here is a shot of the completed room with the slate hearth laid - www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/2089462975/
Repainted the existing dirty dingy old broken looking red stone fireplace white, then with lovely brown paper bag wall colors. This treatment cost less than $20 for materials. Cracks patched with fireplace stone fill. This is a very easy technique and we did it in about an hour and 1/2.
First thoroughly clean the stone or brick - it should have no grease, it should feel dry. Then spackle and fill with heat resistant spackle. Let dry. Touch up.
Prime with paint. Paint the base coat a color such as the paper bag brown used here.
While that is still a little tacky, using an old brush, dry brush on paint and work it into the high peaks of the stone or brickwork.. We used a darker, red brown to achieve this effect. The same color was used on the entire back wall of this room. See related photos to the right in the Wonderlane photostream.
This is a very easy technique in two steps that completely transformed this fireplace, gives great results and is cheap cheap cheap! After: www.flickr.com/photos/wonderlane/2090244608/
Another fireplace painted - this time from white to resemble brick