Red Brick Fireplace Ideas
A red brick fireplace is a classic home feature that’s been around for centuries. Many older homes and even a few new ones include a traditional red brick fireplace in the living room. Some are beautiful design elements that you’d want to preserve and some are in need of a little help. Whether you’re looking to downplay the brick or show it off these red brick fireplace ideas can help.
A red brick fireplace is undoubtedly a focal point. There’s not much you can do about it, there’s no hiding the big red fireplace in the room. But with a little creative thinking, that fireplace can become something stunning you can design the entire room around. Whether you just want to accentuate the existing brickwork or do something radically different, the following brick fireplace designs will hopefully get you inspired.
A Real Timber Fireplace Shelf
Real timber looks fantastic with a red brick fireplace. Real wood and brick are both natural elements that just look good together. And it’s not just a look for old fashioned or traditionally styled homes. A red brick fireplace paired with real wood looks great pretty much wherever you use it.
With timber, the thicker the better. A fat piece of real wood with a nice grain is beautiful in and of itself. Get something weathered for a more rustic look or lean a bit more modern by picking wood that looks newer.
Stained or unstained is up to you. It all depends on what your color scheme is for the fireplace and what other colors are in the room. Either way can look great provided the color is part of the overall design. And if you’ve got other woods in the room, like hardwood floors or wood furniture, take those colors even more into consideration. Do you want a harmonious design or more contrast. Again, either way can work, but whatever you decision carry it throughout the room.
Real Wood Red Brick Fireplace Mantel
Today’s trends are moving away from using real wood in favor of a lot of white but don’t forget just how beautiful wood and red brick look together. If you’ve got the right room them buck the trends and go a bit more traditional. Natural elements have always looked great together and always will. They’re timeless combinations that you can’t go wrong with. Of course they’ll go in and out of style now and then but they’ll still always look great if you design them right.
Here we see a a red brick fireplace with really red brick. Firehouse bricks have a crisp, clean edge and a lot of color. They’re not tumbled and don’t have any weathering. Because of this, they can be overwhelming if you use them on the entire fireplace wall. But as an accent paired with real wood they’re beautiful.
Notice the stain in the wood fireplace mantel has some red tones in it. The perfectly compliments the red of the brick, wall paneling and hardwood floors. The custom inlay tiles are a nice touch and even have a bit of red in there too.
You can buy premade wood fireplace mantels but for the best results have one custom built. Since your finishing the mantel with stain all the joints have to be super tight because you can’t use filler like you can with a painted mantel. You’ll also need stain grade wood to bring out those natural wood grains. Because of the combination of quality and higher grade materials, a real wood mantel can be expensive to build.
Simple Fireplace Mantel Kits
A mantel can completely change the look and feel of the entire fireplace. They’re an easy to install and very affordable to do a complete fireplace makeover. Buy a simple fireplace mantel kit online for a few hundred dollars or build you own. If you’ve got some skill working with wood and have the tools then it’s a great DIY project. The one shown above is a premade kit you could set up in an hour or so. Caulk and sand a few spots then finish with your choice of paint.
Wood fireplace mantels are great because of how versatile they are. They can be built to fit any size fireplace and match just about any style. It’s because of this versatility that they’re one of our top red brick fireplace ideas each and every year.
Not all mantels are created equal however. Custom built options can be very expensive. Some are even hand carved or stained which greatly increases the price. But these white kits look great and are pretty cheap. They work great in almost every situation other than really high end custom homes. In that case go for something custom hand built.
Cast Concrete Fireplace Mantel
Here’s another example of a mantel with some wall paneling completely making over a red brick fireplace. The mantel shown above is made from cast concrete. They’re kits you can buy online that come as one piece or several. If you get one that comes in pieces you just glue them all together and then anchor it to the wall. One piece kits just get installed. Installing them is a simple as screwing in a few clips into the studs or existing brick. Finish with some paint.
The custom wall paneling take a bit more custom work. Box molding, which is the style wall paneling you see above the fireplace, is easy to do yourself. All the cuts are straight right angles so all you need is a tape measure, saw and a nail gun. Since your covering up an existing brick fireplace with this new design you’ll have to frame a wall over the existing fireplace. The new wall is what you apply the trim and mantel to.
This is a great way to do a complete fireplace makeover on a limited budget. Cast concrete mantel kits aren’t that expensive and this style trim is pretty cheap to do. It’s just some rough framing with 2x4s, sheetrock and 1×3 pine. Since your painting it anyway you don’t even need premium wood.
Wood Fireplace Mantel
Here we see a much more elaborate, wooden mantel installed over an existing red brick fireplace. The look’s been carried up and over the mantel shelf onto the entire wall which covers all the wall brick. The idea is to completely disguise the brick except for what’s around the fire box. It’s a stunning look and extremely versatile. Because this is all custom design and hand built using a variety of trim pieces it can fit just about any situation for a complete fireplace makeover.
Once the surrounds been designed and built it’s generally painted white. Because what’s the color of choice you don’t need to use expensive stain grade wood. We recommend going with premium pine that has zero knots, MDF, or a combination of the two. Most high end woodwork and cabinets are a combination of MDF and wood because MDF doesn’t shrink and contract like wood does and it holds paint beautifully.
We don’t recommend using MDF for everything but for flat panels it’s great. Smaller trim pieces are still better with wood along with anything you have to miter cut. That’s why we use a combination of materials. There’s no one thing that’s best for every application so hire a contractor that’s comfortable using a wide range of materials.
Red Brick Fireplace Covered With Stone
As we’ve said earlier fireplace surrounds are one of our best red brick fireplace ideas every year for a reason. If your looking for a brick fireplace makeover then you should definitely give them a look. A lot of customers thick they’re on a cheap side but that’s not true. You’ll find custom built brick fireplace mantels and surrounds in some of the highest priced homes in the world. They look great and are so versatile that they work in almost every situation.
Here we see a beautiful example of a custom mantel combined with wall paneling, trim work and real stone. One of the great things about working with red brick is that it’s a masonry product so other masonry products will stick right to it. You could apply the stone right to the brick with some basic mortar.
What we do however is apply a layer of cement board in between the brick and stone. Screw the cement board right into the brick’s mortar. Don’t screw into the brick or you’ll damage it. Once the cement board is fastened we install the stone. The reason we do this is to preserve the brick just in case some day you or a future homeowner want to go back to the red brick look. As long as you’ve hidden it under the cement board then it’ll stay exactly as is.
You could use cultured stone as a fireplace veneer but we highly recommend using real stone. The real stuffs more expensive but in an application like this you won’t need much. And no fake cultured product looks as good.
Simple Red Brick Fireplace Design
Ever consider being a minimalist? A red brick fireplace is beautiful and doesn’t always need a lot of bells and whistles. A lot of designers, especially novice ones, tend to overdo things. Bigger isn’t always better. Consider pulling back once in a while and finishing a red brick fireplace in a very simple way.
Clean the brick as best you can but don’t go crazy. Some wear and tear around the fire can actually be a nice look that adds character to the fireplace. Remove the shelf or any additional design elements and just let the brick do it’s thing. Some clients finish the top with molding as you see above but it’s not necessary. The design looks just as good if the brick goes from floor to ceiling.
I will say that this design looks best when the brick fireplace ticks out from the wall. It adds a ton of interest and dimension to the whole structure that just isn’t there if the fireplace is set into the wall with flush bricks. If your designing a new home consider pulling the fireplace into the room a bit to achieve this three dimensional look. If your remodeling you can achieve the same look by framing a new structure out of 2x4s, covering them with cement board and then installing either faux or real brick. It’s a lot more work but if you like the look it’s worth it and brick’s pretty cheap.
Brick Fireplace With Built Ins
Built ins are a fantastic way to finish off a wall with a red brick fireplace which consistently makes them one of our top red brick fireplace ideas. The white goes great with brick and creates a ton of interesting, functional spaces that you can decorate in a million different ways. As we talked about in the above design this style works best if the fireplace extends into the room. If you’ve got that existing it’s a big plus, if not then you’ll have to build it.
Built in prices have a huge range depending on the width, height, style and materials. Including cabinets is even more expensive but we’d recommend using them for at least the base.
Built ins are expensive but there are a few ways we’ve found that can cut the price down a bit and here they are.
Build For Less | Our 6 Top Tips For Building Built Ins Cheap
- Buy premade cabinets for the bases. You can’t make them any size you want but they’re are so many sizes to choose from chances are you can make them work.
- If your paint them white use cheaper grade wood. We still recommend a premium pine but you don’t need stain grade.
- Use some MDF. It’s a great building material for flat surfaces that holds paint extremely well plus it doesn’t expand and contract.
- Use a slim brick. The bricks shown above are slim and you’d never know the difference. Slim bricks are cut from real brick so they look the same only they’re a lot cheaper and easier to install.
- Use a simple box trim design and maybe some shiplap. All the cuts are straight which makes this fast and easy to build. The only tougher cuts are the crown creating the shelf but you don’t have to go this fancy to achieve a great look.
- Instead of using MDF panels for the backs of the shelves just use the wall. Once it’s painted white you can’t tell the difference.
Stone Slab Fireplace Over Red Brick
If you’ve got an old red brick fireplace that you just don’t like consider covering it up rather than remodeling it. Stone slabs are a great way to do it. It’s generally considered a more contemporary look but it still works in a wide range of home styles. And slabs are being used more and more nowadays in all sorts of places like for example as a backsplash. It’s actually more common for us to install a slab as a backsplash than it is to use tile.
This look completely covers up the old brick fireplace but at the same time it preserves it. You don’t have to damage the brick at all. Just secure a layer of cement board to the old brick or frame a wall in between. Install the slabs to either the cement board or new wall.
The cost to achieve this look can be expensive but it all depends on the price you pay for the slabs and what type of stone you select.
Just about any type of real stone will work. Natural stones do great around high heat so you don’t have to worry about that. Even using marble is fine.
The wall or cement board should be done DIY or by a professional. However the slab installation should be done by the stone supplier. We never install our own stone slabs. They’ll come out to the site, measure, cut the slabs and install them all for a fixed price that’s generally negotiable.
Stone Top Shelf | Top Red Brick Fireplace Ideas
Not all fireplace ideas have to cost a fortune or involve major or even minor remodeling. Sometimes a simple, cheap and easy solution is the best. If you like your red brick fireplace, don’t want a total make over, but still want to freshen up the look a little then consider changing the shelf.
The impact of the fireplace shelf is often overlooked or misunderstood. Try a thick piece of timber and then a slim piece of marble or stone. Everything else remains the same but this simple adjustment totally changes the look of the entire wall. It’s cheap and easy to do. Makes a great DIY project. And if you don’t like the result, unlike some other major remodeling options it’s not a big deal to change again.
Search online or visit a fireplace supply store and you’ll find hundreds of choices for premade shelves not to mention the ones you can create yourself. And you can be very creative here. I’ve seen shelves made from actual tree timber, industrial style shelves built from metal and glass and some cut from slabs of marble or granite. They all looked incredible. Do yourself a favor and consider updating the shelf before doing any major work.
German Schmear Red Brick Fireplace Ideas
If you don’t already know, a “German schmear” (or “smear”) is a way to whitewash brick by smearing lightly colored mortar over the surface. It’s different from painted brick or white washed brick primarily because it’s done with mortar and not paint. Generally a German schmear is done with the same color mortar that’s used to fill the joints.
German scmeared brick design ranges from very subtle like the example shown above to very thick. It all depends on the look your going for but it’s pretty much always done with a very white mortar. If you like the look and want to try it make sure to test it out first on a sample brick board. Don’t ever apply mortar to your brick without testing it first to make sure you like the color. Mortar doesn’t dry the exact same color as when it’s wet and never choose a mortar simply by looking at a picture.
German Schmear is a nice look when it’s done right and makes for a great DIY project. We’ll be posting some video and instructions on how to do it soon so check back.
White Washed Red Brick Fireplace Ideas
There a lot of very beautiful finish work going on with this brick fireplace but let’s focus here on the white paint. It’s a daring choice to paint a red brick fireplace white but if you pull it off it’s can have a stunning result. Here we see a paint that’s a bit translucent or water based so that some of the red brick color passes through. This is also referred to as a white wash.
There are several ways to white wash brick which we’ll get into later. In this method all of the brick is painted white but the paints not that thick. You don’t want 100% total coverage with the paint. Layer it on with thin water based coats that let color bleed through.
As you can see from the pic the white wash has more natural appearance than the surrounding trim work which was done with a solid paint coat. The sheen is also flat which adds to the natural appearance. Notice the walls and other colors found throughout the room accent the red brick color tones bleeding through the white. The results are a mix of grayish, pinkish, creamy colors that are easy to work with.
The black exposed beams, railings and fire box provide some much needed contrast.
Red Brick Fireplace Painted White
German schmear and white washing a red brick fireplace are both ways to make it whiter but nothing as drastic as using opaque white paint. If what you want is complete coverage then what you need is a good paint that’s designed for use on masonry products. You’ll also need a good quality brush so as you don’t leave bristles behind and a roller that’s super thick. Thick enough to penetrate into the cracks and holes found in some bricks. Use the brush to get anywhere the roller can’t.
Find a paint that works for both masonry and heat. A regular wall paint could peel off and you definitely don’t want anything latex.
As for the sheen we’d recommend using either flat or eggshell.
Most of the painted red brick fireplaces we’ve done or seen have matched the white pigment to the surrounding trim. There’s actually quite a large variety of white’s when you should for paint. Since this is a special paint make sure it matches the trim paint. We get ours custom mixed by a professional like Benjamin Moore.
Keep in mind there’s no going back. The paint will seep into every crack and crevice. Products are sold that say they completely remove paint from masonry but we’ve never tried one that’s worked completely. So make sure this is what you want because once you paint the brick that’s that.
Real Stacked Stone Fireplace
If you’ve got a red brick fireplace that your not crazy about there’s always the option of completely covering it up. It’s actually a bonus that you’ve got an old fireplace since you won’t have to actually build the chimney, flue and frame. Since all that’s done already your work will just be cosmetic with a strong brick base to build off of.
Consider using real stacked stone. Stacked stone is different from grouted stone. As you can see from the picture above the stones are tightly stacked with almost no gaps so there’s no need for grout. This is more expensive since the stones have to perfectly selected and stacked in such a way as to eliminate the gaps. However you don’t have to grout the stones which saves a bit of time and money.
You can achieve the look with cultured stone but we wouldn’t recommend it. If your using cultured then grout the stone. The reason is that real stone can be worked to get them all to fit. You can chip or chisel the stones edge to make them fit perfectly. You can’t do this with cultured stone because the center of cultured stone looks man made. The faux stone look is only on the face not the inside.
A Few More Top Red Brick Fireplace Ideas
We’ve gone over most of our major red brick fireplace design choices above but here are some more pics to look through. Maybe one of them will catch your eye.
A fireplace is a great feature to have in any home. Sure, it’s functional and great to fire up on a cold winters night. But most of the time it just sits there looking pretty. So dress it up a little to keep it looking it’s best. This list is filled with some of our best red brick fireplace ideas and we hope a few of them inspire you to create something beautiful. Check back, we update these pages with new pics all the time as we get them. If you’ve got any pics you’d like us to showcase send them over.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail us any time. We’d love to hear from you.