Fireplace Makeover ~ The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


When we first looked at our house, one of my favorite things was that there was a fireplace.  I imagined the first snowfall, cuddled up on the couch with some hot chocolate and a roaring fire.  The fireplace has an insert which is awesome because it heats the house and you don’t have to worry about rogue embers burning down the house…that would suck.  The house was built in 1945 and from the looks of the brick, I would say that it had never been updated because the grout was very worn.  I actually like that look and it adds to the charm of it but I was not in love with the dark brick.DSC_0844

Whitewashing fireplaces is all the rage right now as you can see here, here, and here.  They looked great and seemed super easy so that’s what I decided to do.  I already had a can of white paint so I mixed equal parts paint and water.  If you are going to do this use an old paint brush or one that you don’t care if it gets ruined (the brick really tears the bristles.)

So 4 hours later and this is what I had…and I hated it. DSC_0870

The thing I hadn’t realized was that all the grout in the aforementioned links were white or light-colored and mine was black.  Whitewashing the bricks and the grout left it looking smokey and gray instead of the light beach cottage look I had hoped for.  So after a minor freak out and a couple of curse words, I got on my laptop and started googling fireplace makeovers.  I really didn’t want to just paint the whole thing white.  I still wanted the feeling of stone…just light and airy (sort of an oxymoron I guess).  Then I found a kit to do a faux finish that they sell at Home Depot or Lowe’s called Brick Anew.  It looked great and I even found this tutorial.  What didn’t look so great was the $199 price tag.  So after reading a little more on different websites, I decided to try to get this effect without the kit.

Here’s what you’ll need: (There are probably a million ways to do this and different products/colors but this is what I used) painters tape, paint brush, roller, sea sponge,  Behr Masonry, Stucco, & Brick Paint (colors: Ivory Mist, Hazelnut Cream, Sandstone Cliff), Behr Faux Glaze

If you don’t want the same colors just look for a tan color you like and then get one shade lighter and one shade darker on the same color swatch.  The first thing you do is paint the entire fireplace with the middle color, in my case the Hazelnut Cream.  After the base coat is dry you are ready to start your faux finish.  Take the darkest of the three colors, in my case Sandstone Cliff, and mix 1 part paint and 4 parts of the glaze.


Pour a little on a paper plate and use the sea sponge to apply it randomly on different bricks.DSC_0900

After that completely dries, repeat the same process with the lightest color, in my case Ivory Mist.

Step back every so often and see how it looks from a few feet back and then add more color where you feel necessary.  I went over the bricks a few times blending the colors until I was satisfied with the look.


Fireplace 2 collage

I’m waaaay happier with this compared to the whitewashed version and Steve is happy he doesn’t have a wife in hysterics because she ruined the fireplace.

~ Geralyn


11 thoughts on “Fireplace Makeover ~ The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

  1. Hey there! I saw that you linked to my How to Paint an Old Brick Fireplace tutorial. Thanks! I agree with you, the $199 for the Brick Anew is way overpriced for what it is–just a faux finish that anyone can do if you choose the right colors. It’s great to see that yours turned out well and that you gave people some color choice options. Nice!

    Thrift Diving

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  4. Awesome job!
    So just to clarify, you purchased a gallon of each paint colour? Or would just the base colour need to be masonry paint? Thanks!

  5. Hello!
    Oh my goodness, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am to find your (specifically your) fireplace diy makeover! My fireplace brick and grout are identical to your “before” fireplace and I’ve wanted to paint it for quite a while but my husband insists on NOT! He’s worried about doing anything to it because there’s “no going back.” He never minds what I do around the house but the fireplace is the only thing he has been adamant about not doing anything to. Sooo, needless to say, I’m going to continue to work on him and now I have your photos to show him! 🙂
    Here’s my question…. Do you think whitewashing your fireplace first affected the overall outcome? In your opinion should I do that first also? To achieve the same great outcome and coverage as you did? I’m wondering if the whitewash was almost like a primer? Also, did you clean your brick and grout with anything before starting? If so, what did you use?
    Thank you! 🙂

    • Hi Gayle,
      The only thing I did to clean the brick was a quick wipe with a dry cloth. I can’t say for sure but I don think the whitewash acted as a primer. It was so thin/watery going on and the paint was much thicker. I think you’d be okay with just the paint. Hope this helps. It’s been over a year and we’re still very happy with the results.

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