Brick is the material of choice for houses if you want low maintenance and fire resistance, but it's usually confined to the exterior and, inside, to fireplaces. In fact, because it withstands the heat of a fire, brick is the most common choice for lining fireboxes and facing fireplace surrounds.
Depending on the style of your home, the fireplace surround may be a few discreet rows of bricks or a commanding structure. Beyond the fireplace, if you have a contemporary style house or if you've added a room, tackled a loft conversion, or remodeled, you may have an expanse of interior brick to deal with.
Whether it broods darkly over your room or brings comfortable rustic character depends largely on the color of the brick and how well it works with your room's color scheme.
The clay that goes into making the brick determines the color of the final product. Different mineral compositions respond to firing differently, yielding hues ranging from buff and yellow to salmon pink to dark red-brown. If coatings such as sand or limestone are added during firing, they will affect the color and texture as well.
To integrate a brick feature into your decorating scheme, first decide whether you want to feature or downplay its presence in the room. Use its hue to choose wall colors accordingly. See page 2 for tips and suggestions.
If the brick is a color you cannot live with, consider painting it. See page 3 for tips and suggestions on painting brick.
Continued on page 2: The Color of Brick