If a marble/granite overlay is too much for you to get into, "it is OK" to paint that ugly brick. My house is 75 years old & even though its a sin to paint brick, I did it anyway using a good primer, followed by two coats of good semi gloss paint. I did ours in a light cream color & added new brass doors & it really looks great with the old wood. you can kind of see a picture of it @ http://members.home.net/wschmahl/Homeprojects.html good luck & dont be afraid to paint !!!