Pam writes: HELP! I want to paint this brick fireplace and mantel—bookshelves, too? I am stumped as to what color I should use that will be neutral. I really want the ceiling beams painted also, and am hoping it will not be too big of a task. Where should I start? (The window trim is the same color wood as the beams.)
Annie answers: Well, it is a definitely a big job, but I think it will completely transform your space! I painted the fireplace in my previous house, shown here, and as you can see, it was totally worth the effort.
I would paint all the dark wood in the room—beams, bookshelves, window trim, and the bannister, if you have it in you!—and the fireplace the same color. So, that said, choosing a color is very important. I would go for a light-to-medium, warm grey—which is exactly what I did in my current house, beams included. I used Benjamin Moore Lacey Pearl and added a splash of a second shade, Abalone, to get to the right shade. My whole house is painted this color, but it took me many quarts and trial sizes of paint to get the exact color that I wanted, as you can see from this blog post.
This tonality of color works well to make a space look lighter and larger. But you could choose any light-to-medium shade that you like for the same effect. I would strongly recommend not going to dark, but otherwise, let your own taste be your guide.
One other note: painting a fireplace requires some extra steps, including priming with a stain-blocking, oil-based primer. I like BHG’s take on the process. And use your local home-improvement store as a resource. They can usually answer any questions you might have for getting exactly the look you want.