All in all it's just too many bricks on the wall
April 14, 2006 1:37 PM   Subscribe

What can I do with an unattractive brick wall in a family room?

My sister's home has a nice family room adjacent to the kitchen, but the east and west walls are brick, in very dark shades of red and black. She'd like to lighten up the room. 70's style ranch house, low ceilings, so that's no small trick. Any one have experience (or, even better, photos) painting/covering interior brick walls?
posted by donnagirl to Home & Garden (19 answers total)
My home has a brick fireplace in the corner, and at some point it was painted white. We had it repainted a brighter white, and it looks terrific, in our opinion.

In addition to paint, have you considered using lights pointed at the ceiling, near the walls, to lighten the walls and ceiling? Might make the room look brighter.
posted by davejay at 1:58 PM on April 14, 2006

Got any photos? Hard to suggest without more context.
posted by mimi at 2:15 PM on April 14, 2006

I second a photo. Typically, exposed brick walls are very attractive.
posted by malp at 2:39 PM on April 14, 2006

Perhaps make sure the other walls are lightly colored and then lots of lighting?

I always like natural lighting best (sky lights? Windows?) but recessed lighting can brighten up a dark room.

Also, at some point, I recall seeing clips that go onto bricks for hanging pictures. That could possibly break up the appearance a bit?
posted by JMOZ at 2:46 PM on April 14, 2006

Typically, I'd agree. In this case, it's dark and overwhelming. The only photo I have handy is one that also includes my darling nephew. Try not to let his cuteness blind you as you look at the wall.

The other thing I should add is that she's afraid that painted brick will look too much like painted cinderblock in bad dorm rooms.

Lights are a great suggestion; they've installed more lighting in the ceiling already. It helps some.
posted by donnagirl at 2:47 PM on April 14, 2006

Get a professional to put a mural on the wall?
posted by crazycanuck at 2:59 PM on April 14, 2006

The brick could be covered with drywall and then painted. Here's one thread on the subject; here's another.
posted by exogenous at 3:01 PM on April 14, 2006

Try not to let his cuteness blind you as you look at the wall.

Completely blinded by cuteness. What an adorable kid, and what an adorable hat.

Regarding those brick clips mentioned earlier in this thread: I use 'em on our fireplace, and they work beautifully. Hanging large pictures/mural might be a good non-permanent way to go (the hooks use pressure against the brick above and below to stay in place; no drilling necessary and no mortar disruption.)
posted by davejay at 3:04 PM on April 14, 2006

The fireplace area in my apartment is brick painted white, and it looks quite nice, as well as brightening up the room.

Whatever you do, though, do not paint the bricks bright red, and the mortar white. When I was a kid I babysat for a family that had their fireplace done up like that, and it was heinous.
posted by jtron at 3:13 PM on April 14, 2006

I agree with covering up the brick with drywall. It's not that expensive; it's not a complicated job; it offers plenty of options afterward.

IMHO brick should be used sparingly inside a home. But then again, I grew up in a house that had a white brick wall in the family room (along with a fireplace) and it still pisses me off.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:30 PM on April 14, 2006

Make sure that they add insulation between the brick and the drywall, too. That'll save you in energy costs.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:31 PM on April 14, 2006

Oh, good lord, how cute.

In all honesty, I would love having brick. If the clips are an option for her, I'd definitely go that route and avoid painting it. Photos and paintings aren't her only option. I've seen lovely things done with architectural elements, tapestries, fabrics, framed rice paper, and various other sundries. Have her look around at the things she's collected over the years, or meander through garage sales and shops, and see what appeals. Browsing design mags also inspires great ideas. The goals will be to avoid clutter and to pick open, light-colored elements. Even small or medium-sized mirrors used in conjunction with other bits can work well for opening up visual space without making a terrible, massive wall of reflection.

There are other things that can open a room up, as well. Keeping the furniture scaled down to size, increasing light, using light, cool colors throughout, and sometimes even placing things at an angle can help.
posted by moira at 3:45 PM on April 14, 2006

It looks like "Z-brick," a veneer product less than 1/2" thick. I would not hesitate to remove it.
posted by xod at 4:19 PM on April 14, 2006

yeah, that doesn't look like real brick to me, either. It looks like some kind of cheapo imitation deal. I'd cover it with drywall, or see if it can be removed. real brick has a lovely texture that can make the room feel warmer, but that doesn't give the same sensation to me.
posted by mdn at 5:05 PM on April 14, 2006

Paint it white, as suggested, but then you could hang intricate iron work (nice ones available in the larger crafts chains like Michaels). Some of these could hold plants, either real or fake, that could cascade down the wall. Other varieties hold votive candles that might look elegant. Have fun!
posted by annieb at 5:15 PM on April 14, 2006

What's the budget? That's probably the most important consideration, as it either limits or frees up her options.

If it's real brick, and she has the wherewithal, how about getting the hell sandblasted out of it? In all the interior exposed brick I've seen, it looks best when it's worn down somewhat.

Interesting wall-mounted lighting could be fun. Not too bright, but enough to pick out texture & shadows.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:14 PM on April 14, 2006

Oh, doh, hit post too soon... do not paint over the brick. Seriously, just don't. It always looks unspeakably awful. Moreover, I imagine it would drive down the sale price of the house (whenever that would happen), due to the ugliness and the cost of sandblasting off the paint.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:15 PM on April 14, 2006

Apartment Therapy has some ideas.
posted by fionab at 6:35 PM on April 14, 2006

Thanks for all the ideas! It's real brick alright, although I can see why it might look otherwise in that photo. The previous owner was a brick mason, and he installed quite a bit of brick, inside and out. It does have a nice texture, it's more of a color issue - it's very dark. I like all the "hang things" options, and will propose drywalling, although I do love the look of the wall in fionab's link.
posted by donnagirl at 6:55 PM on April 14, 2006

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