What to do about brick fireplace

by Veronica
We have a unique 5' wide and 10'+ high brick fireplace in our living room and cannot decide what to do about it. It is too dark and the brick goes all the way up to the ceiling in two columns which we find rather odd. The fireplace has a brick bench(?) in front of it that is 5' wide and 14" high. We would like to do built ins as well but are on a limited budget. We welcome suggestions.
Brick fireplace with 6'-7' brick "columns". The wall is 17' wide and over 10' high. The fireplace is off-centered and has a framed window to the right.
The fireplace has a brick bench(?) in front of it that is 5' wide and 14" high.
  18 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Oct 25, 2015
    I would locate a heat resistant lighter color of paint,maybe a touch darker than your wall color for some interest.
  • Angie Daniel Moore Angie Daniel Moore on Oct 25, 2015
    Could you paint inside the columns and hang a TV or put up shelving to make it a display wall?
  • EllieH EllieH on Oct 25, 2015
    Unless you're ready to replace the entire fireplace with something new, here are some ideas: (Keep reading for my SECRET TECHNIQUE) 1. Remove the 2 high columns of brick so that your "new" fireplace lines up with the top edge of the centre section. You probably just need a crowbar to do it & a bit of muscle. Scrape off all the crusty residue from walls. Better to have gouges in the wall than patches & bumps protruding from the walls. Refinish the drywall (Canadian version of sheetrock) by mudding & sanding a few times till it's a perfectly smooth transition into your main walls. Prime walls with real primer, not just regular paint. Trust me, regular paint does NOT make a good primer. Your paint will look terribly patchy if you don't use real primer. 2. Your hearth (bench) offers extra seating, so it's a practical thing to leave there if you like it. If you don't, you can remove it and use those extra bricks to bring the wall of brick straight down to the floor, which is the current trend for fireplaces. 3. Now give your fireplace a colour makeover with MY SECRET TECHNIQUE: semi-transparent exterior stain, NOT PAINT! Make sure it's totally clean & dust free before you start. Brush a coat of light grey stain and watch what happens! It starts absorbing into the brick because brick is porous, but leaves enough colour on top so that you transform the entire fireplace colour while keeping it looking absolutely natural. You'll get some of the original colour coming through. Do several coats of stain if you want to hide most of the original colour & have a more consistent light grey colour. 4. Get a fireplace mantle made that is several inches deeper than the brick that you can paint a warm dull white. Then you'll have a wonderful deep ledge to decorate with a few accessories and hang some gorgeous artwork or mirror above the fireplace. Watch how it this transforms the entire room. Be sure to post AFTER photos so we can cheer for you! I've added some photos for you below. LIKE me here: www.Facebook.com/NexTrendDesign for ongoing ideas/trends/tips VISIT me here: www.NexTrendDesign.com FIND my art here: www.Pinterest.com/NexTrendDesign Cheers, Ellie Hanson
  • LD LD on Oct 25, 2015
    The raised are in front of the fire box is called a raised hearth. It looks as though you use the fire box for burning candles vs a wood burning fireplace, they sell very decorative iron candle holders, which would give height and dimension to your candles. The area between the brick columns can be for art work, mirror, hanging your tv, or you could install reclaimed wood in a herringbone pattern. Lightly stain and seal the wood, then seal and paint the brick the same color as the wall. This then gives the center area between the brick columns the focal point.
  • Z Z on Oct 25, 2015
    You could use flat pack (you put together) book cases and MDF pre-primed trim to build a mantel and surround similar to what I drew up for you. I noticed your baseboard was in white so I chose to do the built in white also. I left the wall color show in the back.
  • Kor2581260 Kor2581260 on Oct 25, 2015
    Could get some cement molds and change the look completely.
  • Sarah A. Victory Sarah A. Victory on Oct 25, 2015
    I am merely throwing this idea out there--so I would suggest you insert a mantel at the center front of the middle of the brick and paint the brick above the mantel where they blend in w/the walls. I personally like the hearth and it provides some extra seating. You may still add a picture, tv above or on the mantel. You may also just paint the brick above the mantel level for now for a change. Good luck!
  • Lori Lori on Oct 25, 2015
    You have to wonder what they were thinking when they built that ( and please don't tell me you did ) :) I would have the whole top framed in and drywalled, add a very simple mantle and paint the brick a colour to compliment the walls. I feel you need to draw attention away from the arms holding up the ceiling. Good luck. Be sure and post what you do.
  • C C on Oct 25, 2015
    Painting all the brick white would certainly lighten up the space. Find a cheap old wooden fireplace mantel and place over brick around fireplace opening or create your own with wood columns on each side of the fireplace opening and add a thick stained board on top for a mantel. Set two lamps on each end of mantel where brick columns are (to break up the long columns). If it fits the budget, get a high piece of mirror cut to fit inside the brick columns that goes up to ceiling (as tall as you can afford), adding trim around mirror & finish with trim at ceiling. To balance the room, make a fake window frame on other side & add colored or wood blinds to both windows. Taller candles in the fireplace would make the whole look more dramatic. Or stack some cut logs (or 2x4's) inside the fireplace opening and set your candles staggered on the logs to raise the level of the candles to fill the open space more.
  • Peggy Henderson Peggy Henderson on Oct 26, 2015
    Cover with 1/2 cement board and add manufactured stone.
  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Oct 26, 2015
    Seems like painting all of the brick white would certainly help lighten it up a bit. I think, if it were me and this would be our style, I would fill the center with barn wood. The barn wood would be a darker shade then the white brick and provide an interesting contrast and interest, then you could add a mantle as well.
  • Tim Slutter Sr. Tim Slutter Sr. on Oct 27, 2015
    How about trying to paint the unusual columns from mantle height to match the room. Get some reclaimed timber or something like it and hang a mantle on it. See how you like the new look if not you could always paint the bottom later.
  • HouseLogic.com HouseLogic.com on Oct 29, 2015
    Here are some value-adding fireplace makeovers that may inspire you: http://goo.gl/TrsN6O
  • Carol Carol on Nov 01, 2015
    Install a mantel and box in two brick columns above it with Sheetrock. You can then decide if you want to box in and brick on the bottom or tile or (shudder) paint it. If you want to mount a TV above the mantel install all the wires before you enclose the top. You can also choose to enclose the hearth (bottom part on the floor). Removing all the brick is expensive and may damage the beautiful floors. Print the picture and try different cutout overlays on the picture to see what you like best. I have lived in an old house that had a painted fireplace in the kitchen that I hated. Future owners put thin brick veneer over it to return it to the original look. The house was old and sandblasting the original painted bricks was not an option. So by boxing in the bricks you can still change it back to the original at some future time.
  • Georgia Lyman Georgia Lyman on Nov 01, 2015
    Even tho' I usually paint brick white, I'd tear this one down and put in stacked stone, but only mantel high, & put in a regular hearth and get rid of the bench - very 70's
  • Lagree Wyndham Lagree Wyndham on Nov 05, 2015
    Tile it, one style on brick, another on inset for a modern look.
  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Nov 07, 2015
    Since you're on a tight budget, then paint would be the way to go. You could paint the columns the same color as the wall to make them disappear. I would think about adding some horizontal planking, painted the same color, in between the columns, all the way to the ceiling to make it look more "intentional". Adding a rustic beam or mantel at that horizontal brick level would break up the vertical lines as well. Then you could add some artwork or a large mirror over that with some candles, lanterns etc, depending on your room decor.
  • Charro Charro on Nov 08, 2015
    You could white wash the brick. Hang an oblong mirror in the space or painting above the fireplace. Add a mantel. This would be the least expensive option.