Whitewashed Brick Fireplace

Smack dab in the middle of the largest wall of our great room is a fireplace. The brick was a reddish-orangey-brown color. (That’s right. It’s a real color.) Our house is mostly decorated in black, white and gray so this color was just not meshing very well. I love the warmth the brick provided and I thought whitewashing the whole area would still give us that, but mute the color a bit. Check out our Whitewashed Brick Fireplace!

Fireplace 3

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I was a bit hesitant to make this commitment because once you paint brick, it’s hard to reverse the process.

But one night when my husband was out of town and the kids were tucked cozily into their beds, I finally got up the courage to do it. You know what they say, “When the cat is away, the mouse will paint.” Or something like that.

Whitewashed Brick Fireplace

First, I prepped the area by removing all things I didn’t want to get paint on and covered the floor with a drop cloth. We have cathedral ceilings so I also pulled out our ladder to make sure I could reach the top.

Next, I combined my concoction of 1 part white paint to 1 part water in a five gallon bucket. Once mixed up, I transferred some to a handheld paint pail and up the ladder I went.

Fireplace 2
 

Starting at the top and working my way down, I brushed the paint onto the bricks and the grout. I worked in small sections. After I let the paint soak in a bit, I wiped off the excess with an old rag and moved onto the next section. I repeated these steps until the fireplace was complete. This was a very messy process, but maybe my clumsiness is partly to blame. I did drop the paint pail once, as you can see in this picture.

Fireplace 3
 

What do you think? I absolutely love the way the texture of the brick shows through the paint. One day, I am hoping to stain our mantel an ebony color to match the decor in the rest of the room. More on that later.

38 thoughts on “Whitewashed Brick Fireplace

  1. Lori @ A Bright and Beautiful Life

    OK. You’ve inspired me. Our basement fireplace has dark red-black brick that I have been wanting to paint for the longest time {13 years to be exact!} but was always too nervous to do it. White washing is so much prettier because the brick still shows through. Will any old white paint work? I have a couple of cans in the garage that I could put to good use now. Thanks tons and tons for making your fireplace be the guinea pig! Is there anything else I should know before I get started? Is there a lot of excess paint and is it necessary to it off?

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Thank you so much Lori! Any white paint show work just fine. I would recommend wiping the excess paint off. This is what allows the brick to show though and not have too much paint coverage. If you work in sections, then it will go pretty fast. The paint will soak into the brick a bit, so keep in mind it will look whiter as you are painting, than the end result will be. If you desire a whiter finish, once the brick is dry add a second coat. Please let us know if you try this. I would love to see pictures!

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Stained Wood Mantel |

  3. Rebekah

    I love the end result! I did something similar with my brick and toning down the brick was the perfect move. I am wondering how your mantle is attached to the brick corbels and how deep is your mantel? My fireplace is exactly like yours minus a mantel.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      My mantle is 8 inches deep and I really am not sure how it is attached. Thank Rebekah for coming by! How this helped! Good luck!

      Reply
  4. Nancy

    The fact that the shading of the brick still shows through, makes it just gorgeous. The texture would show even if it was solid paint but the whitewash allows the shading and therefore the integrity of the bricks to show through and look amazing! Very well done!

    Reply
  5. Asher

    Hi!

    We’ve just bought a 1930’s house and have a 30’s fireplace in recessed dark, thin, red brick. I’m not keen myself as the recession makes it look very 70’s.

    Do I whitewash it (which by the way looks gorgeous!) OR do I spend some money getting it repointed so the brickwork is flush? Then maybe wash over later?

    Any ideas/advice would be much appreciated! It’s all quite new for me.

    Asher x

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Thanks Laurelle! I only waited approximately 3-5 minutes per section before wiping. If it wasn’t quite white enough, I could just go over that section again until I achieved the desired color. Glad you stopped by!

      Reply
        1. Emily Post author

          Depending on how much you need you can mix up different amounts of it. As long as you mix up equal parts paint and water you should be good to go. Thanks for stopping by, Reagan. Good Luck!

          Reply
    1. Marla Neely

      This looks wonderful! I’d love to know the paint sheen as well. I am planning to do this in a week or so.

      Reply
  6. Donna

    My fireplace bricks are entirely white (bought the house this way)! it is really boring, the mantle as well. I loved your whitewashed red brick and your entire website. What do you suggest? I was thinking of white washing with a gray / beige color and dabbing a darker color maybe use a chalk paint? It is a non-working fireplace.

    Reply
    1. Emily Post author

      Donna, I think your ideas sound pretty good. That would change things up a bit and create some dimension.Let us know what you decide and how it turns out.

      Reply
  7. Donna

    @ Corrine Is the mantle question in reference to the Aug 29 comment? If so the mantle is on the top attached to the wall in one piece

    Reply
  8. Daphne

    Hi Emily,
    I’m Daphne from Holland and i love your ‘new’ fireplace.
    I want to do that whit a whole wall in my new rented place (the owner thinks it’s oké)
    I want to ask you what kind of paint you used?
    Is it also possible whit thinned latex or do i need chalked paint?

    Reply
  9. Danielle Rackstraw

    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for this great idea and concept. I have a similar fireplace with the same brick going up to the mantle, and I HATE the color which also now is so out of fashion. I wanted to tile OR ANYTHING ELSE the reddish brick, but this is by far batter and I’ll surely do this first.

    My thinking NOW [aside from wanting to know when my husband and his buddy’s were doing another river run for a week since I AM ALSO A “OH DID I TELL YOU I REMOVED THE WALL BETWEEN THIS ROOM AND THE NEXT ONE” or similar . . . my poor husband never knows what project I will have ready to go or totally done while he’s gone, and I’m in my 70’s and have always done this . . . I was thinking about your white wash on my bricks, painted mantle which is now solid oak, and then real barn wood from the top of the mantle to the ceiling.

    YOU SURELY INSPIRED ME . . . and I LOVE your instructions and spunk. THANK YOU.

    Reply
  10. Margy Baker

    I have been looking for weeks for a picture of exactly what I want to do to my fireplace. The room looks so dark with dark wood trim and little light. Yours is the only picture where the brick has come through to any real extent which is what I need to go with my farmhouse style house. Am anxious to try this with maybe a cream color to kind of soften it.
    Your site is now bookmarked for future ideas!
    Thank you for inspiring this 74-year-old on to greatness! LOLOL! Hope I don’t fall off the ladder.

    Reply
  11. Claire Hilliard

    Your fireplace looks exactly like mine, except mines still dark red brick. I want do this, my husbands not for it, but I think he will like the end result if it turns out anything like yours!! Its lovely. I am just a bit nervous, cause if I mess it up, paint is hard to remove, but I’m going for it!! Thank you for your post?

    Reply
  12. Claire Hilliard

    Your fireplace looks exactly like mine, except mines still dark red brick. I want do this, my husbands not for it, but I think he will like the end result if it turns out anything like yours!! Its lovely. I am just a bit nervous, cause if I mess it up, paint is hard to remove, but I’m going for it!! Thank you for your post?

    Reply
  13. Dawn Shea

    Beautiful whitewash! I love the texture and color and how so much of the original brick shows through. I think I’m finally ready to get up the gumption to take the same steps. Thank you for the great tutorial and insights!

    Reply
  14. Charlotte

    I love this. Our fireplace is almost identical and we are wanting to try this so while searching Pinterest I came across your picture and post. Your information has been great in all the comments. Can’t wait to start ( but plan for late summer ) Great job appreciate all your information !

    Reply
  15. Patricia

    I have seen maaaany posts and pics of whitewashed fireplaces. Yours is by far, the best one. It looks very natural, like what happens to some brick when exposed to time and the elements. I actually think dropping the paint made that area look more aged, more lived in. Great job, really nice.

    Reply
  16. Sheila Carlson

    Hi
    Can you use a cream paint to do this. We are scared that the white will be too stark. Our brick has very little character (very smooth) and the color is very uniform. Will it still work?

    Reply

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