Weekend Upgrade: Transform Your Tired Fireplace!

Nothing says “home” quite like an inviting fireplace. As a natural focal point and gathering place of warmth and family, a fireplace has the power to make or break the stylistic continuity your entire space.

The original red brick fireplace that occupied our family room did just that – occupy space. While it housed many a warm crackling fire, it never managed to enhance the decor of our family room. With its offset placement and lack of a proper mantel, our fireplace remained ignored by homeowner and visitor alike.

When we began transforming our family room to a neutral palette, our tired brick fireplace begged for attention (and not in a good way) among the calm greys, gentle blues, and soft browns.

How might we incorporate the fireplace into our room? What could we do with it? What should we do with it? With little budget to spare on this important afterthought, we chose to get creative.


  • Weekend update! 1 of 12
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    Looking to give your tired fireplace a modern facelift? Give us a weekend and we'll show you how it's done!

  • Friday night: Clean your fireplace 2 of 12
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    A dirty fireplace can steal the pretty right out from any room lucky enough to house it, so before making any rash decisions regarding your fireplace upgrade, I suggest giving it a good cleaning.

    Things you ought to know:

    1. You'll want to vacuum your fireplace with a shop vacuum very, very well prior to cleaning. Trust me.

    2. There are a many different ways to clean a brick fireplace. Begin with milder cleaning options before proceeding to more powerful chemical formulas - you may just find gentler formulas do the trick. Test spot an inconspicuous area on your fireplace before cleaning.

    3. The cleaning process takes a lot of elbow grease and time. Our small fireplace took approximately two hours to clean.

    4. You'll be sore tomorrow. That's not a maybe.

    Before we decided which direction we wanted to go with this here fireplace, I decided to give it a good cleaning using a paste mixture of salt, laundry detergent, and water.

  • Saturday morning: Make a decision 3 of 12
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    You may have discovered a good cleaning was all your fireplace needed to bring real eye candy to your room. If clean brick still isn't doing it for you and your fireplace is ready for a bigger change, you have options. You can whitewash it, reface it, or paint it. Not to rush your powers of decision-making, but if you're going to get this bad boy updated in one weekend, you'll need to make your decision without delay.

  • Saturday morning: Get started 4 of 12
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    Should you decide to paint, head to your nearest hardware store and pick up the following:

    • 2 quarts paint with built-in primer
    • 1 paint roller
    • 1 paint tray
    • 1 high quality paint brush (I use Purdy brand)
    • painter's tape

    We decided to paint our fireplace as it seemed like the easiest choice. Rather than make a bold color statement (which is never a bad idea), we decided to keep things simple by using Valspar Ivory Brown (6006-1C), the color of the adjoining family room wall.

  • FYI… 5 of 12
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    You ought to know...

    1.It's best to roll your paint on first. You'll be like, "This is so easy and going so fast!" Hang on there, sister, not so fast. Rolling is just the beginning. You'll likely need 2-3 coats to really cover the brick color.

    2. Brick is porous. I know you know that, but what you might not know is just how much paint your brick will absorb like an insatiable sponge. I used two quarts of paint on our 83"W x 46"H x 8"D fireplace.

    3. Painting mortar is a bitch. It will take hours and kill your hand.

  • Saturday afternoon: Paint 6 of 12
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    Painting is all you'll be doing for the rest of the day. Our fireplace took six hours to paint. Six. Listening to 90s hip-hop helps the paint dry, I swear. Once your fireplace is painted, go out to dinner, you deserve it.

  • Sunday morning: Decide on fixtures 7 of 12
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    Once the paint is dry, you can either reinstall your fireplace door if you have one, or update any updated brass fixtures you many have by clicking here for a helpful tutorial.

    Big Daddy P reinstalled our existing fireplace door before we moved on to the mantle, but you can do it after if you so desire.

  • Sunday morning: Add or update your mantel 8 of 12
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    It's a good thing you got up early, because you have a little homework to do for your new mantel:

    1. Decide what you'll be using your mantel for - this will determine the type and size of mantel you choose.

    2. Draw inspiration. Pinterest, as always, is a good place to start. Take a look!

    3. Decide to DIY or purchase a premade fireplace mantel or surround.

    We didn't have a proper mantel, save for a row of perpendicular bricks, so Big Daddy P decided to create one himself by modifying the plans of this tutorial on how to build window cornices to fit over our existing small brick mantel.

  • Sunday afternoon: Build mantel 9 of 12
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    Should you decide to replace your fireplace mantel with one you build yourself, check out this tutorial as it's one of the most comprehensive we've found.

  • Sunday night: Install mantel 10 of 12
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    Make sure you allow plenty of time for any wood glue used in mantel construction to fully cure prior to installation.

  • Next weekend: Decorate! 11 of 12
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    OK, so I said you could transform your fireplace in one weekend, but come Sunday evening you'll likely be too tired to think about decorating your fireplace. Let's save the fun part for next weekend! It's amazing what a few incredible decorative pieces can do for your fireplace. While our fireplace decor remains a work in progress, we're looking forward to using our new mantel and surrounding fireplace area to showcase seasonal decor!


  • Total transformation 12 of 12
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    One exhausting weekend and $200 earned us a total fireplace transformation we could be proud of. Best of luck to you!


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