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Planning to Paint a Brick Fireplace

No matter how much I pushed and prodded, and produced photo after photo of lovely painted brick fireplaces, Hubby never budged on his “don’t-paint-the-brick” opinion in the townhouse.  Given that there were so few things he was adamant about, decor-wise, I knew I would be entering serious bad-wife territory if I just primed and painted it when he wasn’t looking (not that I didn’t ponder it a time or two, paint brush in hand).  When we bought the lakehouse, I was over the moon excited about the composite, concrete fireplace because it wasn’t sacred, can’t-paint-it brick.  Score!  Pass me a paint brush and let me have at it.

I immediately pictured a deep charcoal grey paint covering the whole thing – knotty pine included – paired with freshly painted black fireplace doors and grates (goodbye gold).  Imagine my chagrin when Hubby vetoed painting this fireplace too!!  Womp wompHis reasoning: it matches the outside of the house.  My reasoning: that composite (and the siding) needs a dose of dark grey too!!  Now, I understand not painting stuff.  If the fireplace was made from something special, I’d leave it alone.

Concrete and pine fireplace

Someday I’d love to re-do the whole thing with something more modern and streamlined, but for now painting it would make me happy!  Like a bad kid, I already swiped on a stripe of primer (only on the pine!!), but I’ll admit that I stood there, brush in hand, staring at the stone for a bit too long.  We have to convince Hubby to come to the dark (grey) side.  Help?



  1. Cassie @ Primitive & Proper
    September 9, 2013 / 12:39 pm

    we painted ours gray first thing when we moved in here… i have never regretted it and still love it 2 years (almost) later.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 9, 2013 / 3:02 pm

      I'm jealous!! I think grey would be such a great neutral (and keep cleaner than white)! One vote for the grey, yay!

  2. midcentuymadam
    September 9, 2013 / 2:56 pm

    Paint the wall and woodstove, and the gold trim and see how it looks. It might surprise you. I'm certainly not opposed to painting brick but I have to say, yours isn't bad. I'm no help, am I? I'm so excited to see the after pictures of all the upcoming projects at the lake house. Okay, at second glance, I do love those gray fireplaces. Good luck convincing him.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 9, 2013 / 3:01 pm

      How am I going to hide this comment from Hubs, lol? The trim painted will definitely be a major improvement.

  3. Anonymous
    September 9, 2013 / 4:14 pm

    Dont paint the brick it is beutiful natural grey as it is. But do paint the Sauna colored wooden wall and the goldtrim. Love your blog.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 9, 2013 / 4:30 pm

      Hubby, is this you leaving an anonymous comment, LOL? It is definitely Sauna coloured – that is a perfect description!! Thanks for the input.

  4. Staci @ My Friend Staci
    September 9, 2013 / 4:23 pm

    Painting the knotty pine will go a HUGE way! I like some of the painted fireplaces above, but hate a few of them too. Sometimes they can look too flat and one-dimensional with a simple swipe of paint. I'm on team "tear out and redo" … of course, not right away.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 9, 2013 / 4:31 pm

      Tear out and redo is always a good option – if only it didn't come with such a scary price tag!! The pine is definitely gone – not even a question. I'm hoping a deeper grey has more impact than a swipe of mid-tone grey . . . The flatness is a good point to consider, and perhaps the finish plays a big role. A semi-gloss might be nicest . . .

  5. Katchups
    September 9, 2013 / 5:52 pm

    You know, what I want to know is what is up with the weird double vents with the shelf underneath?? This wouldn't be so bad if those vents weren't there and the shelf was even with the other two. Also painting the concrete a darker color would hide the soot accumulation from the fireplace you have going on there. And it's only going to get darker as time goes by. I say paint it!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 9, 2013 / 11:57 pm

      The vents are weird looking, right? Sadly, it's a whole system that moves and circulates the heat from the fireplace so more heats the space and not the sky above. I am hoping black vents with dark grey paint will make them disappear a little. I'm also hoping they work so friggin' awesomely good, I can forgive their ugliness.Yay for the darker colour vote!! Hiding the soot is definitely another concern of mine.

  6. Anonymous
    September 9, 2013 / 7:05 pm

    You have to convice him to let you paint it or cover it or something. That blotchy brown grey situation just doesn't seem like your style at all. Plus it doesn't make any sense with the white tile situation in front of it.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 9, 2013 / 11:57 pm

      Yes yes!! The white tile has grey in it that doesn't show up well on camera. I'd like to replace it with some dark grey slate eventually, so that whole area is a yummy charcoal grey focal point.

  7. Dora
    September 9, 2013 / 8:22 pm

    I would def paint it – it would change a lot in the way it looks. I, however, would paint everything white and paint the wood in a very subdued grey, but I think your plan would work really well too.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 9, 2013 / 11:59 pm

      I always love white fireplaces – and the wood painted pale grey would look so pretty! My only concern is keeping it clean. It's sooty right now from the former owner . . . not sure if that is a user-error or a flaw in the design?? It's smoky for some reason, something our townhouse wood burning fireplace never was. But white would be so crisp!! Great idea 🙂

  8. MJ
    September 9, 2013 / 9:45 pm

    Maybe this will convince Hubby in a bass-ackwards way: I'm middle-aged and really don't like those gray fireplaces. So if you want to go youthful, go gray!Absolutely yes on painting the pine and getting rid of the gold. I *could* support darkening the brick, closer to the smoked look right above the fireplace–but not losing the variations in color. I guess the flat is what throws my "old" brain.Looking forward to seeing your first round of results! Maybe I'll even come over to the dark(er) side…

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 10, 2013 / 12:01 am

      Your reasoning is so sweet!! I agree: the variations are nice. Some of the inspiration pics are a little flat. But a lot of younger readers don't seem to love the grey either, so I wouldn't discount your taste as "old" at all.

  9. Lets just build a house!
    September 9, 2013 / 11:24 pm

    maybe you will not hate it as much if you replace the mantel, or will he compromise and you can paint the ledge and replace the mantel? and of course still paint that pine and gold?!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 10, 2013 / 12:00 am

      Pine and gold are definitely outta there (shudder). New mantle?? Such a good idea!!

  10. Oona
    September 10, 2013 / 1:57 am

    How about a compromise "greywashing" of the brick? I've just been admiring the job YHL did on their orangey brick fireplace at…. and can't help thinking that instead of whitewash, using a grey paint (albeit watered down) would preserve the dimensionality of the brick. If the original brick showed through just a smidge, would that satisfy your life's partner? A darker stain/paint on the shelves would help you out a lot, too, once the gold and sauna pine are gone. Take it in stages and see if he doesn't come around.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 10, 2013 / 1:13 pm

      Greywashing is a fun idea!! I love that everyone calls the wood "sauna pine". That cracks me up every time.

  11. Interior Design Musings
    September 10, 2013 / 11:43 am

    Wear. Him. Down! It took me almost 7 years to get the go ahead on painting my kitchen cabinetry. It was worth it! Good Luck! M.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 10, 2013 / 1:15 pm

      Haha!! You know, once he saw these photos, he phoned me and admitted he thought the fireplace surround was nicer than he remembered. He's only seen the house a few times. Seeing the first painted brick fireplace convinced him!! But I'll need to go super bold and dark, I think, to keep it from looking flat like others pointed out.

  12. cred
    September 10, 2013 / 1:43 pm

    Another vote for paint it grey… and I love the charcoal grey. Of the houses we've been purusing, many that have brick fireplaces, we're quickly painted white in my brain (too many red brick and others, as you describe, builder basicy). But the grey- doh! Why wasn't I mentally painting them grey? I love grey and definitely love the charcoal examples you've posted. Not to mention the practicality of masking the soot. And I like the suggestion of greywashing (but still dark grey)- perhaps that could prevent it from potentially looking flat. Easy enough to do a test area and if it doesn't work, it could then be painted solid. Oh I hope that hubby agrees in the end- this would be so beautiful with a little (modern) facelift.

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 11, 2013 / 12:42 am

      I have always thought white, too, until I saw the grey fireplace at The Brick House and fell in love. Because I'm such a white wall fanatic, I think I need the dark grey over white, or else the fireplace will disappear. I'm excited to tackle this, but focusing on painting the room, first. We haven't moved yet, so painting without furniture (esp. ceilings) is a dream!!

  13. Shannon
    September 11, 2013 / 1:43 pm

    I'm all for painting that fireplace!! HUBBY YOU MUST ALLOW THIS!!!!!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 12, 2013 / 1:57 am

      LOL. You tell him!!

  14. cred
    September 11, 2013 / 9:27 pm

    yuck! Good luck with the painting- perhaps not a big deal for you. Some people love painting, I on the other hand, hate it. Especially ceilings!

    • Tanya from Dans le Townhouse
      September 12, 2013 / 1:57 am

      I don't love it at all. I am also a big mess when I paint – sloppy and careless. I've gotten paint in my eye (and I wear glasses, so that's a major feat right there). But my parents are helping and the transformation is worth the suffering, lol.

  15. Amy D
    September 13, 2013 / 2:19 am

    Oooh, I agree with you. Grey would look fantastic! I think your hubby will change his mind soon enough 🙂 Crossing my fingers for you!

  16. Amy D
    September 13, 2013 / 2:22 am

    Oooh, I agree with you. Grey would look fantastic! I hope your hubby changes his mind soon!

  17. Amy
    September 26, 2013 / 7:55 pm

    Oh gosh… he needs to improve his argument. "because it matches the outside" doesn't hold up. a) you'd never see the two together b) fireplace brick screams to be painted.I doubt I helped… but I hope he changes his mind!!

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