Painting My Stone Fireplace White (Finally!)

You might have seen me sharing some about this on my personal IG last month—we painted our stone fireplace white. And spoiler: I love it! We’ve lived in our home for over three years now and I wish we had painted our fireplace sooner. I know a white fireplace isn’t for everyone, but I love it and I’m so glad I took the plunge finally. So why did it take me this long?

Above you can see how our fireplace (and this room) looked when we moved in. The stone had actually been painted white before and the previous owner had painted it this kind of faux stone look. I do think they did a nice job, as it really did look pretty convincingly like stone unless you looked really closely. So I think that was my first hesitation. Something in me just felt like it was silly for the fireplace to have been white, someone painted to look stone again, and then I was going to paint it back white. Just felt very Myth of Sisyphus, if you know what I mean (hey, and it’s even a stone fireplace! Get it?).

There was a very large and heavy fireplace insert (helps to blow the hot air out once you get a fire going) that came with the house, and although it does NOT spark joy, I felt bad getting rid of it for some time. But ultimately I knew pretty quick that I wasn’t going to build any fires in this fireplace. I do know how (my dad came over and gave me a tutorial), but it really just wasn’t practical. So I eventually filled the fireplace with candles (after having it professionally cleaned) and just sort of left it that way for a year or two. I didn’t love the black edges where the insert had been, and there was some discoloring right in front of the opening on the stone that I wasn’t crazy about either.

And here’s the part I am sort of embarrassed to admit. I think I felt kind of silly painting our fireplace white because it’s what everyone does (or so it seems). I considered other colors like black or even dark grey, but with how dark this room in our house gets, I just felt white would be something I would ultimately be more happy with long term. But it seemed so unoriginal that I felt silly making that choice. Which, that’s pretty silly, right? I mean, if Trey and I couldn’t decide on a color together, that would be a good reason. Or if painting it just didn’t fit our budget, that would be a good reason. Or if we planned to move soon, that would be a good reason (maybe). But not doing it even though I knew I’d like it just because I thought people would think I was unoriginal and just another “blogger painting her fireplace white” is a pretty lame excuse. Again, I’m a little embarrassed to admit this to you all but it’s the truth.

But I finally took the plunge. It’s all white and I LOOOOOOVE it. If that makes be basic, oh well, I guess. 🙂

I also had my friend Ethan build this bookshelf that fits right inside the space in front of the opening. I knew I was never going to build a fire and I just wanted to create an interesting look for this spot in our home, and I got it in my mind that a little bookshelf would be cute here. It’s removable, so when/if we do move one day, the next owner will still have access to the fireplace. But I much prefer this. And as you can see, I’ve turned all the book spines in so it’s a very monochromatic look. Almost all of these books are just paperbacks I thrifted (all of them cost around $150), except a small section I turned sideways on the top shelf. Those are the ones I actually plan to read, so I know where they are.

Maybe one day I’ll turn the books around and do a rainbow look like Elsie’s massive bookshelf. That would be another super practical way to store books, right? (wink, wink!)

What did we use to paint the stone fireplace? First, Ethan coated all the stone and mantel with bonding primer. It’s super sticky and allows paint to stick to weird surfaces (like stone) much better. Then he brushed on two coats of white masonry paint. You can’t see it, but inside the fireplace (behind the shelf) we did touch up the black with a high heat paint (again, even though I don’t plan to build a fire, someone might one day).

This is the type of project you can’t really roll since the stones are such irregular shapes. The best options are to brush paint or spray. Spraying is much quicker but you need a paint sprayer (you can rent one, but I never have so I can’t say how well they work) and you have to spend a LOT of time prepping the space, making sure to cover all floors, ceilings, furniture, etc., as it can get messy fast. Although brushing may take a little longer to apply the paint, the prepping and clean up is much easier, so that’s what we went with on this project. Just wanted to share in case anyone else plans to go #basic with me and paint their stone fireplace white. 🙂 xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Project Assistant: Ethan Randolph. Photography: Janae Hardy. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • Omg Emma I LOVE it!! It totally brings the whole space together and it makes the room seem more like you and I don’t know why but it gives off modern day Beauty and the Beast vibes 😂 it looks so magical and dreamy! Belle would approve 👍

  • Ooooo PLEASE do a tutorial on the bookcase! That’s just what I want to do with my old fireplace!

    • I’ll ask Ethan if he’d like to. I doubt he took any photos of the process though but maybe we can figure out a visual way to help show what he did? Hmmm…

  • I whitewashed my fireplace with latex paint because I’ve seen people paint their fireplace with latex paint and it doesn’t look good because it covers the natural features of the texture and makes it look plasticky. But your fireplace doesn’t look that way. Is that a perk of using masonry paint?

    • Maybe? That’s the only paint we used so I don’t have a good comparison in my mind. I do feel the masonry paint shows texture and although it’s not matte it’s also not super glossy. It’s what they recommended at The Home Depot when we went to buy supplies so we went for it and I personally love how it turned out.

  • Emma, love it! We also had a dark, unwelcoming fireplace in our home. For many years, it was painted a dark red (it’s actually brick, not stone). Eventually I was able to convince my husband to paint it white. He thought the white would make it “stand out” when it actually did just the opposite. It’s huge and juts out from the wall in an odd shape, but it’s SO much better painted white. Now if I can just convince him to help me paint the living room walls to match 😉

  • My fireplace is massive and already white brick. The brick wasn’t uniform (built up later with different bricks) and the grout was dark gray. Once I noticed it drive me nuts. I whitewashed mine using latex mixed with water. Turned out quite nice overall.

  • Definitely the right call. The custom bookcase adds so much visual interest. Lovely fireplace. We can totally imagine ourselves diving into a good book in front of it, wrapped in a comfy blanket.

  • I beyond adore that you referenced The Myth of Sisyphus in this post 🙂 For myself, I often feel silly when torn between (seemingly) small choices and ask whether my projects are just boulders I create for myself to push around all the time – but they bring such joy! And for that I am grateful. To be able to choose whatever I am drawn to at the moment is happiness for me. The fireplace is beautiful exactly as you like it and thank you for sharing your process.

    • Totally agree! And if they are only for display, why not buy ones you actually want to see the spines of? The whole idea seems a bit pointless to me

    • I consider these particular books just decor. Like spending $150 on wallpaper for an accent wall or something else. I have a lot of books in my home that I do read (mostly cookbooks as I usually get fiction from the library) but these are more for the visual effect.

  • I whitewash my stone fireplace also Last Summer. I also used a latex paint which did come out fine and a brush. My next attempt is to use a pearlescent paint in certain areas of it to give it extra shine in spots. Haven’t done it yet but plan to shortly

  • I don’t care if a million bloggers paint their fireplaces white if they turn out looking like this! It’s beautiful. The bookcase is also fantastic- what a great idea! It makes it look so unique.

  • I think this is a very unique way to design a space that specifically fits you and you were not afraid to lose the fireplace if it wasn’t working for you! Many people would never do that. And hey, you have given the thrifted books a new purpose and loving home, even if you don’t plan to read them 🙂

  • I love that you decided to do what makes you happy! It looks beautiful because no matter what anyone else thinks, a part of you is in that space and always will be. Fabulous job and thanks for showing all of us that doing something that you like, and that matters to you, has value and is the most important thing in decorating personal space!

  • Thanks for sharing your throught process and rationale – I wondered about that and really appreciate the honesty! You do you!

  • I love this! I think it was a great idea to not only paint the fireplace, but to create such a splendid little nook for these books! I love books and would love to have such a wonderful spot to display them… pages or spines! So awesome!

  • I love the white! The bookshelf confuses me though. Didn’t you do a massive book purge + you are an avid reader? The bookshelf would only make sense if you did not have enough book storage space, but why fill it with books that are literal filler? Also, you live in a place with cold winters, why don’t you have fires in your fireplace? I don’t have a fireplace and live in a much warmer climate, but really miss being able to have a fire. Is it for environmental reasons?

    • Oh I still have a LOT of books in my home besides these. I did get rid (donate) many last year or the year before. These are just decor, again, like buying $150 of wall paper or some other decor item (faux plants? you probably get it).

      We have central heating and that’s our primary source of heat in our home. It is nice to build a fire but mine is not gas / automatic so it takes at least 20-30 minutes, plus you need to keep it going once it’s going. It creates a bit of a mess you have to clean. And honestly it’s not an activity that brings me any joy. So it’s just a way to spend time that I don’t enjoy and ultimately didn’t really need (since we have central heat). It may bring others joy or be necessary for others, but that’s not the case for me and I finally designed this part of my home around that fact rather than feeling silly or guilty about it.

  • Oh my goodness, it looks so beautiful! Such a creative idea with the books, I love it!

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