Are you searching for brick fireplace makeover ideas to help breathe new life into an outdated architectural element?
If so, rest assured you are not alone. Millions of homes built in the sixties through eighties feature an enormous fireplace. In their heydey, the traditional styling was quite chic.
Fast forward. We are well into a new millennium–and it’s time to upgrade to reflect a more contemporary taste.
There is nothing wrong with that old, well-functioning fireplace. It lends a coziness that will never go out of style. But reading up on some brick fireplace makeover ideas could give you ideas on how to rid your fireplace of years of soot build-up and give you a style boost without impacting functionality.
Why Read All These Brick Fireplace Makeover Ideas? Can’t I Just Paint the Bricks?
Although some DIY sites discuss the idea of painting bricks, the truth is that it is not a wise idea. Here’s why.
Modern-day bricks are very similar to those of earlier eras. Manufacturers craft them from a precise mixture of water and organic materials, primarily clay. But they may also include limestone, shale, or even sand. These are all organic materials. Although they are not living organics, they have pores and need to breathe.
Paint will completely block those pores, ultimately stopping them from releasing humidity build-up from inside the brick. Eventually, this scenario will lead to bubbles and chipped paint.
Five Easy Brick Fireplace Makeover Ideas
If you are handy, these brick fireplace makeover ideas might be a weekend or single-day DIY project. However, don’t be afraid to call in professionals for help. It is better, as the old saying goes, to be safe than sorry.
1 – Try some lighting tricks
Assess your fireplace with fresh eyes and an open mind. Is there any feature that you adore? Perhaps you have a lovely hearth or an elaborate mantle–the bricks alone are the eyesore.
Instead of taking on some of the larger, more time-consuming projects you will see in the rest of these brick fireplace makeover ideas, try installing new lighting.
Consider installing energy-efficient LED spotlights to make that feature the focal point. You demote the outdated bricks to serve as a mere backdrop for the stunning part that you want to show off.
This sleight of hand using lighting will save you tons of time, energy, and money.
2 – Upgrade your mantle
Oak mantles with elaborate wood carvings dominated the second half of the twentieth century. Many homeowners made a luxurious statement with this appointment that is lovely, sturdy, and mid-toned in color. However, today’s tastes are far different, with live edge mantles in hot demand.
So consider swapping your outdated mantel out for a lovely live edge piece in a natural finish.
Are you feeling confident about this update so far? You can take it a step further. Remove the old-fashioned mantle supports, patch up the bricks, and install a floating mantle for even more impact.
This update will make your old fireplace more on-trend without altering the bricks.
3 – Stain the bricks
Fireplaces from earlier decades are generally red or brown. Once the standard, the look can make a room appear drab and outdated. Another helpful brick fireplace makeover idea is to stain the bricks in a rich, dark, contemporary finish.
You might wonder how this application differs from painting, which we told you was a no-no. That’s a fair question.
Staining allows the pores of the bricks to breathe, and the application lasts at least fifteen years. Here’s the best part–you’re not on your own figuring out a DIY. You can hire a professional to formulate a perfect, trendy color and apply it for you–no major renovation is needed.
4 – Refresh the mortar joints
Over many years of use, bricks and mortar can become drab. Gray or black soot stains may appear on wood-burning fireplaces; a yellow patina may form around gas firelogs. The staining becomes prevalent on the mortar lines, which were probably once light gray or white.
An easy solution is to bring the mortar joints back to their original color.
Cover all surfaces with a dropcloth and don gloves and protective eyewear. Use a ten percent solution of muriatic acid, applying it a tiny bit at a time with a stiff toothbrush. Let the acid penetrate for five minutes; spray with distilled water to rinse it.
After it dries, you will have brighter and fresher mortar that will provide a lovely contrast against the bricks. You may repeat the process for additional cleansing.
5 – Build a shiplap surround
Shiplap is all the rage–a classic decor element enjoying renewed popularity. Consider a shiplap surround if you are in the mood for a significant transformation that will create an entirely new look.
What is shiplap?
Shiplap is the application of long, narrow boards with interlocking grooves to a home. Traditionally, this treatment appeared on home exteriors–snugly fitting with a slight overlap to withstand all Mother Nature could throw at any home.
But today, shiplap enjoys enormous popularity in home interior decor, made famous by celebrity home designer Joanna Gaines.
This job requires the help of a carpenter, who will frame around the existing bricks. They will then attach the shiplap boards to the framing, following the classic overlapping technique, and ensuring straight, well-defined lines.
You can either stain or paint the shiplap. Some homeowners use a dramatic color to create an eye-popping focal point, while others match their wall color for a lovely and subdued tonal effect. There’s no right or wrong way–the point is to create an architectural feature that meshes with your unique taste.
Additional Brick Fireplace Makeover Ideas
Here are some other creative, simple, easy DIY ideas for giving your brick fireplace a new “look”…
Consider applying tile over the existing brick to create a new, modern look. Choose from a variety of tile options such as subway, mosaic, or even patterned tiles to add a touch of elegance.
Give the fireplace a contemporary industrial vibe by applying a thin concrete overlay to the brick. This can be customized with different textures, patterns, and colors to match the room’s aesthetic.
Arrange the bricks in a herringbone pattern for a classic and timeless design. This intricate pattern can instantly elevate the fireplace’s appearance and make it a focal point.
Instead of fully painting the bricks, consider a whitewash technique that allows the natural texture of the bricks to show through while still giving a fresh, lightened appearance.
Create functional and decorative inset shelves on either side of the fireplace. These shelves can be used to display art, books, plants, or decorative items, adding depth and interest to the space.
Copper or Metal Accents
Introduce copper or other metal accents to complement the brick’s tones. Consider incorporating metal elements into the mantle, hearth, or even in the form of decorative brackets.
Stone Veneer Overlay
Apply a stone veneer over the existing brick for a rustic and textured appearance. Stone veneer comes in various styles, such as stacked stone or ledgestone, allowing for a customized look.
Install a floating hearth made of a contrasting material like marble, granite, or concrete. This not only enhances the fireplace’s aesthetics but also creates a visually appealing transition between the fireplace and the floor.
Built-In Log Storage
Design a built-in storage area within the fireplace’s structure to neatly store logs for a functional and visually pleasing addition.
Use painter’s tape to create geometric patterns on the brick surface before painting. This can add a contemporary and visually intriguing element to the fireplace.
Mirror or Glass Panel Insert
Install a mirror or glass panel within the fireplace opening to create the illusion of added depth and light. This can work especially well if the fireplace isn’t frequently used.
Floating Wood Beam Mantle
Replace the traditional mantle with a rustic, reclaimed wood beam for a cozy and inviting feel. This can add character and warmth to the space.
If the fireplace has a flat top, consider adding a brick archway above the opening to create an elegant and architectural focal point.
Final Thoughts: These Brick Fireplace Makeover Ideas Can Restore the Good Looks of Your Home
Your fireplace is a central gathering place in your home. It is where you celebrate memorable occasions, warm up on a cold winter evening, and gather with loved ones and friends for hot cocoa or cocktails. You deserve to have a gorgeous space that looks as good as it feels during those special moments–and these brick fireplace makeover ideas can provide you with the inspiration you need to make that happen.
Bob Homolka founded family-owned BrickImaging in 1976 after he invented the firm’s proprietary Stayntech® masonry stains. The company is the country’s oldest block, stone, mortar, and brick staining contractor. It is still operated today by the Homolka family.
- single-family homes
- office buildings
- multi-family housing
- retail plazas
- hotels, among many others
Contact us today if you’re looking for ways to modernize your home’s exterior.
We can give free estimates and tips on updating your home’s look.