Christy’s Fireplace Dilemma

Fireplaces are at the very top of the list of things that people wish for when they’re searching for homes – fireplaces are all warm and cozy, and make a house feel like a home.  So what’s a girl to do when she snags a house with a fireplace, but she hates the way it looks?  That’s the position Christy was in when she sent me this email:

Hi Liz,

So here’s the snapshot of our fireplace.  We hate the brass surround on the glass doors/screen.  Do you think we could paint it black or silver and it would look decent?  Alternatively, we could buy a smaller one that still does the job.  We have to keep our daughter out of it, obviously!  What say you?  Muchas gracias for your thoughts!  ~ Christy

I know Christy isn’t the only one with this dilemma – isn’t it crazy how popular those brass fire surrounds used to be?  We had a similar surround on our fireplace before we demolished and rebuilt the whole thing because of some crazy, shiny stone.

Here’s the brass surround that Christy’s living with:

Christy's Fireplace Dilemma

Luckily Christy won’t need to do anything drastic to get her fireplace into fantastic form – all it’s going to take is an afternoon with one of these guys:

Christy's Fireplace Dilemma

Here’s the down and dirty on how to turn that dated, brass fireplace surround into a total showstopper:

1.  Pick your poison. It’s pretty cool – these days they make a high heat spray paint that can be used to spray paint just about anything that gets hot, from grills to exhaust pipes to . . . you guessed it . . . fireplace surrounds.  It’s specially formulated to withstand insane temperatures, and is safe to use to paint your fireplace surround.  These paints are easy to pick up at places like Home Depot and Lowe’s, and come in a few colors and finishes, like black (flat and glossy), white, hunter green, silver and gold.  In Christy’s case, I think a coat of flat black paint would make her fireplace look dynamite by picking up on the darker bricks in the fireplace as well as the bookcase and chair that sit nearby.  [Edit: Stove Bright also makes high heat paints (including primer and cleaner/paint prepper) that come in a huge assortment of colors that can be ordered online, and Thurmalox makes a clear stove paint that can provide a glossy finish.]

2.  Unscrew the fireplace surround from the fireplace.  There should be screws holding the surround into the fireplace – just find them and unscrew the whole shebang (and be sure to hang onto your screws).

3.  Head outside.  This high heat spray paint is pretty toxic stuff, so be sure to do this project either outside or in an open garage.  Once you’re outdoors, unscrew the brass trim from the doors.  Lay the trim on newspaper or a tarp and spray the trim in thin, even passes.  Tape off the glass part of the doors with newspaper and painters tape to protect the glass, and then go to town spray painting the doors.  [Edit: To ensure extra adhesion, you may want to clean and sand the doors before you begin spray painting them.]

4.  Let it dry. Although spray paint dries pretty quickly, try to give the trim and doors at least a day to dry before you put them back up just to be safe.  Once the trim and doors are dry, find your screws and put those babies back in place!

5.  Brag a little.  Your friends will be totally jealous that your fireplace now looks so awesome.  If you feel like being nice, you can tell them how easy this project was.

Totally doable, right??  And if you are debating between painting the surround and replacing it, like Christy, you don’t have anything to lose by giving painting a try before you spend a bunch of money replacing the surround – that simple $5 can of spray paint will probably do the trick!!

Have any of you tried this project?  Got any projects that you’d like to tackle but need some advice?  Fire away!!  You can leave your question in the comments or shoot me an email here.

And by the way – see that fab mantle above Christy’s fireplace?  And the beautiful hearth?  Christy and her husband made the mantle from scratch, and Christy’s husband and dad tiled the hearth.  Skills, I tell you!!  How awesome is that??

Images courtesy of Rustoleum.  This post is shared with Hooked on Houses.

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  1. christy says:

    Liz! Oh my gosh – I’m so excited that you came up with such a fabulously easy and doable solution! I had no idea! I can’t wait to try it and send you the AFTER photo. Thanks so much for your advice and how fun of you to post this on your blog! Hurrah~

  2. Averill says:

    Great solution — cost effective with high pay off! And Christy, I want to see pictures of the “after” ASAP. :)

  3. Tonya says:


    I love the brick on your fireplace, and I think Liz’s suggestion is going to make it stunning! Can’t wait for the after picture!

    Great suggestion Liz!!

  4. DesignTies says:

    We painted the brass trim on our fireplace black. HUGE improvement. And it’s easy to do and inexpensive too :-)

    I would just add a couple more steps — clean the brass with TSP, give it a quick sanding, and then wipe off any excess dust before painting.

    What are we going to do when shiny brass comes back into style?! ;-)

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  5. Liz says:


    Thanks for the extra tips!!

    Everybody, the TSP that Kelly’s talking about is trisodium phosphate, a heavy duty cleaner that can take off any soot or grime that might have built up on the fireplace surround. And if your fireplace gets a lot of action, sanding the surround will make it a little easier for the spray paint to stick to the shiny brass.

    ~ Liz

  6. I can’t wait to see the makeover!

    Please stop by my blog. I am hosting a 200th post giveaway.