80s Fireplace Makeover Before and After

by | Jul 28, 2021

Affiliate notice: This post may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

So the other day there was a little project we (I) decided to do impulsively after finding a can of white paint in the basement the previous owners had left. They also were kind enough to leave behind some painting supplies. Clearly this was an invitation to makeover the ugly 80s fireplace that is the focal point of our living room.

Every day we stared a the fireplace thinking “we really need to do something with that” but honestly I was afraid to tackle such an important project. Turns out it was really easy and the whole thing only took two coats of white paint to get the look we wanted.

Our Fireplace Makeover: From 80s to Modern

The kitten helped, her name is Cookie. The kids named her based on a song from Steven Universe.

How we painted an ugly 80s fireplace

In the after pictures you’ll also get a taste of our next project, because one thing seems to lead to another. We ended up deciding we need to paint the living room RIGHT NOW. That project is currently underway so expect an update soon.

How We Updated Our Old Fireplace

I’m sure there’s a right and a wrong way to paint a fireplace. I’m also going to guess this is later of the two. Regardless, what we actually used to paint the fireplace was primer. We wanted a bright white colour and the brick was pretty dark so we needed good coverage.

The Fireplace Before We Painted – Complete With Red Brick

Updating an ugly 80s fireplace - before. There is red brick on the bottom and brown brick around the sides of the fireplace.

All we did was use a regular paint brush and filled in the best we could. The trick was to get into all the little nooks and crannies with a fair bit of paint, but not too much to ruin the texture of the brick. We still wanted it to have that rustic look but without the original colours showing through.

It took two coats and a little over an hour to get it looking nice!

After Painting The Fireplace White

Painted fireplace after. The fireplace brick has been painted white.

Look at those fireplaces before and after! It sure is amazing what some paint can do.

Unfortunately we don’t have a mantle up yet for the fireplace. We plan on picking up a Lack shelf from Ikea as an inexpensive solution. Turns out the bigger size will be the perfect length!

We also have a can of black metal paint sitting here to touch up the insert but haven’t had the chance to take care of that detail yet.

Still lots of work to do!

Our Painted Fireplace Makeover – Updated for 2021

We have since repainted the living room and are in the middle of adding new baseboards. This is what the paint looks like two years after painting and regular use of the wood burning fireplace. It could use a touch up, but over all has held on.

We also added a mantle using reclaimed barn boards and wooden brackets from Ikea. The wood adds warmth to the cold white fireplace and gives it some texture since it’s inset from the wall. It’s also a great place to decorate!

For the paint, we went with white walls and a blue accent area above the fireplace. The colour is “Chinese Porcelain” which was 2020’s best colours.

Updated fireplace with new paint  on the wall and a mantle. The wall behind the fireplace is a focal piece with blue paint and the rest of the walls are white. The fireplace mantle is made of reclaimed barnwood.

Next we’ll be finishing off the ceiling, trim, and baseboards – then we need to sand and stain the hardwood this fall.

This picture was after using the fireplace for over 3 years with the white paint, so I think overall it’s holding up well.

You might also like: DIY Upcycled Bench From an Old TV Stand

Tips for Updating a Fireplace With Paint

  • Clean the brick before you start and make sure it has time to dry
  • You’ll likely need to do two, maybe three coats even with good quality paint
  • White paint looks great but as you can see in my picture it gets dirty easily
  • Tape off around the fireplace with good quality tape (I like Frog tape) and make sure to press it down firmly
  • Expect to need to repaint areas that get a lot of use (again, you can see the paint chipping in the picture)
  • We didn’t use any special paint, but you can definitely look into the best option for your needs
  • If you’re painting the metal insert of a fireplace use heat resistant metal paint (like Rustoleum)

Hopefully your fireplace makeover goes as well as mine!

You might also like…


Everett Franchuk

Everett Franchuk

Everett loves to plan parties and events, decorate, and make crafts/DIY projects. As a parent of 5 in his early 30s, he decided to start The Best Nest to offer practical tips and ideas.

Recent Posts