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Spiffing up our living room -- too dark?
beccaboo2
February 27, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We are trying to make our living room feel more gown up and user friendly. Bought some new pieces to mix with old favorites. Trying to make use of fireplace area (even though it is non-working.) Added some art and tchatchkes. But something still feels dark. Do we need to paint the fireplace? That's a big commitment! Help!
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Lisa Gilmore Design
Painting out the woodwork in the space would surely brighten it up a bit. You could also select a paint color on your walls with a bit more life in it. Something that compliments the color of your chairs etc. nicely. It looks like you enjoy color a lot, maybe punch it up a bit with a coral-ish color on your wall and white woodwork, that would be smashing! (and not so dark!) Happy painting!
February 27, 2013 at 12:29PM     
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Lisa Gilmore Design
Here is a great example of painting out your woodwork white and having fun on your walls with color: http://pinterest.com/pin/64105994667434807/

But instead of the blue, I would consider something on the lines of this color, maybe with a smidgen more orange hue in it! It would look great with your greenish contemporary furniture! http://pinterest.com/pin/64105994665865713/
February 27, 2013 at 12:33PM   
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carolins
Wouldn't paint the fireplace stone. It is a really nice fireplace, lovely detail in the brickwork. Agree with Lisa Gilmore: you could paint all the brown wood in your room (off)white. That will certainly make a lot of difference.
I do really like your furniture & rug and the colours you've chosen.
February 27, 2013 at 12:35PM     
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mjlb
I'm loving it -- I think you've done a great job! I would not paint brick or woodwork, but possibly the walls. Mainly what you need is additional lighting. Nice as the Nelson light looks, it's not enough -- you need additional lighting (second time for emphasis, I guess!)

You'd need an electrician, but adding sconces would be great, and appropriate to the style of the house. You could add a floor lamp too, and even decorative type lighting on top of bookcase or inside fireplace. (I'll look for photo to explain strange suggestion.)
February 27, 2013 at 12:37PM     
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sandkshouse
We painted our brick fireplace white and all of our molding white. And we love but . . . we live in a 1980s built subdivision home and the brick nor the woodwork were anything special. You, on the other hand, have what looks to be a 1920s-0sh bungalow with a distinctive fireplace and built ins. So, as much as I love our white fireplace and woodwork, I'd think long and hard before painting what you have. I'd look for other ways to lighten the room up. A few ideas. It looks like you have a large, dark painting leaning up agains the right side of the room. Find a different spot in the house for the painting and hang some minimalist artwork or black and white photos with large white mats. Add some lighting inside the cabinets. You may have to have a handy man or electrician come out to run electricity for you, but I really think this would make a huge difference. Spotlights aiming above the mantel would be nice, too. Finally, how about something inside the fireplace so it doesn't appear so dark. Places like Crate & Barrel have candle displays that can go inside a fireplace. Overall, I like where you're going.
February 27, 2013 at 12:38PM     
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dianahb
The only things I'd paint, possibly, are the walls-- a lighter more luminous color that sets off that wood nicely. I'd never paint that fireplace or surround. l agree with above poster who suggested more lighting. You could get some really nice floor or table lamps. I love the living room and the way you've done it. Even the right lighting could eliminate the need to paint the walls. Love the ceiling light, the daybed/sofa, the fireplace, and those glass cabinets on either side. Really pretty room.
February 27, 2013 at 12:42PM     
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nasmijati
The room and furniture look inviting. What is missing is layers of light. Put one or two torchiere lamps in the room to bounce light off of the ceiling. Put a table lamp between the chairs for reading. Put something that glows in the fireplace.
February 27, 2013 at 12:46PM     
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carole
no,dont paint the brick,as has been said before paint the wall a lighter shade and paint the woodwork,that will really make it a lot lighter,maybe put the big painting up on a wall,at the moment
its a big dark spot from the floor up..
February 27, 2013 at 12:46PM   
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beccaboo2
Thanks all! This is the first time I posted here, and what a great haul of helpful advice. I have been toying with the idea of painting the room a "more luminous" color. Or at least lighter. Will try to use lighting first. It is a 1920's house, so we are trying to go with the "vintage bones/mod or eclectic stuff" approach. There is a spot on each of the walls where sconces once lived. Would appreciate suggestions for those. Can't decide whether to go really eclectic and get something twinkly, or something stark (Schoolhouse electric) with an edison bulb. Thanks again!!!
February 27, 2013 at 12:48PM   
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hormonal
I don't see a single lamp in there. That is the problem. Don't paint the fireplace but do paint the walls and get lots of lamps in there. Not only lamps by the furniture but also perhaps some sconces and small lamps in the bookcases!
February 27, 2013 at 12:51PM     
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auburn gallery
your room is almost there , you have great bones to work with. Dont be afraid to paint out the woodwork window casings included, it will renew the whole space and make it current. I agree your wall color is too wishy washy so I have put together a couple of choices for you that will work...this is the safe color Benjamin Morre Wales Green 2028-50 or the more adventurous pear green 2028-40 .On the mantle and window casings, I would use BM's Wheat sheath. Your accent colors are spot on with the tangerine throw and turquoise glass and pillow as well as the lemon yellow pillows. If it is possible and since it is non working paint out the cavity in the fire place as well. Art work is personal but instead of the piece behind the sofa, try an abstract piece that incorporates your accent colors (ie orange , yellow , turq. ) Just remember to use a good primer first and DONT skip that step! Post finished pics.
February 27, 2013 at 12:51PM   
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PYRAMID DESIGN GROUP
THE ROOM IS BASICALLY VERY NICE. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PAINT THAT BEAUTIFUL MANTLE !!!!! YOU SHOULD HANG THE LARGE ARTWORK THAT IS CURRENTLY ON THE FLOOR, REMOVE SEVERAL OR THE SMALL OBJECTS WHICH IS CAUSING CLUTTER. AND REPLACE THE RUG WITH ONE WITH COLOR AND PATTERN !! IFYOU FEEL THE SPACE IS DARK GET A 250 WATT OF 500 WATT HALOGEN FLOOR LAMP TO LIGHT THE CEILING AND BOUNCE LIGHT OFF. ALSO THE GLOBE IS NOT WORKING. ALSO ADD 2 STAINED GLASS WINDOWS IF BUDGET ALLOWS. ALSO YOU CAN ADD A TABLE BETWEEN THE CHAIRS WITH A TABLE LAMP.
February 27, 2013 at 12:52PM     
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PYRAMID DESIGN GROUP
IF BUDGET ALLOWS INSTALL 2 STAINED GLASS WINDOWS, THEY WOULD LOOK GREAAT IN YOUR SPACE.
February 27, 2013 at 12:53PM   
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jeninemvidoli
I would only paint the walls. Sherwin Williams has some great luminous colors as well that will reflect light that you can paint over whatever color you choose. http://www.sherwin-williams.com/homeowners/color/styles-and-techniques/faux-finishing/metallic-impressions/sw-article-dir-brushedmetallic.html
ignore the color but focus on the sheen.
February 27, 2013 at 12:54PM   
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shakerjaebs
Love the unpainted wood! I live in a 1920s house with unpainted wood, too. It's hard to find a house from that era with the wood in its original state. So, I'd leave it if you can. Enjoy it's history. I'm sure that painting the walls a bright cheery color and adding lighting like the designers have suggested, will get you the brightness you're looking for. Good luck :-)
February 27, 2013 at 12:56PM     
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carolins
Having second thoughts about painting the lovely bookcases. You're probably right in going with extra lights first. I would however paint the trim around the ceiling white. That will make it a much cleaner look.
February 27, 2013 at 12:57PM     
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mjlb
I'll look for more serious sconces, but for some reason, I immediately thought your room needed one of these guys -- maybe in the fireplace opening.

As someone else suggested, I would hang, rather than lean, the large art (which is GREAT, b-t-w). And I'd second the motion to paint the thin dark trim at the ceiling either the ceiling color or the wall color. My eye goes right there, and I don't think that's probably where you want people to look.
February 27, 2013 at 12:57PM     
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auburn gallery
here is an example of a painted fireplace , leaving the mantle itself natural
February 27, 2013 at 1:04PM     
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decoenthusiaste
I sense a Craftsman vibe here. If your house is that style, I would resist the urge to paint the woodwork. Good lighting would be a great help and so would a different color on the walls.
You can search the box above for Craftsman fireplace to see similar to yours, both painted
and unpainted.
February 27, 2013 at 1:09PM   
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auburn gallery
Im sorry but I have to disagree with the strong objections to painting it, I think it would freshen up the space immensely but a good rule of thumb is to leaf through several examples of built in mantles and make a mental note as to which ones you are drawn to the most . If the ones you like best are just stained wood then leave it, but if you find yourself loving rooms with painted mantles that will be your style. It does not appear to be oak but rather fur, so I wouldnt be afraid, it really isn't sacrilegious. Lol.
February 27, 2013 at 1:10PM     
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dianahb
But it really is a beautiful fireplace and surround-- at least in the photo provided here. And that's really not what's making the room seem dark, anyway. I think what's doing that is simply lack of good additional lighting-- and, possibly, the wall color, though I'd get more light in first before I painted.
February 27, 2013 at 1:15PM     
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maureenroth
Pyramid Design Group, just a little tip re: electronic posting - when you use all caps, it indicates shouting and I know you don't really want to shout at all of us charming folks ;-) Beccaboo2,we have a very similar fireplace and bookcase combo. As much as I love painting woodwork, I couldn't bring myself to paint the wood flanking the fireplace. We refaced in rose marble, left the wood as is and went for a dark, dramatic colour (Farrow + Ball's picture gallery red) Part of the reason for this was that our fireplace had been painted white, and it looked dreadful. I knew the dark red brick and woodwork were meant to be a strong horizontal and, seeing the white on the bricks, didn't think painting the woodwork to match would improve things. Happy with what we did.
February 27, 2013 at 1:17PM     
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beccaboo2
Here is a shot of the other half of the room. The yellow chairs are placeholders for two lower-profile round-backed teal velvet chairs coming soon. More light on this side! (faces east). Also attaching a different view of the fireplace side. The painting was my husband's grandmother's. He always liked it because of the good-lookin' ladies and the way it felt like a window. But maybe it can find another place to live in the house. I am so grateful for all of the input! So fun getting all this advice this way!
February 27, 2013 at 1:31PM     
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mjlb
Interesting... the other side of the room could perhaps use an arts and crafts style table lamp (may need larger end table, however). Maybe something like:
February 27, 2013 at 1:41PM     
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mjlb
And maybe a white rectangular coffee table for that side of the room.
February 27, 2013 at 1:51PM   
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nasmijati
The additional photos you posted are helpful.

Your husband likes the art because it reminds him of a window. Hang it on the wall with a picture lamp above it.

It still seems to me that more lighting is needed. Bring in some lamps from other rooms in your home to try out height and lumens (wattage no longer works as a measure of brightness with all the new kinds of bulbs these days).

You can certainly paint the walls if you wish.
February 27, 2013 at 1:55PM     
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loriwcox
Paint the brick white to match your ceiling trim. The brick is not pretty as it is and it would brighten the room. Is the fireplace operational? If not, paint the inside of the fireplace too. I would leave the surrounding cases, windows and trim as is. I would clear all the clutter off the mantel and hang a cool large round or oval mirror over the fireplace. It would reflect more light. Then add a modern grouping of 3 like things - ONE grouping only - off center of the mirror.
February 27, 2013 at 2:20PM   
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dianahb
Thanks for the additional photos. Beautiful room. That second picture makes it seem lighter. I did notice, too, that the wood molding/trim around the glass door (top of it, specifically) matches perfectly the molding around the fireplace itself. Another good reason not to paint. The teal chairs will be wonderful. I love this space. Honestly, just get some great lighting. I love floor lamps-- and table lamps. You can use bigger table lamps. Do that first, and then see about painting the walls.

And I don't know if it's the photos scewing the color, but one thing occurs to me as I look at them-- the wall color seems maybe too perfectly matched to everything else. Maybe painting a lighter color would provide the contrast and luminosity you don't now seem to have.
February 27, 2013 at 2:31PM     
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thislittlehouse
Buy a lovely big mirror to put over the fireplace - it will reflect light and look gorgeous!

2 new matching lamps with white shades for either side of your sofa, and maybe some white and metallic accessories and candles for your mantle (relocate coloured objects to another room.)

I like your wall colour, and LOVE all the furniture. It is a gorgeous room. (Although the room would still look great with a lighter colour, maybe a warm white? Painting walls is cheap, fast and not permanent. Win win!)
February 27, 2013 at 4:31PM   
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Molly Elizabeth Design
My immediate thought was that you need interior cabinet lights inside those bookcases on the sides of the fireplace. Then you can have a soft glow on that side of the room even when the windows don't have light pouring in. The fireplace area seems like the cozier side of the room compared to the slightly more formal seating area on the other side. You could also consider wall sconces for soft lighting - which can be pieces of art themselves. Since there clearly is some craftsman bungalow style there, you have a perfect opportunity to bring in some beautiful stained glass with the lighting - or whatever other styles you love.
February 27, 2013 at 4:41PM     
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Cheryl Bohlin
DONT PAINT THE WOOD! You can have a contempo look without painting it, you need more lighting! Make a piece of modern art for above your mantle, something bold yellow or a bright color. The built in bookcases and accents are AWESOME, dont paint them! I added an ikea rug (60$ish) as wall-hanging, an ikea clock for the mantle, green curtains also ikea, and painted the register, because that appears to be already painted? Add a floor lamp with a large light colored lampshade. Im an artist so I use photoshop all the time, but this is my first room remodel, let me know what you think I spent 15 mins on this ;p
February 27, 2013 at 5:30PM     
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auburn gallery
sorry but that example of artwork is not appropriate to the space, something more like
February 27, 2013 at 5:54PM   
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cherimitchell
You are sooo fortunate to have a beautiful mission-styled room! People spend a fortune to acquire a Craftsman home just for this look! I personally wouldn't change a thing!
February 27, 2013 at 6:06PM     
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mjlb
Beccaboo - I like your idea of using more modern lighting, perhaps mixed with arts and crafts style. Some of what you mentioned tho' use authentic-looking bulbs which throw off authentic amounts of light (i.e. not much). If the room is really dark, I'd suggest sconces that are up-lights, and place them a bit higher on the wall than customary. The light will then bounce off the white ceiling, and provide more even light. Maybe something like this, which is not period, but has elements of arts and craft style, and takes a 100-watt halogen bulb:
February 27, 2013 at 6:34PM   
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Sarah Stacey Interior Design
I would give the fireplace a little face lift. You could recover it/demo and rebuilt in stone or Heath ceramics tile. It is just all the same color and that is why it looks monotonous.
February 27, 2013 at 7:16PM   
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calikym
Your room looks really nice already. You don't need to change the fireplace at all. You have tied the orange from the bricks to some fabric and it all really works for me. Someone mentioned ^ to de-clutter a bit and I would agree with that. But if you do nothing, the room looks really nice. Clearly not a design dilemma in my view. I like it "as is".
February 27, 2013 at 7:22PM   
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dianahb
Well, I agree somewhat with Sarah above. I could see covering the brick (brick only) in perhaps an age-appropriate looking tile-- the type that looks like it would have been used in a bungalow style house. Never paint the wood, but covering the brick in the right ceramic could be really nice and offer some contrast. But, honestly, it's a great looking room that just needs some light.
February 27, 2013 at 8:03PM     
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tt67
Your fireplace and built ins look similar to mine. Here is a couple ideas to make area more interesting. I lined my fireplace w an old mirror over grate and in back and put candles on the mirror. It looks amazing all lit up. I also didn't want to paint the interior or my built ins, knowing I will want them back to natural in a few years. So, I bought thin wood at home store and cut it to size of back of shelving unit. I sprayed with fabric adhesive and put fabric over wood. It was thin enough to be inserted behind shelves. If I want to remove it, it is as simple as removing shelves.
February 27, 2013 at 8:32PM     
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Vered Rosen Design
If it were my house, I would simply add more lighting first. What happens here is a perfect example of the result of using only one overhead lamp to light a whole room. over a certain wattage it simply is too bright and becomes a "glare bomb". To avoid this, I would add wall sconces over the fireplace, symmetrically placed. This will light that area and will emphasize its symmetrical esthetics.
If you can afford recessed lights, you can add them, but recessed lights are certainly not my favorite option for a living room. Wall sconces, floor lamps and table lamps would work best for a soft atmosphere.
Instead of wall sconces you can place two identical table lamps in front of each window. This will accentuate the architectural features as well and it's always a good idea to light corners.
Yu cold also add a floor lamp near the sofa, at the end that's further away from the fireplace.
A small coffee table will a core the room, and some firewood or a plant or even a store statue in the fireplace opening would be nicer then that ball...
Good luck!
Vered
February 27, 2013 at 8:51PM   
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Vered Rosen Design
Another idea- window treatments: two roman shades mounted close to he crown molding. This will give the illusion that the windows are larger then they actually are!
February 27, 2013 at 8:53PM   
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lefevrej
Just wanted to say that i LOVE your room. It just seems so cosy, and interesting.
February 28, 2013 at 5:19AM     
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mainstreetschool
I also love your room! I would hang the art on the wall above the chaise, and angle the chaise foot away from the wall. Perhaps have it face the fireplace. Put a colorful throw on it, to tie in with the other end of the room, but still keeping a separate conversation area at this end. I love the green chairs! Wish I had them.
February 28, 2013 at 5:42AM     
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calikym
I already commented about loving your room "as is" and think you should hang that beautiful painting of your grandmother's on that wall. It's GORGEOUS behind that chaise since it captures the feeling and mod just right. Just hang it and even point a light on it. Really, you have a lovely room right there. Paint nothing. It needs almost nothing changed. Really.
February 28, 2013 at 6:02AM     
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carolins
That painting is beautiful and it would look lovely hanging on that wall.
February 28, 2013 at 6:15AM     
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mainstreetschool
Perhaps a table and craftsman style lamp between chairs, and soft light on the painting. You can also find craftsman style floor lamps.
February 28, 2013 at 6:17AM   
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carole
like tt67 idea of putting a lighter backing in your bookcases,another way to light this room without painting the wood ar redoing the fireplace,they really are too good to change!!and with more color furniture coming in on the other side of this room and the lamps and the painting on the wall,this room is done!!and beccaboo2 i hope that when i post my dilemma (one day,room no way finished enough) you will help me as i really like your colorchoices and furniture pieces!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
February 28, 2013 at 6:26AM     
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