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  Then there is the issue of the outdated brass fireplace surround.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?

Did you like this post?  Think it’s worth sharing?  Please share with your friends using the social media share buttons on the toolbar at the bottom of the page!
Thanks,  Jessica Hill
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
previous post: Mad Skills Party #119                next post: Craft Lightning: Pottery Barn Inspired Bronze Owls


  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 :/

  3. Tonya says

    This fireplace would looks great. But you might enjoy the bricks more if they were painted white. Also there is a spray paint that you can use to paint the gold black. It would really update the look. Love these blogs! Thanks for sharing

  4. maggie says

    I think it looks lovely. If you are still looking for an idea of what to put

    on the shelf under the typewriter I would go with some company

    letterhead paper 8 1/2 by 10 in buff or grey. If you can find an authentic

    wood tray to put it in, that would look nice and as well. You can often

    get letterhead when a company changes their address. They often scrap

    tons of it. A pretty letter opener would complete the look. You have a lovely


  5. Burma Shaw says

    I have the red bricks also, and am at a stumbling point too. My problem is: the previous homeowner bought this home as an unfinished shell and did all of the interior work himself, including (I believe) the brickwork for the fireplace face. He did some excellent work- thirty years later his work is still plumb and square! I’d like to tile over the brick face though, for some shimmer and glam and add the flanking storage areas. My dilemma: the brick face has a three row deep staggered out face and sides, making it impossible to reface without tearing off the top three rows of brick. Tackling it myself is going to be one of those “Am I opening up a can of worms here, and biting off more than I can chew?” deals, I’m sure. I won’t know what’s behind it to build on (or repair) until I rip the bricks off. I’m recovering from a severe car accident, so all I can do is sit and grab ideas off Pinterest and decorating blogs/mags for now.

    In your photos, the teal color of the interior isn’t that visible so, if I were you and had your quandary, I’d cut out the center of the two shelves and router in a lip to hold glass shelving (all very easy and/or inexpensive to do/have done), then light em up. Maybe even go for a bolder shade of teal, too, or paint the recessed mirror area teal also. You can always paint over what you don’t like. Perhaps try with an inserted scrap piece of sheet rock first ($5 at Home Depot). If you do choose to put a flat screen above the fireplace, you can run the wires into the side shelving units and into a decorative, shelf sitting box (with holes drilled for wires’ entry and exit), leaving minimal showing. You can also have receptacles put into the shelving unit, if needed. Almost all extraneous TV gadgets can be remotely controlled now (wireless) and can be stowed invisibly in the cabinets below, which you can also add receptacles to. Also- did you know they sell mirrors that have builtin flat screen TVs? The TV picture appears once the TV is turned on…kill two birds with one stone.

    Good luck with your living room! I’ll keep checking back as I feel better and can maybe learn from your finished project. Thank you so very much for sharing and letting me watch as you go through your learning curve too. Again, good luck!

  6. says

    I saw your earlier post where you had a few layouts in mind. So have you placed the TV opposite the windows? Do you suggest placing a TV opposite a window?

    • madincrafts says

      I know! I am so behind in updating this post. Thanks for the encouragement for getting to work on that!

  7. Samantha says

    I must be completely old school ~ I love the way the red brick looks against the white built ins! The only thing I would change is the color of the insert from brass to matte black. I absolutely love your color choices for this room, my bedroom is along the same color pallate – I even have that same throw blanket hehe :) You have done some beautiful work!

  8. says

    Hi Jessica! I just stumbled upon your blog. I am in <3. I am a minister's wife and our living room is shaped 100% the same, except instead of your gorgeous built ins we have lovely tall windows overlooking a cute shaded patio. Luckily our brick was a cream/tan color. But it has other issues… HA.

    I adore what you have done with the room and your great goodwill finds. totally would love to share my love of a good cheap find with you. And your shelf decorating…… girl it is AMAZING. totally don't devalue your good taste. I like it as much as any styled Pottery Barn room.

    But as for your small ponderings, My suggestions are:

    1. Leave the fireplace surround metal as is. Shiny is in. And I think it looks great in your space.

    2. Definitely paint the brick, instead of white, what about black??? Or a very dark grey. I think it would be very modern and go with the look that you have everywhere else. (which is my decorating style too)

    3. My final observation was the mirror. It looks much too small for the space. I love the shape, but it just needs to be bigger to fill in that large space. What about using a big piece of art you have and setting both that and the mirror on the mantle leaning. It would look more relaxed and fill up the space better. Need some art, just let me know. I would love to make something for you!

    Instantly your friend, Robyn Love

  9. JM says

    when we moved in to our house we were able to simply remove the brass and glass doors from our fireplace. It’s completely open now and I love it. we picked up a freestanding fireplace screen at Lowes (but you can probably find one used for free/cheap)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *