I have been relentlessly searching the internet for some inspiration for my poor fireplace. I am begging for your advice. I was thinking about painting the brick because I am not the most design savvy person and it seems to be the only option. I am on a pretty tight budget and ripping it out and starting over seems a bit pricey. What would you recommend?
Let me start by saying that you don't have to rip it out to redo it. You can cover it in wood. Check out this post.
Also- the fireplace below was a brick fireplace, on a commercial job I did a while back, where we did not remove the brick. It is simply covered in wood and marble.
Depending on the material, you can resurface it with a stone without removing the brick as well. I would get an estimate- you might find it not to be as expensive as you might think. Check out this site to see a similar redo. For an astounding $82- check out this fireplace. Here are the before and after pics:
With that said, if $30 is the budget, then painting it would be an improvement over what you have now. I can't see much of your room, but one thing to consider is that a big white fireplace could stand out and look bad too. Depending on your color pallet, select your paint color accordingly. (off white, etc.) The white works so well below because of the other white in the room.
DO NOT HAVE THE ONLY WHITE ITEM BE YOUR FIREPLACE. I assure you, it will look bad if you do.You very well might find that one thing leads to another, and after painting the fireplace you will need to make other decorating changes to make it really work in the room. For example, the fireplace in the room above looks terrific, but there is a disconnect with the furniture. Compare that room with the room below:
(photo from Coastal Living)
The bright white coffee table and the bright white in the throw pillows really bring white in to the color palette. Can you see how this works so much better than the photo above with the red sofa?
I go into all of this because the next decision after deciding to paint the fireplace is deciding what color. A darker neutral could look really drab. White is certainly the most common way to go- but, as I am explaining, will not just automatically fit right in.
White fireplaces look great in a shabby chic look, like the fireplace in the photo below, but they don't look great in every scenario.
(photo from Bazaar Style)
(photo from paper blog)
Another thing to consider, that is less expensive than stone, is drywall. You could find out the cost of simply covering the over-mantle portion of the fireplace with drywall, and then you only have the lower section to re-surface. The drywall section will simply be textured and painted your wall color.
I also wanted to mention the lack of symmetry in your hearth. That would drive me crazy. I would either take the wrap around off the left side, or add it to the right. Then, I would also reconsider your mirror on your fireplace. A mirror is fine if it is a sunburst, or some kind of decorative mirror, but when it is a plain mirror, it should be reflecting something nice. Your focal point of the room is a reflection of your ceiling fan. You can do better than that. Check out these five posts on how to decorate the fireplace mantle.