• Reading time:6 mins read
  • Post comments:0 Comments
You are currently viewing Fireplace Makeover

I can never remember what to call this room. Is it a family or a living room? When browsing to buy our first Cincinnati home our real estate agent used the term “great room”. Ever since then, any family or living room with VERY high ceilings is, in my mind, a “great room”. This saves me the trouble of having to distinguish between the two. Lazy? Perhaps. But convenient!

Great, yet burdensome

All of the “great rooms” in our past homes had issues. For example:

  • 12ft windows to find drapes and rods for.
  • An off-angle fireplace on the opposite side of the room from the “sitting area”.
  • A wrap around fireplace with uneven and cracking tiles.
  • And finally a red brick fireplace with a rough stone shelf.

These are my great room burdens.

Finishing Rooms and Fixing the Fireplace

While brainstorming how to “fix” this fireplace, I’ve been thinking about my inability to finish rooms in years past. I’d have a solid 6 months of renovational burst, only to fade out like a dying star after getting wind of another potential move. There’s nothing more demotivating to a long term interior design plan, in my opinion, than relocating.

With the knowledge that FINALLY, after long last, this is our “forever home”…I feel relaxed enough to tackle each space slowly, determined to design them to completion. It’s time for my red giant phase, baby! Sorry, dying star joke. I’m not actually sorry though.

Feature Wall

This fireplace is the central focus of the room. It’s wood-burning but inactive-as my middle child may have asthma. Regardless, upon entering the space it’s the first place the eye goes, even in its state of hibernation. The issue is once the eye does go there it wants to immediately look away at something, ANYTHING else. I get this all the time when out in public.

So where does this leave me? Well, I could try to wear a hat and oversized sunglasses in an attempt to hide my face. And where does this leave the room? Oh. Well eventually I’d like to demo and start from scratch. Hammer out the bricks and slab, lower the base of the fireplace to the floor, build a new mantle and start fresh. But due to budget and other house needs (like a ROOF), that’s going to have to wait.

So in the meantime I can’t leave it. It’s just too UGLY.

Accent fail

In October I painted the back wall a dark accent color. And now that I have the accent, I’m thinking of ways to reduce it. After years of attempting accent walls by painting one wall a different color than the rest, it’s clear to me that accent walls need to be more than just a different color! It’s just not enough.

An accent wall pulls in the viewers’ focus with intriguing elements to ACCENT the rest of the room. A bright red or in this case dark gray wall all by itself is just a void-pulling your eye in and away from the rest of the room with nothing else to give. It’s like ok…so what?

Curtains or no Curtains?

One option is drapes. While we have a mostly private lot that doesn’t require drapes, perhaps they’re an option? Placing rods 120″ up off the floor with a light, solid color drape or perhaps a patterned drape could help lessen up the void.

Painting the Fireplace

Another option that I got received feedback on from facebook and instagram is painting the fireplace. My original intent was to go for a whitewash. But some readers suggested a light gray paint instead…and maybe that’s the ticket?


Art. I’ve been searching for a large, airy, oversized canvas print for over the mantle. I really like some of Gray Malin’s work. But at a 3k price tag for a large print, he’s priced me out of his league. Which is fine, a Malin’s got to make a living. But I’ve got three girls to raise, after all. And if my four-year-old’s style inclinations is any indication of the future, we’re going to need that money for CLOTHES. All of it.

So instead I’m thinking of a 3 photo series of 20×28 prints. I found some nice pieces on Society6 that capture the same mood as Malin, airy with strong enough compositions and subject matter to justify a central piece of prime wall estate in the greatest of great rooms.


One final idea that I’ve been floating shiplap. Shiplapping up from the mantle, to be more precise. By painting the fireplace and mantle white (or gray) and then carrying that up into the shiplap may solidify the back wall as the centerpiece of the room. My one concern is that the shiplap may look obscure going up that high. I think it may work but board spacing and the way I do the finish trim work are going to be very important.

What do you think?


One stay at home dad (to be) conquers DIY and Diapers

Leave a Reply