Painting the fireplace white

living room

The living room before we moved in.

The fireplace was actually one of the first things I did, so details may be a bit sketchy. When I first moved in to the house the fireplace was a little off putting. Mum said it was like a pub fireplace. It was very dark, but also white in places, it was as if someone had painted each brick in a different colour, and really was a bit of an eyesore. Inside it was an old tacky electric fire. Next to the yellow walls and the artex ceiling, it didn’t feel very homely at all.

Simon wanted to tackle the living room first, as it would be one of the rooms we use the most and the room most likely to be seen by other people. I agreed and was happy to get on with the fireplace.

I wanted to paint the fireplace white, my Mum suggested just doing a thin coat of white paint and she demonstrated this by rubbing chalk on it. I wasn’t convinced. It had to be all or nothing.


I realised the electric fireplace was loose and managed to pull it out fairly easily and then I managed to give it away on freecycle. But then I noticed the bricks on the fireplace were not symmetrical. Mum and Dad had some fancy Portuguese tiles that I could have, so I decided to get on with the painting and worry about the asymmetrical nature of the fireplace later. They’d bring the tiles on their next visit.

The inner layer was very uneven.

The inner layer was very uneven.

I gave the fireplace a good dust and then a hoover and a clean. It’s amazing how dirty it had gotten.

Bye to the horrible dark fireplace.

Bye to the horrible dark fireplace.

The previous owner had left some paint, it was the dreaded satin paint, but it was white so I thought what the hell and I got on and painted over the horrible fireplace. It went on fairly easily with a brush. I made sure to protect the mantle from any paint. In the end I decided the satin was too shiny and I bought some matt and painted over. I also bought some blue paint for the walls.


So the fireplace had been brick, but then the previous people added to it and put the painted brick affect tiles over it. This meant there was several “layers” to the fireplace and is also probably why it’s not symmetrical. It was the inner layer of fireplace that was not symmetrical, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but I hoped the tiles would work. I should have painted it white, but instead I used some sticky teal paper over it, looked rubbish, but I knew it was temporary.

Welwyn Hatfield-20130917-02688

We left it like that for a bit and I painted the wall blue, the other walls in beige, though I was tempted to paint them blue too.

Welwyn Hatfield-20130919-02703

My parents came and brought the tiles and tile cement, we had a go at doing it, but in the end I decided I didn’t like it and took it all down. I’m afraid as my phone crashed I don’t have a picture of this stage. But these are the tiles. They are lovely, but looked very busy and made the fireplace look even more uneven.

Welwyn Hatfield-20131209-03151

Anyway with the tile cement I was able to even out the surface of the inner bit, and then I decided to try and even out the 2 sides, so they’d be roughly the same width. I found some wood in the garden and basically I wedged it into position and then covered it with tile cement. Once dried I did another layer and eventually it looked more or less convincing. It wouldn’t be safe as a fire any more, but at least it was more even.


I then couldn’t decide what colour to paint the inner layer. So in the end I ordered some different tiles, in a bluey turquoise colour. They come with paper on the back, which makes in theory application easy. Though in practice it was a bit fiddly and I still had to cut some to size, which was not easy. I shattered various tiles, instead of cutting them in half. Also not all of them stuck the first time.

Welwyn Hatfield-20131222-03240

Once they were all properly attached I gave them a good clean. A damp cloth helped remove the paper. I didn’t grout them as the tile cement showed through a lot. I used some coffee to stain it, as it did look a bit “swimming pool.” As the edges showed up a bit, I painted them black.

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I’m now really pleased with the result. It’s been several months and it’s stayed more or less the same. We now have a fire affect light in it. But this is how it looked at christmas.

Welwyn Hatfield-20131224-03247


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