The good news is, there are alternatives, and I'm not talking about fake looking wallpaper prints. Many companies now specialise in stone cladding and brick veneer products, some using reclaimed products, which provide a more authentic and aged look. More importantly it doesn't cost the Earth.
A general tip is that the older the brick or stone looks the better it's going to tie into the room and look.
Try experimenting with different colours and patterns, such as Flemish bond and Herringbone.