My fireplace was white when I purchased my house, however like my door trim, the paint job looked hasty and incomplete. It was not 'white-white', and it looked like it did not receive as many coats as it required.
According to Thing Young House, brick absorbs a lot of paint, so its possible that you will need extra coats to get complete coverage. This could have been the case with my fireplace, but it would also not be a surprise to me if it just was not done. Luckily, This Young House also provides lots of "How-to" tips, and after reading through their "How to Paint A Brick Fireplace", I armed myself with the appropriate roller and brushes and set to work.
I don't know if the change is as obvious in these pictures, but it certainly is much brighter and cleaner looking now. Here is the before:
And the after:
I know I have to do more with this space still, and I am not certain if the fireplace will remain white, but at least its a step in the right direction! If anyone has any great fireplace/mantel decorating ideas, please send them my way! I am in search of ideas!