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Painting the Hearth | Victorian Fireplace Reveal


victorian fireplace with painted hearth

Some months ago I purchased a Victorian Fireplace for the smallest bedroom off eBay. It needed some restoring which I finished a while back, but since then it's just been sat in the bedroom against the wall, unattached, collecting dust. The reason I hadn't gotten around to fitting the fireplace was because I couldn't decide what to do with the hearth. The original tiles were long gone and instead we were left with a concrete slab that really needed some interior style attention.


how to fit a victorian fireplace

I'd been going back and forth with different ideas on what to do with it for the last several months. I really considered tiling for some time, but as the concrete was already higher than the rest of the floor, and adding tiles on top of that would raise the height even more. This wouldn't have been the end of the world of course, but without adding a sloped wooden trim around the tiles, it would have been a bit of a tripping hazard. Adding a trim around the concrete would visually make the floor space appear smaller as you would naturally avoid walking on the hearth too. Whilst I did see some amazing tiles I would have loved in the room, the cost was a little more than I was willing to fork out as well.

Another option I considered was to polish up the concrete for a more rustic look. The negative of this was that the materials for polishing concrete (niche as it is!) weren't cheap either. Since I've never done this before, it could have ended horribly wrong and I wasn't entirely sure how good it would look visually or whether it would really suit the room. I also considered using marble effect contact paper over the concrete for a slab of marble effect, but I didn't think that would be very hard-wearing or practical. And it might have turned out to look a little tacky too!

So my final idea was to paint it. I quite liked the idea of having it as one flat colour. It's easy and cheap too and would add a touch of modern to an otherwise period feature. After I'd spent an eternity deliberating over this decision, it became more and more obvious that this was the best option. I wanted to make sure any paint I used would suitable for concrete and super hard-wearing as I'm sure this won't always be avoided by feet. I discovered Rustoleum's chalky finish floor paint which sounded perfect for the job and even better - they do a grey colour that I just knew would be perfect for this room.

rustoleum chalky finish floor paint on hearth

I made sure to scrape off any blobs of plaster or other material from the hearth and then I thoroughly cleaned it. The paint I'm using is in the colour 'Anthracite' which I thought would be perfect for this room with the light grey walls and dark grey radiator, which is also Anthracite in colour.

painting a hearth

Initially, the colour was much much lighter than I had expected, although it does darken as it dries. It doesn't quite match in colour to the radiator, but I actually think this colour is actually better. It's got a real hint of blue to it and it's the perfect shade to add another layer of grey to this room without it looking too same-y and boring. It's much brighter than the dull concrete colour before and is refreshingly clean-lined in appearance.

ideas for a bedroom hearth
rustoleum anthracite floor paint
victorian chimney opening in bedroom

The chalky finish is perfect for my liking too, particularly as I hate glossy finishes (you'll never find gloss paint in this house!) and it suddenly feels like its own feature in the room.

After finally having finished the hearth (why did I wait so long, again?) I could then affix the fireplace to the wall. This was really quite easy to do and simply attaches with a few screws into the wall and a bolt to keep the shelf on the fireplace. Our fireplace has an insert, so I did have to make sure this could sit recessed into the opening, which meant chiselling a small amount off some of the corners of bricks. Doing this, made sure that the fireplace could sit flush against the wall. Being an old property with not-perfect walls, there is a small gap in areas around the fireplace which will need caulking - but otherwise it's the perfect fit.

how to attach shelf on victorian fireplace
how to attach victorian fireplace to wall

I got so lucky when I found this on eBay - not just because I won it for a bargain price (£75?!), but because the inset (or fireback) was the perfect size for our small fireplace opening. These are a great way of hiding the inside of a chimney opening that isn't the prettiest. This one fits so well, it's almost like it was always there!

restored victorian fireplace with fireback and shelf

You'll notice I've also carried the floor paint onto the bricks at the back where they're visible through gaps in the fireback. I presume there would have been something in the original chimney where this fireplace came from, so the bricks weren't exposed - or perhaps you wouldn't have seen it with the front bars which are missing from this fireplace. Either way, painting it the same colour as the hearth disguises it a little - but I have a plan for styling the fireplace that will hide it completely....

grey painted bedroom hearth

So, I know you're dying to see it styled. I've been saving some interior finishing touches especially for this fireplace as I really wanted to make it a proper feature in the room. I know it's beautiful enough on its own, but I felt like it needed some home-y touches to give it some extra love and really show it off as a proud feature. After all, the 70s hated these things and so many of them have sadly been removed - they need to be shown a bit of new love!

victorian bedroom fireplace
victorian fireplace with logs and fairy lights
bedroom fireplace with painted concrete hearth

I've styled the shelf with some artwork from our recent trip to Cambodia, a DIY chalkboard star (tutorial here, if you're interested), and a couple of plants, just because. I love the cluttered #shelfies that are always going around on instagram and this is my first ever #shelfie - yep we don't any other shelves in the house! I know this shelf will definitely change over time - and yes, I really do need to work on my chalkboard handwriting skills - but for now, I'm loving it.

cambodian print on fireplace
DIY chalkboard star

The bottom half of the fireplace is actually my favourite part. I've hidden those exposed bricks with some logs which I think work perfectly and I've also added some copper wire fairy lights that I picked up a while back from Lights4Fun. I actually bought them especially for this fireplace, so I'm rather pleased they've finally been put to use!

making a feature inside victorian fireplace
logs and copper fairy lights
painted hearth in bedroom fireplace

I love the way the lights are wrapped around the logs, it feels so cosy and homely! I do intend on swapping the Yankee Candle for some faux LED candles (Lights4Fun also do some great ones!) but for now, I'm using up this beautiful smelling candle which coincidentally matches the cactus pot in colour.

I'm thrilled to bits with how this fireplace looks. Removing all the old layers of paint and restoring it was so so worth it, I cannot tell you. The detail is unbelievable - I wish they still made such intricate details fireplaces nowadays. It's obviously a very modern room now we've renovated it - but I fell in love with this house for its period charm and this certainly has bought some of that charm into this room.

shelf detail of victorian fireplace
floral details of victorian fireplace
restored victorian fireplace with fireback and soot hatch

I'd love to know what you think - would you consider painting your hearth? And do you have any recommendations for learning chalkboard calligraphy?

If you'd like to see how we opened up the chimney, click here.
If you'd like to see how we restored the fireplace, click here.


*Paint was kindly provided for this fireplace reveal. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog!
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