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How can I make this brick look better?
sgreen18
January 17, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We just bought a house with a pretty sizeable brick fireplace in the great room. I'm not particularly in love with the rustic feel or the brick colors and will ultimately be aiming for a more sophisticated/chic contemporary look in the room -- potentially taupe or gray as the neutral. I think painting the fireplace could backfire, especially since it's so big. Thoughts on improving the look otherwise? At minimum, I can try and get rid of what look like some old green paint remnants. Maybe even paint over select red bricks with white? Please ignore all of the furniture and paint colors currently in the room photo. The only photo I have is from when the house was staged and doesn't at all reflect what the decor will hopefully be once I'm moved in.
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whitworthlesage
Whip that fireplace into something beautiful, literally! Use a lightweight plaster and ice the fireplace. You can get a variety of textures from heavy mudding to a soft lightly textured look much like the icing on a cake. Once you've achieved the texture you desire, then it can be airbrushed with a darker color than desired, and gone over with a lighter color in places to hi-iight the peaks. This will give you an antiqued look. If you desire a more dramatic look, airbrush a very light coat of stain and lightly sweep a clean lint free rag across it. That will give it a more tuscany feel.
1 Like   January 17, 2013 at 5:57PM
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whitworthlesage
To give you a more open airy space, try removing the bookcases and putting in paned glass windows that extend to the ceiling height. It will bring light into the room and make the space seem much larger.
1 Like   January 17, 2013 at 6:03PM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
grab a hammer and a screw driver and chip the gout away and pull the brick down or call someone to remove it for you
1 Like   January 17, 2013 at 6:07PM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
simple back to basics, if you dont like it get rid of it.....painting will only get you 'brick you dont like that is painted' pull the brick off and dry wall as needed and then add add nonflammable material around the face of the fire box as per code. then paint the drywall
0 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 6:10PM
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houssaon
Here are some painted brick photos: Alterstudio, Modern Farmhouse, Mid-Century Modern Great Room, Modern w/ a Side of Ranch, Danville Remodel and Noor's Place.

It looks like the brick was reused or simulated to look reused. You could wait to change the brick until you paint the walls. On the other hand, have you considered going all white? As you can see many of the rooms were painted white, as well as, the fireplace. I think that would be stunning and really highlight the ceiling and the warm wood floors. Then you can go neutral in your furnishings or go with lots of color.

Good luck!
5 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 6:14PM
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kmislick
I say consider your budget carefully and decide what you CAN and CAN NOT live with in this house. If the fireplace is a "no go" but budget is an issue, then consider painting the walls and fireplace first to see if the look becomes something you like. It is amazing how paint alone can change your feeling about a place. Paint the walls and the fireplace something you like and insert your furnishings. THEN, after spending almost nothing, say "hmmm, I still can not live with this". Then go through as many photos online as you can to mimic the look you want and go for it. Hire a professional, take that sucker down and make it what you love.
1 Like   January 17, 2013 at 6:16PM
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Natalie
Hi---Just tile right over the top of the brick in whatever stone, tile, etc. you wish. Link for a DIY... Good Luck! http://www.ehow.com/how_5054138_tile-over-brick-fireplace.html
0 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 6:21PM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
Nat.... rethink that or explain please
0 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 6:23PM
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Natalie
I attached a link Gary---check it out...
0 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 6:24PM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
a more contemporary look would be possible with a great piece of art on the shaft of the fireplace, I really feel that taking tile all the way to the ceiling is a huge mistake. as well as very clostly
1 Like   January 17, 2013 at 6:26PM
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
I'd go with Gary's idea of "tear it down, build it up", removing the brick and replacing it with large scale porcelain tile. It will give you a totally fresh look, adding beauty and glamour to your home. WESTON LANE: 2010 ASID DESIGN EXCELLENCE WINNER Modern House
0 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 6:27PM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
checked out the link ..... just think that is adding to the problem, what would be the issue will removing the brick....the room is rather simple and doesnt seem to be going the direction of tile walls, dry wall will be far more relaxing that and tile wall, just saying
1 Like   January 17, 2013 at 6:28PM
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Natalie
It really depends on the tile--porcelain is dirt cheap and for the look the homeowners after, that's what I suggest. That FP is around 72 sq ft--- with materials and all it would run approximately 400.00--- CheerS!
0 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 6:33PM
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Natalie
Sorry, I have to disagree here---why bother removing the brick when it's going to be tiled anyway? There's no need for it.
1 Like   January 17, 2013 at 6:41PM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
ops just saw the wall to wall hearth.....if the shaft comes down I would suggest removing the brick from the hearth as well... the hearth and some of the brick could be left around the fire box opening if cost is a factor... then add a wood surround on the thee sides of the brick that surround s the f/box
0 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 6:42PM
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AMN
I think the painted brick examples houssaon posted are fab.
1 Like   January 17, 2013 at 6:42PM
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swewer
paint/ white wash the brick and then add a beautiful cream colored wood mantel or fireplace surround. Add some trim/molding to those shelf bookcase things. hand a beautiful mirror on the brick and then suspend a beautiful carefully chosen low chandelier type fixture to reflect in the mirror. This can be a wonderful room. Esp with your idea for grays and taupes...stay with whites and creams to lighten those up. Use other natural stone or plaster items like planters or coffee table bases or statue/figurines in the room... Keep your wood natural, like unpainted or unglazed, with that beachy wash furniture you see from Provence or Belgium.
0 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 6:57PM
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Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
You do NOT need to remove the brick in order to get a new look. That would be incredibly messy, labor intensive and expensive. You can reface it with stone, tile, wood, or any other surface. I had a really unsightly brick fireplace and mantel for many years. I finally changed it by covering it with a black nero marquino marble hearth and surround, then adding raised panel wainscoting, a dentil molding and fluted pilasters, all painted linen white. It looks wonderful, like it's always been there, and that ugly brick is still underneath, but you'd never know!
4 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 8:50PM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
What was the total cost to add the marble.
0 Likes   January 17, 2013 at 9:04PM
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Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
It was done about 12 years ago--the entire job was $4,000-including all materials and labor. About half was the wood paneling and the other half was the marble. It was not a quick or easy fix (and certainly not budget-friendly!) but it does look beautiful and very professional. My attitude is to do something really well or not at all.
1 Like   January 18, 2013 at 4:03AM
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charb6
It's beautiful -- Don't paint it, and don't cover it up! Clean it, remove the green paint if you want with something like the non-toxic soygel product. Don't sandblast it either - it'll likely blast away too much of the mortar. I suggest contemporizing with design. I can see a black (or whatever color your color palate demands) wood, marble or even stainless mantelpiece. And take that contemporary flair elsewhere in the room. And don't take out those built-ins either. Paint or resurface the cabinets, but leave them. Built-ins add great value to homes. Mixing rustic with modern will look beautiful in this room.
2 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 4:34AM
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Cape Cod Home Staging Company
I think @houssaon showed you the way, but add a pop of artwork or a great mirror. Sherwin Williams has an oil based primer that will cover, and you can go over with latex. This looks like a working fireplace, so the Venetion plaster ideas will be covered in soot unless you get an insert.
2 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 4:44AM
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mollyrb123
What a great space!! I would say to paint it or reface it with stone. We just refaced our brick fireplace with cultured stone and it is fabulous. The best part is that it was so reasonable and looks like with spent a lot more than we did! Good luck!
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 5:17AM
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nevadan
Just get rid of the green remnants with some white paint. Then choose another color for your walls - eggshell? because the gold kills the fireplace brick. Don't go for a sophisticated look - your house has a casual barn-like vibe that I like.
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 7:36AM
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whitworthlesage
Hey Cape Cod Home, the picture you have shown does wonders to illustrate the idea of removing the bookcases and placing glass windows in place of them to allow more light into the room. Leave the upper glass windows. That way the the fireplace can be painted the same color as the room, it doesn't have to be white, just the same color as the walls. The mudding has been done on several homes that I have toured and it looks rich. If you know how to ice a cake you can mud over the bricks. It is very time consuming especially with an area this large, but the results are stunning. As far as the top of the hearth, wood could be used to make a seating area in front of the large glass windows. The most cost effective approach so far has been to paint it, but you won't get the look above until you remove those bookcases which can be placed in other parts of the room, but not as a focal point.
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 7:38AM
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dcuno
I would always go with paint first as it will be the least expensive option and will buy you time to decide what you really want to do with it down the road. Time is our friend! Love the look of these painted examples--clean and sleek. Break up the expanse with a great piece of art! Have fun!
1 Like   January 18, 2013 at 7:40AM
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cohoek
What about having it plastered to a smooth white? Half a days work for a professional, you could tile the bottom part with some big pieces of granite...
1 Like   January 18, 2013 at 7:47AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
I agree with with Diana, that things should be done well or not at all. I would definitely have someone quote removing the brick on the upper portion of the f/p shaft leaving a surround of brick at the firebox, so the brick hearth could stay in place, and then find a price for the drywall and prove me wrong but I think is would yield the best look. If not paint would be the answer
1 Like   January 18, 2013 at 7:48AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
cohoek, not a bad idea, only that the brick is not smooth and even, the plaster would need to likely be so thick that is would need to be applied in layers and have time to dry, it would end-up being very thick.
We should all wait to hear back from sgreen to find if they are doing the work or it will be done for them
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 7:51AM
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INSTUDIO
After selecting your wall color use the same flat paint latex on the bricks. Dilute the paint by about 50% with water and paint the bricks. This will give the room a contemporary monochromatic look while retaining the texture which adds interest to the room.
1 Like   January 18, 2013 at 8:01AM
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Karl opanowicz
As long as the brick has not been painted or sealed it can be covered in a thin stone veneer made from real stone. A dominant area like that should be done in a light color neutral stone. A wood surround of the fireplace opening would warm it back up.
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 8:15AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
a wood srround of the opening might look warm and will be warmer once it starts to burn! Opanowicz, did you mean to say the fireplace opening? That would be against the building code anywhere. There needs to be at least 9" from the top, 12" at the sides and 18" at the bottom forward.....codes may require more at this time. We need to be careful here with suggestions here that could become FLAMMABLE
1 Like   January 18, 2013 at 8:20AM
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Jon Schluenz
Is it possible to whitewash the brick? I think a finish that lets some of the texture and variety of the brick would look better than painting it a solid color. I also think that a mantle might help, to scale the size of the chimney down a little. Its kind of eating the whole room. This house is saying mid-century modern. I would listen to that.
4 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 8:22AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
even if the fireplace is currently using gas logs the code is still required to be maintaned
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 8:22AM
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Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
Please, I know this isn't an English class, but a MANTLE is a scarf. A MANTEL is on the fireplace (unless you hang scarves on your fireplace....)
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 9:59AM
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merrigay
I agree with whitewashing the brick. My neighbor did this to her fireplace and it looks fantastic...much, much better than painting it imo. Before trying an expensive solution, try a more modest one to see if you like it. If not, go to the next idea. She also changed the mantel and added corbels to hold it. Like the idea of the windows, too, but that's expensive.
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 10:04AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
so many ideas.....where is the owner???
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 10:24AM
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sgreen18
Thank you for all of the suggestions!! I posted before meeting friends last night so I haven't had a chance to read through the comments yet. Can't wait to see what you've written!
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 10:43AM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
as you read, thins of removing the BRICK (-:
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 10:47AM
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sgreen18
There is a lot to think about! I do think starting small with just paint or whitewashing might be the way to go. I'm not typically a DIY-er, but whitewashing seems relatively simple and at least gets me closer to what I'd want. Plus, this seems like an easier project to sell my husband on than a more aggressive change ;-). I am definitely on board with a great mirror or art piece to break up the brick. I think that could make a huge difference.
0 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 11:54AM
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Scott Design, Inc.
This is more of a technical comment because it looks as though the styling is already a lively conversation. Looking at the fireplace opening, there appears to be sooty discoloration above the firebox on the bricks. Before you do anything and invest any money, hire a chimney service that inspects the integrity of the fireplace, recognizes the apparent drafting problem, offers a remedy whether it is cleaning, repointing, changing the chimney cap, etc. It would be a shame to do the decorating and have it ruined with soot that not only accummulates on the fireplace but on everything in the room.
2 Likes   January 18, 2013 at 12:44PM
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GARY FINLEY, ASID
just remember that often: a close second is simply a near miss!
0 Likes   January 19, 2013 at 10:28AM
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charb6
Also remember, you can always go forward, but you can never go back (without great cost, anyway). Unless you are absolutely sure of your direction, do the gentlest, least obtrusive thing first.
0 Likes   January 20, 2013 at 8:12PM
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jaymallin
I have removed brick outright, masons washed (Whitewashed) and tiled over with a natural stone tile. I plan to paint some brick on the exterior in the spring. I would think that each approach has its merits based on budget concerns, overall fit with the rest of the room, with only one pic, who knows what is behind the photographer?
Regardless, if renovating the wall isn't in the cards right now, paint it, work on an overall plan and then pull it down a couple years from now once you really know how you would like to move forward.
1 Like   January 20, 2013 at 8:47PM
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Jake Petersen
I would also recommend painting the fireplace white or grey. You then could mount a freestanding shelf into the wall.
0 Likes   February 4, 2013 at 10:56AM
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llswink
This is used brick which is very expensive! Don't paint them, instead, consider whitewashing them. Don't touch the grout, just do the bricks. Whitewash will soften the colors in the brick and really tone down that green. OR just go through and paint the front surface of the green bricks with a neutral color. (don't paint down to the grout or it will look really fake)
0 Likes   February 4, 2013 at 11:35AM
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