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
It looks incredible! I’m about to paint my fireplace and trying to figure out what shade of white I should go with. Did you go with the same white as your trim or is the white on the fireplace more of an off white?
What masonary paint color/brand did you go with on the stone?
Hi Emma, this was super helpful! Running off to Home Depot to buy the products you recommend right now! All the Best!
Wow, stunning! I am looking to paint my stone fireplace using your method, but I had a question about heat resistance if you actually use the wood burning fireplace. Do you know if the paint you used would be affected by the heat? While I personally don’t want to use the fireplace since we also have central heat, my husband wants the option!
people love to hate on spines in books, but ended up with these accidentally with my two-sided cubby–spines out on one side = spines in on the other side. i discovered that spines in is really calming, the different shades of off-white are so pretty. they’re my books, i know which are which
What did you do to lighten the ceiling? It looks great!
Hi Mel! You can read more about Emma’s ceiling here: https://abeautifulmess.com/2017/07/progress-report-ceilings-and-floors.html
What a wonderful decor idea! Usually I’m seeing a wine rack and now first time a bookcase. Thank you for sharing!!!
What recommendation do you have for type of paint finish to use on this kind of project? Thanks!
Oh my goodness, it looks so beautiful! Such a creative idea with the books, I love it!
It looks so much better in my opinion and doesn’t dominate the room so much anymore!
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.
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!
Thanks for sharing your throught process and rationale – I wondered about that and really appreciate the honesty! You do you!
This is so beautiful!! Love what you did! Great post.
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!
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 🙂
LOVE the white and simplistic look!
i love it! who cares if it’s “basic?!”
Ha ha. I know! I regret thinking that way. It’s totally silly… but just sharing to be honest. 🙂
Beautiful all around, but that bookshelf is INSPIRED.
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 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
That sounds interesting! Let us know how it goes.