misskitty, something else you can do with your fireplace if you don't like the brick is what I did, though it is a bit time consuming. First I painted it a couple of different colours but didn't like the results either time, so I bought some brown stone tiles and adhered them with tile glue around the opening. I then filled in all the space between the bricks with concrete so the surface was more or less flat. Then I smeared on a couple of coats of plaster Mediterranean-style over the concrete. The tiles around the opening were to bring the opening surround up to the level of the plaster. I then painted the plaster off-white (primed first) and rubbed a very light brown glaze over the finished surface to highlight the rough finish. I finished the whole think off with a mantle built with a pine board and some crown moulding. I will try to post before and after pictures when I get home later.