We just bought a home with a red-brick fireplace that clashes with the color of our new carpet. From all the reading I have done on various sites, it seems that painting is not the way to go and covering it with tile or stone is not an option at this time. My idea is to just sponge on some slightly diluted white satin-finish latex paint (like we're using on the woodwork) to soften the color of the brick. Is there any reason this won't work? I know brick is extremely porous so I would think the result would look something like "used brick," and be low maintenance.
The sponging sounds like good idea and if it does not look what you want just paint the fireplace. I did that several years ago and have not had any trouble at all.