In the last month of construction, we nixed the fireplace in the living room to stay on budget. So the room, the first room you see when you walk into the house, looked like an afterthought. Or maybe it looked more like no thought. The picture above doesn’t do our random assortment of furniture justice, as we had already started clearing stuff out when I got this shot. But that TV stand, the one I rolled home from the alleys of Chicago, was the biggest eyesore. Maybe because I painted it bright light blue when we moved to Connecticut.
Sources: top right, middle left, middle right, bottom left, bottom right
We live in Minnesota now where the winters are as long as summer, so a fireplace isn’t wall candy like it is where I grew up—Texas. It’s a necessity. As they promise, heat rises. Despite running the heater, our downstairs was a chilly 10 degrees cooler than upstairs. We froze, wore extra layers, and bumped the fireplace up to the top of the to-do list. Installing a fireplace also meant finally designing this room.
Like the rest of the house, I wanted the room to feel cozy. It’s a place where we come to rest at the end of the day. But I still wanted to keep it modern, or as I’m learning about myself, minimal. Of course the textures of the rugs, couches, and pillows would warm the space, but the fireplace treatment would carry the majority of that weight. We wanted a gas fireplace for ease, but one that looked real and authentic. No matter the treatment, I wanted real wood near the fireplace to give off the illusion of feeling more authentic. Cheesy? I hope not. Finally, I wanted to take care of the corners of the room—the spaces that gathered all the piles of extra stuff, like random toys. We took to pinterest, found a clean-faced gas fireplace, and started designing.
We decided to span the full width of the room. (Design tip: when doing anything major, tape off the structure using painters tape to get a good idea of the design and scale.) Surprisingly, it makes the room feel larger, partly because it draws your eye both up and wide. We’ll fill the benches/shelves underneath with real cut wood. We’ll use the benches/shelves as a little bit of both. The TV will sit on the ledge, something we went back and forth about. Kev wanted to mount the TV above the fireplace, but I just couldn’t get there. I didn’t want it to be the visual centerpiece of the home. Also, technology is changing at lightening speed. Designing a semi-permanent solution for something that’s evolving overnight seemed unwise.
We still need to buy a new accent chair (I’m begging Kev to let me go buffalo check here) and find something to hang over the fireplace. But that’s not what I’m most worried about. Hallie is going to be so incredibly sad when her jungle gym is drywalled and painted.
The fireplace install happens next week! Then inspection, then drywall and painting. I’ll be back in a month or so with the final room, fingers crossed. You know how construction goes. I just hope we beat the snow. [Update: See the final fireplace here.]