Fireplace resurfacing - need advice
I searched through prior posts and there seems to be a lot of questions on this topic but most of the responses were so old the photos have been removed.
We would like to update/lighten the look of our fireplace. What we will do for sure: remove the bench, replace windows on the left - most likely to French Doors, install a gas insert. I would also like to add a chunky wood mantle like in the inspiration pics. There is a funky frosted window on the right now covered in newspaper as I was trying to see how much light we'd lose by closing it up.
Now the question - Has anyone stucco'd or cemented over cinder blocks like this? Or, the other idea is to cover the wall completely with wallboard or some time of wainscot/panelling/trim. I have attached two pictures that I like but would love any advice. Ideally, I'd like to demo the entire wall, center the fireplace and have windows on either side, but not sure it's worth the extra money. We will be replacing the furniture so it doesn't have to match that. I have also thought about just painting it white like many people do with bricks but being half the wall, it seems like such a heavy look.