Before and After: A ‘70s Fireplace Goes from a Living Room Eyesore to a Favorite Feature

published May 1, 2024
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Brick fireplace in living room right before diy makeover. Some blue painter's tape marking where there will be changes

Brick fireplaces can be total stunners, but depending on the color, age, and condition of the brick, they can also feel like “a very dull sea of brown,” per Emily Hauffler of House and Hens. Fear not: There are affordable ways to make a boring brown fireplace stylish, as evidenced by these 10 redos — and an 11th in Emily’s home. 

In Emily’s living room, “the fireplace didn’t have any character or catch your attention when you walked into the room,” she says. “The bricks are original to the 1979 home, so they were dated, and there was no mantle to define the fireplace.” 

Emily wanted the fireplace to make more of a grand statement upon entering the room (with “some charm, detail, and character,” she says) and she also wanted “to tone down the sea of brown brick on the wall without completely painting the bricks.” After all, she didn’t mind those ‘70s bricks — she just wanted them to feel less overwhelming. 

Her solution to giving the fireplace a new look without painting or removing bricks was to drill a wood cover on top of them. “I kind of just went with the flow and took what I knew about drilling into concrete to attach the wood to the brick,” Emily says. She used a hammer drill, masonry bit, and Tapcon masonry screws to get the job done.

“Actually, you could unscrew all of the wood from the fireplace with very little damage to the brick underneath — just fill some holes,” Emily says, which means this DIY is a good option for renters or just fickle-minded folks. Plus, with a wood background that’s easy to attach things to, Emily got to add the mantel she’d always wanted.

Once the wood and trim were attached, paint made the biggest difference, Emily says. After testing tons of samples, she used a mauve-meets-gray (Sherwin-Williams’ Sticks & Stones) that complements both the brick and the architectural detail she’d added.

In addition to the paint color, Emily also loves the way the trim detail turned out, especially because it was her first time working with trim. “I could cut all of it at the perfect angle just using miter shears, so I didn’t have to use my big saw,” she says. “It was surprisingly very easy, and I’m ready to use it more throughout the home.”

Emily’s vision for a stately, statement-making fireplace in her living room does just that. It provides a stunning focal point room and adds architectural interest, and it only cost her about $400 total. 

“I love the color the most and the character it brings to the space,” Emily says. “It feels like it’s always been there. This functions so much better for me because I can showcase artwork above the defined mantel… I can’t stop looking at it when I walk by. It’s my favorite feature in the living room now.”

All that, and she can use her trim trial takeaways for future DIY projects. That’s a win-win-win-win. 

This article originally published on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A ‘70s Fireplace Goes from a Living Room Eyesore to a Favorite Feature