Interior Design 101: Exposed brick walls

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
SS15 The Cotswold Company Living room
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Using brick to build houses, shopping malls, schools and other structures is nothing new. Ah, but using raw, exposed brick surfaces as a design element hasn’t always been classified as trendy or even beautiful. Even professionals like Architects and Interior Designers/Decorators have jumped on the style wagon as they started to realize the visual potential of this rich-and-raw building material.

So, what does that mean for us? Well, for one thing, it means today’s article teaching you all about the wonder of working with exposed brick in your home, plus a glimpse at the pros and cons.

1. Adding a brick wall

First things first: what if there is no exposed brick wall in your home to speak of? Then you can create the appearance of one via:

1. Thin brick tiles (real brick cut into very thin pieces) applied to an accent wall, or

2. Wallpapering said wall to achieve just about the same kind of look and vibe. 

2. Playing with various textures

Boston Light Grey Console Table and TV Unit The Cotswold Company Living room
The Cotswold Company

Boston Light Grey Console Table and TV Unit

The Cotswold Company

If you’re lucky enough to have solid masonry walls in your home, you can create eye-catching designs simply by removing the very top layer of plaster over the brick. We recommend adding another finish/material that’s known for its impressive look, like wood.

Just be careful to avoid a cluttered look by not combining too many different designs and finishes – two materials grabbing attention in one room is enough! 

3. Creating a focal wall

Paradise Lane, Litchfield County, CT BILLINKOFF ARCHITECTURE PLLC Modern Living Room
BILLINKOFF ARCHITECTURE PLLC

Paradise Lane, Litchfield County, CT

BILLINKOFF ARCHITECTURE PLLC

A room with all four its walls clad in exposed brick can very quickly seem very busy. Thus, we love the idea of opting for a focal wall by transforming just one of those walls into a brick-clad beauty. 

homify hint: Got some plaster over your brick wall? Carve out a specific design (like a letter, a full name/word, maybe some curly swirly designs… ) on the brick for some extra pizzazz. 

4. Blending brick with other styles

The SW12 Kitchen by deVOL deVOL Kitchens KitchenCabinets & shelves Wood Grey
deVOL Kitchens

The SW12 Kitchen by deVOL

deVOL Kitchens

Brick has proven to complement just about any design style, from traditional and cottage to super modern and contemporary. It’s all about what you add to the exposed brick surface (i.e. stainless steel accessories and slim furnishings will positively scream “modern”, while wooden surfaces and ornate carvings are better suited to colonial/traditional spaces). 

5. The pros of exposed brick

Still not entirely sure some exposed brick would work in your home? Then maybe it’s time we take stock of the pros and cons…

The pros:

• With exposed brick, immediate contrast is added to a space, especially when blended with various finishes. 

• It ensures extra texture and warmth.

• With the right amount of time, equipment, and professional assistance, exposing your brickwork does not have to be as costly as it would be for some other wall finishes. 

• When treated correctly, exposed brickwork can be highly durable, making it a top choice in high-traffic zones like hallways.

6. The cons of exposed brick

Apartment at DLF The Crest The Workroom Modern Media Room
The Workroom

Apartment at DLF The Crest

The Workroom

And what about the cons?

• Some people (your guests, for example) are not as fond of brickwork as others and might see it as messy or underdone. 

• Using the wrong methods when working with exposed brickwork could result in an unfinished look. 

• Sometimes the brick underneath that plaster is not the best quality.

• Your brick color is pre-determined, and although this can be altered with paint, it won’t flaunt the same ‘natural’ look. 

• Brickwork needs to be treated and maintained (including brushing, cleaning, and re-treating) once it’s been exposed in order to avoid deterioration. Make sure you or someone else has the available time to keep that exposed brickwork looking good as new.

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What’s your opinion on exposed brickwork in a home?

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