Whitewashing a Dark Fireplace

3 Materials
2 Hours

We moved into our house a little over a year ago and we've been making updates ever since. When we got to the living room, we knew we wanted to paint the walls and somehow update and brighten the dark fireplace. We loved the big stone look, but it was too dark for us. We didn't want to paint it a solid color, so we decided to whitewash it.

Watch the video for a detailed tutorial!

Here is the original look. The stones and the mantel were both dark brown colors. We wanted to lighten the look of the stone but keep the mantel the dark wood so that it stands out more.

The first step of whitewashing is to mix water with paint. We added 1 cup of water to about 2 cups of paint and then stirred it well.

We started by brushing on the whitewash mixture onto a small stone on the lower side of the fireplace. It was a little darker than we wanted so we used a dry rag to remove some of the excess color. The dry rag wasn't working as well as we wanted, so we dipped the rag in water and started removing the excess with the wet rag. The wet rag was working better to get the color we wanted.

After the first stone, we knew we wanted to lighten the color so we added a little more water and stirred it up again. With this more watered-down mixture, I started applying the paint in small sections on the next stone. I would then use the wet rag to remove the excess before I moved on to the next section of the stone. Since the mixture was thinner, the paint was a bit more drippy, so brushing on the paint and then dabbing it off in smaller sections helped prevent too much dripping and prevented the color from drying too fast.

After the second stone, we knew we had a good pattern to get the look we wanted, so we continued painting the rest of the fireplace stones. We wanted to keep the natural gray color of the grout, so we only focused on coloring the stone. We thought the natural gray was a good contrast to the whitewash color.

Here is the final look! We also painted the walls a light, natural gray color and added a pop of color at the top with a dark blue. Overall, we are thrilled with the new look. The whole room feels brighter and a bit more updated.

Before and After.

If you would like tips and tricks on how to paint a brick fireplace then this is the perfect guide!

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Frequently asked questions
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3 of 6 questions
  • Mlm Mlm on Jan 14, 2021

    Does the Finnish of the paint matter?

    I wasn’t sure since you are watering it down if an eggshell vs semigloss would make any difference.

  • Barbara Zorzin Barbara Zorzin on Feb 01, 2021

    Nice update! With that large of a feature fireplace, may I recommend a much larger accessory on the mantel? It sure would be a showstopper with something more in scale/balance.

    Again, nice makeover!

  • Katie Katie on Feb 08, 2021

    We also have a very dark, 80s stone fireplace! Our fireplace has all this lichen on it, though. I can't tell from the pictures - did yours? If so, did you whitewash over it, or is there a technique to scrap off the moss you'd recommend?

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2 of 31 comments
  • Patty Patty on Feb 02, 2023

    Boy,do I need this! Thanks for all of your tips.

  • Betty Betty on Jan 31, 2024

    Would also use heat resistant spray paint and paint the area around the door to a antique color to make it snap as well. Also agree with other commenter maybe a large clock on mantel or large vase with flowers/ candles on different heights