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FireplacesHow to Choose Colour

How to Choose Colour around a Stone Fireplace

By 06/17/2010December 24th, 202045 Comments

When you have a large stone (it doesn’t matter what kind) fireplace, it will totally boss you around when it comes to decorating and choosing wall colour for your home. It’s rare that you can totally ignore it and unfortunately this is one of those times when I would NOT recommend painting it (brick you can paint–not stone usually).

In the two images below, the warm brown and tan colours in the stone have been repeated in the furniture and wall colour which really pulls the stone in and makes the room look attractive and pulled together.


One of the first on-line consultations that I did with one of my lovely readers was a house that had a large two sided stone fireplace right in the middle of it. You could see it from the entry; it was the focal point of the living room as well as the other side in the dining room.

The current colour on the walls was a pale, clean yellow and did not relate to the stone at all so the first (and one of the only options) I gave her was a yellow beige to relate to the stone. Varying tones of warm grays work well with most fireplace stone; however this colour still needs to be repeated in the space for it to work.

(I don’t have an after photo from this consult) Source

 A big reason why people call me is because they want something new, sometimes fresh colour, and fundamentally they want to feel happy surrounded by their new colour!

Even though I could tell she was not happy (in the moment) with the colour I recommended, I stuck to my opinion knowing it would pull her space together. But I was worried that maybe she wouldn’t follow my advice and end up thinking I was a bad designer!


Then a few weeks ago I received an email from her and this is what she said:

“We had a phone consult back in September. It took me some time but the living room, kitchen, dining room, library and sunroom are now all painted. I followed your suggestions and must say I am quite happy with the results. I will admit that I was initially not very excited about the beiges but of course, you were right!! They look fantastic and pull the finishes together. Thank you very much!” Debra

Even my friend Lauren at Pure Style Home chose toss cushions and an ottoman to relate to the stone fireplace in her family room (even though the turquoise wasn’t chosen to work with it at all).

Living room from The Holiday via Cote de Texas

It’s best in the end to select stone that’s more neutral if you want a more cottage or ‘cabin in the woods’ look for your home, like this one from The Holiday movie. This way you won’t be married to the colour scheme forever!

What about you? Do you have a stone fireplace that’s bossing you around?

Related posts:

Are your Colours Married?

Is your Flooring bossing you Around?

Hiring a Designer; Luxury or Necessity

To discover which undertone your fireplace is, download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones.

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.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

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  • Jules says:

    You know I have one! Mine is huge (an entire wall) with rust, butterscotch, caramel, lavender, and gray. O_O I've been toying with BM OC-8, Elephant Tusk.

  • Amy @MaisonDecor says:

    Yes stone fireplaces are the boss, and so they rule the roost. It is the smart designer and or homeowner who can live by the rules of the kingdom. Your last picture captures so well how you can inject color into a space without fighting a stone fireplace. Nice post Maria~again!

  • ERIKA says:

    No stone fireplace, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I chuckled when reading about your fear of being called a "bad designer." I've had one of those experiences too and had the same outcome as yours, phew! From then on, I always stuck to my guns!

  • Carol@TheDesignPages says:

    When I studied design we were told by a prof that there is never a time when a fireplace is not a focal point and I have to say that after all these years I agree. We have to learn our place when we work with them.

  • Eva says:

    My fireplace is brick and has been painted off-white by the previous owner while the walls are toupe. It's a little frustrating because I have no idea what I can do to make it more attractive and fitting – I suppose refinishing the entire thing with a new material is possible. I am not sure if people paint their 80's brick fireplace to make it more exciting or just to clean the dirt off the walls.
    Thanks as always Maria. Eva

  • Sally@DivineDistractions says:

    I have brick…threatening to paint it, but I keep debating (remember your post on decorating your own place ! LOL) I've run into several clients with the stone, and they really look like an albatros when the colo is wrong! Fun post to think about.

  • Frieda says:

    I actually drywalled over the top half of the stone wall fireplace and added a mantle, to help reduce its predominance. But…still had to ensure the paint colour picked up on the tones of the stone. You're SO right… again.

    Love your blogs!

  • Karen Eubank says:

    You know people tend to overlook gray. There are so many shades of gray and most stone has gray tones.
    One of my favorite's is Benjamin Moore's Balboa Mist.

    Eubank Staging

  • Annie Wilcox Designs says:

    I haven't had the pleasure to work with a beautiful stone fireplace yet…thank you for the tips. Good design ideas.

  • Mona Thompson says:

    Great post! Don't you just love it when a client realizes you really do know what your talking about?

  • nannykim says:

    I saw a program on HGTV that had to deal with a huge fireplace of stone like you are mentioning. What they did in this particular episode was to put on some kind of a sealer–or shalac type thing that made the stones a deeper , richer color (as you would get when rain hits the stones). It caused the room to have a warmer , richer quality.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have a stone fireplace that is beige, brown and gray. Just painted the walls gray (instead of the beige it was) and now it stands out just right. It looks warm and inviting and the focal point. Love the tips on relating the colors in the room to the stone. Love to read your posts!! Dawn

  • Melissa Blake says:

    Beautiful post! And thanks for the extra helpful links!

  • Maria Killam says:

    Just a little comment on the gray suggestions. I totally agree that a warm gray also works with a stone fireplace but unless that colour is also repeated in the furnishings somewhere I would not recommend it.

  • Alexandria ♥ says:

    HI Maria,
    I have lived in a desert climate….. both homes had 2 fireplaces!! It is suppose to be such a treat to have a fireplace but honestly in a hot climate, it is an albatros.
    Who wants to think about warming up when it is 110 degrees outside? So, my point is that fireplaces are way over rated. a necessity in the 1800's etc but frankly I would much prefer to have a lovely antique or down filled sofa as a focal point, on any day of the week… over the hassels of a fireplace and mantle 🙂 lovely post.

  • Karena says:

    I love the room from the Holiday one of my all time favorite movies!! That stone fireplace is just perfect!

    Did you receive the Beth Cosner Design earrings yet?

    Art by Karena

  • Emom says:

    YES! and I didn't have a clue for the longest time….as the whole wall, extending out from the corner fireplace, is covered in the same large stone. Our home is 37 years old, and we inherited the stone, so finally, we found a color, a perfect match to the mortar, the carpet was replaced with a darker color from the stone and the whole room is happy now….finallly….smiles.

  • DelBene Interiors says:

    Hello Maria, yet another great post! I've been following and enjoying your blog for 2 or 3 months now and wanted to say thanks for colouring our world happy :-).I linked your blog on my FB page for my followers to see! So keep up the great work – we love ya!

  • mydivabydesign - The Diva's Home says:

    I love all the pictures of the stone. I live in S. TX and someone covered over our fireplace with stucco(but left the hearth tiles). I have always wished for a fireplace, but have no reason to use one! So we build a fire outside!

  • Angela N says:

    I don't have a stone fireplace, but I have granite that is bossing me around. I love the functionality of it, but am stuck within that color palate which is a bit frustrating.

  • traci zeller designs says:

    Yay!! It's always nice to get one of those great follow-up emails!!!

  • shiree segerstrom says:

    Thank you for the picture of Kate Winslet's living room in The Holiday. Nancy Meyer's movies have the best sets. Fun to see it up close. I am also currently working on a home with a massive stone fireplace. It influences your design directionl.

  • AB HOME Interiors says:

    Great post. SO many homes I go into have paint that does not relate to the stone and no matter how beautiful the furnishings, it just throws everything off.

  • Steph says:

    You are right, stone fireplaces are totally the boss! Usually that's a good thing….but not always!
    Love all the pictures, you always find such beautiful pictures.

  • pve design says:

    I love "stone henge" from Benjamin Moore as well as "Metropolitan" – which is a grayish tone – I prefer the more mod tones rather than yellowish tones with stone. What do you think about gray?

  • Maria Killam says:

    Hi Patricia,
    Grays are possible for sure but then needs to be repeated in the space for it to pull the room together.
    I included this in the post since a few people have mentioned gray so thank you.

  • marcia @Child in Harmony says:

    Thanks for sharing this!

    I live in a log home with a tall stone corner fireplace and all natural wood walls and it was driving me crazy..too devoid of color.

    So I painted either side of my fireplace Clementine..a california paint. It did warm the place up some but now I totally dislike the color there and need a change.

    Your post is soo timely as I was going to paint it a light yellow instead. But now I will pull a color from the fireplace…a beige color but more on the yellow side. And save the clementine for accents and pieces of furniture. a tall bookcase is already painted clementine.

    happy day!

  • marcia @Child in Harmony says:

    I was actually thinking about gray and how nice gray would match the stone on the painted wood walls adjacent to my stone fireplace (which is gray beige light rust colored)…BUT the rest of the room has a beige couch and chair and natural wood walls and floor though gray probably wouldn't *fit* since there is no other gray anywhere!

    happy day!

  • shani says:

    hi maria,
    great post as always! i understand about pulling the color from the stone, and does the same reasoning apply to a brick wall? i have a red, white, charcoal with mortar about the color of revere pewter on one entire wall in my kitchen. my walls are painted yellow and it doesn’t relate at all. are there color directions you recommend for painting around this wall to pull it in?
    thanks and i LOVE your blog

  • Kris Miller says:

    I have an eight foot wide pink/purple/salmon colored fireplace that dominates my entire living/dining room space. And to make matters worse I have 4 olive green chairs. Help. My walls are BM White Sand, and the ceiling is Dove. This is the most difficult room to decorate.

  • Kris M (Again) says:

    I should add it is a flagstone fireplace with the flagstone stacked vertically on its side. Very busy.

  • Karen Bryant says:

    So, what yellow beige color did you recommend for picture #2? I have a similar fireplace that’s mostly mid-dark gray and warm tan colors in my den. The room also has lots of dark honey oak – trim, wainscoting, built in shelves, and beams. I thought about going gray, but I don’t have gray in any of my furnishings. My furniture is cinnamon leather, and I use camel and green for accent. The flooring needs to be replaced – I haven’t decided yet on new carpet or hardwoods. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!

  • joann rach says:

    help our fireplace has mostly brown stone and the mortor is black yes black, what colors can i paint the walls

  • Beth McNerney says:

    Maria, I love your blog and you are so right about choosing color to go with a stone fireplace. My stone fireplace is so similar to the one in the first picture. I know that the paint color in picture #1 would be perfect in my house, could you please tell me what color that is? I’m so happy to have found your blog-plan to continue following it and recommend it to my friends. Thank you, Beth

    • Maria Killam says:

      Hi Beth,
      That looks like it could be anything from a yellow to a butterscotch like Boardwalk (BM). Maria

  • Amy says:

    Hi Maria! I just came across your blog and stayed up most of the night reading everything I could click on!

    What about a very WHITE stone fireplace?

    It is very demanding in the corner going all the way up to the ceiling! It is in our 20′ high vaulted living room with tons of natural light. We will have dark hardwood floors around the perimeter and berber carpet in the main living area, not sure what color yet (house is still under construction). Do I need white walls and trim? Is white textured sheetrock cheap or sterile looking? Will it be too bright! Or do I repeat it in the furniture (yikes!) or drapery?

    Thank you,

    • Maria Killam says:

      The white fireplace should definitely be repeated in your decor but it doesn’t mean you have to paint the walls white. Keep the colour scheme fresh though, earth tones die with white. Maria

  • Kat says:

    Hi Maria,
    I love your blog. Could you please point me in the right direction regarding mantle color?

    Our fireplace stones are gray to bluish-gray (Dior Gray is close) with rust streaks in it. We painted our living room Spoonful of Sugar which is perfect for the olive, rust and yellow-beige tones in the room and also offsets our cherry-stained furniture. It also offsets the rust in the fireplace stone wonderfully.

    My question is whether to stay with warm tones for the mantle or tone down the bold Spoonful of Sugar with a gray that matches the stones. If gray, then should I go lighter or darker than the stone color, or match the stone color exactly? Thanks so much for any advise on mantle color!

  • Eva says:

    I am living in a rental home – but plan to be here for quite awhile. The homeowner has given me free reign to paint as I want. I have a stone wall that has a wood burner – so it also has a multi-colored tile floor area. The stone wall area is surrounded by rough beams that have a red cedar stain on them that do go along with the floor tiles. The room is huge and I was wanting to make that an accent wall. The walls are all an off white color & was wondering what accent color to use on the wall that has the area of stone in the center? My woodwork is also kind of dark.

  • Sarah says:

    Hi! I’m stuck! I have large, bossy, dated limestone fireplace. It’s mostly cream with yellow & slight gray tones. My great room is small… My furniture is olive with light wood floors. Should I go with a light pale gray?

  • Angela says:

    I am in desperate need of help with my stone fireplace. It was really old dark so I looked at a few websites that said you could paint it. Well I failed. It’s way too white and now it doesn’t match the taupe walls at all. How would you save it? Mocha glaze, paint remover, repaint the house to match? any suggestions? Thanks so much!

    • Maria Killam says:

      It’s really hard to say without seeing it, I wouldn’t glaze it with a mocha glaze, that would turn it pink. And I would not normally recommend painting stone, maybe just go creamy if white is too stark. Maria

  • Sharon says:

    We have a cave for a living room. It has a 17 foot wall of stones (very rough) surrounded by three sides of very dark stained barnboard. The entire house was built to look like a barn. It is unique, but very dark inside. I appreciate all the knowledge you share, but don’t feel confident enough to begin any changes yet (18 yrs here). This would be a lot to mess up! I will keep reading your ideas and hopefully something will click 🙂 Appreciate all your shared advice so much.

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