How to Make a Brick Fireplace Look Modern

Painted brick has a modern flair.
Painted brick has a modern flair. (Image: painted brick wall background image by Igor Negovelov from

A brick fireplace naturally lends itself to a more rustic design style. The warm color of the brick and the fact that brick has been used in construction for at least 5,000 years makes it a more traditional building material. Brick can be made into something very modern, however, with a little paint and a few floating shelves. Many modern lofts make use of brick to add texture to the walls. A stark white wall of brick can coordinate with the most modern design style, and floating shelves are a modern way to accessorize your space.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Scrub brush
  • Putty knife
  • Putty
  • Paintbrush
  • Paint roller
  • Trim brush
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Drill
  • Masonry drill bit
  • Masonry anchors
  • Floating shelf

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Scrub the mortar with a brush. Set a drop cloth on the floor under the brick to catch the dust that will be knocked loose.

Mix 2 tablespoons dish washing soap with water in a bucket. Dip the sponge into the mixture and wring out the excess. Scrub the walls thoroughly. Rinse the sponge with clean water and remove the soap residue with the clean sponge.

Patch any large holes with putty. Scoop the putty onto a putty knife. Scrape the putty off of the knife and into the hole. Slide the knife back across the putty to smooth it over the brick. Allow the putty to dry completely.

Apply a masonry primer to the brick wall. Primer will help to reduce the amount of paint you will need and also create a smooth foundation for the paint. Fill your brush with a generous amount of primer. Apply the primer to the mortar with a brush. Follow with a roller to paint the face of the brick.

Paint the mortar with white paint. High gloss paint will give a more modern feel. High gloss finishes are also easier to wipe clean with water. Use the same method used to apply the primer, painting the mortar first with a brush and following with a roller to paint the face of the bricks. Allow the first coat of paint to dry for 4 hours. Apply a second coat if needed.

Determine the placement of your floating shelves. Measure the hanging mechanism on the back of each shelf. Mark the wall with pencil where the brackets will be hung.

Drill a hole in the brick using a drill with a masonry drill bit. A regular drill bit will not work with brick. Slide a masonry anchor into the hole.

Hang the floating shelves using the hardware that came with the shelves.


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