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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

What to do with this horrid room/wall??!

madyyNovember 16, 2012
I hate this dark ugly wall. The rest of the room is white walls and windows. I want to update and brighten up this room. I was thinking of painting everything white...but am wondering if it would be too much white. I would like to differentiate the fireplace but the brick goes on till the end of the wall. I don't have much of a budget at all and can't get a pro to come in. Are there any diy things I can do to make this room look better? Should I paint the bookshelf or the top part of the wall a different color other than white? Also the hanging light shade is bothering me. What can i do with it? A different shade? Or embellish/paint this one? Sighh, help please!
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Personally, I like the bookshelves the way they are. However, if they bother you, you could paint the wall above an off-white as well as the back wall of the bookshelves. If you can, take your fireplace screen down and spray paint it black. You can clean the brick around the screen with a foaming bath cleanser and a nylon scrub brush. I see an outlet in the brick to the right of the fireplace? Is that a good spot for your tv? And I would change the lampshade unless you can remove the glass pieces and paint the rest of it black. I really like the color of your brick, but I'm guessing you're tire of it :))
1 Like    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 7:28AM
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Aggie Purvinska
Actually, if you only painted the wall white and left the bookshelves, it would be a nice contrast without too much white.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 7:30AM
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maddy, how is this room used and what furnishings and colors will go in here?
    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 7:31AM
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My first inclination is to prime and paint the whole wall (brick and all) the white that you have elsewhere. However, if you want to bring out the brick, either leave as is or paint an accent color. Depends on what your style is. As far as the light, I think that it just needs to be replaced. Lots of options and many are not expensive. Again, depends on your style.
Maybe a few more pics of the rest of the house would be helpful.
    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 7:32AM
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I actually love the structure of the wall, but can see your problem with the brick. You may want to use a contrast wall for this wall if all the other ones are white. Get a color that will play up the colors in the brick. Paint the wood over the fireplace to the bookshelf that color. You can paint the bookshelf in another tone of the color you used over the fireplace to break up the wall even more and define the space. A round table with a lamp by the fireplace and a char and/or a large round mirror over the fireplace will help soften the angles.
    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 7:36AM
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I rather like it as it is--very clean and mid-century modern. It could look nice as is with a good scrub (be gentle with the wood) and add a lot of white accessories to the bookcase and some art with white matsto the mantel. I would leave the brick as is. There is a new peel off fireplace cleaner you can try

Or it might look nice just painting the bookcase area, or just behind the bookcase. Painting the whole thing for me would depend on whether this is real wood paneling or the fake. To me it looks real.

If you did paint the whole thing, you might consider an accent color, or a slightly darker tone of taupe than the rug, rather than white, and I would keep the natural wood trim around the fireplace and the brick. Alternatively, I would paint just the paneling above the fireplace white and keep the bookcase natural to brieak up the white.

Anyway, I would emphasize and work with the assymetry rather than try to disguise it all with a coat of white paint. If you paint use a good primer first.

Do you have a table under the lamp? Replacing it is probably the best option--if that isn't in the budget, replacing the shade with a basket or bowl or a drum shade might be a possibility. IKEA has some reasonably priced pendant lamps and lamp shades. You can drape the chain if it isn't quite over the table.

What colors do you have in your living room?
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 7:53AM
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Easy solution - paint the paneling and bookcases a shade that more or less matches the fireplace surround. It will look great.
    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:12AM
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Thanks everyone. I'm beginning to think in a different direction after your comments. Maybe I'll just keep the brick and clean it up, and then paint the wall and bookshelf an accent color playing off the brick. This will be used as the main living/family room of the house. I have a cream color suede sofa and love seat with black and cream throw pillows. The coffee table and side tables are glass with black legs and trimming. So the color theme of the furniture and accessories is black and cream. I do want to add in an accent color. In my current home, I have a muted red accent wall and then play up a little red with a couple of accessories. I'm thinking of a change of the accent color for this house, not sure what yet. Also in this room will be a tv shelf and tv, and a zebra print rug that is also black and cream.
    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:13AM
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I know! You can paint it my favorite color! [houzz=
Spicy Hue SW6342 Paint · More Info
    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:14AM
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Clean all the wood with TSP (tri-sodium phosphate,) rinse and let dry. If you like it better, and it is real wood, give it a nice waxing to bring out the richness of the wood. If you don't like it, then lightly sand, tack off, prime with oil based KILZ or other primer, let dry and then paint with 2 coats of paint. Don't know what the style of your furnishings are, but I think the skinny mantel is something I would replace with a beefier one. You're lucky to have room and an outlet to put TV on thew focal wall with the FP. One option is to paint wall, bookcase and brick white and to install a natural wood mantel for contrast.
2 Likes    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:22AM
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Before you paint the room, try painting the brass fireplace cover and replace the lampshade. A can of flat black engine paint is $5. Any big box store will have it.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 5:13AM
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If you can spring for a new lamp -- that would really tie all together after you paint and place the furnishings. There are several very interesting lighting ideas on houzz. At some point in the future, you may consider a raised hearth bench. If the room is on a slab, it could take the weight.
    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 5:24AM
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Kim D
You could go in stages... start with prime and painting the wall above fireplace, live with just that for awhile. If the bookcase sticks out, then prime and paint the bookcase, live with it awhile. If the bricks start to bother you then start in to paint them as well. Spend the money on an electrician to install a ceiling fixture you like.
    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 5:52AM
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I would paint then entire wall off white/ or cream. Including the bookshelves. I think from what you have described your furnishings/accessories to be the mantel would look awesome black. Once you figure out what color you want to exactly add to the room you could consider painting that color just as the backing of the bookshelves. I think there is paint you can buy for the fireplace cover too. You could look on ebay or craigslist for a new/used hanging light/chandelier. They are very easy to install.
    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 6:12AM
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Okay, I just redid your room for free, lol. Go to Home Depot, yes. You have no funds to spare. You need a bigger mantel, or paint this one white.. Paint the ceiling, also an off white cream color. Pick out a few granite tiles, travertine some sort of stone, they have some very nice ones on sale at times. You may need about 8 or so. Measure please. Replace the Hearth area with these, you may be able to go right over what is there now. Maybe about 60.00.Painting the screen and or the plateing (Brass) will be a horrid idea, because it can peel, and it will never be finished correctly. Clean it with Brass cleaner. Painting these items can also emit chemicals in the air, when the FP is lit... Above the fireplace. Make yourself a collection of Black and White framed picture, prints, kids pictures, drawings and put them above the FP. Make them rather large, different shapes, this will bring in your B and W color schemes. As for the light fixture.. out.. Get a new one when you can, and hang it lower. Make a little sitting area with a big chair, nice little reading area, small table, under the new lighting fixture. Once you do these few things, wait and see how it looks. If you still need a boost, Pick an accent color and paint maybe the back wall of the room in that color and get some pillows. Are there any windows in the room?? Go to some yard sales, get a few little tables, make a few grouping areas to sit, a little section for playing games on tables.. Hey and most of all, cherish the moments in your new place !!
    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 7:14AM
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Lee Poehler
great structure needs contrast...here a few ideas

If you want to keep color of brick.
1. paint wall above soft color, cream, white, carmel
2.clean soot with foaming bathroom cleaner
3. wal paper behind shelf pick a pretty pattern you love with colors that play off furniture
4. possilbly darken stain in mantel and shelves.
5. get new face for fire place, or paint gold a black with applice spray paint, or remove all together and add a screen of your choosing.
6. replace hanging lamp with chandelier would be great to see an iron based chandelier and fireplace screen that have a matching element.

2nd thought I'm thinking way modern
1. paint upper wall soft color like cream, light yellow, carmel but not white
2. paint bookcase and brick white
3. replace mantel with modern one...or really cool piece of crown modling.
4. I think I'd still do wall paper in back ground of bookcase...it is one of my fav things I seen done on design shows.
    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 7:21AM
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The bookcase looks like it was added onto the front of the panelling. I can see an electrical outlet and cable or tv antenna connection on the back of it at knee height. How about dismantling the bookcase and putting your tv there? The wall design makes much more sense without the bookcase. You can reuse the wood somewhere else in the house if the finish matches the woodwork elsewhere.

The fireplace and panelling will look much better after a good scrub. The panelling looks like good quality. YOu might consider overcoating it with a darker stain to add some contrast in the room (it is very beige in the photos). Dark wood might go better with your cream and black color scheme. Pick up a Minwax brochure and tiny color sample packets at the local home store.

The hanging lamp is not something I'd allow to dictate how the room looks. It's just a swag lamp, go ahead and remove it. If you want to save money, you can attach the chain and cord to a new pendant light fixture; many are lightweight enough to hang on a ceiling hook.
    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 7:34AM
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I'm totally loving this website and all of it's users with their great ideas! I was so at a lost with ideas for this place (since my husband is practically clueless) but now I have so many thoughts running through my head. Will take a trip to the hardware store to see what I can find and how much things are. I love the wall paper on the back of the bookshelf. Is the best place to get cool wallpaper Home depot or Lowes? Or are there other stores with a good selection as well? Would the gold fireplace screen look better in black? I was also maybe thinking of getting a metallic silver spray to paint it
1 Like    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 7:36AM
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Lee Poehler
I think I check out both for paper until you find that one you absolutely love. Some big box stores like Kmart or Walmart have a small wallpaper selection. Silver sounds clean and light.
    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 2:51AM
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Heat tolerant paint for this specific application is a must.
1 Like    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 3:05AM
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Lee Poehler
show us pics when your done....would love to see
    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 5:46AM
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