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Monday, October 13, 2014

HELP! There is an Elephant err Fireplace in the Room

Right when you walk into our new home you are greeted with a large brick fireplace. In fact it is one of the largest fireplaces that I have ever seen. I am going to tell you right now that Mr. Décor LOVES this fireplace. I am on the fence about it.

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Actually, I have been trying my best to ignore it. The room is SO dark that for me the first issue has been to paint the walls of the room. That will be happening later this week. Bye bye boring, cave like brown.

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I imagine that once there is furniture in the room the fireplace won’t seem so imposing. The moving van is scheduled to deliver our furniture on the 20th. But, technically I don’t think I have any major furniture pieces for this room. This is what happens when you buy a home that is almost twice the size of the one you were living in. So…..

I’m living with it. A few days ago the Mr. (with pleading in his voice) asked “You’re not going to paint the fireplace are you?” I honestly replied “Not this week, or the next.” Mr Décor has been SO great about painting the wood ceilings. He agrees that the kitchen feels like a dark dungeon and that type of environment is not the safest when working with knives and boiling water. So, I can hold off on painting the brick for….awhile.

What I do know is the mirror is coming down. Rule #1 of mirrors is that they should reflect something beautiful. Right now it is only reflecting a ceiling fan. I have no idea what will go up in its place. A large piece of art….maybe some architectural salvage???

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The mantle needs to…..change…. paint perhaps or even an entirely new mantle.

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Pinterest really has not been my friend. There are all sorts of makeovers involving building bookcases on either side to soften the look, etc. Well obviously I need access to the kitchen so that can’t happen. The closest image I found was this:

From "Fixer Upper"...perhaps a transformation for our fireplace is in order.

But I still have yet another large open area currently holding….cokes and purses.

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The bookcase was a previous owner DIY attempt that neither the Mr. or myself are married to.

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The fireplace itself was converted to gas a few years ago. Yet somehow the log andirons are still set on either side of the gas logs. They will be removed or incorporated….something.

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So, do I just fill up the ginormous hole next to it with a a basket of logs? This is a cute idea for Christmas, but then what about the rest of the year?

Basket filled with Christmas tree clippings, logs and lights. Love this simple idea. This way I can get that wonderful real tree aroma without the mess.

My head hurts. The Mr. says it’s because I am trying to make too many design decisions at once. I think he’s right so I thought perhaps you can make a few for me. I’d love to see your favorite fireplace images and hear your ideas.



Kelley said...

Sleep on it... for a LOOONG time. It'll come to you and be the perfectly agreeable solution for all.

The idea you found is phenomenal, too.

Hugs and happy week,

Pat said...

When I first saw the fireplace while you showed the homes you were considering, I thought the bookcase looked off, just a tad and perhaps you would find some way to remove it and use the space for a piece of artwork. Perhaps have a mantel done with a little extra trim to add interest.

I know I will be outnumbered, but I like the brick as it is. When the room is painted it may make a difference on how you feel about the brick. To me, the "natural" look of the color and texture of the fireplace is a plus.

Betty from My Irish Cottage Home said...

I would take that white bookcase off, but not sure what to do with that space. Maybe another one, but the whole length of the space and straight across instead of sections. I would also take the mantle off and create a new one that is longer. A picture or piece of metal decor would look nice above it. Can't wait to see what you do.

Marydon Ford said...

I would ONLY paint the mantle ... the brick is gorgeous & so warm. The bookcases are nice, too. There is sooooo much decorating you can use them for, Laura. Each season has that special place for you to show your magnificent 'taste' in decor. Don't rush to change these things TOO soon. Isn't this house about the size of the home before your last?

Paint what needs to be painted & then slowly move into other areas to make changes ... <3 Marydon

Debbie said...

I am another one who thinks that the brick is a nice brick. My favorite part of the entire thing is the way the two openings are arched. That's so beautiful to me and ought to be showcased. (Not that I know how to do that kind of thing. ) I'm also in agreement that it's the bookcases that are what gets in the way of the full loveliness, IMO. I would take them down so you have a nice, clean picture to start with.

Also, every time you mention the mirror and its reflection, I very literally wince. I have a mirror over my mantel that reflects a ceiling fan, and I hate the reflection so badly. The bad thing is that I love the mirror. Everything else I have ever tried there just looks too busy and my eyes rebel when I try it there.

Debbie walks off sighing...

GSGreatEscaper said...

I think that picture you found of the white painted fireplace is pretty close! And if you take the mirror down, perhaps you could repurpose it? I like the idea of art that is leaning on the mantel...

Yes, a better bookcase is really a necessity. I'm not against painting the fireplace but I would make sure I was totally committed to the color before doing it, so waiting is fine. Start with the mantel.

What about a plant in the faux oven space? A nice Jade plant in an attractive planter - could be switched out with the logs, a big pumpkin at this time of year, some lilies at Easter? Or just a statement vase?

Rita C. said...

I would use the bottom (log storage) as a bookcase (love those Pinterest images where they're full of books!), remove the sectional shelving the former owner made, and make or have straight shelves made (like your Pinterest image), and use it for display for things other than books. I think giving the brick time may ease the pain you're having, or the angst Mr. Decor has in painting. You'll both know the answer in time.

Auntie Em said...

I don't really get the fireplace thing in Texas...does it ever get cold enough you need a fire going? Interesting to me since I always thought of the Lone Star state and being warm year around. Any way...I agree, get rid of pointless mirror and even more pointless mantle. (What happened? Did the lumberyard run out of wood when they went to get a board to make it? Seriously!) and the bookcases annoyed me the first time I saw them. A beautiful cabinet in a nice natural wood would might help balance it. Glass doors if you want to showcase things in it. Maybe something that will incorporate the cabinet and mantle into one piece if you are going to put another mantle on. At least your kids are old enough they won't be falling over into the hearth and getting their little noggins bruised up.
What colour have you picked for the room? I love seeing your paint colour choices. They are always so fresh and inspiring. Hope this week is a good one. :)

Sandy McClay said...

Oh yes....paint the will amaze you with the ceilings painted white also....beautiful home.....very cozy...

DREAMS ON 34th STREET ~ French Bread & Family said...

Have you resourced lime washing brick?
Just a thought.
Lot's of examples on Pinterest...including one amazing Southern Living home that will take your breath away.
Love your new home, Laura. So happy for you!

Karena Albert said...

Does the Mr. like the painted white version you found? I think that really brightens up the space. A work of art would be wonderful above and just wait a bit to decide on a different mantle or shelves. I say go white! It is such a clean crisp look and you always add plenty of warmth to your decor Laura!

The Arts by Karena

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Well, I am all for taking the bookcase thing out and removing the mirror. If you do a larger mantel, I woul dstill leave it wood and if you fill in the bookcase section, then I would do those shelves simply across, not sectioned and also do them in wood, not painted. The arched opened next to the fireplace would look fabulous most of the year with a beautiful large ferns sitting in it, or in front of the opening. I don't mind the brick, I just think get rid of the white bookcase thing and mirror and you will have a whole new perspective.

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Second thought. How about a gorgeous painting on the mantel and then you have some large vases, so fill one with beautiful twigs and place it in the opening next to the mantel and live with that for a while. The rest will come to you. Just get rid of those ugly bookcases.

Vicki said...

I'm sure I'll be in the minority, but my vote is to NOT paint the brick. I love the look of natural brick. Plus, I admit that I'm biased. We bought a home several years ago with a painted brick fireplace. I can't even tell you how long it took us to remove all of the white paint to expose the beautiful brick underneath. My son is currently removing maroon paint from his full wall fireplace in an effort to expose the brick. It is a terrible task! Your fireplace is gorgeous and whatever you do will show it in it's best light, I'm confident!

bettyann said...

So much work to do and so many the white painted brick is such an awkward space..but I know that when you are finished we will be all be amazed at your design for this area. the mantel is floating in space..maybe a statement piece .reclaimed wood? ..Have fun and give your design brain a rest. Take care.

Liz@ Infuse With Liz said...

In one issue of Architectural Digest featured Patrick Dempsey's home and they had an entire area floor to ceiling loaded with wood that was cut to be the same length as the depth of the opening and fairly similar in size. Then I saw a similar look with another home so I guess that's in vougue! I guess what I'm saying is even though there is a gas insert there I wouldn't hesitate to load that left side with some wood. I'll keep my thoughts about painting the brick :-)
Here is a link to that article

TheSingingBird said...

Laura, I don't know if this would work, but what if you built two custom cabinets, one centered over the other, to hide the funky spaces on the left and use them as closed storage(even if it overlaps some of the brick)? They could be painted to match the walls, and maybe have some kind of decorative trim. Then the space on the right would be a much smaller fireplace to focus on. Good luck and best wishes in your new home!

TheSingingBird said...

I forgot to say... when my husband is thinking about a change in our home he sometimes makes a full size cardboard mock-up, and it really helps to visualize what the final project would look like, as well as how the space is affected.

Julie Corbisiero said...

Hi Laura, wow what a lot of work you and your husband have been doing! I have been watching your process on instagram and I'm impressed. I know no matter what you do or decide for the fireplace it will look beautiful when done! Good luck and just take each day at a time.

Late Bloomers said...

Looking at the inspiration pic [the last one before the basket pic], if you did shelves above your little wood nook like in that pic and made a little door[s] for the wood nook to become a cabinet? That could be super cute, with a curved top....
I like the barn beam mantle in that same pic. as well.
You have your work cut out for you!

Merlyn Corcoran said...

If the fireplace brick wraps around into the kitchen, won't you have to plan both sides at once? I'd lose the strange shelf, the mirror and the mantel, and paint everything white. Fill the lower niche with wood and the upper with seasonal décor. From the photos of your previous home and the inspiration shot you chose above, it appears that your aesthetic is very close to Joanna Gaines's from HGTV's Fixer Upper and the living room she created in Episode 4

Carol said...

Okay, I'm no expert, but I do think that "elephant" needs paint! I really like the photo you shared with the brick fireplace in white -- just stunning. I would also do a rustic, chunky wood mantel that went all the way to edges of the fireplace. I would fill in that space to the left with similar rustic-looking wood shelves. Fill the wood hole area with a basket of pretty wood pieces in the winter & a basket of flowers or greenery in the summer. I may not be an expert, but I have no qualms about giving my's an age-thing! Good luck!

Debra Phillips said...

on the paint it side, or a wash. a great product is the amy howard line of one-step paint, adheres to anything and great colors. a client watered down her paint 50/50 and did a wash, it is stunning

Jennifer Rieker Franz said...

I think LiveLoveDIY's stacked log insert would look great in the open space next to the fireplace

And I love how For The Love of A House incorporated a brick wall into her kitchen.

Rick said...

There's a lot going on with your fireplace. It bugs me when things aren't symmetrical. I have the same issues with mine as in I feel it over powers the room. It divides my living and dining areas and goes to the ceiling. I haven't been able to make myself paint the brick. There's no turning back after that but...something's going to be done. I'll just wait for your inspiration. Good luck!
I love your ceiling in the kitchen. Would you ever consider whitewashing it? said...

Wow, lots of possibilities! I love the inspiration picture and the all white ,but I would not make any hasty paint decisions just yet, not until you have lived with it for awhile and are more rested. Having said that here are my takes on how to work with it.

1. Take out the current shelves and do what others have said by putting evenly spaced straight shelves. If you leave the brick natural, then I'd go with a reclaimed natural shelf, if you do a limestone wash or paint it white, then I'd go with white shelves. You could put doors, or leave open. If you went with painting everything white, then chicken wire doors for a french look would be nice.
2. I'd put a longer, simple mantle with corbels and make it match whatever you do with the shelves. I would match the placement so that it is in line with the bottom shelf. so you have one straight line across.
3. For the opening I wold consider having a door custom made, again, matching the wood to your shelves - this would make a nice little storage cupboard. If you opt to leave it open, then stacking a bundle of birch logs could look nice - at least part of the year. - I also like the idea of stacks of books that one person mentioned.
4. I agree find some nice art or something besides the mirror and get rid of the andirons.
The whole paint or not to paint is a big debate. I love the idea of paint, but this brick is also a brick I don't mind and it has an old brick look to it which is kind of nice. I think it would lend itself well to a limed effect, which might be a compromise. It would lighten it, but still maintain somewhat the look of the brick for the mister.
Whatever YOU decide will be great - can't wait to see what you come up with.

Sharon Leaf said...

when we lived in a cozy (small) flat at the beach, we had a brick fireplace that did nothing to the room. it took me a year to decide to paint it white ... and I LOVED it! No more elephant. Instead, a warm focal point of the room. Go girl!

Miss Jane said...

Wow - what an energetic undertaking! I'm sure it will all be amazing.
I grew up in a house that had a small fireplace with a large brick surround. At some point my Mom decided to paint it white, so instead of having red brick we lived with this giant hite eyesore. Now, I udnerstnad her reasoning for making the change, our living room was somewhat dark but I just never liked it. I still don't care for painted brick and while it may be fashionable today, it's important to remember that you can never go back. Once the brink is painted, it will have to be repainted to keep it looking good or if you decide you want to change the decor.
Another reader commented she lived with the brick for a year before deciding to paint it, I think that's a good idea. Just like remodeling, you need to live in the space a good long time before you decide to completely change it.
So put up a new gorgeous mantel that's big enough to decorate and have a little door/cover made for the cubby that you can insert when you don't feel like decorating it for the season.
Have fun!