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Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

by | Aug 22, 2017 | Decorating Inspiration, My Living Room, My Seattle House

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Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

You know that house in blogland or on Instagram (or in your neighborhood) where everything about it seems absolutely perfect? Well, I think “perfect” can be a misunderstood standard. Especially in our own home.

What does perfect mean to you?

Will a house be perfect if you can spend a lot of money on it? Is it perfect if it has every feature you need or the exact layout you want or is the style you’ve always dreamed about? Is it perfect only if it is in the right location? Or is it perfect if every choice is on trend or makes an Instagram-worthy photo? Is it perfect if everything in it functions the way it should?

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

I found this definition of perfect online:

perfect: having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.

I feel like the part about having all the required or desirable elements leaves the measuring stick of perfection up to our own interpretation. Which, as Martha would say, is actually very good thing. 

If you decide to set very few limitations on what you deem as required, achievable or desirable qualities, a high standard of comparison to someone else can determine whether or not you have “all the required and desirable elements.”

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

But if your expectation for what is required and desirable is “lower” (perhaps because it takes into account your own priority goals and expectations), what is “perfect” for you right now could take on a different meaning.

You know what I mean? No?

Well, let me try to explain.

Exactly two years ago we bought this house in Seattle. The market was and has been crazy here. So as I mentioned while we were house hunting, we knew we’d have to make some compromises to what house would be “perfect for us.” Our desired location lowered our expectations for the house we’d be buying, haha.

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

Fortunately, we were able to find a solidly built older home that actually feels nice to be in. That was a win, very few houses we looked at had “that warm homey feeling.”  You can’t really put a price tag on a home (or a life) that just feels right. That “feeling” ended up being one of our main criterion for choosing a house, even over a particular style or size.

This house didn’t have every feature I would have listed for my perfect “dream house,” but because it “felt right” we knew in time we could make it our own.

Making it our own doesn’t require that we make the design perfect, but rather, it is about creating a home that “feels right” for your family in the season you are in.

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts about our home, I’m increasingly finding myself drawn to simplicity. Not just in designing my home (although this house definitely seems to feel best when we use a certain amount of restraint), but simplicity in life!

Simple decisions all around feel the best to our family right now.

Rather than using perfection or a comparison to someone else’s high standard as a measuring stick, we are trying to use simplicity as one of our main standards for making decisions.

With simplicity as our goal, we can more easily learn to be content with what we can do (or with what are willing to invest in) during this season. 

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

So what does all of this have to do with painting our stone fireplace white?

You might remember that back when we painted our fireplace gray that I had said I wasn’t sure I’d want white stone. Painting the stone gray made sense to me, so gray it was! I knew it would serve our space well for the time-being. Paint wasn’t the “ultimate” fix I dreamed of, but it was the simplest and best choice for us in that season.

I thought by this point in time I’d be ripping out the stone anyway and putting in my dream fireplace. But even if we had to wait for many years, I told myself that I could always try to paint the fireplace white the next time I wanted a fresh new look.

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

When I got the itch recently to make some updates to our living room, I really thought the time had come to rip out the fireplace and start over. But when I used simplicity as my guide, I realized that once again that the simplest way to make changes was to apply a new paint color to the fireplace.

I reminded myself that if I didn’t like it or grew tired of it in time, I could always take a more drastic (and expensive, ha) approach when I was more prepared to tackle a bigger project with a bigger budget.

But that day was not today. Or that week. Or this summer. Or this year.

So, we painted it white!

And you know what? I’m totally OK with it. In fact, I think I actually like it white. I definitely like it better than I thought I would. It feels like a fresh, simple and clean backdrop for the room. So, now I’m extra excited about decorating for fall and Christmas! And all it took was some paint.

I’m even starting to feel OK with leaving the fireplace as it is for awhile, at least for as long as it makes sense. Because in this season in our life, simple actually feels almost perfect. You know what I mean?

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

And if you’re wondering what this fireplace looked like when we moved in, below is a flash back to the before!

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

Do you ever find yourself craving a life of greater simplicity? How does that play into the design of your home?

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover


Fireplace and wall paint color – Simply White Benjamin Moore

Mirror (mine was purchased locally but I believe this is the same one!)

Watercolor quote artwork on mantel

Rattan daybed

Gray and white pom pillow

Woven basket in fireplace

Birch logs

Woven Shades


Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover

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Lessons from A White Painted Fireplace Makeover


  1. Kay

    Your fireplace’s black “insides” + the basket with the birch logs = epic, as is all the white paint. Kudos!

  2. Eric

    Looks amazing! I keep a spray can of black fireplace paint in my garage to touch up the inside every now and then which keeps it looking fresh and clean even though it is usually the dirtiest part.

  3. Linda Stoll

    Perfect is overrated, exhausting, self-defeating, isn’t it …

    Finding and embracing what works for us is sheer gift.

    • kddomingue

      Trying to create perfect IS exhausting…..and, quite often, expensive. And, even worse, sometimes you achieve perfect only to find out that you don’t really like it that much after all, lol! I’m learning (with the occasional exception) to eschew perfection and aim for simple instead! Speaking of simple, I love your fireplace painted white!

  4. Deanna Rabe

    What is perfection, anyway? Its all in the eye of the beholder. If you wait for perfection or nothing you’ll get nothing! I’ve always preferred to make a home where ever I live. To make it work for our family.

    Your choice of simple works. Just paint it. One day you can have your dream fireplace or you’ll find that you’ve grown to love this one and don’t need the dream anymore!

    Super post!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Indeed! I’m open either way to what might inspire me down the road. For now, I’m feeling content. Thank you, Deanna!

  5. Sallie

    I love the white – it looks clean, fresh, and very up-to-date! You are so right about keeping things simple! Why go to a ton of work and headache when a simple change will do the trick? It looks fabulous! Besides, if you go to a lot of work to change it, you’ll just want to change it again some day down the road, creating MORE work and headache. There is great joy in “simple” contentment!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      So true, Sallie. We have done that to ourselves so many times, I’m overjoyed to just embrace what IS or make minor changes that I enjoy, and get on with life!

  6. Robbie Zeller

    Your thoughts on simplicity here ring so true in my heart! Your home is lovely and you have inspired many of us towards contentment and being creative with what we have. Thank you for reminding me one more time this morning. Blessings!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      It’s a lesson that is worth repeating, isn’t it? Thank you for stopping by and your sweet comment. Blessings to you, Robbie!

  7. Penny

    Thank-you for your thoughts this morning. I always find it’s a pleasure to read them. i am also finding joy in simplicity, and sometimes by over complicating things they tend not to get done. I like the fireplace white, I think you made a good decision. (Mine is also white with a black insert and it feels more tranquil seasonally to me).

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I’m pretty tickled to have a “new” fresh fireplace to work with!! Thank you, Penny.

  8. Shirley

    I found this post so inspiring and “freeing” especially as to what we think we should sometimes be doing. Can’t wait for the next inspiration!

  9. Jo Jo

    I sooo agree with your thoughts on simplicity when making design choices & solutions and basing them on what season we are currently living and how these decisions will make our rooms feel. When it’s ” right” to us…it’s right! . Beauty, perfection is in the eye of the beholder and is very personal. I loved your grey fireplace, thought it was so pretty when you went that route. Your room looked very pulled together. Now that you painted it white I can see the bright freshness that it now adds and I love it even more! I would feel very happy and comfortable in that room…Fresh, airy feeling…that wonderful daybed, gorgeous squishy- looking pillows, the tables and lamps, and that wonderful view out those windows and how everything is oriented to that view….I’d say you got it RIGHT. ❤️

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Well, thank you sweet friend! I appreciate that. I think it’s going to work in a different way, so it will be fun. I too enjoyed the grey but I have to admit I’m excited to decorate the room for fall and christmas with the white fireplace. It’s like moving, without the hassle. ha. :) Happy Day to you!

  10. Brenda

    The other good thing about keeping it simple and painting your fireplace is that it is a FAR LESS messy, costly and lengthy job than ripping it out and starting over. Trust me, I speak from experience. We ripped ours out and the mess it created was way beyond anything I ever imagined. The contractors also took forever (FOREVER, I TELL YOU!!), it cost a small fortune and my living room was a complete disaster. Our fireplace is now finished and I do love it, but there is something to be said for keeping things simple!!!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Oh, I can imagine what a mess that would be! UGH! I’m sure your fireplace turned out lovely and was worth it, but I agree! If you don’t want to deal with the chaos and expense, it’s nice to just find a simple solution and get on with LIVING!

  11. Tracey (From KY)

    I love the white and always thought it would look great this way. More contrast with the rest of your space and decor.

    Thank you for sharing your home! So pretty!

  12. Pat M.

    Your fireplace looked great when you painted it gray and now that it’s white, it looks even better. As for the fireplace itself, I think this particular fireplace, in this particular house, IS perfect. I know it’s not the latest style or design, but I wouldn’t tear it out for anything. For me, it stands the test of time and place. I would maybe update with a heavy wood mantle all the way across, but that would be my only change. I love the era of your home and the upgrades you’ve made that did not take away from its history. Thanks for sharing this most recent change.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I think you are right, it really does suit the house. I have thought about a wood mantel piece, that could be a lovely addition. Thank you for stopping by and for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate it so much!

  13. barbara

    I LOVE your floor and fireplace,,and room! i know…. the floor was the original. If NOT… what and where as i want that for my upstairs <3

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Hi Barbara, thank you. Yeah, it’s the original oak flooring so I can’t be of much help there. Thank you!

  14. Linda Grubbs

    Beautiful post Melissa! I like it white also!! Maybe I’ll try mine that way next time….afterall, you didn’t steer me wrong with the grey. I’m still loving mine in grey…but I can also see it looking great in white! As always….thank you for your inspiration and insight! (Not to mention your humor!! :)) I always look forward to your posts.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      You know, I really loved how the grey felt in the room, too! It’s just different, but still nice! I’m glad you felt inspired :). I love when you stop by, thank you so much!!

  15. Debbie - Mountain Mama

    Your home always looks amazing, Melissa. You have such great taste! I love the white fireplace in your home, it suits it.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      I think you’re right, it feels like it belongs. Thank you so much, Debbie! You are so kind. xo

  16. Richella Parham

    Ah, yes! Love the way you define “perfect” here, Melissa. What a great life lesson! And I must say that I like your fireplace white, too. :)

  17. Mary

    I love how your fireplace looks painted white, Melissa! What a fresh, “new” feeling it gives the overall room. I agree that sometimes simple changes can be the best changes. You don’t have to have a large budget to create a home that is “perfect” for you and your loved ones, you just need some inspiration and old-fashioned gumption!! Keep on inspiring us! :)

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you, Mary! Indeed, sometimes that’s all we need! PASS THE GUMPTION, please! :) Thank you for your sweet comment.

  18. Kathy Cheek, Devotions from the Heart

    You reminded me of the apartment my husband and I lived in as newlyweds and there was no mantle above the small fireplace. When Christmas rolled around I was complaining about Christmas without a mantle just wouldn’t be Christmas, which of course was silly, but my newlywed husband went to Home Depot and bought us a nice wood mantle. I loved it!

    I also love your white fireplace!

  19. Anna

    Personally I love the white fireplace. We looked at a home and I toyed with painting the fireplace (well actually an entire wall of brick!) white too. The yellowy brick was just so limiting!

    But speaking of “perfect homes” and that sometimes undefinable “homey” feeling—- I have seen several homes that truly speak to me….until I ask “Is there room for my grand piano?” Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no. One home I was taken with had me thinking….”Well, I could set the piano here in what’s supposed to be the bedroom and just throw a sleeping bag under it”…meaning the house just wasn’t big enough for a piano and a bed! Hahah

    Oh the joy of making a house a home…it always comes down to priorities :-)

    • Anna

      Oh , I forgot to add that when I had a decorating business, I suggested to a client she paint their very outdated fireplace. Well, SHE’S the one who wanted to update it anyway ;-) When I mentioned painting it, she nearly died! (You can’t paint brick!!, she attested.) So there she was, stuck with an outdated look she detested, had no budget for a complete remodel of it but wouldn’t do a simple paint job. Yes, paint is a fantastic ‘go to’ for so many things….even brick or stone fireplaces! Kudos to you for showing how a room can look updated so easily with paint on the brick!

  20. Marilyn Holeman

    It’s so refreshing to see book shelves that actually have books on them–AND a basket of books on the hearth! Wonderful. Thanks for sharing your lovely home once again.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Ah, you’re welcome Marilyn. Appreciate you stopping by and leaving such a kind comment.

  21. Nan

    I’m so sorry but I really loved it in grey!!!

  22. shelley ann cox

    Oh Melissa this room is perfect in my eyes. I dream of that daybed in my living room and the stone fireplace is so very cozy. After reading your blog for the past year a whole lot of blue and grey has crept into my house. You are an inspiration.

  23. Kate

    I LOVE it white!

  24. Evelyn Andrea Myers

    Totally agree on the main theme of simplicity. I am also a totally anti-fireplace painter. It drives me INSANE! to see beautiful old artisan stone fireplaces painted over by the flipper or homeowner watching too much bad advice on the DIY network or HGTV. However, that being said, I had to comment to say that this is the one time I have seen that I think that the paint looks GREAT! =)

  25. Jennifer

    This looks great Melissa! We just painted our kitchen and dining room BM Simply White as the base for some updates we need to make. We have a huge dated rock fireplace in our living room that sucks the light out of our room and is depressing. The rock is large random pieces though not neatly stacked like yours. Would you recommend painting that or white washing?

  26. Julie

    What a great makeover! I love your style. It reminds of modern and yet cozy all at the same time. I just want to sit down and relax!

  27. Jane Leary

    I love this makeover! Our mid-century fireplace looks very similar and we are planning to paint it Simply White as well. Can you tell me which finish/ sheen you chose? We’re debating whether to use eggshell like the walls or semi-gloss like the trim. Thanks in advance!

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank you! We used our trim paint, it’s not super shiny but still has a sheen to it!

  28. laura

    hi melissa, I was reading your post today and clicked over to the fireplace. I love the before and after pics of the fireplace! laura (formerly not a trophy wife).

  29. Caylee Black

    I absolutely love this!! By any chance do you remember the name of the exact basket?

  30. liz

    I am painting my walls white, would I do the same white on the fireplace?

  31. Charmaine Flores

    Hi, what paint did you use for your fireplace. Planning to update ours, too. :)

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Hi! We originally used Annie Sloane Chalk Paint in Paris Grey, and then when we painted it white we used Simply White Benjamin Moore! :)

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