Updating Living Room - Fireplace too big

by Audrey
We recently painted/updated our living room. Walls of main level are now uniform.
-Our home is NOT huge but our fireplace is
-LR dimensions 23’x13’
-Fireplace directly centered on 23’ wall
-Fireplace mantel 8’ 2” long
-Brick on Wall above mantel 5’9”Wx2’8”H
-Brick below mantel 5’9”Hx4’2”H
-Ceiling 8’
-Fruitwood stain throughout home, including crown molding in LR

Want to do something to update fireplace (paint/stain?) without gutting the beast and having regret doing anything at all!! Appreciate any - all input of advice!

Meet our monster!!
  18 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Apr 08, 2018

    Strip the original finish from the fireplace surround,prime,paint to match the wall.

  • Fiddledd224 Fiddledd224 on Apr 08, 2018

    The best way to minimize is to have it blend into the surroundings, not stand out. Do this by painting the walls that butt up to the wooden mantle and fireplace surround the same color as the mantle- this will visually minimize it immediately. Another idea is to place items on the mantle that draw attention to these items,, which will make the entire fireplace less significant in the room. Use just a few items, but make them large in size, like giant candlesticks, a large piece or two of art, a sculpture. You can minimize something by maximizing something else.

  • Shore grandmom Shore grandmom on Apr 08, 2018

    I think the room is a great size. I used to have a living room about the same. And I love the fireplace, but I can see it needs to be lightened up. I would put a nice size tv above the mantle. Center it side to side in the open field and up 3/4 of the way. Make sure all electric and cable wires are run behind the tv area. I would also put electric outlets on both sides of the face right above the mantle, they come in handy during the holidays. I would white wash the brick with a color a little lighter than the walls, not stark white. The fireplace has beautiful detail so don't go to crazy with it, the color just needs to be toned down some.


    • Audrey Audrey on Apr 09, 2018

      Thanks for your reply! Considering whitewash but our tv has a nice place in corner.

  • Cindy Cindy on Apr 08, 2018

    I love your fireplace. You don't see brickwork like that every day. I think you should put a very large focal point above it. A large clock would look nice. Or, maybe take a walk thru your local big box store's garden department to find inspiration. Statues, weather vanes, etc. would look good too. Whatever you decide, make it large. Avoid all the little knick-knacks. Best of luck to you.

    • See 1 previous
    • Audrey Audrey on Apr 09, 2018

      Thanks for your reply. No big box in Grand Rapids, MI!

  • Kay27246977 Kay27246977 on Apr 08, 2018

    You can take out the wood surround and paint the brick white

  • Dorothy A Crowley Dorothy A Crowley on Apr 09, 2018

    white wash the brick. I love it

  • Lizbeth Lizbeth on Apr 09, 2018

    I love your fireplace too. If it were mine I'd not change it much, just visually lighten it. I agree with those who have talked about the paint color on that one wall and the mantle accessories going a long way towards balancing the look. Using larger furniture close to the fireplace will help too as it looks like from the photo your current pieces close to it are pretty low. (Two taller armchairs angled into the room adjacent to the fireplace would look great.) Also consider what is put on the wall on each side. Make sure any window coverings in the room begin at ceiling height also so the fireplace isn't the only ceiling height feature in the room.

    Since you say the woodwork is stained the same throughout the house I'd be hesitant to paint the surround itself (plus I think it's gorgeous!) Even if I didn't love it I'd be hesitant to remove it. Plain brick fireplaces jutting into rooms whether painted or not fit nicely with mid-century modern homes but if your house is more traditional it might look odd. Also when the fireplace was constructed the uglier, visually flawed, or chipped brick faces and edges may have been placed to be hidden under the planned surround as the surround looks original to the house. So you might uncover a mess.

    Good luck!

  • Christine Henry Martinez Christine Henry Martinez on Apr 09, 2018

    I love how it looks. I would not touch it.

  • Emily Emily on Apr 09, 2018

    Please do not remove or paint the fireplace surround. How deep is your mantelpiece? I think if you put wood boards to fill in the brick at the top, and maybe the brick part above the curve over the firepit itself, it would lighten the whole look. Do not place a tv over this fireplace but instead an appropriately sized piece of art to your liking. I think that maybe there is not enough depth in the mantelpiece to worry about styling it, but if there is. . . since such decorations are not permanent (or at least IMHO, should not be) don't worry about that.

    comment photo
    comment photo
    • Audrey Audrey on Apr 09, 2018

      Thanks for your reply. We will not be putting TV up there. I so appreciate your comments!

  • Lisa S. Lisa S. on Apr 09, 2018

    This is a gorgeous fireplace. DO NOT PAINT the brick or the wood. You just need decorating. A large painting on the mantel to pick up the style and colors of the room. The painting shod fill most of the space. A set of candlesticks (colors to match the room) at one end, and one large decorative item at the other end. New fireplace equipment. A large urn in a color of the room on the other side. This is the place where you use thee WOW accent color that you have picked out for your décor. NO beige, tan etc on the fireplace.

  • Lisa S. Lisa S. on Apr 09, 2018

    Absolutely NO paint on any of the brick. You will ruin it. And it will decrease your resale value.

    • See 2 previous
    • Lisa S. Lisa S. on Apr 24, 2018

      I would leave the wood natural. Also consider book cases on either side of the fireplace. A large painting over the fireplace to take up most or all of the bricks there would change up the look. If cost is a factor, I have seen big paintings at thrift stores for $25.00 in my community. Make sure the picture has some color in it, an accent to complement your décor.,

  • Barb Adams Barb Adams on Apr 09, 2018

    I think one problem is your fireplace is unbalanced with the upper portion being a lot smaller than the lower portion below the mantle. How about removing the wood surround and mantle, create a façade that extends the fireplace as one unit from floor to ceiling, and painting that a color that compliments your walls or tiling from floor to ceiling like the first fireplace on this link: https://www.bhg.com/decorating/fireplace/styles/fireplace-designs/

  • Vcg10055225 Vcg10055225 on Apr 09, 2018

    Other than possibly lightening the brick I wouldn't change a thing. Do NOT paint the wood. I would work with drawing attention to artwork above the mantel and styling the mantel with seasonal décor, candle sticks, pottery, articles that are part of a collection such as milk glass, ginger jars, figurines etc. A vintage fireplace guard and utensils (bellows etc.) to draw the eyes to different points rather than the fireplace as a single point.

  • Debi53 Debi53 on Apr 14, 2018

    I had a similar situation. Here is the link on this site showing what I did. Maybe it will give you an idea that will help you.

  • Linda Keser Linda Keser on Apr 24, 2018

    My suggestion is to paint the brick area above the fireplace the same color as the wall.

  • Ginny Ginny on Apr 24, 2018

    Your LR is the same dimension as mine with the fireplace smack in the middle of the wall and an entry door to the left of the fireplace. I would never buy another home with a fireplace in the LR because they are huge, messy and take up a lot of wall space.

  • Sharon Sharon on Apr 24, 2018

    I had the same layout in my living room, and door to the left, but mine was only 5-6' wide. Since there were problems with the fireplace as its a 1940s house, I had the thing removed..... and had a faux fireplace put in the same spot and width but tiled with 26 x 6" travertine tiles in a herringbone pattern with an electric fireplace insert. I love it, the lighter color brightens the room and I have a remote now to warm up the room when it needs it or just for ambience.

    I'm not recommending you remove yours.... but if the size is too oppressive, remove the wood surround and have it tiled in something to go with your room or just whitewash it. You could also leave the wood surround and add to the upper portion in wood and paint the whole thing white enamel, then whitewash the remaining brick afterwards if its still to dark for you. some inspiration..... https://www.pinterest.com/pin/21673641941266160/

  • Galena Galena on Apr 24, 2018

    You could remove the wood and add corner shelves that match the den. That way at least the space is functional😃