So many homes have a traditional natural wood fireplace mantle and red brick surround and hearth. Don't fee like you're tied to that forever. Just go for it and paint it white — brick and all. It might take some convincing of a spouse or family member, but everyone I know who has gone for it never looked back with regret. Painting the brick white can brighten and freshen a room and give you more options for paint and fabric colors. Of course, this isn't for everyone's taste. Some people love natural wood, and it may be more appropriate to their home.
Here's a more modern example of white brick fireplace. I absolutely love this — it's modern yet earthy, and I like the way the top ledge extends over to the shelving on the left, making it more asymmetrical. This design really complements the minimal black-and-white interior.
If you know you're ready for a change but don't want to paint that wood mantle, go for a new tile surround instead. I love the raised relief pattern of this blue tile. A fireplace is the perfect spot to use a tile you love but may have too much texture or is a bit too expensive to use in the kitchen.
Hand-painted terra-cotta tile adds a modern twist to a more traditional fireplace mantle. Here tile continues down to the hearth, but you could easily keep your existing hearth material or change it out to a stone slab.
Another vintage-inspired tile adds a ton of character to this white mantle and fireplace. If you want your design to me more about the tile and less about the mantle, then go for a slimmer profile like this.
A simple shadowbox mantle design makes the glass mosaic tile on this fireplace the focal point. When using a tile on the surround, don't be afraid to mix in a different material, such as a the black stone slab for the hearth.
Rather than going for the simplicity of a single-shape tile, go for something with more detail, such as this embossed tile and architectural molding. Caps, liners and other moldings add pattern and detail even though the tile is all the same color.
When designing a new fireplace surround, you can integrate things like shelving as well. This design accentuates the horizontal lines of this room. Here the stone tile is the same material on the surround and raised hearth, but changes shape for interest and texture.
Run the stone tile to the ceiling to create drama and accentuate the vertical. Charcoal gray and black stone are always great ways to de-emphasize the black box that is a trademark of gas fireplaces.