What should I paint this living room fireplace?

nostalgicfarmJuly 8, 2014

We are rehabing a house we are going to live in for a few years before we build. I was planning to change the stone on this fireplace in a year or so when we updated the bathrooms/kitchen. My husband suggested we paint it. I don't really want to paint it white, so I am at a loss. Honestly, the first color that came to mind was turquoise. Something unexpected?
My style is probably pottery barn. I am hoping to go with medium/dark tan walls, brown leather sofas or tan/cream sofas, a few fabric recliners (hubby insists on a recliner).
We would probably prefer to keep the mantle wood tone, but are going to paint trim/crown molding white. Right now, everything is an open slate...I don't even have the furniture for the room yet!
I'm excited to see what you all have for ideas!

This post was edited by nostalgicfarm on Tue, Jul 8, 14 at 11:44

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Picture did not pop up.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:08AM
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I can't see the picture either so I've got no idea what your fireplace looks like. I am concerned that you say "stone" and not "brick". Even without seeing it, I'm not sure that you should pick such a bold color for something like that. I know you said you don't want to paint it white, but if it's brick and in good shape then I would whitewash. It would go with your pottery barn look and tones down the brick without trying to cover it up completely.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:42AM
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I got it to load. It is a stone or faux stone. It is already light, but has sparkles in it...I'm all for a little glitter, but with two girls, I have enough glitter!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:47AM
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Please reconsider painting: that stone is gorgeous! I think some wall paint and flooring will make all the difference. If you still don't love it, perhaps you can beef up the mantle a bit. I wish I could take your stone and transplant it onto my fireplace right now. It's very natural looking and yet the linear stone is modern/contemporary. It has some beautiful subtle variation in color without looking blotchy and I think you'll lose that with paint. I know it's your fireplace and ultimately you can do as you wish, but please consider keeping the stone as it is.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:15PM
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I actually like it; of course, I can't see the glitter.
The only thing is that I would get rid of that brass wiggly thing.
And I'd probably pick a grayish/bluish wall color or maybe even off white. And HW floors.

Wall color

Rustic Living Room by San Francisco Furniture & Accessories Pottery Barn

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:19PM
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Step away from the paintbrush! It's (VERY) rare that natural materials like stone or brick are improved by painting them.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:24PM
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As soon as I saw the picture, I thought of 2 things that have since been mentioned. Beef up the mantle and replace the screen with the brass look. I would not go near it with paint, that could lead to a real nightmare. Your "something unexpected" translates to others' "what were they thinking?"

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:29PM
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Prickly-thank you very much for your kind words about the fireplace. I should say that currently we are dealing with stained white walls and stained popcorn ceiling...so very bare...I am sure it will look much better when we get something on the plywood floor, paint the ceilings and add a nice wall color! I was planning to leave as is and deal with later. I think it is the glitter that bothers me more...I'm sure a nice something above the mantle would make a difference too..
Nosoccermom-thanks. I wanted wood floors, but hubby really wanted carpet, so we will do wood in dining/kitchen instead. When I build, I hope to have a formal and informal living room...but this place is only for a few years, so carpet it is. I love your second pic! The first picture reminds me of this fireplace, but I really don't like light colored walls, they have to be at least a medium.
I do think a nice brownish taupe on the walls would make the fireplace nicer, but not sure how to pull that together with brown leather sofas? So I am thinking a more neutral light fabric sofa, then leather recliners. This is an award room, as it is very wide, but the depth isn't great once you take out the walkways..

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:32PM
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Personally? I wouldn't paint it at all. especially if you'll be selling the home soon.
What style is your home? Do you have any pictures of the whole room? Did you already remove built ins beside it? It looks as though the right side of the hearth has raw/unfinished edges.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:34PM
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I would not paint that fireplace just enhance it with a bigger mantle and new screen. Pottery Barn rooms usually have natural architectural features, not painted stone nor brick. It is these natural finishes that actually make their products appear to be nicer than they truly are for with out the beautiful backdrops PB furniture is very ordinary in IMHO.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 12:37PM
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As someone who had an ugly brick fireplace & painted it & is pleased with how it turned out, I would not paint your stone. I like the dark wood & metal accents in both the pics Sundance & Nosoccermom (1st pic) posted. Also, the suggestion to beef up the mantle.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:22PM
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I wouldn't paint it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:35PM
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Yes -- build up the mantle -- much thicker in tones of darkest brown-black ....

Here's a possible paint color -- BUT a big vote for keeping the walls simple -- match the trim and ceiling with a simple fresh white ....

Here is a link that might be useful: BM -- Coventry Gray HC-169

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:42PM
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I agree - put down the paintbrush and back away. You aren't going to be living there long anyway, you said. Think about those who will move to the house after you.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:48PM
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I can see your picture now. Agree with all above- don't paint.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 2:12PM
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I don't think you'll notice the sparkles once the room is finished. I would imagine even now you have to be close to see them. Maybe a twinkle here and there at night when the lights are on, but, again, once it's decorated, I can't see you noticing them.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 2:19PM
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If the stone has sparkles, it's what used to be known has Georgian Marble. Quite popular in the early 60's for accent stone on buildings and fireplaces. Of course a decision to paint depends on what you plan for the rest of the room, but do not shy away from painting this stone. I would beef up the mantle, 86 the existing screen and get something nicely decorative because that opening is not very large.

You can plain paint it or faux paint it easily.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 2:36PM
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I go remove some popcorn from a ceiling, and everyone wants me to leave my fireplace alone! :)
We did remove an original built in on the right side from 1980. Unfortunately we will have to do something with the fireplace, because the stone does NOT wrap around the right side.
We will be here probably 3 years total, and may rent the house after.
The house is a one story brick with a walkout basement. Pretty blank slate.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 2:37PM
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Please do not paint the fireplace, especially if you do not intend to live there forever. Someone else will love it. Please tell us what you mean by stone does not wrap around the right side. Glad you do not have to solve this problem immediately and you can put options "in the back of your mind" while you deal with other priorities. Good luck, sounds like a very nice house.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 3:22PM
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I see what you mean about needing something for the right side of the fireplace.....since you took out the built in. Can you put quarter round down the side and plaster the side of the hearth? You could do the same for the left side even though it does not need it. Quarter round could be painted the same as the walls and it would not show. The plaster on the side of the hearth could be tinted to match your stone....maybe have to practice a bit.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 3:39PM
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Beverly I really like the 2nd picture on the first row, would you mind posting a link of it?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:23PM
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Good side

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:25PM
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Bad side

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:26PM
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I can Google it, but how would I "beef up" the mantle?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:29PM
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Seeing it closer, that right side is going to be way more labor intensive than what grandma suggested. Was there a specific reason you removed the built-in? I think replacing it would take less time and would look nicer than trying to patch that side, although it may be costly.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:52PM
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Unless the built-in was in really bad shape, it might have been cheaper and easier to balance it with something added on the other side. I would talk to some stone people and find out what you could do to clean up the right side. Unless you put in new built-ins or figure out a different trim option, you would have to do that even if you did paint.

I, personally, am hesitant to paint most brick that is in good condition. I would be even more reluctant to paint stone. As in I can't ever think of a good reason for or benefit from painting stone. I definitely wouldn't paint stone in a house you plan to sell. You want to do absolutely nothing that will detract from your home's value or limit potential buyers. Painting stone will do both. Painting it a bright color would do even more.

The stone is pretty. I can see a bit of the sparkle in one photo, but that is natural -- probably quartz. The better remedy, in my experience is to take the challenge and figure out how to soften it -- or do a 180 and embrace it. I think you need to embrace it.

Definitely beef up the mantel -- possibly just build a box that installs over the existing mantel to make it look larger. I'd have it stained very dark espresso or painted black.

Remove the fireplace screen. If you have gas, I would clean up the box, paint the interior black and install a contemporary burner pan and line the bottom with glass. You could use grey, but I'd go clear, and then install a very simple, clean glass door or screen. Use some brushed metals in the room -- possibly even a light fixture with some crystals.

You could paint white, but I'm thinking a darker grey. Have you decided on a flooring? That will make a difference too. This might be a room where a table or chest painted in a metallic or covered with mirrored glass could both be an accent and help pull things together.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 7:10PM
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nostalgicfarm, here is the link to the images below

Here is a link that might be useful: houseoverhead.com

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 7:24PM
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Beef up the Mantle :

Because your mantle is inset into the stone, you'd need a new hollow mantle box, with one side missing. Not exactly like the pics below. Then the new mantle gets slipped over the old mantle and secured with fasteners from below. The new mantle will have to be scribed to the stone, so it's a bit complicated for a DIY project.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 8:31PM
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Thanks! I was oohing over the photo right before this one, with the greenish mantle?
Thanks for the info on the mantle box...that makes perfect sense...and probably an easy day project compared to other things we have done. :)

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 8:43PM
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Another vote against painting! I'm all for painting over ugly brick/stone - yours is too pretty to paint.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 9:49PM
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I love your fireplace and also wish I could transplant it as-is into my home. My father and grandfather used to build these in the 50's and 60's. We also had one in my childhood home. I had to look twice at your picture because I thought maybe it was one that they built. And I agree that it is Georgia Marble and, yes, it does sparkle. I will be coming back to your picture, as this is such a fond memory for me.
Sorry, I hope you don't paint it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 10:47PM
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+ one more for don't paint. Do fix the mantle, repair the tear out area, and improve the fire screen.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 10:59PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I agree...don't paint the stone, beef up the mantel, get rid of the screen.

I'd look into having the bad side repaired...if the stone is still available, it might not be that big of a job to fix it. If not, then just get a thin piece of wood, cut it to fit to cover that side and paint it to match the walls, paint the walls a shade of gray to go with the stone. For a more modern look, paint the mantel black....

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:50PM
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OK, you have a visual for the mantel -- here's for the box:
The basic:

Something with color:

and something I hadn't seen before but would love with your fireplace:

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:21AM
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I'll kick in vote #56 for not painting the fireplace. I was going to say maybe something wood would help on the right side, but from the pictures replacing the built in would be a better option.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 7:42AM
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It could be Alabama marble, JMHO. Alabama marble was considered the purest white marble and much desired by Italian sculptors for its sparkling white color, felt to be whiter and superior to Carrera.

When you are contemplating painting your fireplace, consider that you may ruin it.

See the picture in the right lower corner. Alabama marble is what much of the statuary in Washington is made of, some of which includes the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and SCOTUS and the bust of Lincoln at the Capitol.


This post was edited by patricia43 on Wed, Jul 9, 14 at 8:32

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 8:31AM
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Another vote for 'no paint'. And agree with beefing up the mantle and replacing the fireplace surround with something more modern and with less bling. Something like what beverly posted in photo #2 with the gray mantle and wood trim down the sides would seem to solve your near-term problem. Can you not talk your DH into hardwood instead of carpet? With the light color of the stone, I think a medium-tone hardwood would really look nicer and be more long-lasting, especially for future renters than carpet. You can always buy an inexpensive rug and a good pad for now and might even be able to use it in your future home.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 9:56AM
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I personally love built in book shelves next to fire places. More pics below.

Here is a link that might be useful: stone fireplace and built-ins

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:40AM
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I was going to agree I with the "don't paint" until I read "sparkles". I agree with you if it was me it would have to be covered & paint would certainly be the quickest & economical solution

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 11:36AM
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I read back through to your original post and have some comments. In light of all the issues with the stone, sparkles, missing a side, you're only going to stay until you build etc., be practical and think classic. Do not paint it turquoise......see below. If this was beautiful stone, I would say keep it as is. This is not a precious stone, and unfortunately, your pictures do not illustrate what I know you must see when the light hits it just right....sparkles!!! If you're going to turn this into a rental, think about what would appeal to your future renter. Paint it white or dark grey or taupe like illustrated in the images below of Pottery Barn fireplaces, but get rid of the sparkles.

I wouldn't spend the money on doing anything with the mantle. Get a new decorative hearth screen to distract the attention. Not sure why you took out the built in, because that has just created more work for you. Consider maybe installing something in place of it to cover that side. Think neutral box. Add interest with your brown leather furniture and some art. Don't spend too much on the carpet. Something dense short and easy to keep clean for future renters.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 12:21PM
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I personally would not paint it but it is not mine. Once you have it painted, please share photographs with us. Good luck with your home. We all like are voyeurs when it comes to redecorating and we "like to watch."

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 1:52PM
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Getting lots of comments on the built-in....think 1970s built-in...it needed to go. The bottom cabinets were about 2 feet deep, and took up too much of that wall, plus didn't allow for a nice accent chair. Of course we would've assumed that they had built the fireplace properly instead of not finishing the stone around.
I would much prefer wood floors, but DH doesn't want hard surfaces everywhere...I know the wood would hold up better long term and be better for resale..
I think I am going to have him put up a wood piece on the bad side. Eventually we might do some nice smaller scale built ins...but the other built in needed to go before flooring.
I will make a mantle box probably with a nice corbel on the bottom on each side.
The fireplace cover definitely needs to go. I do like the idea of painting the inside of the fireplace a matte black...and I can look for a different "fire" for inside the fireplace.
I will find a nice picture or mirror for above the fireplace, and decorate the mantle ledge. Hopefully with a nice paint color and the rest of the room decorated, the fireplace will be nice.

Thank you everyone for your replies.

Beverly-is your first photo and the one next to it a before and after? I would love a link to that if you have it...I do like the grayish green color they painted the mantle and the corbels under the mantle. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 2:07PM
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After seeing a close up of the "bad" side, I will rethink my advice of quarter-round. If you can't find the same brick, and I believe it would have to be thin "facing type" brick. I would either use plaster to make it look like brick, tinted to match the color OR just use a piece of plywood (suggested by someone) painted like the walls. No one will notice, I am sure. Pretty stone, by the way. Our was an ugly false looking white brick and we painted ours a soft beige....looks so much better.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 2:17PM
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Here is the link for the photo


Here is a link that might be useful: fireplace painted

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 3:26PM
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Next question
I have decided to make a mantle box for sure. I am still deciding on my design.
I will paint the inside of the fireplace black, replace the retro burner, and change the brass piece. I plan to decorate the"seat" and mantle.
I plan to paint a medium brownish tan (as opposed to yellow tan). I haven't decided my accent colors yet, but I have bought a cool "Provence blue" dresser that I may put on the opposite wall below the TV.
Carpet is non-negotiable....
Trim and crown molding will be an undecided shade of white.

Brown leather sofas, unknown accent chairs/recliners, probably a rustic dark wood coffee table

? Should I stain (possibly distress), paint trim white, or paint black my soon to be new mantle box? I'm trying to decide ahead of time in case I go with stain...different wood/filler choices.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 10:26PM
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I like the example from the lettered cottage.

There are lots of pictures and tutorials on fireplace makeovers ( do a search on her blog for fireplace).

Maybe stain a tad darker than in this example.

Here is a link that might be useful: instructions

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 9:14AM
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