Updating a fireplace - small opening, brick from floor to ceiling covering the wall
We are in the process of purchasing a terrific fixer-upper with some great bones. The large living room has a high ceiling with beams, a floor-to-ceiling window at one end and a fireplace at the other.
I've attached a small, poorly lit picture from the listing (sorry!) that shows the fireplace end. We like the idea of the fireplace, but want to update the look. The opening is small and round, and the brick covers most of the wall all the way to the ceiling.
We were thinking maybe enlarge the opening and make it rectangular, but we're not sure what to do with the brick. We've seen other walls like this where the brick (or stone) is a much narrower strip of the wall, which looks more clean and contemporary.
We'll be painting and replacing the carpet with hardwoods, so there will be other updates here, but we're scratching our head with the fireplace.
Any recommendations or photos of similar projects would be appreciated!