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One Room Challenge Week 3: Old Brick Fireplace Makeover

Today I’m sharing how we gave our basement fireplace a complete makeover with paint and a new wooden mantel.

This might be one of my favourite makeovers in quite a while… I really detested the fireplace before and now I really, really love it. Like, even more than I love our upstairs one.  And it was quick, simple, and super thrifty to give our old brick fireplace a complete makeover with paint and by adding a new simple wooden mantel with wood corbels.

I love a good before and after, how about you?

If you’ve been following along the last few weeks, then you know that I’m taking part as a guest participant in the Spring 2020 One Room Challenge (also known as the ORC).

If you aren’t familiar with the ORC, it’s a challenge where designers and bloggers attempt to give one space in their homes a complete makeover in a 6 week time period. This time, because of the complications involved with designing and renovating during COVID19, the ORC has extended the timeline to 8 weeks instead of 6.

Which means, that over the next 8 weeks I will be sharing the process of making over our basement family room with you one step at a time.  I’m so excited to get this area in our home cleaned up, renovated, and decorated so that it actually becomes a comfortable and welcoming family space (and area for the kids to hang out with their friends, when they are allowed to have them over again!).

So far in this series, I have shared…

We kind of tackled this project at the same time as tackling our basement flooring project.  I wasn’t sure which one to share with you first… since they were pretty concurrent in the timeline, but decided I’d share the fireplace this week and then the flooring install next week.  Both of these projects were essential to the overall change in feel in this space.

We also got the ceiling sealed and painted and the entire room painted out in a very soft grey colour – it is quite similar to “Distant Grey” by Benjamin Moore.

We began with an original brick fireplace that had a wood burning insert in it that was no longer really useable or safe.  We toyed around with the idea of replacing it with a gas insert, but that really wasn’t in the budget for the current time, so we decided to just haul it out, take it to metal recycle, and then clean and paint the inside of the firebox with black heat-paint.

Next, we primed and then gave the brick two coats of white (semi-gloss) paint. It’s a job; painting brick… something that if I’d been thinking ahead I would have loved to use my sprayer for (like in this post), but unfortunately we had already started on painting the ceiling and walls, so it was too late.

Tips for Painting a Brick Fireplace:

  • clean it thoroughly first removing dust and grime – if it’s quite dirty you may want to wash it with TSP and a wire brush for the grout
  • use a super-adherent primer that is recommended for brick/masonry surfaces – ideally, allow it to dry overnight so it’s well cured before painting
  • use two coats of paint – I like to brush in on the grout lines, but a roller often works well for the brick surfaces, depending on how uneven your brick is
  • be patient and ready to do a lot of brush work – all of those grout lines are tricky to get into!

Once the paint had fully dried, I stained some wooden brackets and a thick piece of fir in a darker wood (chestnut) tone to match well with the darker vinyl plank flooring that we chose for this space (see my full inspiration board with sources here).

We used some special masonry anchors to install the screws that the wooden corbels mount onto, and then just placed the mantel on top of the brackets.  It fit in between the brick columns on the sides of the fireplace nice an snugly, so we didn’t need to glue it to the brackets.

And with the mantel installed, I couldn’t help but decorate it right away.

That’s the fun part, right?!

Next week I can’t wait to share the flooring update with you – such a big fantastic change!!

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  1. Over from Creative Muster — Love the paint, the mantel and of course your styling! I’m going to have to subscribe to follow along on your basement adventure.

  2. What a fantastic makeover!! It makes SUCH a difference ~ your hard work has definitely paid off!! My paint brushes are due out soon for a kichen and bathroom repaint ~ providing the 2 cats can manage to stay away :-)Trust me to choose the hot weather which has just been forecast for us, here in UK!

  3. Ohmygosh, I absolutely love how this turned out! I’ve never seen a fireplace before where the sides come out at a 90 degree angle like this and at first I thought, “Bleah,” but now that it’s been painted white and especially now that the mantle is in place, I just love it! Great job!! 🙂

    1. Thanks! I agree – I wasn’t quite sure what to do about those sides but I think with the white paint and then adding the mantel and corbels, they blend in much better!

    1. Thank you Lindsey – I am so happy with it as well. It makes a huge difference in the space!

    2. I love the fireplace. I’m going to see if it’s something my hubby can do for me when we tackle our family room.

    1. Even after all these years of DIYing, it is always surprising what a big difference paint makes! I love the mantel, too:) Thank you so much!

  4. It looks sooooo good!! We painted our brick fireplace white a while back and it made a HUGE difference in the brightness of the room because it was floor to ceiling!
    Also I love how you decorated it!

    xo Katie

    1. Thank you Katie – it is a huge feature. We did our living room one with dark charcoal grey and as much as I love it… it definitely makes things a little darker. The walls are all white though and we have huge windows upstairs, so that helps. I love me some white, so going grey upstairs was a “risk”!

    2. Hi Katie,

      Stumbled across your website as I’m looking for ideas for my brick fireplace. Your project turns out beautifully! I love your styling with the plant in the disused fireplace. May I ask where you got it from? Also selectimf which white shade scares me, which paint shade did you use?

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