Painting is one big changeover, and its not hard at all, just time consuming at first. But this is a forever thing. I always suggest have you thought about re sale value, maybe you will later on wish it was brick again. Changing back is NOT easy at all.
If painting is Out, what about accessorizing with new things. What about staining the mantle? or painting only it. What about a new sofa picture above the mantle? What about new tools, new accessories, and a make over without the painting? Many ways to go with this without painting.
If last resort consult an inter dec. Expensive, but many good ideas.