Sheila, a member of my Facebook group Dream Homies, asks…
We moved into our house less than a year ago and haven’t done much in terms of decorating other than unpacking and putting what worked in our old home in various places. Now, we’re about to paint and I’m ready to get things decorated to our taste and make this our home. We have a fireplace that is rather large. The mantle and surround is not exactly our taste, but we’re going to live with it for now. My problem is that this side of the living room feels plain and I need to make it the feature of the room. We are about to paint the whole house, going from a terrible yellowish builder’s beige to a much nicer gray. Above the fireplace and mantel will also be redecorated. 🙂 Here is what I’m considering:
- Leave the walls the same color as the rest of the walls and add light/airy curtains to the windows. I’m afraid this will be too heavy with the small space around the windows and take away from the window molding.
- Paint the walls above and on the sides of the fireplace an accent color to add interest. Maybe a darker color. Add fabric roller shades or bamboo shades to replace the white plantation blinds to add interest to the windows without adding significant weight and making it seem cramped.
- Paint the walls above and on the sides of the fireplace and around the windows, so that whole side of the room is an accent wall.
- Do some sort of trim treatment from the mantel to the ceiling, like some sort of board and batten look that would painted to match the mantel/trim color.
Sorry for the terrible lighting… 🙂 I would appreciate any of your thoughts!
First things first, huge congrats on the new house, and I’m excited that you’re going to start making it home by decorating! I always suggest taking time to “get to know your home”, and it sounds like you’ve done just that. So you’re off to a great start!
Before I get into my suggestions and recommendations for your fireplace and mantel, I do suggest downloading my guide to ‘Jumpstart your Decorating Project‘. There are 5 steps I recommend taking before jumping in, these will help you avoid costly mistakes.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way! Here are my responses to your considerations…
- I agree, curtains will be too heavy and will take away from the fireplace. And I also think you should show off your molding!
- I wouldn’t do a painted accent wall here, the fireplace and windows are pretty tight to each other, and I don’t see enough wall surface to do this effectively. It’s always nice to have something that allows you’re eye to rest, you’ve got a lot going on with the architecture here, I wouldn’t add any more with colour. You can create a feature with the fireplace without having to go the accent wall route. But I agree with you on the shades ideas, more on that later!
- Still no to the accent wall, for the same reasons already outlined.
- While I do really like trim treatment and the board and batten look, I wouldn’t do that here because there isn’t enough flat wall surface on the side of the fireplace to contrast the details. As discussed in #2, allowing your eye to rest is important.
Ok, so now that I have basically poo-pooed your ideas (I’m sorry!), here’s my suggestions on what I would do…in this case I really think less is more.
1. Find art that wows.
I would select art for the mantel that packs some serious punch! Try to find a piece that has three colours in it, you can than infuse those colours into the fabric and accessories throughout the space. In the art I selected, there are really only two main colours, but I felt that the impact of the blue would work really well, and decided I would select fabric with at least three colours in it.
2. Select amazing fabric for the windows.
I would definitely go the roman shade route, I suggest selecting your fabric and having a relaxed roman shade custom-made. I realize this will be more expensive, but you’ll be able to create the exact look and impact you want. Be sure that the fabric is not overpowering the art, the art should be the focal point and the roman shades will play a supporting role.
3. Find simple accessories for the mantel.
Select one large vase and a smaller vase with some flowers to add colour. You want the mantel to be mostly about the art, so the vase and flowers are also just playing a supporting role on the mantel (I’m really hammering home the movie references in this post!)
4. Add a throw pillow to the chair.
The key here is to not get too matchy-matchy with the fabric. Instead select a fabric that incorporates similar colours, but adds a new pattern. Make sure the pattern is either LARGER in scale or SMALLER in scale. If you can’t tell, squint your eyes and if you can’t see a difference, then the scales aren’t different enough.
I photoshopped all the elements together to show you how it could look, it’ll obviously be even better after you paint your space the new grey colour.
I hope this helps, be sure to send an after photo once you’ve finished the space!