13 Brick Fireplace Ideas for a Rustic Focal Point

a large brick fireplace in a room
(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

There's something special about the right brick fireplace idea. Whether you've got an open fire, a log burning stove or just an empty hearth, the warmth and texture of bricks really adds to the cosiness a fireplace creates. 

But, there's not only one way to do a brick fireplace. In fact, as these 13 fireplace ideas go to show, there's many ways to design one. From the way you choose to create your exposed brick feature to the colour, style of brick and what you surround it with, there are many decisions to make which inform the effect your brick fireplace will have on the room. 

Read on for some inspiring real fireplaces, plus some tips for the expert as to how you can make these ideas come to life in your own home. 

Brick Fireplace Ideas

If you want to create a focal brick fireplace idea in your home, there's a few ways you can go about it. 

  • In an existing brick-made home, you can remove plaster from the walls to expose the brick behind.
  • You can use brick slips to create a fireplace in the finish and type of brick of your choice.
  • If building a new home or extension, you can specify an exposed brick fireplace as part of your design. 

Whatever the route you take, we've got some brilliant design inspiration to convince you to take the plunge with a brick fireplace. 

1. Remove a Wall's Plaster for a Feature Brick Fireplace 

removing plaster from a brick fireplace

(Image credit: Luke Arthur Wells)

The easiest way to create a brick fireplace in an existing property is to remove the plaster from the walls and see what kind of bricks you find underneath. 

"It's a bit of a risk," says DIY blogger Luke Arthur Wells, "as you won't really know the condition of the brick unless you bite the bullet and start chipping away the plaster. You could make a small, exploratory hole in the plaster to get a general idea, but there's no guarantee it will be the same across the fireplace." 

However, if the plaster needs replacing anyway, or if you're bold enough to take the leap, it can yield some excellent results. It's easy enough to clean up the brickwork with a gentle sand, and you'll want to seal it with a clear matt varnish or similar to keep brick dust at bay. 

2. Choose Slips to Add a New Brick Fireplace 

a fireplace with brick slip cladding

(Image credit: The Brick Tile Company)

Brick slips are a great choice for something like a fireplace, as they can be easily retrofitted and you can choose your perfect shade and style to suit your interior scheme. Most retailers have aged brick slips, so you can recreate an original style too. 

"As preparation, it's best to measure up bearing in mind that a brick slip is 215mm long, and there should be a 10mm mortar joint, also adding about 25mm to each side for the depth of the brick slip plus adhesive," says Joe Burton, from the Brick Tile Company. "This way you'll know if you have to cut any down — I'd suggest practising it along the floor once the slips arrive too."

"In terms of installation, make sure anything loose is off, then you'd need to use a primer before a brick slip adhesive, and start with the corner slips, as they'll mean you keep a nice pattern (one long end of the brick, with one short end). If it does feel like some brick may crumble, it may be best to fix in plasterboard or cement board and adhere the slips to that (it'll make it slightly easier being flat too, and you can tailor the measurements a little to mean you don't have to cut any slips as well)."

3. Choose Bricks for Your Fireplace Alcoves Instead

a fireplace with brick alcoves

(Image credit: Mae House Design)

When it comes to chimney breast ideas, brick is a great way to make a focal point, but you can also reverse this idea and create a focal point by using brick in the alcoves of your fireplace. 

This creates a potentially larger area of brick, adding interest to the walls where there isn't already something to draw the eye like a fireplace or woodburner as there is on a chimney breast. 

4. Pair Brick and Timber in an Oak Frame Home 

an oak frame home with a brick fireplace

(Image credit: Jeremy Phillips)

New build oak frame homes have the potential to look as though they're houses that have been around for centuries, and creating a fireplace in these properties should be given just as much attention to detail as the exterior of the home. 

Brick is a material that's relatively easy to find in aged, weathered varieties, whether that's artificially created using a process like brick tinting or by choosing reclaimed bricks, that perfectly suit a traditional build. For an oak frame home, consider a softer finish with a slightly limewashed brick for a rustic, country feel.  

5. Go for a Pale Brick to Keep it Light and Airy

a vaulted space with a large brick fireplace

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

When used in large expanses or in small spaces, classic red brick can feel slightly oppressive and dark in the wrong setting. This might suit some homes, but in others, capturing a light and airy feel is more important. 

Choosing a lighter brick is a great way to achieve this — from pale Suffolk white bricks to yellow-y London stock, lighter brick varieties will reflect more light and provide a subtler contrast when used in a neutral room. 

6. Try a Painted Brick Fireplace

white living room lime washed chimney breast

(Image credit: Pepper Sq Ltd)

When it comes to an existing brick fireplace, paint can hide a multitude of sins. Uneven colours, and textures, can be cloaked with a couple of coats of paint, helping to unite exposed brick with the rest of your colour scheme. 

"Brick can be quite thirsty for paint, so I'd always prime first," recommends Luke Arthur Wells. "It can generally be rollered with a masonry paint, but you'll need to use a small detail brush to push into the mortar joints, especially if they're in a rougher condition."

If the fireplace is in use, the best masonry paint to choose is one that's heat resistant up to at least 120°C. 

7. Elevate a Brick Fireplace With Cornicing 

a brick fireplace alcove with ornate cornicing

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Exposed brick can be thought of as rustic, or industrial, but it can also be used in classically proportioned period homes too. One way to elevate it is to retain traditional trims around the exposed brick, such as skirting boards and coving 

The contrast between rough brick and the ornate detailing of a cornice, as seen in this home for example, can create an effective design feature. 

8. Try This Brick Fireplace Idea in an Art Nouveau Home 

an arts and crafts house with a hallway fireplace

(Image credit: Will Pryce c/o Build Design )

This mini fireplace in the hallway of an Arts and Crafts property is a slightly different take on a brick fireplace, thanks to a beautifully restored mantelpiece idea. The small brick insert is surrounded by a large decorative mantel, which is beautifully dressed. 

This mantel in turn is connected to built-in joinery, creating an Art Nouveau seating area in the hallway of this period property. 

9. Use Brick as a Fireplace Insert 

a natural stone fireplace with a brick insert

(Image credit: Border Oak)

In homes with large fireplaces, brick can be used as an effective insert, contrasting with other materials used on the exterior of the fireplace. Brick's the perfect material choice for surrounding an open fire or log burner in an enclose, as it's heat resistant and will take on a natural patina from exposure to a fire. 

A contrasting material can be used to frame a brick insert, from natural stone or timber to a tiled fireplace idea

10. Create a Double-Sided Brick Fireplace 

A double sided brick fireplace

(Image credit: Ludlow Stoves)

Whether you have a large open plan living space or two rooms directly connected, a double-sided fireplace means both spaces can benefit from the heat and ambience of a log burner, while only needing one stove and one flue. 

In this example, a brick fireplace has been created in the style of a tapered chimney stack, adding extra character to the space. 

11. Play With Brick Laying Patterns 

Stacked brick chimney breast in mid century living room

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

Whether you're building a new fireplace or using brick slips, a classic brick bond isn't your only option design-wise. Brick slips can be laid in almost any tiling pattern, including herringbone and chevron, while there's plenty of variations in brick bond you can choose for a structural fireplace. 

In this example, a tiled or stacked bond has been used above the log burner, created a focal point within this large brick fireplace, drawing the eye. 

12. Use Brick as a Backdrop for a Modern Stove

a herringbone brick wall with a stove in front

(Image credit: Simon Maxwell)

Even in homes that don't have traditional fireplaces, brick can be an effective wall covering idea, particularly used around a modern freestanding stove. 

In this design, a slanted herringbone brick design has been used to clad the wall behind the TV unit, creating texture and interest to contrast against the more modern elements of the home, including the contemporary white stove. 

13. Build in Cabinetry Next to a Brick Fireplace

a brick chimney breast with built in cupboard

(Image credit: Dave Burton)

Not sure how built-in furniture ideas would look next to a brick fireplace? This design just goes to show that it can be effective in preserving the character of a fireplace when giving the alcoves over for more storage space, contrasting the fresh lines of the cabinetry versus the rustic red brick. 

However, bear in mind if you want your carpenter to scribe it into brickwork for a perfect fit, that will be a more time-intensive job, for which they're likely to charge extra. 

Hugh Metcalf

Hugh is Deputy Editor of sister title Livingetc.com and former Digital Editor of homebuilding.co.uk. He has worked on a range of home, design and property magazines, including Grand Designs, Essential Kitchens, Bathrooms, Bedrooms and Good Homes. Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture and green homes, and moonlights as an interior designer, having designed and managed projects ranging from single rooms to whole house renovations and large extensions. He's currently renovating his own Victorian terrace in Essex, DIYing as much of the work as possible. He's recently finished his kitchen renovation, which involved knocking through walls, and landscaping a courtyard garden, and is currently working on a bathroom renovation.