So you've finally decided to paint that old brick for a fresh look. It's a big commitment. It's not like choosing paint; it would take a lot of time and money to get all of the paint off and expose the natural brick again. So, it's a pretty hefty decision to make. Whether you're dealing with exterior of your home or just the fireplace surround here are some ideas for paint colors for brick.
For the exterior of your home you probably want to go with a neutral color. You might want to get rid of the existing brick simply because it's too bold or it stands out like a sore thumb in your neighborhood. You don't want to make the same mistake again when you choose the paint. Go with a taupe or a golden yellow for a scheme that will match a lot of different design styles.
Minimize the trim. Even though you change the color the exterior of your house still won't look as simple as most modern homes. The grout lines will still show as opposed to modern stucco. As such, you might want to make most of the trim work disappear. (Unless the trim work is the best part of your house like a Victorian or Tudor style home). Pick a color that is really close to your main paint such as going with a sage green or brown. You can even just use a paint from the same chip; just pick one or two shades darker for a subtle contrast.
You might have an entire brick wall in your home or you are just dealing with a few bricks around your fireplace. The size will really determine what color you are going with. If you have a lot of brick people will be able to instantly tell that it's been painted. With smaller areas of brick you could just turn the brick you have into the brick you want. Try using a mahogany colored paint for a faux brick effect. Another option for small spaces is to go really bold with a dramatic eggplant or black.
With larger spans of brick you probably want to make it look more like a wall. You could go with a taupe paint. White painted brick was popular a few decades ago and can work in an all white room it also has a tendency to be dated or predictable. You might just want to paint it the same color as the rest of your walls or go with a neutral gray or taupe. This will make the brick recede and disappear somewhat although the pattern will still be there.
Use several colors. Your brick is always going to look like brick. If you paint it, the material will just now look like painted brick. You can also get fireplace paint kits that will help you mimic a natural brick, just a better natural brick. You'll want to use several different shades of the same color and layer several colors on top of each other. This way each brick will have subtle variation so it will look more natural. You could layer a lot of taupes, creams and whites on top of each other so it almost looks like limestone. This is a lot more laborious then just going with a subtle color but it's also worth it in the end. You want to step back and look at your project a lot to get perspective and make sure you aren't turning it into a circus.
Paint colors for brick can still look like brick. You can also change the material into a more modern style. Just make sure that you really hate the natural color enough that you never want to see it again before you pick up that brush.