’70s Fixer Upper Brick Fireplace Makeover – Before and After

Impressive brick fireplace makeover in this 1970's house remodel. Love how it turned out!

Like most of you, probably, I just love a good before and after.   And if I get to be part of making it happen, all the better!

Today’s transformation is a fireplace in the living room of a very dated, neglected 1970s fixer upper that I had the opportunity to help design/remodel this past year.

Here are the details:

Brick Fireplace Makeover.

There wasn’t a very large budget for this remodel, so our first thought for transforming the sad-looking, stained fireplace brick was to paint it.

Once we realized just how coarse and textured the brick was, though, we were wondering if it could really work.  Or would it end up looking like a DIY paint project gone really wrong?

70's fixer upper brick fireplace makeover. You won't believe the after! Love the gray paint color too.

We also seriously considered completely covering the fireplace in barn wood, which would have looked great once the dark paneling and stained carpet were out of the way.

We were pretty excited about it, but, after getting conflicting opinions on how close the wood could be to the firebox (and realizing it would cost substantially more) we decided that this brick fireplace makeover would be done with paint.

Worst case scenario, the whole thing might look horrible, in which case we could just cover it with barn wood anyway.

Dated 1970's fireplace gets an amazing makeover! Love the after and the gray SW paint color looks amazing!

Painting the brick.

The paint we chose for this makeover had a lot more to do with finding a color we loved than with the brand or paint itself. But, in retrospect, I will say that I’m very happy that we ended up with the paint that we did.  We chose Sherwin Williams Super Paint in 7019 Gauntlet Gray and it worked amazingly well!

A really nice, thick paint and primer in one and, the best part? IT COVERED IN ONE COAT.  Unbelievable, but true.

sherwin-williams-gauntlet-gray

After a little trial and error, we figured out a technique that seemed to work best.

We generously “painted” a small section of brick with a regular paint brush first.  (In this case, generously painting could best be described as globbing and wiping the paint on as thick as we could with a regular paint brush without it dripping back off.)

The picture below was taken when I was just starting to figure out what we needed to do.  The thicker glob of paint you see on the lower portion of the picture was about how thick it needed to be applied everywhere prior to pouncing.  (Don’t you love all of these technical painting terms? :-) )

1970s-fixer-upper-brick-fireplace-makeover-textured-brick

Once we finished “painting a section”, we went back with a larger thick bristled brush (shown below) and pounced the paint into the brick until it was completely covered.

As you can see, it was very hard on the brush, (and it was time consuming) but it worked.  We went through at least 2, maybe 3?, of the thick bristle brushes for one coat.

1970s-fixer-upper-brick-fireplace-makeover-thick-bristle-brush

Since we assumed we would have to paint a minimum of 2 coats to completely cover the brick, we were very pleasantly surprised at how well this paint covered using our technique.

Firebox, Mantel and Vents.

The fireplace was originally wood burning, but there were some issues in the flue/chimney that needed to be fixed to allow it to remain that way.  We decided the money would be better spent on a gas fireplace insert instead, and it really helped with the overall look as well.

fireplace-updated-with-new-gray-paint-but-still-needed-a-new-mantel-love-the-one-we-chose

The mantel was small and had seen better days, and we were excited to stumble upon a bargain reclaimed wooden beam to use instead. Love the character it adds!

1970s brick fireplace makeover. Love the way they changed out the existing mantle with this reclaimed beam. Love the gray too!

And, since the vents would have been pretty much impossible to remove, we just painted them knowing that we could strategically place accessories to cover them.

The after.

Fun might be a stretch to describe the process of our brick fireplace makeover, but it was definitely gratifying to see it transforming before our eyes as we painted.  Especially once we realized it was going to cover in one coat!

And we were very happy with the end result.

brick-fireplace-makeover-the-before-and-after-pics

Proof that sometimes it pays to try that DIY project you’re considering.

If it doesn’t work out, you can always go to Plan B. And if it does work out?  Nice!

70's brick fireplace makeover. Amazing transformation - love the new SW gray paint color.
Brick Fireplace Makeover


(All the accessories are from Schneiderman’s stores.  See and shop more accessories on our website!)

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9 Responses to ’70s Fixer Upper Brick Fireplace Makeover – Before and After

  1. Natalie October 19, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    It’s always amazing to me what a little paint can do! (or a lot of paint in this case)
    The transformation looks GREAT and completely changes the space from “ho hum” to an inviting crisp clean space that anyone would love to hang out in. Well done!

    • PK October 19, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

      Thank you Natalie! It never ceases to amaze me either how transforming a little paint can be. We were so happy that we decided to give the painting route a try! Totally worth the effort…

  2. Steph October 20, 2016 at 2:18 pm #

    What an amazing change – the new mantel really takes it to the next level!! And I love the log vases you chose…nice!

    • PK October 20, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

      Thank you Steph! I love the vases too – they’re so unique! (from Schneiderman’s of course:-) )

  3. Brandi December 29, 2016 at 9:25 am #

    How much paint did you use for this fireplace project?

    • PK December 30, 2016 at 8:10 am #

      Hi Brandi – We didn’t buy more than one gallon of the Super Paint, and it covered really well – but I can’t remember exactly how much of that gallon we used. Our brick was porous and coarse (and light colored) so we did put the paint on thick before we pounced it in. How much you need would depend on the size of your fireplace, the color, coarseness and how much paint the brick “absorbs”.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Chris January 2, 2017 at 10:52 am #

    It turned out great. What sheen did you use for this? Based on some of the bricks it looks like at least a satin or even more glossy.

    • PK January 2, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

      Hi Chris – it’s SW Super Paint Satin Acrylic (paint and primer in one). We definitely didn’t want the fireplace to be shiny, but couldn’t go with a flat paint either – the satin sheen was perfect!

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