How to Update a Red Brick Fireplace

Fireplaces made of red brick are common in older traditional homes.

Update a red brick fireplace with your choice of materials.Update a red brick fireplace with your choice of materials.
The fireplaces are often paired with oak mantels and raised hearths. If you have a similar fireplace in your home but your taste has changed or never was traditional, it's time to bring your fireplace in line with your decorating style. Updating your red brick fireplace may not mean making it look contemporary, but simply making it more in line with your taste.

Study magazines and books on décor styles. Make note of the fireplaces that catch your eye. Use these pictures as a starting point for giving your red brick fireplace a face-lift.

Paint the brick. Brighten things up with a coat of white. Or think about the other colors in your room and choose a hue that complements them, or paint the fireplace a color that contrasts with the other colors to make the fireplace pop. Buy a product that is specially formulated to cover brick.

Resurface the fireplace. Install field stone or river rock over the brick for a rustic look. Cover the brick with glass tiles or granite for a contemporary feel. Stucco over the brick for a Mediterranean flair.

Remove the mantel. Put up a weathered barn beam for a rustic or country look. Leave off the mantel for a clean, more contemporary vibe. Install an unembellished, polished wood surround that widens at the top to serve as the mantel. Top the fireplace with a shelf of concrete or plaster.

Modify the hearth. Remove a raised hearth in favor of one that is level with the floor. Make it marble, concrete or slate to blend with modern furnishings. Choose fieldstone to complement a Tuscan-influenced room.

Buy new fireplace tools and accessories. Change out the old mesh screen for a streamlined glass door. Replace the traditional brass-handled tool set with sleek wrought-iron pieces. Substitute the old andirons with Chinese-inspired ones shaped like graceful dragons. Instead of a real fire, set the stage with an arrangement of pillar candles or a large basket filled with dried grasses and baby's breath or white and blue hydrangeas. Breathe new life into a red brick fireplace by highlighting the mantel with small herbal topiaries like those made from rosemary, rather than the expected candles and family photos.

Things You Will Need

  • Decor reference materials
  • Your choice of stone
  • Your choice of mantel or surround
  • Concrete
  • Plaster
  • Stucco
  • Marble
  • Fireplace tools
  • Candles
  • Andirons
  • Dried grasses and flowers
  • Topiaries

About the Author

Jan Czech has been writing professionally since 1993. Czech has published seven children's books, including “The Coffee Can Kid," which received a starred review from School Library Journal. She is a certified English/language arts teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Niagara University.