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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Fireplace in Need of a Face-lift

megmoustafaFebruary 16, 2013
I'm looking for ideas/inspiration for this fireplace in our turn-of-the century Brooklyn brownstone row house. The mantle has been stripped and unprotected for 10-12 years. (I assume someone stripped it with the intention of later restoring it, but they never did.)

I'm tempted to paint the woodwork white to match the rest of the trim in the room. There are few original details remaining in the house, so I feel a twinge of guilt not restoring it in a more traditional style. That said, our style is more contemporary.

Since this room is on the ground floor (read: not a lot of light) and it's being used as a young child's bedroom, I'd like to make it as bright and airy as possible. Complicating matters, I really wanted to hang this elephant print (sentimental value) above the mantle, but now I'm worried it's too dark / monochromatic.

I'm looking for suggestions on whether to:

- paint or stain the mantle? Is there anything I should do to treat the wood since it's been bare for so many years?

- replace the tile? or cover it with something else? I believe it's original, but it's not that nice. The color is a dark, reddish-brown.

- do anything with the hearth? It's not terrible, but again, just trying to figure out ways to brighten the space.

- paint the fireplace wall (which sticks out about four inches from the wall) an accent color? If so, what color? The walls are Benjamin Moore Cloud Gray; trim is BM Decorator's White. The room is decorated in bright, garden-like colors--greens, yellows, reds with brown and white accents. Right now, the fireplace is just a brown, colorless swath in the room.

Thanks for your suggestions!
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I like the elephant print, if the room is dark , I would go for white walls
    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 9:49PM
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I think an antique white for the wood mantle would brighten it up and work with the box, print and other colors in the room.
    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:05PM
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The wood goes very well with your art. I'd leave it. If you aren't going to use the fireplace, put something decorative there. It you are, get a chimney specialist to look up first. Our turn-of-the-century house had unlined, soot-filled, and potentially hazardous chimneys.
    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:41PM
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A picture lamp above the elephant picture would add some much needed light. You could paint the mantle the same colour as the trim and leave the antique details untouched. If you do not like the tile inside the fireplace, then I would suggest replacing it with a creamy marble instead with a matching hearth. Make sure the fireplace is cleaned and the damper closed so unwanted guests don't invite themselves in.
Add some bright glossy red or white shelves on the walls and a dresser/side table lamp.
    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 12:15AM
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A pragmatic solution, particularly as it is a kid's room: Why not hang a piece of fabric over the mantelpiece and use it as a cupboard to store toys. You can store some things behind it and what's more, you can easily incorporate your garden colours that you already have such as: greens, yellows, reds with brown and white accents. I can't really see the rest of your style as you seem to have already decorated the rest of the room, so rather than start again, work with what you have got.

This is actually a very nice fireplace and probably has some historical value - so leave it for another day when your transform the room into something that is not a kid's room.
    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 1:27AM
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Donna Cheff
Need to see th rest of the room.
    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 3:28AM
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