Give me a break! I painted our fireplace five years ago and haven't regretted it. It's easy to clean, looks good and is fully functional. You can't return to the natural brick but who would want to. The brick in my fireplace was the same as the outside of the house. It was completely out of place inside. We've had nothing but compliments on how it looks now. Anyone completely opposed to painting it could cover a large area of it with beautiful wood and mouldings. Like some of the old Colonial Homes. You don't have to live with an ugly brick fireplace. There's nothing sacred about it.