This project started because I asked my husband if I could paint the wall behind the fireplace. Before you get the wrong idea, I wasn’t asking for permission, I was asking if it was possible. The wall was covered with dark wood paneling and I just couldn’t take it anymore. As our home improvement projects often do, that simple question snowballed into a re-do of the entire living room. Our house was built in 1972. We bought it in 2002 and not much had been done to shake the groovy 70’s vibe it had going on. One bathroom had avocado fixtures, the other had light blue. The stove was avocado. The sink in the laundry room is still goldenrod, since that room hasn’t been tackled yet. We even found some orange shag carpeting in the closet by the front door. I assume at one time that covered the living room, but it was one thing that had been replaced. This is the wall in question.
In it’s day, this was a nice fireplace. That paneling was expensive and the mantle was made of mahogany. The original owners designed and built the house, and they didn’t skimp. Truth be told, even though the original details were outdated, they were much nicer than the few things owners before us had changed.
We live in a beautiful area, which was taken into account when the place was built, so there are lots of big windows. This is the window to the left of the fireplace, which is actually three windows with a drapery pulley system running over the top. This photo shows the original wood valance, also a solid piece of mahogany. We’re saving it for a future project.
That photo also shows the drab color the entire living room and office area was painted. It was one of those that looked good on the paint chip, but I was never happy with on the walls.
My sweet husband did all of the work himself. The first project was removing that paneling, which they had glued on with something not of this world. The paneling also wrapped around onto the wall in the dining room.
He ended up having to replace the sheetrock. I liked it better even left like this.
Since he was already tearing stuff up, we decided to make some changes to the fireplace. I’ve always wanted one covered in big river rock, which we had on the to-do list from the moment we saw this house. Instead of trying to remove the brick, we found a product that could just be installed over the top. The first step was to cover the brick with thinset.
After that was done and drying, it was time to paint the walls. The color was probably the hardest decision we had to make. When my husband threw out “What do you think of orange?” I had a moment where I was trying to figure out the best way to let him down easy. It sounded crazy, but when we started looking at chips and chose a bright orange, dark orange and buttery yellow it just clicked.
Fitting these stones together was like a puzzle. My husband loves a good puzzle.
After the stones were attached and dry, he installed the poured concrete hearth. He made our kitchen counters the same way a couple of years ago, and I love them, so we decided to make the hearth match.
He added a new, longer mantle and shelves on either side of the fireplace. One of the things I love about the shelves is that they’re floating, so no brackets showing. And that mantle means I need to add more buildings to my Lego Christmas village. Darn.
Another feature that was great at Christmastime are the stocking hooks hidden under the mantle. You can’t see them unless you look underneath. LOVE!
Back to the front window - I looked into replacing the curtain hardware, but it was pretty expensive to do that and I actually like the way what I have works. The problem was that it’s ugly. We solved that with a smaller, simpler wood valance to hide it. I needed to replace the curtains, but big windows take a lot of fabric. I found some designer fabric that matched the room perfectly, but it was spendy and this was an unscheduled project so our budget was tight. I stretched it by using a section of the expensive fabric in between two sections of a solid I found on clearance. I actually like it better this way, as it frames the print.
This latest project in our ongoing effort to bring our home into the 21st century is one of my favorites. We spend a lot of time together as a family in this room, and now it feels warm and relaxing. And I couldn’t be happier with my new fireplace.
Just to refresh your memory, before…
Soon I’ll show you the magic he made in my kitchen. We’ll pull this place out of the disco era yet.