You can easily fix up a fireplace to make it more modern with a coat of paint or whitewash. If you wish to completely transform the look of your room, cover the face of your fireplace with rock, metal or tile. Remember to clean the soot from the fireplace box before you begin any of the project ideas included here. You can find specialised cleaners and paint to fix up your fireplace at your local home improvement store.
Enclose the brick above the mantle with sheetrock or metal sheeting if the old brick work goes all the way to the ceiling on your fireplace. Cutting, hanging and taping sheetrock can be a moderately easy DIY project with the proper tools and instructions. Attaching stainless steel or other metal sheeting is easier to do with an adhesive like Liquid Nail and will give a very modern feel to your fireplace.
Paint the bricks on your fireplace white to make it more modern. Clean the brick thoroughly and let it dry for at least 12 hours before you start to paint. Apply a coat of acrylic primer to seal the mortar between the bricks. You may need two coats of primer, depending on the condition of your fireplace. Apply two coats of water-based paint to finish your fireplace. Remember to wear a mask as you will be in close proximity to the paint as you work.
Apply mosaic glass tiles directly over the brick on your fireplace and completely change the look of your room. Depending on the colour of your glass tiles, you may want to paint the fireplace first as the glass may be translucent. Apply thinset adhesive and work from the bottom up to fix up your fireplace with new tiles. Mosaic tiles are attached to a mesh backing to create a 1-foot square tile. The backing can be cut easily to conform to size. After the adhesive dries, apply grout to the grooves between the glass tiles. Be sure to remove any grout residue from the glass before it dries. Wait two to three days and seal the grout.
Apply manmade cobblestones directly over the brick on your fireplace to update the look with a more modern finish. Manmade cobblestones have a uniform shape and are easily applied with thinset adhesive. Work from the bottom up to fix up your old fireplace with a new face. Apply a small amount of thinset with your trowel and scrape the adhesive with the notched edge to create grooves in the mortar. Press the stones into the thinset so that the sides are touching. There is no need to create a mortar joint between the stones if you prefer a more modern look to your fireplace.
Tile your fireplace with large ceramic tiles or slate for a modern look.
Wear gloves when working with thinset.