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Need advice on rock fireplace makeover

Sam K
24 days ago

We have a huge fireplace that is clashing with the style of our living room and sucking all the air out of the room. It's so big and dominating we can't style around it. So at this point, we are looking at some options to do a makeover. The most common advice we've heard is whitewashing it (limewashing). We are just afraid that due to its size and proportions if we turn it white it's still going to be the focal point of the room and hard to style around. Anybody has any ideas on how to make it look good but not cheezy and not like we are living in a rustic cabin.


Comments (100)

  • Dawn Martinez
    17 days ago

    @er612 great visuals, love the first one, the colors...the balance, the two chairs to the left of the sectional, it ALL works!

  • redscooter1
    17 days ago

    @er612. Yes! That's exactly what I was suggesting - especially the first picture. Now the room reads much more modern.

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    The overlapping horizontal and vertical lines confuse the eye and give a haphazard appearance to the whole space. A few suggestions to think about: Add a simple wood mantel across the entire wall above the fireplace. Hang the painting with the bottom of the frame just a bit higher than the mantel, centered above the fireplace. Set the tv a bit below the mantel, centered on the left part of the wall. Place one or two decorative objects above the tv. Place a larger rug on the floor, a rug at least as wide as the fireplace wall. Rearrange the furniture into a conversational placement with one seating piece facing the fireplace and a longer seating piece (in an "L") on the left wall. The front legs of both seating pieces should be placed upon the rug. Keeping clutter to a minimum helps the room look more spacious and comfortable.
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  • areyououtofyourmind
    17 days ago

    I agree with other reviewers, you need a large piece of artwork in the center of fireplace and a bolder mantle. Remove all the small Knick nacks. I personally like the rocks as they are.

  • Sue54321
    17 days ago

    Another thread you might find interesting before painting.

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/6011463/back-of-giant-fireplace-at-top-of-stairs

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    16 days ago

    @ds356 and to all who say it's a rock - it's not. It's a fake compound stone that is 2 inches deep and cheap, cheap, cheap. It has no age or character as the entire house is less than 20 years old. I guess the builder has decided to skimp on material or ran out of ideas and made a fireplace from this cheap composite lava rock that belongs in the 70s. House otherwise is very nice and modern. Also, the photo did not portray the deep peach color of those stones and instead looks a little washed out. We are definitely changing it. I will post a pics after we done with it. We will have to do something about the media center for sure. I initially wanted to have wall speakers but wiring the whole thing looks like a big hustle to me.



  • Sam K
    Original Author
    16 days ago

    @er612 - Thank you. I really like the compositions with two chairs and was thinking of something along these lines. Thanks for the visuals. I only wish that the fireplace be limewashed vs 70s orange :)

  • partim
    16 days ago

    I suggest you drywall over the upper portion and paint it the same colour as the rest of the wall. It will "read" to the eye as wall, not fireplace. Then dealing with the lower portion is much less of a big deal, either cost-wise or effort-wise.

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    16 days ago

    @partim This would not be feasible as the fireplace sticks out for about 3' from the wall. It would be easier to demolish the whole thing and the cost probably be the same. We are trying to avoid major/costly renovations at this time.

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    16 days ago

    If anybody needs a Romabio limewash, Home Depot selling 4gallon bucket ($249) for $25!!! Can’t get it any cheaper!!!

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    16 days ago
    last modified: 16 days ago

    Sam, you found it! what a great deal! what color is it?

    never mind,,,just saw it. Avorio White. Perfect!

    any idea why the huge markdown?? Unless they made a mistake. 90% off?? very weird.

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    16 days ago
    last modified: 15 days ago

    @Beth H. :Home Depot will no longer sell it and they are getting rid of the stock. This is a price in NJ HD.

  • pds290
    16 days ago

    Please post photos when you’re done!

  • sandyie
    16 days ago

    Yes! Please post after pictures! What a great deal on paint. What HD? I may just buy some too!
    K Laurence— do you mind sharing pictures of your fireplace? That’s a great solution.
    I have a similar dated-rock-double-story-fireplace

  • skunst2017
    16 days ago

    First I think that it's not the fireplace that is the problem ...it's all the stuff around it . Nothing makes any sense ...and it's not orderly displayed . I would take everything out and paint the wall white or eggshell , including the fireplace . Then build some shelf units around it , and take the little mirror of the beautiful stone wall . If you have a beautiful high ceiling livingroom ...and you do have a beautiful living room ...you have to first figure out in which direction you want to go . If you want modern and practical ...you have three options ..you keep the fireplace as is ,( it is beautiful ) and make the whole room white around it perhaps add large paintings on the left and a narrow table for a bar ...and make the right wall a built in unit up to the ceiling ...with books and your television ...a sectional sofa all around it with ottoman ..so you can enjoy your fireplace and lie around the entire area ... Or you paint the fireplace white ...then it will blend in totally and you can hang a large painting on the fireplace wall ...please look at the HOUZZ house offerings ....you have so many beautiful options to make your already beautiful living room into a dramatic fantastic place whichever direction , modern , traditional , super dramatic ...first figure out if you want to continue with the furniture at hand ...they don't seem to fit into the space ...but you could make them fit ..if you had too ...please let us know more , also your budget .

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    Stage 1 is completed 😀

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    15 days ago
    last modified: 15 days ago

    lol so far so good! tape off your floor w/a good drop cloth.

    did you read up on how to apply it? (don't do the hearth)




    make sure you get the joint/grout lines. this one they really didn't


    this one they did


    Didn't:





  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    15 days ago
    last modified: 15 days ago

    BTW, if you still don't like it when done, you can always cover it like shown here. Tile goes on the cement board. and on the part you fir out (yours would be all the way up) you could do sheet rock, or wood panel/trim molding, or more tile.




    but this one came out pretty good


  • Sam K
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    @Beth H: yes, I do like without grout lines visible as it maintains bulkiness. Thanks for your advices. Will keep you posted on a progress.

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    One more question. What to do with grout lines if they buried deep between the stones? Do I just apply more ( undiluted) lime there? I obviously don’t want them to be darker than stones but I equally don’t want them to be much lighter and thus brighter than the rest of fireplace.

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    15 days ago

    I love this look

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    15 days ago
    last modified: 15 days ago

    get one of those cheap chip brushes (or a couple of them) that will allow you to get those grout lines. I don't know how thin your product is. does it tell you to dilute it? If it does, I'd try it straight first, and see how the coverage is.

    if that stone is not sealed at all, it's going to suck up the paint, especially those mortar joints.

    perhaps going over the stone/joints first w/a watered down white primer??

    maybe 50/50 of the white primer lightly brushed on the joints and stone haphazardly. this way you'll get more of a random look, better coverage, and won't lose all your paint to absorption

    Sam K thanked Beth H. :
  • Dawn Martinez
    14 days ago

    @Sam K looking forward to the reveal.


  • selizabeth1
    14 days ago

    Stage 1 looks great so far. :) Would you be able to put the tv above the mantle instead of having everything to the side?

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    14 days ago

    No, we really don’t like the TV on a wall or fireplace. In my opinion, it creates an “office” look. To me, TV is a device and should not be a decoration of focal point. I believe I already gave my $0.02 on it in comments above.

  • CEM TOSA
    13 days ago

    Looking forward to the finished product! I love the samples @Beth H. : posted. Such an improvement.

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    Stage 2 in progress...

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    13 days ago

    wow. looking good sam.

    are your walls beige or is it the lighting?

    if you get the chance, upgrade your bulbs to a 3500 -4000K temp bulbs. it will make the white look like white, and not so yellow.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    if you're going to put back the mantle, I'd get a nice thick one, remove those corbels, and set some lag bolts into the stone. cut off the bolt part and slide your mantle onto (obviously you'll have to drill holes in the back of the wood) this way you'll get the floating mantle look and forgo the silly corbels

    like this one



  • jmarco
    13 days ago

    We have used both the limewash and Annie Sloan chalk paint on those 70s giraffe looking faux stone. They both work great and are easy to use. Good luck on your project.

  • lbk01
    13 days ago



    We changed ours....love how it changed the feel and allowed us decorating and style options. Your’s is looking good!

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    @Beth H: I don’t know what to do with corbels as there is no stone under them and removing them will expose flat surface. I was thinking on painting it all white or black. Not sure what to do really.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    ah, yes, I see that. in that case I'd replace the corbels w/something made from the same wood as the mantle.

    go to a lumber yard and grab a 2x6 beam of whatever wood you like. then cut of a few pieces to stand in for the corbels

    I'm not suggesting this type of wood, just showing you what I mean






    or, buy some ready to stain wood corbels in a minimal design


    or, try some iron brackets




    they also make pre-fab stone corbels.


    ya know, you can buy that lava rock anywhere they sell rock. if you need to fill in the corbel space at all, get one of them and break one to fit in the space. use mortar to adhere and fill in the joint, and then paint.

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    Yeah, we definitely need to do something about this shelf and corbels

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    Before after ( for now)

  • partim
    13 days ago

    Very nice! Google "mantle slipcover". I think you could go right over the mantle and corner with something chunky.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    nice Sam. did it take both buckets?

    how do you like it?

    what do you think about painting the wall for a little contrast?

    I'm thinking of a mantle in this color, and about this thick.



    we made one ourselves out of a douglas fir beam we got a home depot. I think it's a 4x8. beat it up a bit, gouged it ( you don't need to do this) and then stained it w/a dark walnut. few coats of poly.


    It's pretty cheap. attached it w/lag bolts. you could prob do this for less than $40.

    (in fact, I'd like to remove it to do something less rustic looking but I think we put glue on the lag bolts! will have to cut this thing off the wall)

    or go to the lumber place and find a nice piece of wood like walnut or white oak.

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    @Beth H: we actually used about half a gallon :). I was stunned how little limewash needed for this work. I can probably paint my house and then several neighbors with the amount I bought. I will probably sell it.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    lol. I thought when you said you'd need 500$, I was taken aback. I've seen those fireplaces painted w/the little pint jars!

    Oh well, you got a great deal on it!

    can you return the unopened one?

  • er612
    12 days ago

  • typeandrun
    11 days ago

    wow it looks so good!

  • Dawn Martinez
    11 days ago

    @er612, still loving your mock up with the mirror and blue vases!

  • Dawn Martinez
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    @Sam K looks great! Looking forward to see what you decide on the mantle, thinking something a bit chunkier is calling. Are you happy with the result? Have you decided to paint the walls, or not at this time? Such a huge change for this room, loving it!

  • Sam K
    Original Author
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    @Dawn Martinez. Thanks! We love how modern and inconspicuous it looks now. It was definitely what we were looking for. We adore the minimalistic look as it blends easily and reflects the light in a way that complements the windows and high ceiling rather than dominating everything and being "a rock". We will be looking in at wall colors this week. Idea is to go with some neutral grays. The mantel shelf is another problem. As I mentioned, we like a minimalistic look and adding a chunky line in the middle of this beauty ( we are still in the honeymoon stage:) ) makes us cringe a little. I can't remove it altogether as it will require masonry and I just don't want to go so far and potentially make a mess. I think of priming corbels and covering them with lime afterward. I am 75% sure it will make them almost undetectable and tolerable. The shelf is another complication. We have a grove in the stone that is 2'' deep and thus I either need a shelf 2" think or need to custom-make a shelf which is again, time-consuming and not something I am interested in doing. I am all for DIY repairs but carpentry is something (just like accounting) I leave to the professionals. I may actually update the existing shelf but cutting all the "thrills" from the sides, making it flat/even, and then priming and painting it with something like espresso stain to match the fen and future rails on our staircase. Staircase posts and rails will be my side project as they are currently as-is, yellow wood "home depot special" and I want to make them look less ... well... yellow.

    Staircase discussion - https://www.houzz.com/discussions/6014773/staircase-makeover

  • Dawn Martinez
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    @Sam K, I understand wanting to avoid anything 'chunkier' although I like what Beth H posted. If you recall way up the string, I painted your fireplace with a lime wash and added a neutral gray on the walls. Here it is again, to refresh your memory. The color is listed on the photo and is Cityscape by SW. I also added a wool rug with grays and browns to pull in your sofa and tie it to the gray I put on the wall. I must admit, I sure liked this look the best (I'm not a pro, but I think this is clean and modern)...and it seems you're on your way to creating it!


  • Dawn Martinez
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    P.S. as to the mantle, I wonder if you could lime wash it, to make it disappear or paint it the color of the walls...? And yes to doing something with those corbels. Someone posted some iron ones somewhere on your string, black iron could look pretty nice if done right.

    And, just looking at your staircase post, if you aren't replacing those spindles...I'd paint them black in a heartbeat and paint your mantle black to match. Or replace spindles with iron, and paint the rest black, this is a transitional look, but can lean modern if done right - less fussy iron, etc...

    Creative idea- Painted stair treds by Fox Brothers Painting · More Info


  • Sue54321
    11 days ago

    My parents house from the 70’s had a white stone fireplace with a ledge like yours and no mantle. It looked great. And at Christmas you could sit in the ledge and be toasty warm and not hit your head on the mantle.

  • Sue54321
    11 days ago

    And, even though almost every bit of wall of my parents house had art on it, there was nothing, no art of the fireplace. Looks really nice.

  • Alice Gallery
    11 days ago

    Hang a large canvas art on your wall
    Check out https://www.large-wall.art and buy it

  • czegan
    11 days ago

    Totally respect that you hate your fireplace! Even tho it is not to your taste, it is bringing natural elements into the room and just like your beautiful massive windows do. If now is not yhe time to take on a "rip it out" project, perhaps lightening and brightening with white walls and doorframe height storagw units will help give you the feel of a clean modern space. Check out how this serene and clean house integrates with one big ole chunky rock fireplace.

    https://www.houzz.com/photos/gambrel-country-home-farmhouse-living-room-new-york-phvw-vp~4347382

  • ashtonchic
    9 days ago

    turned out good!