The Mad House: Fireplace and Built-ins

fireplace with built ins

Welcome to your first peek at The Mad House living room!  I will be changing out our mantel decorations for Fall décor this week, so I thought I had better show you what it looks like now while there is still time!  The rest of the living room isn’t “finished,” so you will have to wait a bit for the rest of the reveal. 
We painted the walls a sophisticated greige that I just love.  It’s neutral but cozy and looks good in both natural and artificial light.  If you are interested in the paint colors we used in the living room, or anywhere else in The Mad House, check out the post where I shared our whole house palette and paint information.

lazy dog

The lazy hound spends most of his time crashed on his bed in front of the fireplace.  We haven’t had an inaugural fire yet, but I bet he will like his bed even more then!  (Oh, and the hearth cushion might not be especially aesthetically pleasing, but with two littles in the house it is essential.)
The one decision I haven’t made for this side of the room is whether or not to leave the fireplace as is.  The purist in me hates painting brick of any kind, but the designer in me wants to ditch the ugly red for clean white.  Then there is the issue of the outdated brass fireplace surround.  I could paint it with high heat spray paint, but I don’t know if that would be too much work.  What would you do?

fireplace and mantel

I searched and searched for a mirror to hang above the fireplace.  I really wanted something round or oval to break up all the straight lines of the built-ins.  Boy-oh-boy, are mirrors ex-pen-sive.  My champagne taste couldn’t find anything I liked for less than $200.
I happened upon this mirror at Goodwill.  They wanted $10 for it, but it had a crack in the plastic frame.  I asked for a discount at the checkout, and the cashier gave me 30% off!  Never hurts to ask.  I brought the mirror home, painted it with Martha Stewart Liquid Gilding, and surrounded it with some teal glass bottles.  I think it looks pretty fancy, if I do say so myself.

vintage typewriter

I scored the teal vintage typewriter for $6 at Goodwill in the same trip that I found the mirror.  It was a good day.  It found a home on top of my $6 Nailhead Side Table, but I need to find something to put on the bottom shelf (books?  a plant?  a bust of Caesar?)

reading area

An antique armchair and my Vintage Camera Tripod Lamp sit under my Framed Audubon Prints to make a cozy reading area.  The chair needs to be reupholstered, but a throw blanket serves well enough for now.

left built in

I painted the backs of the built-ins a medium teal color, and it was the best paint decision in the entire house.   The color mimics the teal in my curtains (which you can just see in the previous photo) and makes everything on the shelves stand out.

I have a dickens of a time staging shelves.  I think styling bookshelves is a special skill some just have, and I don’t have it.  I have read numerous articles on how to do it and no matter how I try to balance items, or make visual V’s, or play with depth, it still looks kind of meh.

right built in

Fortunately, I do love the items I have up on the shelves.  Quite a few of them are previous Mad in Crafts projects, so if you would like to learn more about them, click on the thumbnails at the bottom of this post!

before and after

And here is the before and after.  I may be biased, but I think it’s a fairly impressive change.  What do you think?  What would you change?

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Thanks,  Jessica Hill
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  1. Ginette says

    I have a similar fireplace that I did not like. I painted the bricks white and it made all the difference in the world. It seemed to tone down the gold and I really don’t mind it now. It seemed to have shifted the focus from the bricks to the bookshelves.

    BTW my wall color is very close to yours.

  2. sarah Lofsness says

    We had a white mantel with bricks that were painted white on the face and the bottom bricks were natural red. I painted them all black and it really make the beautiful mantel peice pop, as well as the paint color that accents the room. I have also looked into resurfacing the brick with Airstone from Lowes….but I haven’t had the balls to go through with it yet :/

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