Loving the Fireplace You Used to Hate

Ah, the fireplace. The heart of the home, the hearth, the focal point of any well-appointed living room.  But what if the heart of your home fills you with contempt?

 Lovely, Non-Contemptuous Fireplace


In the photos I’m going to share with you below, the wall color stayed the same and no new furnishings or accessories were purchased.  A lot like that old show on HGTV, Decorating Cents (that I still miss!), this makeover is what most people refer to as an “interior redesign,” aka, “working with whatcha got and not buying anything new.”  Here’s the “before” of the living room.

 Living Room Before


My client had a lovely, white fireplace surround/mantel set in the ideal central location in the room.  But do you feel like something isn’t quite right about it?  Let’s look a bit closer.  In spite of the dreadful photography, I think you will recognize that the granite tile isn’t doing this fireplace any favors.

Fireplace Before


The granite tile is the same granite that’s in the client’s adjoining kitchen, but it just doesn’t relate to the bright white mantel and trim in this living room.   So, do you rip out the granite? Apply something over it?  What could I do to make my client fall in love with her fireplace again?  It seemed to me that the answer was to stop fighting the granite tile – instead, paint the surrounding trim and mantel black so that the competition between the bossy granite and the stark white trim comes to an end.

 Fireplace and Granite Tiles – Harmony Prevails


Again, the wall color remained the same – don’t let the difference in lighting conditions, time of day, and my less-than-stellar photography distract you from the point of this post:  besides the rearranging of furnishings and accessories, the only difference here is a $10 pint of black paint on the fireplace.  Let’s step back and see the difference that little change made.

interior redesign

The Cheap Fix Can Often Be the Best One – HaHa!


My client is feeling the love for the heart of her home once again, thanks to a little guidance from The Decorologist and a few coats of black paint.  For more things you should consider painting black, follow my Pinterest board named “And I Want to Paint It Black.”



  1. Julie Eps

    Looks fantastic! What are your feelings on painting natural brick or off-center fireplaces?

  2. Peggy @The Decorating Files

    The black looks so much better than the white! I agree, the white woodwork looked too stark against the darker granite. When we can’t change something, we have to put on our creative hats and find a solution! I ran into the same problem in my guest bath upstairs. The tiles are not my favorite and I didn’t like the cabinet color (plus they didn’t go together AT ALL). I painted the cabinets white and the walls chocolate brown. I love the combo and the tiles just “disappeared”. The room actually looks bigger! It’s one of my favorite rooms in the house. Thanks for your post!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Isn’t it funny that those tiles you didn’t like now “disappear” when you put them next to something that relates better – that’s exactly what happened with these fireplace tiles. The black (which relates to the tile) just quietens down that tile so much, thank goodness!

  3. Sheila Zeller

    If you didn’t point out the wall colour hadn’t changed, I would’ve thought otherwise! What an amazing difference the black surround has made. Love it!

  4. joy

    yes, the black fireplace goes with her furniture better as well..

  5. StagerLinda

    What a difference! You took this room from a C- to an A+!

  6. Paula

    That’s pretty cool! I’m sitting here now considering the possibilities with my stone fireplace that has a white mantel (not a surround) only because the picture-frame paneling has also been painted bone with white trim. Maybe black is the answer.

  7. Kimberly

    Looks amazing! I did this for a client who was selling their home. It really adds a different dimension to the room!

  8. Christine

    Removing contrast always calms the visual — nice example here. Would like to offer a related decorating issue for a future blog topic: We just moved into a 1914 Craftsman that wasn’t well respected – -badly painted trim, etc…. but they even painted the brick fireplace white, w/ a white mantle against a white wall. This is almost too calming!

    I dread the job of stripping that paint from the brick. Thinking instead that I should paint the wall a navy as I have a beautiful gold mirror to place above it. What other colors (instead of white) do people paint brick?

  9. Kelly

    Wow! Great transformation in the whole room!

  10. Hannah Dee

    They had little furniture disease. Now everything is scaled perfectly!

  11. R

    Black fireplace just screams 1980s. Granite is too trendy and it can be dated really fast.

    White or Dark stained wood is better. It’s just my opinion.


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