Updating a brick fireplace

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One of the biggest eyesores in our house was the fireplace in the main living room.Some artistically-challenged previous owner decided to paint the stones with red semi-gloss.A subtle approach uses shades of one color for the mantel, legs, filler panels, hearth and the crown near the ceiling.Or, consider taupe-washed brick, enlivening the neutral hue by painting random, colorful patterns.

For a white overmantel, a window frame with whitewashed brick provides a visual link with whitewashed brick on the filler panels and hearth.To play up the rustic flair of fireplace brick, while downplaying its rusty red tones, consider whitewashing, a process that produces the bleached look of old brick.If the header and legs feature white wood, filler panels in whitewashed brick add a textured interplay of white tones.The tacky color scheme screamed, "Look at me -- I'm hideous!" When we bought the house almost two years ago, I wasn't sure what I could do about this problem, but I vowed to do something eventually.

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