Before and After: A $2,300 Living Room Makeover Features a Gorgeous Brick Fireplace Redo

published Apr 11, 2022
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Before: empty white room featuring a brick fireplace

It’s simple, but it’s true: Paint can totally transform a brick fireplace, whether a neutral shade helps helps old brick blend into a wall or a pop of bold color gives it new life as a feature statement, as is the case in Jessica Ronnevik’s North Carolina living room redo.

The main living space in her 1968 home “left much to be desired” when she and her husband first moved in. “There was a popcorn ceiling, baby blue paint on the walls, faux wood beams, and a ceiling fan that threatened to give my husband a haircut every time he walked by,” Jessica says.

Aside from the blue paint, Jessica says she felt like the room had too many shades of browns, and “they all clashed with one another.” She wanted to tone down (or outright eliminate) the brown tones on the brick fireplace, the mantle, the ceiling beams, the wood floor, and the ceiling fan (whew — that is a lot of brown). “The only thing it was missing was wood paneled walls,” Jessica jokes.

She also says she and her husband wanted to create a living room that better suited their family, including room for a play area for her two kids because they don’t have a playroom. “Functional beauty was my target for this room,” Jessica says. “I believe visual beauty sparks creativity in all other parts of life, and I wanted to feel inspired at home.”

Jessica and her husband started by hiring professionals to smooth out the popcorn ceilings and the walls, and paint the walls, ceiling, and beams white. But Jessica knew she wanted the fireplace to be a focal point, so she wanted to pick a contrasting color. “I knew I wanted a black fireplace (despite the raised eyebrow of the paint consultant), so I painted that myself,” she says. She painted it in Behr’s Cracked Pepper and kept the same mantel, which feels much less dated against the black backdrop.

Her husband swapped the brown ceiling fan for a sputnik light fixture from Home Depot. The rest of the furniture and accessories in the space are from IKEA (the sofa, the armchairs, curtain hardware, and curtains), RugsUSA (the heirloom-looking area rug), HomeGoods (the artwork and mirror), and West Elm (the footstool).

“We lived with our old furniture until we found pieces we loved, then switched them out one by one,” Jessica says. “I was able to sell big pieces like our old sectional on Facebook Marketplace, and they really helped offset the cost of new furniture.”

The total cost for the redo was $2,300, including the furniture and professional help.

She made sure to get some furniture to create a distinct play space, too, like the IKEA play kitchen and the star light and rug, which help to make it its own distinct zone. Jessica’s advice is to not overlook your little ones when designing a living room: “Take stock of who will be using the space, and represent them (and their things) in the room,” she says.

Although she loves the entire family-friendly look she created, the element Jessica’s most proud of is definitely the bold black fireplace. “Three years ago, black fireplaces were not as popular as they are today,” she says. “The paint consultant who did the rest of the downstairs tried to persuade me to paint it white or leave it naturally brick colored. He was really surprised when he came back and saw it black — and he loved it! Everyone who comes in for the first time usually comments how cool it is. But more importantly, I love it and I’m glad I didn’t give up on my idea.”