Should I Paint My Fireplace?

This reader is getting ready to install a fresh white kitchen with an earthy stone fireplace in the adjacent room. Should she paint her stone fireplace? Keep reading to find out.

Okay, so a while ago when I changed the “Ask Maria” questions to “Send me what’s bothering you” questions, ya’ll pretty much stopped sending them, so obviously that wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever come up with. (sigh)

Please keep sending me your questions here. And by the way, when you do, remember to include an image (and don’t forget to tidy up the room pretty please). It has very little chance of being posted without an image, and if it’s a total disaster.

>> Here’s a great Ask Maria question: Help! My light grey walls look baby blue.

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Rue Magazine

One last thing… If you just need paint colours or advice on which countertop goes with which backsplash, I’ve got some amazing online colour design services for that! You can buy email consultations for paint colours, and questions like, which  countertop should I choose, what’s the right flooring colour for this room? Or, what colour should I paint my cabinets?

Recently I received an Ask Maria question from Julie, that I thought more of you might also want to know, and here it is:

Hi Maria! I just found you and have been reading as many of your articles as I can fit in each day! I also purchased and read your e-book about whites. What can I say. . . I’m hooked! Your work fascinates me. I just came across the “Ask Maria” section of your web page and have a question. 

I am starting a remodel of my kitchen. I am a fan of the white look and am planning on white cabinets with a white quartz countertop. After reading your book, I can see that I have a problem that my kitchen will face my family room that has a large sandstone fireplace. It will be my only fixed thing in my house that I need to worry about, as I will be remodeling the rest of the room. Is it too “earthy” for me to use one of the off whites in your book? I have also thought about trying to paint the sandstone with a chalk paint to make it an off-white. Not sure if this is a good idea though. 

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Should I paint my fireplace?

Is this fireplace too earthy to be literally in the same room as a white (off-white or cream) kitchen?

Yes, it is.

The fireplace in your great room/adjoining family room should definitely relate to what’s happening in your kitchen if you want to avoid the look of yesterday and today.

All you have to do is imagine a white kitchen that looks similar to this one sitting opposite your current stone fireplace and you’ll run to paint it 🙂

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

House Beautiful

Use Chalk Paint on Your Fireplace.

Chalk painting your fireplace is a great idea! Although your sandstone fireplace can also get away with being painted with a solid paint like the very first fireplace image in this post (above).

But before chalk paint came along, I would advise my clients NOT to paint stone fireplaces because then they would look like this:

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Image source

While this fireplace looks 10 times better than it did before it was painted, to my eye, it looks too flat.

>> Don’t install a new fireplace without reading this first. 

You can also get away with a solid, painted look with brick fireplaces very easily, of course (below). Painted brick looks a lot like white subway tile and brick doesn’t have the texture and the same uneven look that stone fireplaces do.

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

via Smitten Studio

Whitewash Your Stone Fireplace for More Definition

Although Stephen Shubel would definitely disagree with me, he simply had this fireplace painted in this California cottage that he decorated (below).

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Or did he whitewash it? Hmmm. . . it’s hard to say but it does look like the grout in between the stones has some definition, which makes it look less like solid, painted stone, and similar to this whitewashed fireplace below:

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Before

Julie, here’s a fireplace in very much the same tones as yours and here’s the result after it was chalk painted and white washed:

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Coastal Collective Co

Paint Your Stone or Brick Fireplace to Match Your Trim Colour

I hope this post gives you the confidence to paint your fireplace! One last word of advice is to keep it your trim colour. I’m not a fan of grey or dark painted fireplaces, they tend to feel flat and instantly dated.

Over to you, my lovelies, do you think a stone fireplace looks good painted a solid colour? Or should it have some dimension created by using chalk paint?

Have a great week everyone!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact us! We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous e-design consultation packages here.

Related posts:

Should your Great Room relate to the Kitchen?

Which Stone Colour is Best for your Fireplace Surround?

Decorating your Mantle and Fireplace Surround

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  1. I think what you are seeing on Stephen Shubel’s fireplace is paint. Not white-wash. Or chalk paint. You say the grout has definition. I think it’s just shadows. The picture of his fireplace was taken from a distance. The picture of the fireplace that you say looks flat, is a close-up view. I think the distance creates more dimension.
    But I could be wrong.

    • I think you’re right. . . but the beautifully decorated room makes dimension or no dimension a non-issue. Maria

  2. Follow-up question about painting the fireplace. I have a similar issue. My fireplace is Crab Orchard limestone. The colors overall are similar though there is more variation in each individual stone.
    I too have a kitchen that is open to the family room with the fireplace.
    I’d like to go with the all white kitchen but would actually be fine with one of the off-whites since what I’m really looking for a sense of the effect, the uniformity and harmony, more than the actual color of snowy white.
    I considered painting the fireplace but have serious reservations about it since the exterior of my house is that same limestone and I have no interest whatsoever in painting it. I could be horribly misguided, but it is a mid-century modern style and the stone is entirely appropriate so, painting it seems like a choice there would be no coming back from.
    Am I overthinking this? Would it matter at all if I painted the fireplace? I just can’t quite get myself past the thought of messing up the continuity of the house overall.

    • Just to be clear, when I say white, I mean off-white, when I say off-white I mean white, when I say cream, I mean white, when I say white I mean cream. Even a cream kitchen with a fireplace without a stitch of white or cream in it is likely to make the result look like “old fireplace, new kitchen”.

      For the record, I have seen this fireplace in MANY homes over the years that were not remotely mid century, and the first image is white and the house is midcentury.

      I say paint the stone, unless you plan on decorating with golds, rusty oranges, or cognac. Julie has a cognac sofa and it is totally current. You could introduce some black and white and make it feel fresh that way.

      There is a lot that can be done with the right decorating/styling to hide something old as well.

      Maria

  3. Momlady, you bring up a very good point about painting the brick in a mid-centry modern home. The fireplace that is in question also looks like it might be in a mid-century house. The question that one needs to ask is not just “should I paint the brick”, but “is a white kitchen the best option for the architectural intent of the house”. For the most part, for mid-century houses, the answer is no.

    • I’m no expert in mid-century houses, but overall I think you’re right-one needs to see the house as a whole, in order to get to the best results. You can’t just chop it into different elements. Any house(hopefully) has some character..not to take it into account would be a mistake.
      As for fireplaces..I thought I’d work around mine. Well it bugged me so much I just talked my husband into paying more and redoing it..
      It was not doing any favors to the house. As such, it would always bug me..

  4. As a TCE, I respectfully disagree with Maria on this one. I think it’s more than ok to leave it the natural stone. A white kitchen doesn’t mean that EVERYthing has to be white. I find images of 100% white kitchen/family room combos to be cold and possibly austere. The stone adds some warmth and frankly the earthiness of it brings in that needed bit of nature to keep it real. IMO, you shouldn’t be asking if it’s too earthy, you should be asking if it’s too pink! A giant pink wall would kill me and to me that undertone is pretty prominent in your fireplace. You didn’t mention your flooring, is it wood? Wall color? Are you getting warmth from those? You could consider painting the stone shades of pale grey which would solve the pink problem and work well with the wood floor (that I’m hoping you have) and white cabinets and counters. The Decorologist, who is also a TCE has a couple of great posts on painting dated fireplaces before and afters.

  5. Funny that you posted this! I just painted my brick fireplace last week from pinkish, reddish brick to BM Pale Oak. I kept the Oak trim because I’m not ready to paint the window trim, beams, and loft stairs white. I think that if she paints her mantle white it would help. I would white wash the stone, not paint it because of the reasons you listed. I love my fireplace now where it was a bit of a bully in the room earlier with a creamy Chamois color. It is a soft warm gray that reads off white on the fireplace.

  6. It looks like the family room has beige carpeting and a brown leather sofa. I think these elements will need to be considered as well. What flooring is in the kitchen? How does that relate to the fireplace?
    While I generally think painting it white solves most problems, this may need some further detail.

    • I agree. From the few hints we can see in the photo, that whole room looks very traditional brown, not even transitional. I believe the transformation will require more changes than just the fireplace.
      Ordinarily, I would never paint stone. However, in this case, the fireplace material doesn’t look like the natural stacked stone I’m used to seeing; it seems more man-made. (I could be wrong.) Due to this, and the fact that those pink/burgundy/gold tones are so dominant, I’d be fine with painting it.

  7. Bought a house from the mid-50s and there was a wall to wall cut stone fireplace (that did have fairly horizontal lines in it, not the roundness and size of rocks) and I painted it with Zinsser to seal the stone so not much paint gets sucked in. Then I painted with a matte paint in Cloud White. (I didn’t not use a sheen because I think that looks fake.) It looks great. It’s the 3rd fireplace I’ve painted and I’ve never been disappointed. Now to paint the 2 stone planters dividing the living and dining rooms. Cathy

  8. I just read earlier comments about the style of the house and being true to that. My house was built in the mid 50s but it is not of that style. So I painted the fireplace Cloud White and I just put in a custom kitchen with white cabinets and white Torquay quartz countertops. Everyone praises the results and I’m not sorry about my choices. Accessories add the colour. Julie’s fireplace is perfect for the makeover, and she said the family room was being renovated so I’m sure the awkward colours will disappear in favour of a fresher palette. Cathy

  9. What about using a limewash for the fireplace brick? The whiter parts of the bricks could relate nicely to the white kitchen.

  10. Hi Maria,

    I’m a big fan of painting dated brick and stone fireplaces – it’s something I have done on a regular basis. But I usually have a painter do a multi-layered paint effect than makes it look like natural stone/brick, just in a more neutral and updated colorway.

    Question: The resulting look of stone painted in chalk paint is very similar to flat latex paint. So I’m wondering why you think using chalk paint is better than regular latex? It still looks super-flat when you do. Chalk paint isn’t a white wash or limewash, it just looks like a really matte latex. I use it a lot on wood that hasn’t been painted before or even metal or plastic items – the benefit over latex is that it adheres better and often doesn’t require prepping and priming.

    • HI Kristie,
      I thought the dimensional look was easier and better with chalk paint because I had not seen that done to a fireplace until people started using chalk paint.
      Thanks for posting your comment!
      Maria

      • As a veteran chalk painter, I would recommend several different washes to give it depth. Chalk paint is perfect for stone and brick. I helped someone who had already used primer on her fireplace and grout, and we had to reinvent the shadows, grout, and natural variation. It worked, but the interim pictures were not pretty.

  11. I just have to say that I love seeing the Decorologist commenting here! My two favorite decorators, Maria and Kristie. Feels like a treat to get both opinions in one thread. I’m also curious about suggesting chalk paint over latex as I think chalk looks extra matte/flat.

  12. My thought is that by using Chalk paint, it can be watered down a little, having it look more like a whitewash look, with a tiny bit of the original stone showing through, not the solid flat latex look.

    I’ve had a client do that recently and we could not have gotten the same look with latex paint, in my opinion 🙂

    Great article Maria, guess this means I’m going to have to paint out my fireplace!

  13. My “fake stone” fireplace had the exact same brown “stones” as your “before” photo. Like your “before” photo, my fireplace had gray grout (thank heavens!).

    Several years ago I painted the stones a light gray and then lightly dragged an almost dry brush (loaded with diluted black paint) across the stones. The gray paint was latex wall paint; the black paint was an acrylic artist paint. I left the grout untouched.

    People tell me it looks natural. Definitely doesn’t look “flat.”

    I can send a PHOTO, but didn’t know how to attach it to this email.

  14. Ellen Kryger Interiors

    Excellent post Maria! That’s exactly how to update those dated fireplaces, especially if you have a mid century home.

  15. My huge red brick fireplace was taking over the family room. I primed it, put a base coat of Jogging Path, then did a light coat of the trim color slightly thinned. The little bit of the base coat gives it dimension tho you wouldn’t know it was there by looking at it. I think multi layer color is the way to go if its appropriate to have some of the natural effect. Agree that it depends on the house and sometimes the crisp solid white is the answer. You could vary the base coat depending on your other tones.

  16. I normally agree with you, but… what this article has taught me is NOT to paint a fireplace. Change the mantle and modernize by doing other things instead. I’m in real estate, and anytime I have shown houses with painted fireplaces, buyers say “I wish they hadn’t painted the fp. Alas, it’s hard to go back once it’s done.

    • I have to agree with you. Painted Brick or Painted Stone always looks like Painted Brick or Painted Stone. It is obviously an inexpensive fix and it feels like an inexpensive fix. Someone did a quick hide.
      I have been house hunting and when I see a painted fireplace I immediately think “I’m going to have to have that replaced/rebuilt. Expensive, difficult, wish they wouldn’t have painted.”

    • Are you sure it isn’t the husband that says that?

      My sister STILL has a heinous coloured brick fireplace (mostly black and burgundy with splotches of white) in her family room and when I suggested that they paint it her husband immediately said “No way, that’ll look way too 70’s!!!”

      Wha? What do you think it looks like right now? I said?

      Plain ugly.

      I’m sorry, but if it’s just ugly and you’ll never decorate around it, paint it I say.

      I’m not saying all brick or stone should be painted but if the colour scheme will NEVER work with your decor, CHANGE IT. Life is too short!

      Just my 2 cents 🙂

      Thanks for all the comments here, different opinions will help my readers make a decision, I truly appreciate all the comments that add to my posts and move the conversation forward!!
      xoxo
      Maria

      • This is the heart of the whole issue. Thanks for expounding upon it, Maria. If it’s not current, or part of your current decor, do something to fix it. Decor isn’t forever, even painted brick.

    • I definitely agree, having looked at a number of houses in our area where the owners had painted beautiful natural rock fireplaces. If you don’t like the rock, tear it out. Painting it NEVER enhances it, in my opinion. We have a large natural stone fireplace and I have decorated around it with gold, red and teal.

      We once put in a white brick fireplace in a house we built. It wasn’t easy finding the white brick but it looks so much better than paint, simply because it is real.

      • Not a decorator, but agree with NOT painting stone or brick. I have cleaned my brick or stone and incorporated the colors in the rooms palette. My house was built in 1952 with brick fireplaces and existing hardwood oak floors. I would rather see brick or stone covered over with wood or paneling to change the vibe completely rather than paint them directly. After 3 sets of braces, 3 college degrees and 3 weddings . . .I was finally able to address my house. I began by reading Maria’s writings. I became excited when I understood that my options could be narrowed down just by deciding to keep the whole house in mind. I picked a floor tile for the kitchen and family room that blended with the brick fireplace first – towards the neutral side. Because the colors are earthy that meant a cream colored kitchen. That decision made, I decided on a counter top that blended with the floor tile. It ended up being a Labrador granite – the only one that “worked”. I am so pleased with the results!! Getting rid of the old 1980 kitchen remodel and making decisions based on staying true to the rest of the house was a winner for me! Green is my accent color and used to coordinate the house with the views outside my windows. I’m a gardener and I enjoy the wider view of making harmony between the house and garden. You can imagine that I’m not a person that cares at all about trends. Ha!!

  17. I agree with you Maria. As I too am facing a similar dilemma about my current fireplace it has lead me to the different (cost effective) options re changing its appearance …. other than using paint. That said; there are plenty of examples on the internet re techniques so Julie may also wish to consider them as well. (i.e.: Fifteen Ways To Refresh Your Fireplace/HGTV … where a fireplace of yours is actually featured Maria.) -Brenda-
    P.S.: Don’t forget the firebox and hearth … ☺.

  18. OMG! TODAY I was going to paint my fireplace Stonington Gray! What perfect timing. Chantilly white it will be. Phew. You are a goddess and a godsend. Especially today. If I were a decorator, I would do be at your color class in DC!

  19. I screwed up! I am in process of remodelling my kitchen and I based my cabinet selection on the fixed elements of my room. Which happens to be a kitchen/ hearth room combination. My fireplace is large and earthy brick. Now I have cream cabinets and I could kick myself! I really wanted white but it seemed to harsh with the earthy brick. I’m stuck with cream and can see now the fireplace needs to be painted. So I could have went with white after all! Color me not happy!

  20. Painting the fireplace can make it look “cute” but it never looks right. It looks like a cheap, temporary fix. You will never see a high end home (expensive for your area) with a painted fireplace. So if you’re in a high end home, you just need to re-face with another material. Or *maybe* faux paint so nobody can tell the difference.

    That said, I am surprised by your answer. Most white kitchens I have seen that work have earthy materials like wood, wicker, stone, etc. I think it’s needed as a balance.Just peruse white kitchens on houzz.

    Now maybe the undertone is off on her stone compared to a cool, bright white, but then maybe the stone needs an off-white with complementary undertone. I think my off-white cabinets would look great with that fireplace.

    I guess to be honest I’m disappointed in your answer, because I found your previous answers about using undertones to make things work together much more thoughtful. Sorry!

  21. Very interesting question and comments. I see brick and stone fireplaces in my area all the time, and almost invariably they look outdated, dirty, and depressing. All I can think is to slap a coat of paint on them to cover the hideousness. Yet really old brick is gorgeous. I was in an 1840 farmhouse recently, and although there were other updates, the vast, original brick fireplaces were untouched, complete with iron whadeyucallums to hang a pot on and swing over the fire. They were magnificent, and a person would be crazy to do anything to them. A white kitchen would work with such a fireplace, as long as it looked warm and old fashioned, not stark and modern.

    One kind of house that for me does not work with a white kitchen is arts and crafts. Wood arts and crafts style cabs and black counters, preferably soapstone, are in keeping with the architecture.

  22. I agree with another poster who said the problem is not that it’s earthy but that it’s PINK. VERY PINK. You can paint it almost any color and it will be better. Your stone is fairly uniform, almost like brick, so you could do glossy white. I hate chalk paint and I will never use it again. It’s too flat and nicks too easily even with wax. Whitewash is for fences. I love a painted fireplace. Or depending on your accent colors, to keep it from being too stark, you could do an off-white glossy or satin paint. I have painted fireplaces before, and it’s an easy project because your brush strokes don’t matter. The texture will still show no matter what paint you use. Go for it!

  23. I’d recommend the “Ask Maria” poster drywall right over the stone. Then consider adding additional millwork and architectural details consistent with your existing home. This would be very cost effective and essentially provide a clean slate to work with. Alternately, instead of drywall, the homeowner could also cover the stone with wood (albeit at a higher price to drywall) in a mid-century design (or some other design era in keeping with the rest of the home). I have never found the stonework on fireplaces of this type and era to be attractive. In my opinion, no paint or paint color can change that – as the saying goes “if you put lipstick on a pig, you still have a pig.” I would also suggest replacing or getting rid of the colonial style fireplace insert which looks totally out of place on that fireplace.

  24. krista Marcheschi

    Prior to discovering your blog, Maria, I made the regrettable mistake of putting a glaze on new cabinets. They are off white. My trim is bright white. I have stared at my brick fireplace for years wondering if it should match my trim or my cabinets. There are built in bookcases next to the fireplace too. Should all of that be bright white to match the trim? And yes — it is my HUSBAND who has said “no!” to painting the brick.

  25. What a great tropic. I actually saved several of the white stone images on my Pinterest boards.

    I have a massive floor to ceiling Palo Verde stone fireplace in my open floor plan 60’s home. Rustic is not my style but I feared painting it. I encased it with wallboard which preserved the originality of the home for any possible future “purist MCM” owner. (We’ve all toured homes in which an owner has altered an original feature in a way that we say “what a shame this is not original” so I was afraid of the paint over, lol)

    Not a perfect solution but ok for now.

  26. I love painted brick in the right style home and situation. I’m not sure about the painted stones though. I really like SDC’s ideas. I feel like Julie’s stones are shaped more like bricks and will probably look great painted. Great blog post!

  27. Not a fan! I prefer to work with “the house I have” which I buy because I LIKE most of the fixed elements as opposed to “I need to make this Victorian house modern” If you don’t LIKE a midcentury house why on earth would you buy it?
    Why buy a house with a sandstone fireplace if you don’t LIKE it and want to work with it? If you LIKE a modern house then by all means buy one! This isn’t the 80’s when you had to grab the first house you could put a bid on and work with what you have.

    • Nikki, Many of us can not afford our ideal house and have to purchase a house that has potential for improvement. There are many shades of sandstone. The pinkish sandstone is outdated; it was popular for a short time only. A real estate agent could confirm that it’s not on anyone’s ‘must have’ or even ‘nice to have’ list so why not paint it if it’s not a desirable feature in a house?

      • Renee,

        I agree, IF all you can afford a shack that is beyond repair. If you buy a lovely Victoria and it’s “just not trendy” enough for you then I disagree. Too many people decorate for the
        “trendites”! “White is IN!” they declare -so we MUST paint the Sistine Chapel “BM Decorator’s White” because it’s the…. TREND.

        White is no more “timeless” than any other color. So now we take our decorating direction from what the real estate agents say “everyone must have’? It’s your house and you’re free to do what you want. As for me, I prefer to learn how to coordinate color regardless of the style and not be one of the “sheeple”.

        • Of course white is not more timeless than any other color. I totally agree with you.
          More than that, different locations and house styles will support their own”timeless”, because there are reasons behind each style, color palettes, etc. What looks good in Paris won’t necessarily work on Santorini. What’s great for Vancouver might look really strange in Southwest. Etc, etc.
          But it doesn’t mean that previous owners of houses never ever made their share of choices that you dislike, maybe precisely because it has nothing to do with the style of the house, for which you chose it.
          Our new place had this bright white laminate kitchen, probably put there to sell it better-because white. No connection to the house whatsoever. It was there because the owners hoped buyers would like it. Well I didn’t. I’m sure their initial kitchen was much more in tune with the house..as the remnants of tiles under the old laminate revealed to me.
          Or they had their fireplace covered with extremely busy slate. Had nothing to do with the style of the house, just take my word on that. Now some people love slate; I don’t, I come from a country where it was used for graves a lot. Sorry..I really tried to avoid messing with it, but I just couldn’t. Of course I didn’t paint it. I removed it.
          As for affordable/less affordable, shack or no..highly depends on where you live. Our house that is considered very mid-range where I live..in other places, I’d buy two mansions for this price(not that I need them lol..I tend to like small houses).
          So yes, we bought it for its style vibe and location. Whatever I redid-I redid precisely to keep within the same style. Well it was easier to decide to go forward with it-the place was full of asbestos and we decided to abate it, so you stay with no walls anyway.
          What I’m trying to say-we have no idea when Julie bought this house of hers, how long she waited to renovate it, where the house is, etc, etc, etc.
          I don’t like trendiness myself, but it’s hard to see from the letter more than a specific question about a specific fireplace that might have had no relationship to the house from the very beginning.

  28. I love MCM and in Southern California the housing market is on fire ( sadly like many of our mountains) just like when we bought in 1998. 1100 square foot mid century fetching 100,000-200,000 over asking in my neighborhood….prices hover around 700K-1,000,000 for anything with decent potential.

    So, folks settle for getting mostly what they want but rarely are able to get all the details to suit their taste. This is where we need to be creative

  29. I’ll side with the naysayers. “Painted Brick or Painted Stone always looks like Painted Brick or Painted Stone.”
    Eventually it will start to peel and you will have to keep painting it. Natural stone has a lovely texture to it – creates depth. I try to work with the fixed elements in my house. Those with lots of cash-flow have the luxury of tearing out the old fireplace and starting all over. I really like the look of the white trim with the natural stone in Claudia’s posting. Lovely!

    • The chalk paint doesn’t peel. It might wear off over time, but peeling isn’t the way it wears. It isn’t latex. I painted the stucco repairs on the outside of my house several years ago, and I live in Minnesota.

  30. I will paint almost anything LIno floor, my fake marble fireplace, side of my bathtub and the usual wood etc. When I read this post I really looked at my stone fireplace in my family room. It is natural stone, varying shades of light grey, beige, little brown, touch of a grey greenish stone here and there. But I thought it is a little darker than I would prefer. So I wondered what would happen if I WASHED it? Let me tell you, this is embarrassing but my fireplace is now I think an entire shade lighter! I know it does not change the undertone but sure is lighter LOL

  31. Maria, I completely agree with you. Change the colour because sandstone is not a classic look; it is not only outdated but also very difficult/limiting to work around. In the mid-1980’s, our starter home had a floor to ceiling pinkish brown stone fireplace (likely sandstone); the shape of the stone was identical to what is shown in the first photo. The brick went all the way up to the peak of our 12 foot cathedral ceiling. It was such an eyesore even after we installed medium brown oak hardwood floors. At that time, absolutely no one painted bricks or stone but I made the bold move of painting ours off-white, the same colour as the adjacent wall. What an improvement! (I wish I had had the foresight of installing an oak shelf like in the first photo; it’s like jewelry on a plain dress). I have no doubt that the new look of the fireplace contributed to the much increased value of the house when we sold it 3 years later.

  32. Maria, I cannot tell you how excited I was to see this post in answer to my question! I have been dragging my feet in starting my white kitchen remodel because I didn’t know what to do about the fireplace. I feel good about painting it now and plan on trying watered-down chalk paint to start. I can see now that I have nothing to lose…It has to look a thousand times better than it does now. I also appreciate the advice to paint it my trim color, as I was considering gray as well as white. I’m guessing that I should paint the dark brown built-in shelves on either side of the fireplace my trim color as well, since I want them white too? I have a lot of work to do to transform my house from drab to fresh, but I’m so excited to start. Thanks for the advice I find in your blog and also your books. You have given me the confidence to move forward 🙂

  33. I did not read all the comments so someone may have already suggested painting the stone charcoal. I would prefer that color with the rusty red hearth. The first photo in your post has the thick wood mantel which breaks up all that white. Maybe one could be added to this fireplace.

  34. Great topic. So many people are hesitant to paint stone or brick, but if done properly, it can look amazing. It looks like your October workshop will be near us. I am definitely going to try to make it!

  35. I am about to start a renovation project just like this one, with a fireplace in the kitchen/family room. I am planning a white kitchen with medium brown hardwood floors throughout the main floor, and I am buying a new, wood-burning, see-through fireplace, to face both halves of the main floor. Of course the fireplace is black. So I have a clean slate for design. My plan is to unite the required tile in front of the fireplace (two sides!) with the same (to still be picked) for the front hallway, and a mantle of sorts (wood? white?), and tile trim around the fireplace to match the backsplash. Does that sound like a good plan? BTW, I don’t really want black anywhere else in the kitchen.

  36. hi Maria,

    I’m confused about your advice against mixing white trim with cold blue gray, as you mention in this post:

    https://mariakillam.com/the-best-exterior-trim-colours-with-brick-not-cloud-white/

    While I can see what you’re saying, I also think that the following image is quite beautiful despite the mix of cold blue gray and white. I think that the stark palette adds drama when you layer nature’s colors against it. What am I missing?

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/375276581426674759/

    thanks,
    angela

    • Hi Angela, Usually a house in battleship gray (blue grey) isn’t fabulous without a lot of white trim and greenery as you mentioned. That’s the only point I was making in that post. The Pinterest link shows a super trendy dark grey which I would normally steer my clients away from since they probably won’t love it as much when the grey trend is over just like no one is painting their house brown right now, but they certainly were 5 years ago. Hope that helps, Maria

  37. You say to paint the fireplace to match the trim color. Would that apply if the wall and trim color were the same? Wouldn’t it be too much of one color?