Refurbishing Dated Fireplace Insert?

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Q: I'm in need of advice on what to do with the brick fireplace / black metal woodburning stove insert in my family room. This combo came with the house I recently purchased, and I'm not at all into the current look. I think my problem is that the proportions seem off. The thin little mantle/shelf top seems too flimsy, and the large black rectangle of the insert seems too much of a contrast with the brick, plus not very attractive on it's own. It would be outside of my budget to remove the insert, and the fact is that it works very well as a heat source, so it must stay...

Sent by DeeThe entire room will be getting a makeover -- the fake wood paneling has to come down (it's damaged & warped), so there will be new walls that will definitely be painted in a different, as yet unidentified color. I have little furniture for this room, and what I do have will ultimately be switched out or replaced, so the look of the room can go in any direction. I've considered painting the bricks, painting the black metal backing of the insert, even putting up a whole new facade (which would have to be budget-DIY), but I just have no idea what would actually look good while remaining functional. Please help!

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Editor: Dee- We agree that the proportions seem off; the brick extends very high for such a small mantle. Definitely try to beef that up, or paint the entire fireplace the same color so the mantle just blends into the piece. A glossy black could be fabulous; it depends on the other colors in the room. Readers, any advice or suggestions for Dee?

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