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Ideas for painted fireplace
funhouse3
January 11, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We moved into this home with the fireplace painted white. It looks like it needs something more, but don't know what. We've thought of painting the mantle a deep color, somehow staining wood and putting it on the mantle, maybe glazing the bricks, or painting the mortar a cream to have the bricks stand out but not overpower. Any suggestions would be great! Thanks!
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decoenthusiaste
I'd try something simpler first. How about lightening the shelves with an accent color inside? Maybe a light blue would look good with your other walls. You might also consider installing doors over the two bottom shelves of the bookcases so they appear less dark and deep. Is there any way to light the upper shelves? Good lighting and arrangements in the shelves will make the FP less of a big white spot. Have you taken the Houzz tutorial on styling shelf decor? Focus on that first, because your FP is not that bad. Only thing you might want to do as an update is to paint the folding doors with flat black heatproof paint. You'll probably pick up some ideas on how to style the mantle at the display tutorial.
January 11, 2013 at 10:21AM     
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funhouse3
Thanks for the advice! We were planning on getting doors for the bottom half, great idea, and maybe making the shelves themselves thicker. And I hadn't thought of painting the gold a light blue/silver - that would look great from the kitchen. I was trying to find the tutorial of shelf decor, and can't seem to find it. Is in under ideabook or pictures. Thanks so much for the advice. I really appreciate it!
January 11, 2013 at 12:30PM   
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PRO
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
I think you've done a lovely job of styling your mantel, with a wonderful asymmetrical balance of interesting items! Bravo to you because that is hard to do!

Certainly, thicker shelves are needed, and lower doors would be helpful. Why not do that and then report back to us. I'd love to see a thicker mantel, but what you have is quite nice.
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
January 11, 2013 at 4:55PM     
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PRO
Scott Design, Inc.
Why not take a classic material in an updated format. Blue stone has been a classic fireplace hearth and surround material forever because its colors work with everything, but it is typically applied in slabs around the firebox and as a hearth stone. Dal Tile has small format blue stone mini stone tiles that are great looking. It's the texture of these tiles that make the concept unique. I would tile both legs, the head area over the firebox and the top and front edge of the first course of brick on the hearth (pack out the edge about 1" more than the white brick below) mixing a couple of textures. Leave the white mantle. Then bulk up your shelf area as you had mentioned and you will have a unique and well balanced approach to the entire wall. If you don't care for the blue stone, consider other small format materials such as spun glass or metal. The brick background is a perfect backdrop for this "textured naturals" approach.
January 11, 2013 at 6:13PM     
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PRO
ANZY
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January 11, 2013 at 6:16PM   
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rjdion
Reduce the space between the mantle and firebox by screwing a molding beneath the present top


Reduce the glare with softer lighting and consider a mid tone grey for the fireplace wall and shelves. That will reduce the contrast between the black firebox and present white walls.
January 11, 2013 at 6:24PM     
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Carmen Collins
I actually love the fireplace, however, because you have many small items on the shelves and have done the same with the mantle it lacks drama. A large piece of artwork on the mantle that can bring in the paint colour on the wall, the white and gold on the fireplace would add the drama required. This allows the eye to focus immediately on the focal point of the room, which is your beautiful fireplace.
January 12, 2013 at 7:34AM     
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AMN
I agree with Carmen. With all the small things everywhere, the eye doesn't know where to land. The whole thing ends up lacking impact.
January 12, 2013 at 7:39AM     
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PRO
Judith Taylor Designs
I think you have a lovely photo. I would change only two things. Firstly, 'beef up' the shelves to a chunkier thickness. This will be more appropriate with the weight of everything else. Then I would consider painting the brick area above and beside the fireplace so it recedes and the fireplace is more of a focus. It is really too 'bright white' right now and that is okay for the fireplace bu the surrounding bricks are too much bright white. I hope this makes sense. I don't even mind the brass screen because of the wall colour but it is easy to paint out with barbecue paint which is (understandably) suitable for hot metal surfaces.
January 12, 2013 at 7:45AM   
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jrun
Where is the Houzz tutorial on styling shelf decor? I can't find it.
January 12, 2013 at 8:17AM   
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collettec
I think the white is almost too much. I would consider painting the brick wall area around the fireplace a lighter gray similar to your carpet and the hearth, the fireplace itself and the mantel a darker gray.
January 12, 2013 at 9:00AM     
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annboyce
to me... the board on top of the fireplace looks out of proportion to the two skinny columns of brick underneath. I’m a sucker for wood stained a nice brown with a subtle grain like birch... so you might build a box frame out of 2x2’s under the shelf, get one sheet of birch plywood & stain & polyurethane with a high-gloss to throw light into the room, go to a tile store & find either marble, granite or slate squares 1’x1’ & glue them on to the frame around the fire opening with liquid nails. You will need to hold them in place as they dry with tape, or build your fireplace laying down & then stand it up.

If that is too much work, build the frame, cover with paintable plywood & paint a faux marble, it is soooo easy. put tile around the fireplace opening with liquid nails.
January 12, 2013 at 1:19PM   
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michigammemom
You might consider beefing up the mantle with some trim molding to make it more prominent.
January 12, 2013 at 1:46PM     
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Jayme H.
I was thinking a darker mantle
January 12, 2013 at 8:09PM     
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wholl
Beef up the trim on the cabinetry as a start. Add doors to the lower portion as you have planned and try facing the edge of the shelves with some stock trim to keep it more in scale with the fireplace; a relatively inexpensive and quick fix and one that will give your cabinetry more of a presence. I do agree with others that have posted considering a darker or natural mantle for some relief from the white and a place for the eye to land.
January 13, 2013 at 5:01AM     
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bernadette1234
I had pretty much the same thing with my fireplace. We had a custom mantel made and then painted the brick inside INSIDE the mantel the wall color. Made a huge difference! You could just replace the top of your mantel....
January 13, 2013 at 5:10AM   
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annoulaxeni
Just a thought regarding the idea of beefing up those side shelves: leave the shelves the thickness they are, but add a piece of thicker molding across the front of each (extending downward) behind which you could hide some LED strip lighting. You'd get the look of more substantial shelving plus the accent of soft lighting which would be particularly pretty if you've painted the interior of the shelving units a color you're fond of.

If you were to go with this, painting the mantelpiece a few shades darker of the same color might tie it all together nicely.
January 13, 2013 at 5:29AM     
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mdmomof3
Overall, I think what bothers me about this room is that the white on the fireplace doesn't appear to compliment the gold on the walls. This may entirely be due to changes in color on my computer screen, though. Looks like your lighting in the rest of the room might not be adequate, which tones down the drama. I would clear off the shelves and actually stage them with fewer items. Then add some that are purely decoration, possibly in a repeating pop of color (maybe even white?). Lastly, you could consider putting some wallpaper or stencil on the back wall of the bookcases that included some white design, like this one
January 13, 2013 at 6:39AM     
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sarasmom
I agree with Carmen. A larger piece of art on the mantle will balance out the wall and cover some of the white. Find something in the house that's the right size and set it up there as a test. Then you can see if the mantle needs to be darker to "frame" the art better. Great idea from annoulaxeni for light strips on the shelves. Also, consider removing a shelf or two to add some larger pieces. The shelves don't need to be symmetrical as long as you balance the items you display. Doors below, or some large narrow baskets/trunks would anchor the shelves. Maybe add a tall metal canister with some kind of branches to one side of the hearth to bring the height of the mantle down and add some texture. Nice room!
January 13, 2013 at 8:28AM     
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katmurphy1212
i would start by changing that goldish color on the walls and the back of the shelves. then you can do 2 things, you can paint the back brick but not the fireplace trim, also include the front of the bottom, the logs are on. so that the trim accenting the fireplace stay white.. or do just the opposite. have seen it done in black and white, but try to tie into the room, after you change the wall and shelf color. but definately make the trim and the fireplace pop..its nice but could be so much more! ps, i liked the door idea on the bottom shelves and leave the white on those..
January 13, 2013 at 10:13AM   
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Jayme H.
In addition to the darker mantle I was thinking the fireplace insert face should also match it...ie: both black...
January 13, 2013 at 10:49AM   
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funhouse3
Thanks so much for the input...one of the pics jayme Hobbs sent had addicted 2 decorating on it. I went to the site and found how to paint the door and add stained wooed to the mantel. I'll add those to the list of things to do. I like the idea of painting the surrounding brick, but not the trim around the opening. I was going to keep the gold walls, but may reconsider... Thanks so much for all the suggestions, lots to think of....
January 13, 2013 at 11:19AM     
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englishaccent
In this picture you will see that I beefed up your mantle, kept in light, added a large picture over the mantle to demand attention to the area. Added molding to the side shelves to bring out the architectural feature better and shutter doors on the bottom to give ground the design. Oh yes, and changed the doors out to something very dark.
January 13, 2013 at 11:25AM     
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englishaccent
Here is the look with a darker mantle.
January 13, 2013 at 11:27AM     
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PRO
EMW Architecture
The side cabinets seem too prominent now. In the picture they look "proud" of the fireplace. Perhaps they should be a darker wood, or (gasp) painted the wall color, so they recede a bit, so the fireplace pops forward visually. I love the big artwork, but something really colorful or a piece with more detail? Also, the lighting is too uniform over the entire wall. A spot in the center lighting the artwork, and spots lighting each shelf would add drama. All on dimmers, or use different wattage bulbs, so the center is brighter. The doors on the cabinetry are a great idea, to give the side cabinetry more weight at the bottom, but perhaps simple "shaker style" doors would be better. The slats grab your attention to something that should just be a base for the shelves. I like the shadow lines created by the mantel when the whole thing is white. The thicker mantel is much better. The black firebox just looks like a black hole now, with no definition. I love black iron fireplace trim, so maybe it's just the photo. Of course, a wood floor would further visually separate and define the fireplace, which is, by the way, really nice! I think I've added considerably to your paint budget - sorry!
January 13, 2013 at 12:23PM     
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decoenthusiaste
Tutorial: search above under photos for tutorial - the one you want is on page 4. Beef up shelves by simply adding trim to the front edge.
January 13, 2013 at 12:33PM   
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spartucus
I agree, the painting kind of blends in. Perhaps a mirror with simple lines, the new wood mantel looks great and just what I would so. Not sure I am loving the doors added to shelves. Some earthy pottery mixed with books would be good. Yes, I agree the doors on shelves better solid. What is in the fireplace, and does it work? White birch logs in a basket might be nice. I think the fireplace needs a grate. The plants don't have enough going on, they seem kind of timid. Are they real? Maybe better in bookshelf? I like the painting but agree it isn't working there, somewhere else in room where you can pop. Sorry, you are probably wishing you never asked! But you are so close to perfect so don't give up! Curvy grate in bronze would be nice and add some roundness to the whole thing.
January 13, 2013 at 12:51PM   
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PRO
EMW Architecture
Love the grate idea in bronze or black. The problem is that it looks solid black. The grate design would add another layer of texture. I also agree with the comment about the plants. Go with something big, like a tall vase with curly willow or something. Is the fireplace a wood burning or gas? If it's wood burning, and rarely used, then adding some birch logs, which are lighter colored would look great, if you can't swing the grate.
January 13, 2013 at 1:00PM   
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spartucus
Is that carpet on floor? Hardwood underneath? I would pull up if that's the case. Run Roh. This is turning into quite a little project. Also on bookshelf stack big books and try to use hardcovers. This biz of people covering their books in beige paper seems silly to me and not something real reader would do. Even the little things like photo frames have to be looked at and better if simple and in similar style. Good old target has black ones you can get. Make sure all shelves even top ones are full, mixing pottery with stacked books , phtos and books straight. You can get classic hard covers at yard sales. I also wouldn't put magazines in them unless you have them in a mag holder, wicker or something. They just flop around and look sloppy.
January 13, 2013 at 1:01PM   
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aqelvis
Get rid of the brass cover, buy a pretty wrought iron (or whatever metal you like) screen, and maybe put some colorful tile or elegant tile right above the fireplace opening under mantle....leave fireplace sides, hearth and mantle white, and paint the wall beside and above fireplace and bookcases a different color.....Picture or mirror above mantle, and/or some books, vases, or small clocks for diplay sitting on mantle....
January 13, 2013 at 1:46PM   
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Marina Kerapa
I agree with the above. a large piece of art work above the fire place would do the trick
January 13, 2013 at 1:54PM   
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thiskidd
If you don't need the book shelves, I'd remove them completely and keep the wall color with nothing on the walls. I'd clear everything off the mantel, except perhaps a beautiful artwork, painting or sculpture center staged and fairly good size (2.5-3ft.) This open and bareness can be accented with nice soft lighting and the addition of striking plant containers with tall plants up to the level of the mantel on either side if your feel the need to fill this space somewhat. Pick plants that have a sculptural vertical appeal. Over all this bare open area will add size to your room and a visual calmness, creating a serene environment.

Enjoy all the many options people are providing! Good Luck!
January 13, 2013 at 6:00PM   
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spartucus
Just realized we are all reacting to a photoshop image. You haven't done anything yet....I am now wondering about some of the comments about the crown molding over FP. Are the bookshelves well made? If so I would say keep, because bookshelves add warmth and character to a room. I really like jayme hodges third image to the right. But if the shelves look kind of tacked on or lack crown for continuity, you may need a carpenter to tie it together. More importantly what is your budget because you could redesign this into a major cost. If your budget is tight, just go with the wood mantle and the decorative accents we all suggested. If you have more to spend then some of the bigger structural ideas here make more sense. But if the shelves are not solid, don't throw good money after bad. A good carpenter can work wonders. Is this a home you plan to stay in a long time, invest for the long term. Otherwise go for cheap and cheerful.
January 13, 2013 at 6:20PM   
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Carmen Collins
This is for Englishaccent....can you please tell me what software you are using? Thanks. :)
January 14, 2013 at 6:12AM   
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englishaccent
I am using Photoshop. Didn't mean to throw you all off, just showing options with the owners own items. Oh yes, and the picture over the mantle is totally made up. Again, just showing options. :)
January 14, 2013 at 9:52AM   
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Jayme H.
Glad to be of some help, hope u get it al done the way u want it, in an economical way!:)
January 14, 2013 at 9:56AM   
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funhouse3
We have not done anything yet, except talked to the carpenter - who is my husband, so that helps with budget=). We are going to place crown molding on shelves, beef up the horizontal shelves (they are well made), find some cabinets for lower half, and somehow make the mantle wood - either stained trim, or I may search the salvage yard for a cool piece of wood. I think we'll probably change the wall color when we open the room up to the kitchen - when budget and time allow. It is carpet, and although I would like new, we are probably going to stay with carpet b/c the kitchen, living room and dining rooms are all hardwood - beautiful, but we need some play space for our children. One of which is two years, so I like the ideas of staging the hearth, but may wait a couple years till he is done breaking things=) The fireplace is original wood burning turned gas by previous owner, and husband wants to make it wood burning again, so painting doors is probably best option. I still need to decide about painting bricks, but may be inspired as i choose paint colors. i like the ideas of painting surround brick and not main square, i need to find picture of that..... Thanks again for all the ideas! Very creative!
January 14, 2013 at 10:50AM   
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Pam Michienzi
The mantel and fireplace would look fab if painted a glossy black, add doors to bottom of shelving for balance and benefit of storage. Also less is more on the mantel, due to the fact you have shelves with littles on either side, which you did we'll decorating, try keeping it symmetrical with large candlesticks on each side with one item in the middle.,,,good luck!
January 14, 2013 at 1:24PM   
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soab2013
I suggest not to paint the fire place and instead you can add some touches by installing brownish colour marble or garnet as small pieces.

Eng. sharif barjous
January 14, 2013 at 1:45PM   
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ecktmj
I would look at some cast iron embellishments....leave the color and possibly look for old doors off of and old stove like the green one below, have them refinished with a bold color in the reds of blues....It would add great architectural interest and bring an eclectic edge to the room....
January 14, 2013 at 3:32PM   
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Lubna Younes
That's what we did in our living room....it might give some ideas!
January 15, 2013 at 5:57AM   
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missreneerow
A printed paper backing to the shelves would do wonders for spicing up the colors a bit. You need a new rug and a square coffee table. I think a round mirror would showcase the fireplace nicely, add two topiary on either side. A light on the top shelf would draw your eye up.
January 15, 2013 at 6:05AM   
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Carolina Girl
I have a white brick fireplace and I love the white my problem is the hearth is made from chipped pieces of tile in a red/orange color. We have an insert in the fireplace because we use it for heat in the winter and it helps to break up the large white mass. Depending on your decor a black screen and fireplace irons could create a cozy feeling in the room for very little investment. (enlarge picture to see complete fireplace)
January 16, 2013 at 12:39PM   
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huynhhai
Why not take a classic material in an updated format. Blue stone has been a classic fireplace hearth and surround material forever because its colors work with everything, but it is typically applied in slabs around the firebox and as a hearth stone. Dal Tile has small format blue stone mini stone tiles that are great looking. It's the texture of these tiles that make the concept unique. I would tile both legs, the head area over the firebox and the top and front edge of the first course of brick on the hearth (pack out the edge about 1" more than the white brick below) mixing a couple of textures. Leave the white mantle. Then bulk up your shelf area as you had mentioned and you will have a unique and well balanced approach to the entire wall. If you don't care for the blue stone, consider other small format materials such as spun glass or metal. The brick background is a perfect backdrop for this "textured naturals" approach. http://vienne.co/vi-cam-tay
January 22, 2013 at 2:19AM   
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one4tea
I have an idea your lighting in the picture makes the fireplace area much whiter than it really is. I would paint the shelves the same color as the fireplace area thus spreading your wall and fooling the eye about the width of your room. Put molding on the outer edge of the shelves to make them appear heavier than they are. You can try this look with some white paper just to see if it is a better look. I like to try to fake the look before spending my money and a roll of white paper would be the way to go.
January 27, 2013 at 7:29PM   
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