Before and After: A Tired Brick Fireplace Gets New Life with a DIY Whitewash

published Nov 25, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
House
Project Type
Living Room
Style
Mid-century Modern
Skill Level
DIY
Professional
Rental Friendly
Yes

A fireplace is the heart of a living room. Traditional brick can give cozy vibes, but when paired with aging metal, it can read a little more dated than welcoming. 

That’s how Joti Wall and her family felt about their living room fireplace after a decade in their 1970s bungalow in Ontario. After spending 10 years renovating their home piece by piece, it was time to tackle it. “Painting the fireplace felt like the right step to achieve the modern and contemporary vibe we were hoping for,” Wall says.

Credit: Joti Wall
Credit: Joti Wall

A little paint (and a new mantel) make a big payoff.

“While brick can be so beautiful when left as is, we didn’t feel this particular brick suited the space well,” she says. Wall knew there was considerable potential for a design shift because the fireplace takes up almost the entire length of the room.

After consulting professionals about the best paint to use on brick, she chose masonry paint in Simply White by Benjamin Moore. Wall and her husband “watched lots of tutorials online and just went for it!” They spent a week (in their spare time when they weren’t working) painting it by hand with a brush and roller. It was a big job, but it was worth it. “I love how it brightens the space up and stands out as a focal point,” Wall says.

Once they put in their elbow grease — the brick soaked up a lot of paint, requiring many coats — Wall and her husband hired a local craftsman, Derek Wirth, to build the wooden mantel. Its natural wood pops on the white background and completes the mid-century modern look. The entire reno cost $300. Even though the fireplace is the same color as the wall, its underlying brick texture shines through. “Painting it white has really elevated the entire space and allowed the fireplace to stand out more,” Wall says.