The Brick Fireplace – Pick My Presto

Hey there- and welcome to another installment of Pick My Presto!

This week, I picked a photo sent in by a gal named Jen. She wanted some design inspiration for her huge, off-centered brick fireplace…

She said the beams weren’t structural (they’re just a decorative element the previous homeowner added), and that’s she’s ready and rarin’ to redo this room! So I put my thinking cap on and created this presto change-o drawing to see if something like this might work for her…

(Move your cursor on and off of the photo below)

(Note: My drawing is for inspirational purposes only, and the ideas shown in it are just that. Spontaneous, totally flexible, just-for-fun, ideas. And since this is a just-for-fun-photo-consultation, and not an actual-and-perfectly-to-scale-virtual-consultation, I have no idea if any of the furniture or accessories I used in the drawing would actually fit in the room. Boom.)

Here’s a still image in case you couldn’t view the presto change-o above…

Basically, I smoothed out the ceiling, and suggested she cover up the majority of the brick with some kind of paneled treatment. It doesn’t have to look exactly like the one I showed in the drawing, but for a crisp, classic, traditional look, that design might actually do the trick. I also suggested she continue whitewashing the bricks. (She already started doing it and you can see it below the mantle in her before photos above. The bricks on the hearth are still un-whitewashed.) Next, I thought it might be a good idea to balance some of the visual weight of the big fireplace by using a dark-stained chest of drawers and a grouping of wood-framed prints on the wall above it. I’m not sure what the rest of the room looks like, or if a piece of furniture would actually work in that spot, but just based on this view, that arrangement seemed to work pretty well visually. I thought a color like Restoration Hardware’s Silver Sage would look great on the walls, and Benjamin Moore’s Moonlight White would freshen up all the trim and new fireplace facade. I threw in a dark hardwood floor, just for fun, and a mirror from Pottery Barn hangs over the new mantel. I’m sure drilling through the brick so that Jen can mount sconces would be a tough and dirty job, but man don’t they look sharp? I’m such a sucker for sconces!

Last but not least, here are some of the inspirational elements I plucked from the web to put together my drawing…

(pillows, rug, pots & dresser- Pottery Barn, other images- Google)

Thank you for the opportunity to pick your presto this week, Jen!

I look forward to selecting another one sometime soon!

Wanna submit a photo for our Pick My Presto series?

Send an email toΒ PickMyPresto [at] aol [dot] com titled, “PICK MY PRESTO- Living Room. (Replace the words Living Room with whatever type of room you’re actually submitting.) In the body of the email, include your name, your blog name (if you have one) your design likes & dislikes, and one photo of the space in question. (No links please.) It should be clear, and measure at least 400 pixels high x 600 pixels wide. (In other words: at least 4″high x 6″ wide) The bigger the better! Make sure it’s a photo you’re comfortable with us showing and writing about on our blog. Then, whenever I’m feelin’ the urge, I’ll randomly select someone’s email and have a little fun creating some traditional or cottage style presto change-o inspiration. Oh, and since I love surprises, I probably won’t email you to let you know I’ve “picked your presto” unless I have a specific question for ya about your space.


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  1. Ana says

    This is soooo gorgeous! We have a HUGE eyesore in our family room where the entire fireplace literally jets out into the room — brick, brick, brick, everywhere a brick!

  2. Nicole says

    Beautiful!!! Two homes ago our back wall had this exact setup (with a beautiful window to the left) and it always drove me crazy. It was my first home and the only part I couldn’t quite figure out… This is beautiful!!! Oh, how ineed help with my mantle now. Fingers are crossed that I’ll someday be honored with a Presto =)

    I love starting my day with your inspiration!!

    • Anne says

      Excellent! Beautiful! Every single aspect of your redesign is spot on and very inspiring!

  3. Kim says

    Layla! You guys are so inspiring! I am getting ready to move in to a REAL fixer-upper (to put it nicely) and basically want to recreate your kitchen in mine! As this fixer upper is going to take a lot of love and time, a room-at-a-time-when-we-can-afford-it….you’ve inspired me to presto my own house. Can’t wait for the current owners to move out so I can take my before photos of it….maybe I’ll just pay them a visit now with my camera πŸ˜‰ And while I can’t ask you to pick all my rooms to presto – I may submit 1 or 2. Love, love, love your passion for desiging and excitement for decorating on the cheap.

  4. Denise Cosgrove says

    Layla, this is an amazing transformation, as always. You are like a little genie in a bottle that we wish we could all take to our homes and let you work your magic!

  5. Kristina says

    We have an ugly, tall, dar brick fireplace and throwing ideas around of how to beautify it! This is another great idea to throw into the mix! Thank you πŸ˜€

  6. says

    Do your “presto people” ever make the changes you suggest and send “after” photos? I’d love to see that!

      • Jen says

        I’m the gal with the ugly fireplace that Layla so brillantly “prestoed” this week. We LOVE LOVE LOVE the changes and will send in photos of the new and improved fireplace as soon as we can figure out how to do it! Layla, you are the absolute best!

  7. says

    I’ve seen you mention virtual consultations. Do you offer those as a paid service? I scoured your blog but couldn’t find anything about hiring you.

  8. Kelley says

    Wow this is exactly what I need to do. Where should I buy wall panels like that for the best price? Thanks!!!!

  9. Sarah says

    Is there an online tutorial on how to do the paneling on that fireplace surround? I have a corner fireplace wall that I would love to try something like this on!!! Thanks. -Sarah

  10. Jill says

    This is Exactly what we’ve been looking for! We have a slight tweak though, in our house the wall to the left is too short for our sofa. I was hoping to level the depth with the base of the fireplace so we can place our couch there. is there anyway to do so without awkwardly sinking in the fireplace? Also any kind of instruction link for DIY paneling over masonry would be a lifesaver! I haven’t found any yet myself but i’ll keep looking!
    Thanks for your help- Jill

  11. Crystal says

    Wow! I though I was the only one that had this problem! Mine is worse it large blah colored stone on a caddie corner wall. MY GOODNESS You have inspired me and given me hope! Thanks