Paint the inside the firebox area with special heat-resistance paint. Apply two coats if necessary.
Paint the rest of the brick with your paint color. Brick is porous, so make sure to push the paint into the brick so there are no pinprick holes showing. Apply a second coat if necessary.
Measure the current mantel top and plan a design. We got lucky and found a simple mantel at a recycle center that will slip over our existing mantel. We added molding to the newly found mantel to give it more interest. We attached the molding with wood screws, covered the holes, then sanded and painted the entire mantel.
Place the mantel over the top of the old mantel. Find the studs in the wall, they should be just at the edge of the fireplace. Toe-nail the screws into the mantel through the wall.
Fill the screw holes with wood filler, let dry, sand and then paint to match the mantel.
Joanne Palmisano is the author of Salvage Secrets (W.W. Norton, September 2011). Visit her blog, also called Salvage Secrets.