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Huge Brick Fireplace Wall- Needs Facelift- Help!
Lisa P
January 27, 2013 in Design Dilemma
This is my living room fireplace wall. I want to redo the entire wall and cover it with sheetrock, maybe add some shaker style moulding as well, add a granite fireplace surround with white mantle and possibly some shelving. I'd like to create a chic, white wall that will brighten up the room. This brick wall makes the room very dark. I'm desperately looking for design suggestions. My home is a 1956 Split with a very open floor design which I love. Really looking for ideas on how to best make this wall pop. Thanks in advance :)
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Dar Eckert
I can't believe you want to get rid of the brick! An antique mantel and a beautiful large painting on the wall would be breathtaking. The color of the brick is not hightlighted with your adjacent colors. Would look lovely with an oriental in the red hues and a painting with a lot of reds in it



.
January 27, 2013 at 4:39pm     
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Madi
The brick is beautiful! Painting the ceiling lighter, along with painting the walls a different colour would help. Also, that wall desperately needs decoration.
January 27, 2013 at 4:44pm     
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mbtayloe
O wow...I love the brick wall! I wish I had one in my house! Here is a lovely room with a brick wall.
January 27, 2013 at 4:45pm     
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Aja Mazin
It's beautiful!
January 27, 2013 at 4:45pm   
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Virginia C
The other colors in the room are clashing with the brick. Maybe lighten the walls and slipcover the sofas. You can paint the brick, but if you change your mind later, you'll have a mess on your hands getting the paint off.
January 27, 2013 at 4:55pm   
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Manon Floreat
I agree with Dar Eckert. The brick is really beautiful and would be shown to its best advantage with a different wall color. I think a lighter shade of your sofas would look great. I'd also think about a large scale, but light and quiet art piece for the wall.
January 27, 2013 at 4:58pm     
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Manon Floreat
I must be a slow typer!
January 27, 2013 at 4:59pm   
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Interiors International, Inc.
I agree with both Dar Eckert.and Lkristine that wall of brick is beautiful. If it were an awful color I could see your point. This just needs the proper backdrops and furniture to make it look great.
January 27, 2013 at 5:02pm     
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Ironwood Builders
Sounds like you like a light and contemporary/transitional style? Yet you are in a mid-century modern home. Embracing the home you have is maybe less expensive than tearing down and building a different home. That said...i think there are many reasons to do what you would like....mostly because people like me make money from it. Snarky and wolfish? Maybe....but think on what I have said. Most of the comments above advise you to work with what you have....even mine!
January 27, 2013 at 5:05pm     
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Remya Warrior Designs
Personally I do like the brick wall. But if you really dont like it, you can always paint over it. It will make it look fresher as well as give you texture in the room. I love how that wall is the focal point in your room. You can always accentuate it with nice big reclaimed wood bigger than what you have as your mantle. Then its just about accessorizing. Your room definitely has a lot of architectural features. Whatever you do, please post pictures when you are done.
January 27, 2013 at 5:07pm     
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Lisa P
Thank you all for your feedback :) I'll post another picture of what it looks like during the day. Its so massive and daunting. I have track lights plus 2 skylights in the ceiling and it still feels dark. My walls are painted - Warm Muffin by Behr ( which is a warm golden color) and my ceiling is white. The brick near the fireplace has been cleaned several times and I still can't get it lighter. If I don't cover the entire wall I would at least like to put in a white mantle with some granite. My furniture is a light grey ( which I just bought); however I am getting a light grey and white rug so maybe that will help. I'm trying to go for a golden, white and grey color scheme in my living room. Suggestions or photos on what type of mantle surround would go well here would be appreciated. I'm not a fan of rustic decor. More transitional. Many thanks in advance :)
January 27, 2013 at 5:11pm   
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Lisa P
Just some background info on my home. Its a 1956 Split level home - Long Island, NY and it has a very open floor plan. I do love it and this living room is the focal point of the home. The floors throughout are oak so there are a lot of golden tones everywhere. I don't want to paint the brick b/c my neighbor did it and it looks too stark. I don't like the way painted brick looks. All decorative suggestions appreciated. Thanks again.
January 27, 2013 at 5:18pm   
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groveraxle
Your wall is stunning. Take a look at the color schemes with these brick walls. Light neutral walls look great with the brick.
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Spice Warehouse Tribeca Loft Living room
Stamford Living
January 27, 2013 at 5:26pm     
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lefty47
HI -- I think you are sooo wrong about the brick wall . That is not making the room dark ,-it's all the other wall colors and the lack of proper lighting .The yellow walls don't work with the brick. I think all the brick wall needs is a border of granite or tiles border around the firebox with a modern screen . That mantel is the wrong style and size with that brick, better with no mantel or a big long wood beam for a mantel . I think a better wall color would make a big differance for the room . I think all the small corner moldings and chair rail would be better removed if your wanting a modern clean look. But please keep the brick , this is what is giving your room style and character .
January 27, 2013 at 5:38pm     
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
I wish I had pics for you, I'll visit the residence this week and try to get you some pics, but I did a stairway that had brick similar to yours with plaster that I chiseled away pockets of plaster to expose the brick to give an old world feel to, then applied a venetian plaster over remaining plaster in a color very similar to your surrounding wall colors that I think would look great on your fireplace wall.
January 27, 2013 at 5:40pm     
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Remya Warrior Designs
Lisa, I agree with everyone regarding the color of your wall. If possible I would also try to change the stain on your oak floor. If you have a darker stain on your floor, the grey & white color scheme that you have in mind would look amazing.
DId you want to do the granite on the hearth?
January 27, 2013 at 6:52pm     
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Lisa P
Thanks Remya. Staining all my floors a darker stain is a huge undertaking I do not want to do. I would have to do all 3 levels of my house as all the floors are the same. I agree and will be painting the walls a bleeker or shaker beige, but that still leaves me with figuring out what type of mantle to put in. The hearth tile u see will be coming up and I will be putting in a granite the same to match with what I will put within the inside of the fireplace opening. Probably not black, but something more Grey/Brown. The.furniture is new so I have to work with the grey. Maybe a neutral rug... Any suggestion on a mantle other than a large piece of wood to go across the wall? Thanks.
January 27, 2013 at 7:08pm   
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Jilson Modern Home Staging
Paint the walls a pale, warm grey color that is at least a few shades lighter than your Chairs and Sofa. Make sure you use Flat paint as it will be so soft looking next to the brick. Find a really great large round mirror with either a heavy carved gold/metallic frame or something in driftwood and hang it up rather then propping on the mantel. Add some Air Plants (the giant ones) and colorful large objects to the mantel. Replace the small pic on the left with a trio of large matte frames(not sure what the rest of the room looks like, but maybe in white). Love the brick! It adds character and a loft feel along with the envious skylight! Happy Decorating!
January 27, 2013 at 7:09pm     
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jccbaker
If you can't find a mantle that you like, consider getting two or three more shelves (that look just like the mantle shelf you have) and hang them at staggered levels on the wall. Put different objects on the shelves that pull your colors together. Good luck.
January 27, 2013 at 7:32pm   
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Remya Warrior Designs
Lisa, Is this what you had in mind for the fireplace? This sort of look becomes a bit more traditional. Another idea is to tile the wall. I have seen someone who wanted to get rid of their brick wall & tiles their entire wall. Definitely gives a more transitional look. We do see a mix of rustic with contemporary these days. As far as mantels go with the brick wall, I prefer a thick piece of reclaimed wood. That gives a more contemporary look.
January 27, 2013 at 7:37pm     
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Remya Warrior Designs
Also dont forget to address the lighting in the room.
Picture of painted brick. As well as a different looking mantle.
January 27, 2013 at 7:46pm     
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Manon Floreat
Maybe a traditional surround in the shaker style would work for you. The inspiration for the mock-up I made is from this image. Maybe something like this would appeal to you. Artwork is by Kathleen Patrick.


January 27, 2013 at 7:57pm     
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Lisa P
Remya, Manon- thank you both for.your feedback. Manson, yes this.type.of.surround.is.what I.was thinking about, but with granite to cover the brick. The only thing is.. this.looks nice, but a painting with more color might stand out more. Maybe after the walls.are painted neutral? How did u make this mock up? It'. pretty cool. That's what I need.. to see different options on the brick to see what will work best.
January 27, 2013 at 8:12pm   
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Manon Floreat
You're welcome. Yes, you'll totally have to choose art that speaks to you. I had the above in my library and chose it to illustrate my earlier idea of a light and quiet piece. Art's so subjective, though - it may look foreboding and chaotic to some! I do like that it references the color of your sofas, though.

I use Paint.NET for my collages and mock-ups. It's free!
January 27, 2013 at 8:30pm   
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sjkingston
If you don't want to pint the brick, there are two ways to consider going. Manon's design really showcases the possibilities. Your rug and fireplace appear to be in the same tones, so if you like your rug, consider looking for a wall color that is a color from your bricks that you like and that harmonizes with the rug's base color. Once the yellow walls are neutralized it will start coming together and you can accent the gray sofa with pillow in a color form the rug. The other option, as suggested above, is to go with grey walls. If so you will need to be careful to fine a grey that has undertones that work with the brick's undertones as well as the sofa's. If the undertones aren't right, it will always seem off. A lot of folks are in love with grey as its in, but with that color brick it can be very tricky to work with. Two blogs that might help are Maria Killiam's blog on colors and Young House Love if you like a more contemporary fun look for assessing the contemporary/modern look for fabrics and rugs. Good luck.
January 27, 2013 at 8:39pm     
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nysnh
I like the brick wall. It goes well with the beautiful sloping ceiling and is a good accent to either traditional or contemporary style. But this rooms needs work for sure. If you do not like the gold tone of it, there are many ways to change it through the change of the wall color, the decors, area rugs, and furniture. I see your room with a great potential to be a room with characters. Colors will speak.

Sitting Area
Casa Verde Design
January 27, 2013 at 8:41pm     
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Carolyn C. Interior Decorator, Brampton, ON.
Here is what it will look like if you paint the walls a colour that will pull in the sofas. It's actually quite beautiful, but if you really don't like it, well, you have to live with it. Take a look, see what you think and if it doesn't speak to you we can start new ;-)
January 27, 2013 at 8:54pm     
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Carolyn C. Interior Decorator, Brampton, ON.
If you do stick with this theme, I would consider removing the chair rail on the other wall.
January 27, 2013 at 8:55pm     
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Jilson Modern Home Staging
Granite is going to be like the avacado appliances of the 70's soon. Keep in mind that when something once luxurious becomes standard in new construction, it is on its way out.
January 27, 2013 at 9:02pm     
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Melanie Hon
@Carolyn, that's exactly what I did as well! Lol great minds think alike. @Manon, hope you don't mind I used your mockup to change the wall colour. I like the mantle and painting you picked.
January 27, 2013 at 9:42pm     
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Manon Floreat
Oh!The new wall color looks great!
January 27, 2013 at 10:07pm   
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Aja Mazin
The yellow-orange in the wood floor and in the stone/brick of the hearth is a problem for me that the wall colours merely exacerbate.
January 28, 2013 at 2:21am   
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Carolyn C. Interior Decorator, Brampton, ON.
Melanie I like the colour - I was getting tired so I just popping in a gray, but I like the softer gray. Here's some inspiration.

Consider a simple gray iron and glass or stone top table to the right of the fireplacewith a nice lamp and you could put a pouff under it. Also an iron and glass cocktail table I've put the in as best I can.

Also consider a larger scaled piece of art to the left of the brick.
January 28, 2013 at 5:43am     
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Carolyn C. Interior Decorator, Brampton, ON.
Image
January 28, 2013 at 5:44am     
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Dar Eckert
I have a wall of similar brick in my home and find it looks great with light gray or cream. Your wall doesn't have to be rustic. I think of exposed brick walls as boho or loft feeling which can be very contemporary. I believe there are some brick washes that don't cover the brick but slightly lighten the color and would do that before painting the brick. A large beam for the mantel would give a contemporary feel in black, stained wood, wrapped in stainless steel or concrete. I think I would hang it a little lower than the current one and extend it past the fireplace or alternatively, remove the mantel completely and hang three art pieces or just one large one.


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Bridlepath Interior
January 28, 2013 at 6:49am     
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Lauren Stead
MY living room is so similar!!I also hated my brick fireplace, and I ended up painting it white (I love the mid century modern style) and put a large long mantle on thats clean looking, but its a statement. People told me not to paint the brick, but now everyone LOVES the grand look of the white. (please excuse the carpet and the rest of the room, we have since done a lot more decorating...)
January 28, 2013 at 7:07am   
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Lisa P
OMG! THANK YOU!!! :-)Thank you all for the awesome images and feedback. Seeing the potential has really helped me change my mind.

I love the neutral grey tone on the walls. I'm going to post more pictures of the room in natural day light later today so you can what the room looks like without the track lights on. I see what you mean about the brick and how nice it could look with the walls painted a different color. I won't cover it now.

I've attached some paint colors swatches I've been looking at for my walls and I'm really liking the Revere Pewter. What do you think?

Carolyn and Melaine I like what you have done with your images. I think the white mantle really makes the wall pop. I love all the colors but would use a neutral rug with no patterns so I can use patterns on the pillows. lea_daigneault suggests using something other than granite. What are other stones work well around the fireplace?

lea_daigneault- What else do you suggest instead of the granite? Every person I've spoken too tells me its the strongest stone for the heat around the fireplace. Suggestions welcomed.

Many thanks to you all :)
January 28, 2013 at 7:08am     
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Lauren Stead
revere pewter is an AWESOME color. It is definitely on the grey side of greige. I love it.
January 28, 2013 at 7:11am   
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The Creative Man
Why not wash the brick with a color. Apply color and use a rag to remove as much as desired. I could see then building a new mantle, in painted wood that incases the fireplace opening and goes vertically up maybe filling 2/3 of the height of the brick.
January 28, 2013 at 7:16am   
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Carolyn C. Interior Decorator, Brampton, ON.
I love the Revere Pewter. I would get a testing pot or half litre and try it on the walls in various places to see how it looks with the brick and the sofa. You may need a gray with a bit more warmth, but it's worth trying.

You could do a marble or soapstone, also Cambria, Silestone and Caesarstone have some great selections.
January 28, 2013 at 7:22am   
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Lisa P
Thanks Carolyn. The stone options are great. I really like the way the gray soapstone looks with the white mantle. After we paint I will get a few sample pieces to see what works best in the room. Thank you.

Manon- I couldn't download a copy of paint.net b/c I'm at work, but will tray when I get home. Do you think a dark wood mantle would look better than a white mantle? Or do you think it would blend too much into the brick? I'm kind of torn b/c I do like a wood mantle, but would want white to keep the room bright. Your thoughts? Thanks again!
January 28, 2013 at 7:51am   
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STUDIO MB
I did this for my clients who have a similar type of wall.
January 28, 2013 at 7:58am     
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Barbara Griffith Designs
Leave the brick. I like Maria Billingsley idea, but instead of floating shelves, I would trim it out a little more traditional for a transitional look. All done in your white trim color. The brick background will look great. Trim out fireplace portion as you planned but include mantle area into the sides of shelves, make it seem larger. Then continue with the white painted wood to add shelves with sides, with trim on front edges to make shelves look thicker, make them all tall shelves, tall enough for books as well as art objects. Finish the left side in the same wood and cover the brick edge around the corner. Leave the center open above fireplace to show the brick. Cover most of that area with a very large, tall, framed, mirror. At the bottom, build it out a little further, to the front of the platform and make that area with doors for storage.
January 28, 2013 at 8:20am   
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georgia
wow... i would keep the brick and really play off of it. i would go for a beautiful mid-century modern look in the room... especially since your home is mid-century modern... or built during that era. you can still brighten the room quite a bit, even if going for that look. a web site i highly suggest for some gorgeous mid-century modern inspiration is "brick house". i would not change a thing with that fireplace. also, type in "mid-century modern living room" here on houzz, and you will see many stunning examples of this type of design with that type of wall. the only thing i'd consider doing to the wall is adding some type of paneling... not a rustic or tongue & groove type, but a flat, one-piece style with a smooth finish... something you might see in a mid-century home like in the attached image...
January 28, 2013 at 10:45am   
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couturesmith
We have a family room with a brick wall that same tone. I just finished painting the walls BM Revere Pewter and love it!
January 28, 2013 at 12:30pm     
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Vikrant Sharma Homez
Please do not paint the wall and regret it Later , have a good art like a abstract by Shari , SPKCreative Abstract Art www.spkcreative.com
January 28, 2013 at 12:43pm     
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Island Soapstone
Another option would be to have a fairly bold granite/marble surround (I am using that word loosely) running floor to ceiling with a "floating" white mantle. The surround will be just slightly wider than the fireplace - maybe a foot to each side. I will try to post a picture later - the description does not do the concept justice!

Agree with the others on lightening up on the paint colors surrounding your lovely brick. Painted brick is dated and everybody ends up hating it after a while.
January 28, 2013 at 1:16pm     
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dbaune
Rather than cover ALL the brick, build a heavy white mantel all across the fireplace, wall to wall, with your desired shaker cabinets or bookshelves on each side, below the mantle only. You'd have a GREAT mantle for displaying art, tall vases, etc., and you'd brighten your room substantially. It would also make your room feel cozy, but you wouldn't lose the texture and color of the brick.
January 28, 2013 at 1:24pm     
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Lisa P
dbaune- That sounds awesome! would you happen to have a picture of what that may look like. i like the idea of the shelves on either side.
January 28, 2013 at 1:33pm   
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Sean Franklin
I agree with many others that the brick is an amazing focal point for the room. I think the paint color could be switched with something more complementary toward the brick. Install a nice vent over the fireplace and a new mantle 1.5 to 2x as large as the one you have and perhaps painted white like the trim and crown molding. I like Carolyn C's pick of the mantle style. LARGE piece of art in the center with some decent size vases or other on each side to frame it the art. Lastly, choose your couch throw pillows whose color matches something with your wall color. Awesome room you have! I love it. That's just my taste thrown out there. :)
January 28, 2013 at 1:44pm     
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Twisted Minds Custom Designs
Lisa, here are the pictures I promised, reading more from you regarding this project it may not be what you're are looking for but I'll let you decide. Also, to chime in on the fireplace surround and hearth, have you considered concrete, I may be biased as it's one of the services I provide, but an experienced concrete artisan would be able to provide you with a stunning surround for your fireplace, for ideas - type concrete in the search bar, and if you'd like you can visit my profile page to view some of the pieces I've created. Hope this gives you some ideas and helps with your dilemma!
January 28, 2013 at 2:53pm     
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Ingrained woodworking Inc
I personally love the brick. I think the wall color is not helping the brick stand on its own. they fight with each other in my mind. Instead of a white mantle, perhaps keeping what you have and stain it darker. it may actually lighten the brick feel because of the new focal point? I also keep looking at the white trim at the top of the brick at the ceiling line. it has this weird outline effect. painting that something less abrupt or a stained wood in it's place might be nicer. no trim at all there would be best. finally, I love the idea of art work that others have suggested but I would place it higher than the examples shown.
January 28, 2013 at 3:10pm     
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chauncey500
I would keep the brick and gray furniture, paint a fresh coat of WHITE on all walls and ceiling, and maybe stain the floor darker.....then add bolder or more graphic area rugs and a few large scale pieces of art.
January 28, 2013 at 3:23pm     
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Lisa P
Thank you all for your wonderful feedback! You've really made me like my brick again :)
OK. I think I'm going to paint all of the walls Revere Pewter. Since I have such an open floor plan... my dining room and landing upstairs (which you may see if the attached pictures) are also a warm golden color so all of those walls need to be painted to help balance out the brick. I also think a nice, stately mantle with maybe grey soapstone would look nice. All of the art work and decorative suggestion I have noted. Any other suggestion now that you can see the entire room and adjacent walls?
Many thanks again! :)
January 28, 2013 at 4:20pm   
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ssb45
I am not a designer, but I think the rug should be centered on the fireplace, maybe a larger rug. Is that possible?
January 28, 2013 at 4:42pm     
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abbshel
Wondering about your furniture arrangement. Is there a reason you have it like that? I would at least pull the sofa away from the window and make the fireplace your center point for the rug.
Another option is facing the sofa towards the fireplace.
January 28, 2013 at 4:50pm     
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teresal60
After reading your initial ideas, I was wondering if you want something to break up the brick wall and give it some verticality. (Is that a word?) I found this photo and wondered if it would fit your contemporary spirit while keeping your cool brick wall mostly intact....?
January 28, 2013 at 5:15pm     
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teresal60
Here's another idea updating brick to a very contemporary look without covering it all up...
January 28, 2013 at 5:22pm     
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Ingrained woodworking Inc
I just saw the bigger room pics. I agree with pulling the couch and rug more in the center of the room.
January 28, 2013 at 5:25pm     
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Greg the PAINT-IT! guy
Everyone has stated the obvious and you can't seem to see it. DITCH THE YELLOW! You compound the horror of the yellow hardwood floors by painting the walls that same color. The floors need to begin to take front stage by turning them darker, a contrast to your pretty furnishings. Then a complimentary color on the walls will allow you to transition into the 80's! How can you think your decortation style is "contemporary" when you have country style colors on your many surfaces that strike you square across the face when you walk into the room(s)? You'd do much better with a dreamy, smooth, soft backdrop color in lace fo an in-your-face screaming yellow zonker. (That hurts!) Has to be said.
January 28, 2013 at 5:33pm     
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Lisa P
Thank you all again. To answer some questions...
The reason I put the sofa against the windows is b/c when I put it facing the fireplace it takes up a very large amount of walking space in the room. As you can see I don't have much of an entrance. When u enter the home you're basically walking into the living room. The rug I agree needs to be centered. I plan on buying a larger rug and centering it properly. The chair and sofa placement may be a problem for the room. The room is not very large, therefore I wanted to keep it as open as possible. Thoughts?
January 28, 2013 at 5:35pm   
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abbshel
While you're waiting on a new rug, it seems like you could center the rug and just put the first half of the sofa on it. In other words, the sofa feet and maybe 6 ". Then put the club chair half way on too. At least then the sofa would not be so close to the window.
Maybe the pics are giving me the illusion that there is more space than there actually is.
Regardless, I think it's a lovely room.
January 28, 2013 at 5:43pm     
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Aja Mazin
Greg the PAINT-IT! guy,

Fingers in ears repeating nanananan....
January 28, 2013 at 5:43pm     
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Lisa P
Wow Greg the PAINT- IT Guy! Maybe you should've read the previous comments before posting your obnoxious comment. The wall color is not yellow, it appears that way b/c of the lighting and the floors are certainly not painted they are oak. I'm not going to waste my time explaining anything to you. This is supposed to be a collaborative design site, not a chat room board where people insult others. Keep your comments to yourself.
January 28, 2013 at 5:52pm     
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Ingrained woodworking Inc
I am sad to see a comment of obvious disrespect for the process of collaborative design. Not welcome here.
January 28, 2013 at 6:04pm     
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onthefence
Lisa, so glad to hear you're seeing your brick in a different light. It really IS beautiful! And the idea of a soapstone mantle just makes me drool!

In terms of your furniture, could you leave everything in the same basic position and just shift it all to the left about 18 or so inches? The more the better (to get closer to being centered against the FP). Or, if you were able to put the couch facing the FP with a VERY narrow console table behind it.
January 28, 2013 at 6:06pm     
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onthefence
BTW Lisa, I did see that you've arranged the way you have to keep a feel of open-ness. I was suggesting the couch parallel to the FP (perpendicular to the wall) because I think it might give you more of a feel of an entry way. Not sure how much room you're working with, but if you did this, you'd probably want to move the chair to the left some as well (closer to what I think may be your kitchen).
January 28, 2013 at 6:27pm     
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Lisa P
Thanks onthefense. Yes, my dining room is right next to the living room. It's one big open room. I will try moving the sofa down a few inches... Maybe I could move the chair to face the fire place, it is a lot smaller? I will get the exact measurement of the room and let you know. I appreciate your feedback. Thanks again :)
January 28, 2013 at 6:32pm   
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Carolyn C. Interior Decorator, Brampton, ON.
Sean Franklin - I'd like to take the credit for the mantel, but it was Manon Floreat's design, - well done
:-) Manon. I like it as well.
January 28, 2013 at 7:05pm   
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white brother's cabinets
Book shelves would take away the bold brick look, a large area to fill, depends on your needs, I like the brick, just needs some ,some, something. I have a foto of a brick wall some place, by the time I find it, you will probably have done something. I'll post it anyway.
January 29, 2013 at 6:09am   
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Island Soapstone
A rough image of what I tried to explain: A stone "surround" with a floating mantel shelf
January 29, 2013 at 7:16am     
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Eagledzines
Here is another option to consider that you could combine with the mantle and picture ideas you like.
Instead of painting, you could white-wash the brick. http://www.beneathmyheart.net/2012/08/how-to-white-wash-brick-bathroom-update/
January 29, 2013 at 7:41am   
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