5 Easy DIY Fireplace Makeover Ideas

A modern living room with white shelving units around a brick fireplace and white mantel. There is a wooden coffee table surrounded by gray chairs and a gray couch

So you're thinking of updating your fireplace. Whether you recently moved in or you've been looking at your fireplace and considering an update for a while, you can use one of these five easy fireplace makeover techniques to change the look of the entire room.

These beginner-friendly fireplace makeover ideas are beautiful, easy DIY ways to give your entire room a fast facelift. Best of all, these fireplace updates are affordable projects you can do in a weekend.

1. Paint the Stone/Brick Fireplace

A white modern living room with a white mantle fireplace

Paint is your first best bet when you want a quick and easy fireplace makeover. Paint is an affordable way to change the look of any room or feature quickly. So when it comes to your fireplace, it's no different. With some prep work, elbow grease, and supplies, your outdated brick red fireplace can become a chic and modern centerpiece.

To paint your fireplace, you’ll need:

Lay down a drop cloth to protect the floor surrounding the fireplace. Clean the brick with Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) cleaner before painting. You may need a brush to remove the soot. Wipe the bricks clean with a rag and allow them to dry before painting.

Because brick and stone tend to be quite porous, you'll want to prime before you paint. Priming will also help the paint stand up to heat and contact. Tape off the surrounding areas using painter’s tape. Prime the brick.

Once the brick has been primed, you can "cut in" the fireplace using a brush. Then, using your paint roller, give the fireplace a nice coat of paint. Allow the paint to dry, and assess if you need to add an additional coat.

Want a rustic finish for your fireplace update? Check out our article on How to Whitewash a Fireplace.

2. Update the Brick or Stone Using the German Smear Technique

A brick wall with a white german smear

German smear is a technique that gives brick a weathered, rustic feel. It’s similar to whitewashing but involves using mortar to get a cottage-style. The name actually originates from the old castles and homes in Germany which featured this look. German smear is a great way to give your fireplace a makeover.

To get a German smear appearance, you'll cover the fireplace brick with wet mortar. This technique is particularly useful if you need to hide flaws or uneven brick patterns around your fireplace. Most mortar options are white or grey, which complements most shades of brick.

To apply German smear to your fireplace, you'll need:

To update your brick fireplace with German smear, you’ll need to clean the area and thoroughly brush the brick to remove any loose particles. It’s generally a good idea to cover the floor and surrounding areas with a drop cloth for easier cleanup.

Mix up the mortar in a bucket, following the directions on the package. The slurry should be thick, similar to runny paste. It’s often a good idea to try the technique in an inconspicuous spot or on a loose brick before applying it to your wall. Use a sponge to moisten the bricks around your fireplace.

Working in small areas, you'll smear the mortar over the top of the brick using a sponge. Move from the top of the fireplace to the bottom. Remove mortar with a stiff brush to create a more rustic appearance. Allow the mortar to dry and set for about an hour and enjoy your updated fireplace!

3. Tile Around the Fireplace with Peel and Stick Tiles

Large living room wall with a moderned tiled fireplace. There are decorative accents surrounding the fireplace including a lantern and a plant.

Is the tile around your fireplace an eyesore, or does it look like it's from the 1970s (not in a cool way)? The good news is that you can easily fix it without demolishing the entire fireplace. If the existing tile around your fireplace is flat, you can easily add peel-and-stick tiles as a great way to update an outdated fireplace.

Working with peel-and-stick tile is so simple. Find the tile that suits your style, and clean the existing tile using a wire brush and TSP to remove soot. Prep or scuff the old tile, then peel and stick on the new fabulous tile.

You may need a tile cutter to properly size the tiles around the edge of your fireplace or cover the edge with wooden trim or decorative molding. Paint the trim to match the mantel, and you'll have a beautifully finished look.

4. Decorate and Stain or Paint the Mantel

Stylish fall decorations on the mantel at home

The mantel of your fireplace is typically the main focal point of the space. A well-decorated mantel can bring your whole room together and add personality and charm. What's more, decorating your mantel is fun and a great way to change the room with the seasons.

If your mantel is worn, outdated, or looks beat up, there are ways to revamp it on a budget. Painting or staining your mantel is a great way to add color and style to make your fireplace pop. You have a few options—sand, stain or paint, and finish your existing mantel or add a new one.

To refinish a mantel, you’ll need to assess its current condition. If it’s already painted, you will simply update it with a fresh coat of interior paint. On the other hand, if your fireplace mantel is stained, you may need to sand it lightly and then give it a fresh coat of stain to finish.

You can also purchase a mantel from a second-hand store and refinish it yourself. Use wood trim as needed to create a finished look around the mantel.

5. Give the Fireplace a Makeover with Cleaning and Accessories

A man cleans the fireplace. Taken out of the fire a long-handled shovel with ash

Sometimes a good cleaning is all a fireplace needs to look updated and fresh. If you have a wood-burning fireplace that's used regularly, you'll notice a great deal of soot and smoke staining and buildup that can occur. While cleaning the chimney is a job that should be left to professionals, giving the surrounding fireplace a regular cleaning can help improve the appearance.

To clean your fireplace, you’ll need:

Give the fireplace a cleaning whenever you notice that soot and smoke have begun to build up around the fireplace. After you've cleaned your fireplace, consider adding a few updated accessories to really give the space a new look.

new hearth screen is a great way to update the space. If you notice buildup or heat damage on the underside of the mantel, you can install a mantel protector to keep it safe and looking nice.

There's nothing cozier than a home with a fireplace—make it a warm, inviting place to gather by giving your fireplace an update. It's an easy, DIY way to revamp the room's entire look.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.


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