Ask Maria: Should I Paint my Stone or Brick Fireplace?

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Rue Magazine

Okay so a while ago when I changed the ‘Ask Maria’ questions to ‘Send me your what’s bothering me’, questions, ya’ll pretty much stopped sending them, so obviously that wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever come up with.

So please keep sending them to me here. And by the way, when you do, remember to include an image (and clean up the room puleese), it has very little chance of being posted without an image, and if it’s a total disaster.

And make sure it’s a real dilemma and not just “What paint colour or backsplash should I install? If you just need paint colours or advice on which countertop goes with which backsplash, well that doesn’t really qualify as an ‘Ask Maria’ question. You can buy email consultations for paint colours, and questions like, countertops, what’s the right flooring? Or backsplash? Right here.

But thankfully, I did receive a good Ask Maria question from Julie and here it is:

Hi Maria! I just found you and have been reading as many of your articles as I can fit in each day! I also purchased and read your e-book about whites. What can I say. . . I’m hooked! Your work fascinates me. I just came across the “Ask Maria” section of your web page and have a question. 

I am starting a remodel of my kitchen. I am a fan of the white look and am planning on white cabinets with a white quartz countertop. After reading your book, I can see that I have a problem that my kitchen will face my family room that has a large sandstone fireplace. It will be my only fixed thing in my house that I need to worry about, as I will be remodeling the rest of the room. Is it too “earthy” for me to use one of the off whites in your book? I have also thought about trying to paint the sandstone with a chalk paint to make it an off-white. Not sure if this is a good idea though. 

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Is this fireplace too earthy to be literally in the same room as a white (off-white or cream) kitchen?

Yes, it is.

The fireplace in your great room/adjoining family room should definitly relate to what’s happening in your kitchen if you want to avoid the look of yesterday and today.

All you have to do is image a white kitchen that looks similar to this one sitting opposite your current stone fireplace and you’ll run to paint it 🙂

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

House Beautiful


Chalk painting your fireplace is a great idea! Although your sandstone fireplace can also get away with being painted with a solid paint like the first image in this post (above).

But before chalk paint came along, I would advise my clients NOT to paint stone fireplaces because then they would look like this:

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Image source

While this fireplace looks 10 times better than it did before it was painted, to my eye, it looks too flat.

You can get away with a solid, painted look with brick fireplaces of course (below). Painted brick looks very much like white subway tile and brick doesn’t have the texture and the same uneven look that stone fireplaces do.

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

via Smitten Studio

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Although Stephen Shubel would definitely disagree with me, he simply had this fireplace painted in this California cottage that he decorated.

Or did he whitewash it? Hmmm. . . it’s hard to say but it does look like the grout in between the stones have some definition which makes it look less like solid, painted stone, just like this whitewashed fireplace below:

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?


Julie, here’s a fireplace in very much the same tones as yours and here’s the result after it was chalk painted and white washed:

Ask Maria: Is my Fireplace too Earthy for a White Kitchen?

Coastal Collective Co

I hope this post gives you the confidence to paint your fireplace! One last word of advice is to keep it your trim colour. I’m not a fan of grey painted fireplaces, they also feel flat to my eye.

Over to you, my lovelies, do you think a stone fireplace looks good painted a solid colour? Or should it have some dimension created by using chalk paint?

Have a great week everyone!

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact us! We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous e-design consultation packages here.

Related posts:

Should your Great Room relate to the Kitchen?

Which Stone Colour is Best for your Fireplace Surround?

Decorating your Mantle and Fireplace Surround





leave aREPLY

  1. I love MCM and in Southern California the housing market is on fire ( sadly like many of our mountains) just like when we bought in 1998. 1100 square foot mid century fetching 100,000-200,000 over asking in my neighborhood….prices hover around 700K-1,000,000 for anything with decent potential.

    So, folks settle for getting mostly what they want but rarely are able to get all the details to suit their taste. This is where we need to be creative

  2. I’ll side with the naysayers. “Painted Brick or Painted Stone always looks like Painted Brick or Painted Stone.”
    Eventually it will start to peel and you will have to keep painting it. Natural stone has a lovely texture to it – creates depth. I try to work with the fixed elements in my house. Those with lots of cash-flow have the luxury of tearing out the old fireplace and starting all over. I really like the look of the white trim with the natural stone in Claudia’s posting. Lovely!

    • The chalk paint doesn’t peel. It might wear off over time, but peeling isn’t the way it wears. It isn’t latex. I painted the stucco repairs on the outside of my house several years ago, and I live in Minnesota.

  3. I will paint almost anything LIno floor, my fake marble fireplace, side of my bathtub and the usual wood etc. When I read this post I really looked at my stone fireplace in my family room. It is natural stone, varying shades of light grey, beige, little brown, touch of a grey greenish stone here and there. But I thought it is a little darker than I would prefer. So I wondered what would happen if I WASHED it? Let me tell you, this is embarrassing but my fireplace is now I think an entire shade lighter! I know it does not change the undertone but sure is lighter LOL

  4. Maria, I completely agree with you. Change the colour because sandstone is not a classic look; it is not only outdated but also very difficult/limiting to work around. In the mid-1980’s, our starter home had a floor to ceiling pinkish brown stone fireplace (likely sandstone); the shape of the stone was identical to what is shown in the first photo. The brick went all the way up to the peak of our 12 foot cathedral ceiling. It was such an eyesore even after we installed medium brown oak hardwood floors. At that time, absolutely no one painted bricks or stone but I made the bold move of painting ours off-white, the same colour as the adjacent wall. What an improvement! (I wish I had had the foresight of installing an oak shelf like in the first photo; it’s like jewelry on a plain dress). I have no doubt that the new look of the fireplace contributed to the much increased value of the house when we sold it 3 years later.

  5. Maria, I cannot tell you how excited I was to see this post in answer to my question! I have been dragging my feet in starting my white kitchen remodel because I didn’t know what to do about the fireplace. I feel good about painting it now and plan on trying watered-down chalk paint to start. I can see now that I have nothing to lose…It has to look a thousand times better than it does now. I also appreciate the advice to paint it my trim color, as I was considering gray as well as white. I’m guessing that I should paint the dark brown built-in shelves on either side of the fireplace my trim color as well, since I want them white too? I have a lot of work to do to transform my house from drab to fresh, but I’m so excited to start. Thanks for the advice I find in your blog and also your books. You have given me the confidence to move forward 🙂

  6. I did not read all the comments so someone may have already suggested painting the stone charcoal. I would prefer that color with the rusty red hearth. The first photo in your post has the thick wood mantel which breaks up all that white. Maybe one could be added to this fireplace.

  7. Great topic. So many people are hesitant to paint stone or brick, but if done properly, it can look amazing. It looks like your October workshop will be near us. I am definitely going to try to make it!

  8. I am about to start a renovation project just like this one, with a fireplace in the kitchen/family room. I am planning a white kitchen with medium brown hardwood floors throughout the main floor, and I am buying a new, wood-burning, see-through fireplace, to face both halves of the main floor. Of course the fireplace is black. So I have a clean slate for design. My plan is to unite the required tile in front of the fireplace (two sides!) with the same (to still be picked) for the front hallway, and a mantle of sorts (wood? white?), and tile trim around the fireplace to match the backsplash. Does that sound like a good plan? BTW, I don’t really want black anywhere else in the kitchen.

  9. hi Maria,

    I’m confused about your advice against mixing white trim with cold blue gray, as you mention in this post:

    While I can see what you’re saying, I also think that the following image is quite beautiful despite the mix of cold blue gray and white. I think that the stark palette adds drama when you layer nature’s colors against it. What am I missing?


    • Hi Angela, Usually a house in battleship gray (blue grey) isn’t fabulous without a lot of white trim and greenery as you mentioned. That’s the only point I was making in that post. The Pinterest link shows a super trendy dark grey which I would normally steer my clients away from since they probably won’t love it as much when the grey trend is over just like no one is painting their house brown right now, but they certainly were 5 years ago. Hope that helps, Maria