Hot Topic

16 Dec

Do you agree with the adage that ‘there is a special place in hell for people who paint over brick’? This topic is about as controversial as the ‘do you require people to take off their shoes when they enter your house’. In most cases, my tendency is to stay with the original or to try to get back to it. But often times, the original is really less than desirable. In the case of wood that has seen better days and isn’t particularly precious, as in the case of our media center, I say paint it. And if it’s your house, you should have it the way you want it and if that means painting brick, inside or out, then go for it.

Easier said than done though. Having grown up Catholic I am a good old friend of guilt. When it comes to doing something as permanent as painting brick, I really need to think it over.

I would not consider painting the brick of the wall that transitions from outside to inside by our front door.

Nor would I consider it with the crazy fireplace in the main living room. I love this fireplace and once we remove the wood burning stove and turn it into an open hearth (in our library!) and clean it, I know I will love it even more.

Apparently the style of our brick is ‘Chicago’. (How much do you think that hurts me?) But honestly, I am not a huge fan. I don’t know why. It just doesn’t appeal to me at all. Especially in the family room, which is coming together nicely and makes the fireplace even more of an eyesore.

So what does one do here? Do I paint it? If so, what color? I could use the Yolo Air 04 that is the main neutral of the house. Or I could use the Benjamin Moore Bittersweet chocolate that is the main trim (and will be the trim around the adjacent windows). Or I could leave it and find a large mirror to distract one from the massive column of bricks. I do like the clean look of the lighter colors, like this transformation of Chicago style brick I found on Apartment Therapy.


Or this one from my favorite folks at Young House Love


But I am not 100% sure what that would look like with dark trim in the room. But fireplaces painted dark are…well…very dark.

One thing I know for sure, it won’t be any of these colors (from Apartment Therapy)!



And since said fireplace isn’t currently functional, Remodelista had some great ideas for what to do with it.

Put some object d’art in it like this mirrored ball.  I do love the magazines arranged by color.

Stack wood in it.  For when it’s functional, I assume?

Fill it with candles (my favorite)….

Tile it.  An idea I like in concept but this looks down-right funereal.

And the award for stranger than strange…put a tumbleweed in it.  Hmmm?



6 Responses to “Hot Topic”

  1. Dana@Mid2Mod December 23, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    When I bought my 1950 ranch, the brick was already painted inside and out. It’s a really nice, neutral putty color, and I love it. Almost all the houses on my block are painted brick, and the ones that aren’t are that really dark red with gray mortar, which is depressing to me, for some reason.

    In our mid-century store, I’m kinda the stickler for keeping things original if at all possible, but I agree that sometimes things are too far gone…or just downright ugly…and have to be painted.

    There are pictures of my house on my blog. Feel free to come take a look!

    • Brandy December 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

      Hi Dana,

      Yes, I am definitely leaning toward painting it. I would love to take a look at your house. Thanks for commenting and happy holidays!


  2. Stephanie December 18, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    We took a year to think about it, and decided to paint our fireplace brick. The brick was ugly IMO, and the fireplace is huge. Painting it was the best decision ever. We love it now and get lots of compliments. Having it a lighter color really opens up the room, too. But it is such a permanent thing, I understand your dilemma! Pictures here:

    • Brandy December 19, 2011 at 8:50 am #

      Hi Stephanie,

      I love your fireplace! I love what you did with the additional color over it, making the white look like the grouting. It’s awesome and something I am going to think about doing. Thanks!


  3. Lynne van den Berg December 16, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    What a dilemma, I feel your pain. I am a big fan of gathering information to help with challenging choices. If I were in your shoes I would explore possibly staining techniques or using a wash, it could tone down the contrast of the brick colors and add a subtle statement of personality. I do like some of the painted bricks, so yeah, tough decision, and a monochromatic room is often a cool statement. Love the photos, especially the black bricks and wooden mantle.

    • Brandy December 19, 2011 at 8:51 am #

      Hi Lynne,

      Yep, I am all about gathering information these days, especially with decisions like this. I looked at the photos on Houzz, like you suggested and they made me much braver because they look pretty good.


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