After I made the big jump to paint the brick it was a smooth sailing to completion. The fireplace surround that started this entire project was finally ready to be installed. For those who are interested, the surround is made by Pleasant Hearth and my mom purchased it on Amazon where it shipped free. It has a craftsman feel to it and the arch top doors reminded me of our own hobbit door not so far away. There are several other designs that seem to work well for older style homes.
The install of the piece was really easy. It pretty much has six toggle bolts that you tighten into the sides and top of your fireplace opening. No seriously, that was it. According to the directions it might have been more complicated if our opening was taller, or if we lacked a metal brick ledge. But for once, in the history of the house, we appeared to have something 'typical.' Once, it came out of the box it took only a few moments to unpack, install the provided insulation into the back and read the instructions. Just because I like to make double sure of things I decided to go online and read up a bit. Most reviewers were positive, a few mentioned it you were using this to act as a damper you probably needed to add some additional sealing and insulation. I went ahead and purchased the other items they recommended.