How do we modernize the look with this huge brick fireplace?

by Atekas

Recently purchased a house. Modern white trim and light colors throughout except in the main family room. It has an older cabin feel with wood trim and a huge brick wall with fireplace. I'd like to update the look while keeping the charm. Starting from scratch. The furniture isn't ours.

Any ideas much appreciated!

  16 answers
  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Oct 19, 2018

    How about lightly white wash it diluted white paint and try on a brick on the bottom where you can’t see I think it would look nice maybe paint mantle a black transparent stain would look nice

    • Joh13691433 Joh13691433 on Oct 20, 2018

      I used dry mortar mixed with water to the consistency of paint. Use a chip brush and just work it into the brick, leaving the mortar in between alone, if you don't like the paint look. My brick is a combination of grays now, slightly shaded and doesn't look painted. I agree with the black mantle!

  • JudyH JudyH on Oct 19, 2018

    We had a fireplace quite similar to yours with dark stained bookshelves on each side. Hated it! We tore out the shelves and put up sheetrock. On the fireplace face, we put up tile backboard, covered with wire to assure adhesion, and layered a soft, off white, marble tile from hearth to ceiling and also cover all the hearth area in the same marble. We left a very small gap between the tiles (we used pennies as spacers) and used unsanded grout. We also installed cam lights in the ceiling that are tilted toward the marble facade which gives it a soft sheen. If you choose to go with marble, be sure you seal each tile BEFORE you install them (much easier!) but most definitely before you grout. Marble is highly porous and the grout will be very hard to clean off the surface if you skip this step. Any grout soaked into the tile will cause that area to have a matte finish and ruin your project. Oh, almost forgot, we opted to forego installing a mantel and just hung a piece of art work over the fireplace opening.

  • Beautiful room! A wonderful space to work with. I actually like the brick, but if it is not your taste, change it. Decide what style and vibe you want to go for, then decide on material. Do you want a farmhouse style? Explore wood, stained or painted shiplap design. Simple understated elegance, consider marble or another natural stone. Want a bit different, how about handmade tiles from Italy, Spain, Morocco or Mexico. The possibilities are endless. I would Google and poke around on Pinterest or Instagram for ideas. Print or save the ones that catch your eye. Then narrow it down. Decide if you want a mantle - or opt for no mantle. Flip through magazines, visit stoneyard, tile stores until you see what you like. Hope this helps!

  • Oberlinmom Oberlinmom on Oct 19, 2018

    I really like the fireplace and before you do anything drastic to it consider that our taste may change as time passes. Plus it sounds like you haven't been in the house very long. Live in the space give it some time you may see something that none of us will just looking at the pictures.

    A couple of ideas I had were find some art you like in your style to place on the mantle or even hang on the bricks. Since the fireplace goes up to the ceiling you could hang paintings (or whatever) from the trim above so you don't have to deal with trying to put holes in the brick. Art could be fabric etc.

    I wouldn't use it to hold the TV that just brings your eye more to that part of the room and adds another large black hole. It needs lighter sculptures, or what have you. Something in brushed aluminum ( maybe a metal the color of the kitchen appliances and hardware). I'd like a big modern rug with a touch of the brick color to move that around the room. One of the problems is that wall of brick is the only thing that color so it looks odd. Adding touches of the brick color, subtle touches around the room, even into the kitchen area will tone down the giant wall of red.

    I really recommend living in the space before you do any thing major. Try shifting furniture around, imagine where the differences are in the other rooms and how you could bring those into this room of if you even want to. You may decide the room needs drapes ( I like the look as it is in the pictures but if the sun pours in or if you stay up late and don't like the exposure) that will change the feel.

    Honestly once your furniture is in the room you may decide to go a whole different direction. As it is right now I think it's a lovely room and the fireplace reminds me of the very modern homes that are now supporting barn doors in bedrooms and dining rooms and it works.

  • You can paint (more like whitewash) the brick white, allowing some color to show through.

  • Karen Karen on Oct 20, 2018

    I really like the fireplace and assume brick on the exterior is the same color and pattern. I would live with this for about a year or so before making a final decision. Meanwhile I believe a couple of modern looking pictures in black frames with images only of black and white would look good on both sides of the fireplace. To enhance it, use a whitish rug perhaps under the furniture. Black and white accents can really go with any color so don't worry about wall color right now. Remember, once you go changing up the fireplace it will be costly so be sure you decide upon another look you will be able to live with. Good luck with your final decision.

  • Karen Karen on Oct 20, 2018

    Another thought. I would change out the ceiling fan for one with four or five blades (black) and a shiny silver rod. I think the new fan would look good with the black and white images in the picture frames and tie in with the black kitchen stools. we purchased a similar fan at Home Depot with a hanging shiny rod and black blades which really seemed to modernize the room.

  • Dorothy Reed Dorothy Reed on Oct 20, 2018

    Ikea had or still has 10" wooden squares with a 3 3/4" mirror in the center. Paint or stain the wooden part to your needs and then stack or hang from the ceiling with fishing line or use industrial strength velcro to back of mirror and on the brick either close together or showing some of the brick behind that you can paint or stain the same color as you used on the wooden part of the mirror. It will bring some more light into the room - the area looks a bit dark - and modernize the look.

  • Cheryl Cheryl on Oct 20, 2018

    I vote whitewashed brick and keep that stunning rough hewn mantle - just clean it up - it's a great display for art. Before you paint it all, put your plants in and such to see if the red brick works for you, but the FIRST thing I'd do is find a fireplace screen that modernizes all of it. Go to a fireplace store and find something unique. Placing a tall white/light colored item like a vase or basket on the hearth and around the shelves would also bring the light onto the red brick. Really, get a modern fireplace screen! :)

  • Cheri Cheri on Oct 20, 2018

    I agree with those who suggested white washing the bricks. It will lighten it up and won't be very labor intensive or expensive. The mantle should look just fine as is.

  • Mikie Mikie on Oct 20, 2018

    How about whitewash the entire brick facade, then use a brown - that matches the trim - paint to randomly paint the grout lines in horizontal and vertical lines of various lengths, creating a clean abstract look. This is easily changed if you don't like the pattern, or decide to modify it now or in the future.

  • Atekas Atekas on Oct 20, 2018

    These are all really helpful!

    Forgot to mention we're planning on adding more lighting through recessed lighting in the room.

    Open to staining the hardwood throughout the first floor as well. Also, potentially changing up the kitchen to open it up to the room more. Which could mean changing the countertops.

  • LPHS89=48 LPHS89=48 on Oct 21, 2018

    Perhaps you might paint it or even cover it with wood for a more modern feel.

  • Bijous Bijous on Oct 24, 2018

    Hi. Drywall the brick. Around the opening use ceramic or porcelain tiles. No mantel for a contemporary look. And congrats on the new digs!

  • Debi53 Debi53 on Oct 24, 2018

    You have a truly beautiful space. Here is a link to what we did with our really ugly brick fireplace. Maybe it will give you some perspective on what you might want to do.

  • Jan Loehr Jan Loehr on Oct 24, 2018

    All great suggestions for the lovely brick fireplace...white wash is the way to go for today's updated look...but I see other items in that room which will tie the whole room together with this fireplace that needs to create a cohesive look and tie the room suggestions are: paint all the white walls in that room a soft neutral like a shade of taupe or gray tone to give the walls a richer tone and also a nice sharp contrast to the white bricks....also every bit of that brown ceiling molding needs to be painted pure white in a satin enamel to give it a low sheen against the matte flat wall color...also the brown window frames are enormous and beautiful but they also need to be in the same satin enamel pure white as the ceiling moulding...the difference will be stunning and with all this updated brightness and neutrals in this room you will be free to choose your own color scheme which will not clash with the walls or the all the trim nor the whitewash of luck! Your home is beautiful!!