would straight out paint it before I thought about the cost of veneer. With your pretty plaid and floral furniture - the many different brick colors just aren't jiving. I can't blow the photo up enough on my computer to see all of your colors you have going on - but thinking something like the Alabaster color from Sherwin Williams. Once you do that, anything you decorate your fireplace with will have new life. You will see it! It will be beautiful. Maybe even try doing the storage areas on the side a shade darker. Or add some pretty tile inside each of the storage openings for a whole different look? That would be beautiful because it would flank your actual fireplace (center)....I believe you will also fall in love with your mantel all over again - because it will become the focal point! It will be the biggest bang for your buck. THEN if you still don't love it - try your veneer idea. I tried doing mine in a white wash first - and I didn't like it. It didn't give it enough pop. I went for the full fledge white paint. I love it now!
  • Lesley Lesley on Nov 23, 2015
    Painting it, either with just a light, diluted 'wash' or full paint would work wonders and be the cheapest option. This would be a dramatic transformation, you will be amazed. Try having a look around on this site or Pinterest to see how others have turned out. Then, if you still don't like it you could still go for the other options suggested such as dry walling over it or tiling it. As these ideas are expensive, I'd try a bit of paint first. I would go for a very neutral type of 'off white' but not magnolia (too yellowy). Something like light 'slaked lime' from Little Green company (but I don't know if that's available in the USA). And whatever you do, make sure you paint it in a dead flat matt, anything shiny will look cheap.
  • Roxann Roxann on Nov 23, 2015
    It would be nice if you sealed the brick first then if anyone came along behind you or you don't like the look of the paint you put on, you could reverse it. Getting paint out of the holes is a long, painful process!! I have had to strip quite a few Craftsman fireplaces that someone decided needed "updating".
  • Theresa Theresa on Nov 30, 2015
    We have decided after all the wonderful feedback to initially clean the fireplace well, and decorate it for the holidays. Then we'll see after the holidays if we should tackle a major change or just dress it up with decor items. Thank you.😊
  • Susan Rawlings Susan Rawlings on Dec 23, 2015
    Hi Theresa, You may also want to consider a paint that is fire resistant. There are products on the market that can help you address the renovation and remodeling aspect of your project, while providing you with a fire-resistant treatment that looks awesome! Good luck.
  • S S on Jul 20, 2016
    You should read up on "Lime wash" it may be what you're looking for.
  • Susie Lee Susie Lee on Dec 30, 2016


    By the looks of your furniture, you have a more traditional flare. I'd build an entire fireplace surround, including mantel. Make it ornate, with traditional fluted mouldings and perhaps some rosettes. I'd paint all the brick white except what might show inside of the fireplace surround. That I would leave natural. I'd add a massive mirror above it with some beveled glass edges. Maybe even an antique one and I'd trim it out in the matching fluted moulding all the way up as far as it goes. Good luck. Make sure you show us photos of your finished project!

  • Gail Gail on Jan 01, 2017

    i would definitely whitewash the bricks. I think it would go best with your style of furniture.

  • Nita Judhit DePaor Nita Judhit DePaor on Jan 05, 2017

    brick is at peak at the moment...nothing wrong with it...i would change fireplace door...paint shelve over mantel in black also...if its not hunting house i would take those antlers down and replace it with some metal art work...picture and flowers on shelve seams out of looks smallish sofas doesn't appeal in need something more heavy and big to fill empty space...l shaped sofa and some low chunky dark coffee table would fill per colors to looking around all is go for brighter sofa covers and cushions to break the sadness /give more cheerful look/lots of green tall plants also gives the life to room with high ceilings ...

  • Kj Kj on Jan 09, 2017

    I would suggest matching the color of the brick to the ceiling color, and stripping the mantel and restaining it to match the beam in the ceiling, or keep it light, a few shades darker than the newly painted brick. Maybe painting the log holders on either side to match the mantel to tie it all together. Do your research on your paint so you don't end up with a bigger project than you started with.

  • Barb Barb on Jan 12, 2017

    I just saw a project for outdated fireplace that I am going to attempt. It was covering it with wood. Looks like reclaimed pallet wood, but DIY'er said he just bought several different widths of wood and six different stains. Looked great! I have a headboard that is made out of actual reclaimed pallet wood. Love it.

  • Nadina Lemma-King Nadina Lemma-King on Jan 13, 2017

    I have a similar fireplace wall that reaches from the floor to a vaulted ceiling with a raised hearth for seating. As of now when you sit in this room you are facing a wall of brick that somewhat matches the mardi gras tiled floor in the kitchen. The room has beautiful hardwood floors. I heard about staining but cannot find any pics to give ideas to approach this. Need help!

  • Colleen Thompson Colleen Thompson on Jan 22, 2017

    You need a large Moose head mounted up there somewhere ;)

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Jan 17, 2021

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

  • What about tile?

  • Deb K Deb K on Nov 02, 2022

    Hi Theresa, you could also think about putting wall panels over the brick then painting a color you love, or leaving them white. Or you can put the faux stones over the brick. And lastly, you could whitewash the brick. Hope these help t=you out some.

  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 04, 2022

    I would remove the brick on either side of the fire place. It shouldn't over whelm the wall just accent it.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Oct 30, 2023

    I would replace the Antlers with a Large mirror! If not a Colourful Modern Painting.