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An Argument for Exposed Brick: Why You Shouldn’t Paint Over It

An Argument for Exposed Brick: Why You Shouldn’t Paint Over It

On the fence about whitewashing your brick walls or fireplace? Today I am making a case for exposed brick and why I regret painting over mine in my previous home…

As the gal constantly championing the transformative power of paint on my blog (not to mention my numerous tutorials on disguising brick fireplaces), this might sound uncharacteristic and crazy AF, but I’m seriously starting to wonder if painting brick will become a widespread regret for homeowners across the US.

For nearly a decade, a gallon of white paint has always been the go-to solution for exposed brick, but we must ask ourselves- are we all trading character in the name of “light and airy”? Is bland and generic truly an upgrade to any color that fails to match the palette du jour? But even more important- is the way a room looks more supreme to how it feels?

diy wood beam mantel on white painted brick

Don’t get me wrong- painted brick can certainly be warmed up with thoughtful touches( textural wood beam mantels, layered art work, decorative accents) but I am going to be honest with you…

After whitewashing the brick fireplace back at my 1980’s fixer-upper (pictured above) back in 2015, although I did consider it an improvement for quite some time, after about 3 years, I really began to miss the warmth of it all.

And while I certainly consider my previous home more aesthetic and easier to photograph than my lake cottage- with all of it’s 1970’s glory- this time around, I will NOT be painting the brick…

cozy kitchen with black cabinets and red brick fireplace

In fact, I will be designing entirely around it. Yep…I went from flippantly painting everything white to designing my kitchen to compliment the exposed red brick. Go figure!

But in all seriousness, I wanted this home to be more about feeling and less about what’s trending, and what struck me most about my lake cottage , the first time I stepped foot in it, was the double-sided brick fireplace in my kitchen. It just felt so warm and cozy (with a touch of Brooklyn Brownstone charm).

However, given my home is still a work in progress and thus may not be entirely convincing for my exposed brick argument just yet, I wanted to show you some examples of brick done right with some inspirational images below. But before I do, I want to neatly summarize why you should be cautious before painting over your brick…

red brick fireplace in kitchen

Why You Should Not Paint Brick-

So that you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did back at my previous home, I wanted to quickly list the biggest “cons” of painted brick.

  • Your room will loose warmth and texture which will need to be supplemented through other means- whether it be with thoughtful styling or building materials.
  • Painting brick will require more maintenance than exposed brick. As for my case, the smoke stains from our wood-burning fire were much more pronounced when my fireplace was painted white. I had to touch up the paint every so often.
  • Paint can cause brick to deteriorate at a quicker pace (or so ..that is what the masonry experts say)

So now that I have given you some questions to ask yourself before painting your brick, I am now going to show you why you don’t even need to!

Fabulous Examples of Exposed Brick:

1. Aesthetic Meets Cozy-

brick loft with white modern sofa
Eternity Modern Interiors

I know red brick is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a modern organic living room, but this aesthetic loft, is freakin’ amaze balls! No need to paint the walls when you can simply lighten the space with white accents.

2. English Cottage Charm-

foyer with exposed brick and wood beams
Oak Apple Decor

Ok..I must admit that they typically don’t make brick as gorgeous as this in the states, but if you want to know how to decorate with brick, you need to check out Oak Apple Decor’s instagram feed. Based in the UK, just about every inch of this design duo’s home is adorned in masonry.

Look at how much more impactful the wall art is displayed against a darker backdrop of exposed brick. The pairing of new and old here is simply perfection!

3. Juxtaposing the rustic with the shiny-

kitchen with brick walls and marble countertops
Tina Rich Design

I don’t know that I have ever associated exposed brick walls with feminine taste, but this Soho loft designed by Tina Rich skillfully blends the juxtaposing elements (in one room she actually pairs the brick with pink!). The balance of rustic and “blingy” is such an unexpected visual delight!

4. Moody sophistication-

dining nook with exposed brick walls and charcoal accent wall
Urrutia Design

If you are a moody b*tch like me (both emotionally and aesthetically), you can’t go wrong with exposed brick as it pairs beautifully with dark walls and candlelight dining. Between the green banquette, the dramatic paint color and the aged brick walls, this room is anything but bland and generic.

brick wall and fireplace in a cottage with wood beams

So now that you have seen just how incredibly fabulous bare brick can be, I hope you are feeling a little more compelled to hold on to the original masonry of your fixer upper home (there is seriously so much charm and character to be had!)

But… if you still decide to paint over it, I won’t judge you or deem you basic! After all, I realize that not all brick is created equally.

At the end of the day, I never intended this article to shame anyone on their brick preferences but, at the very least, I hope this blog post helps to normalize the act of decorating for comfort and well-being instead of just sheer aesthetics (or keeping up with trends).

Thank you so much for stopping by and spending some time with me this week! It would mean the world to me if you could share this post with a friend or on social media (it truly makes a difference)!

pin on pinterest
brick fireplace in living room painted white

Now get out there and design some good vibes along with a fabulous life!



My journey in interior design and home improvement began with transforming my first fixer-upper home, all while managing a budget and raising two young boys. My work, a reflection of my passion for creating beautiful, uplifting spaces, has been recognized by top publications like Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, HGTV, and more. I invite you to explore my site and witness the transformation of my home and the vibes we've designed.Read more...

T. Montague

Monday 17th of June 2024

Heck, yeah, I painted my brick. It is indoor, decorative stuff, and pink. Like Mamie Eisenhower pink. I wasn't going to try to take it out. It's an entire 24 feet wide. Plus, I really like the texture it adds to my room. I can dust it with a cloth. I can wash it. I painted it nearly 25 years ago and haven't had a problem with it at all. (I also painted all the oak paneling the previous owner's kids used for axe throwing practice.)

Designing Vibes

Monday 24th of June 2024

Oh I know all about the eisenhower pink...I once had a bathroom covered in pink tiles. I am glad to hear that you haven't had any issues with your painted brick. I am still considering painting my brick exterior, but we shall see. :)


Wednesday 12th of June 2024

For years I have been going to paint my brick white and like you, I realized I love the warmth and character it brings to the room. So thank you for reaffirming my inclination! Could you tell me how to clean the brick and mortar? The white bricks look so dingy. What do you think of just painting the white bricks?

Designing Vibes

Thursday 13th of June 2024

Hey Sharon! So this is a little embarrassing to say, but the only time I have cleaned brick is when I was prepping my other brick fireplace to paint it. I simply scrubbed it with some warm water. I think the the dingy just adds to the weathered effect that I find so charming. haha!


Wednesday 12th of June 2024

I would love to show you a photo of MY room with the pink stone "fireplace" and get your opinion. i have been thinking of painting it grey. The fireplace looks real but it is not (that is one of the caveats).

Designing Vibes

Thursday 13th of June 2024

Pink stone? I am completely intrigued, Stella. I would love to see it. :)