Before you dive deep into this post, be sure to check out the before and the during. This room has come a very long way. We’re officially in love with it. So much so, I’m having a really hard time peeling myself off the couch and away from the lure of the flame. Quick recap: We nixed the fireplace during the build to stay on budget, but the room (and the first floor for that matter) really needed the structure of the fireplace to look finished. And during the winter, this room felt like a chilly fall day. All the heat ran straight up the stairs. So, we bumped it to the top of the to-do list. (Sources at the bottom of the post.)
Design-wise, we wanted a modern (or minimal) structure with a clean-faced gas fireplace. Since I wanted to flank the sides of the fireplace with real wood, it was import to get as authentic looking of a gas fireplace as possible. I fell in love with the Napoleon STARfire35 from a search. No heavy venting coming off the front, an all black option, realistic logs, and a remote. So we approached them to see if they’d be interested in partnering with us on this project. They circled yes.
Since the before post, we had the fireplace installed and the drywall hung, taped, and plastered. We (I) did the priming and painting ourselves to save a little bit of money. Somehow the room grew in size even though we bumped out 21″ from the wall. I guess that’s what happens when you draw the eye up and wide.
Let’s talk about storage for a second. Because we have a tiny 3-yr-old that has toys spilling out her nose. Someone asked why we went for non-functioning wood as opposed to cabinets below the benches. It’s a really good question. This may sound crazy, but I didn’t want to add anymore storage. Because when you have more storage, you fill it. And just a couple steps away, we have plenty of storage for her toys in the dining room (reveal coming soon). A couple steps more, and she can get to the rest in the office. There’s one hidden spot of toys in the living room though. Underneath that side table is a basket of legos. That’s it.
Despite storing very little toys in this room, I wanted it to evoke peace and play. To achieve the peace, we kept a mostly neutral color palette with a pop of warmth from the wood and the leather couch. I also tried to keep the decor as minimal as possible (which helps when we have a bunch of tiny humans over). People keep asking what we’ll hang above the fireplace, but I’m not sure that we’ll hang anything. (Or maybe we just haven’t found the perfect thing yet.) If this room were a profession, it would be a therapist. This is the space we bring our messy lives to. I wanted the room to be able to handle it.
Of course, this is where we have fun too. I wanted to implement visual fun as a reminder. So we keep Hal’s rocking horse out all the time. Kev named him Polo. Hal calls him Whole-Low and drags him all around the house. We keep a stack of magazines (fun for me). And I just procured those tic-tac-toe pieces from Target (for us). The “game board” it came with was an afterthought, so I ditched it and made my own game board with black washi tape. More often than not, that coffee table is Hal’s craft table too despite having a craft table just her size. It endures a lot.
About that TV. We chose to keep in on the ledge and off to the side (not mounted permanently above the fireplace). It’s hard to hide a TV in a minimally designed room but it took our out-of-town friend a couple hours to figure out where the TV was. I’ll mark that as a success. Our contractor drilled a hole in the back corner of the bench and covered it with a plastic cord cap. We feed the cords through the hole to the preexisting outlets beneath both sides of the benches. The outlets are covered by the wood, so we look cordless!
When design meets both form and function, it feels like money well spent. I mentioned in the previous post that we had a major heating issue in the house last winter. Upstairs was extremely hot at night. (It absorbed all the sun from the day and the rise of the heat from below). But the downstairs was an ice chest throughout the day. We have one system for the house, so when we’d heat the downstairs, it’d make upstairs perfect for hot yoga. We now use the fireplace as a heater to the first floor, and it’s working beautifully. We’ve barely had to run our heater this fall. So here’s our cozy modern living room. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad we waited a year plus to add the fireplace. It took us that long to get to know the room and the house.
STARfire35 Fireplace (PHAZER® Log Set, Black porcelain panels, ambient-glow, standard safety barrier, night light, remote) Provided
Independent Contractor (building permit, supplies, construction time) $2,800
Fireplace Installation (gas permit, gas hook-up, electric hook-up, installation) $1500
Paint (leftover from construction) $0
Kiln Dried Wood from Home Depot (bugless) $175
Sources: Gus Modern Totem Couch in Storm Grey (Purchased from Forage Modern Workshop) | Camel Leather Couch (purchased from Craigslist) | Lamp | Coffee Table | Mirror | Tic-Tac-Toe | Felt Basket | Floor Pillow | Buffalo Throw | Rug (wouldn’t recommend) See updated rug | Planter (out of stock at World Market) | Candlesticks (thrifted) | Print Inspiration (I recreated it at a larger scale for our personal use) | Rocking Horse | Black and White Pillow (Target clearance purchase) | Grey Buffalo Pillow (color out of stock) | White Linen Pillow | Lumbar Pillow (West Elm clearance purchase)