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Living room- what do I do with it?! Help!!

I'm struggling with ideas for our living room. We have a high slanted ceiling. I feel like the room is dark overall. There is a hideous wet bar that I desperately need to update. We replace the old, broken, brass fireplace last winter, so at least that's a start!

old fireplace

I'm thinking about using chalk paint on the cabinet part of the wet bar, taking out the sink and replacing the counter, removing the mirrors, and changing the shelves.

  • Blindsgalore
    Blindsgalore San Diego, CA
    on Sep 17, 2014

    Have you thought of updating your window treatments? Woven wood shades are impeccable, but I'm not so sure the mixing of wood tones works in this room. A nice Roman Shade or Cellular Shade might compliment the room nicely :)

    Roman Shade

    Roman Shade

    Cellular Shade

    Cellular Shade

  • Anna @Annabode
    Anna @Annabode Alexandria, VA
    on Sep 17, 2014

    This room has great bones! I would start by painting the wood paneling white to match the rest of the walls. Then you have some options: if you wanted to leave the brick unpainted, I'd definitely paint the mantel white to make it pop. If you wanted to paint the brick, you could do it in the white or in a dark gray--even a color--and leave the mantel unpainted. I love this room where they painted the brick turquoise. It's a leap, but it looks amazing: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/laura-rays-artfilled-austin-home-house-tour-200478 Definitely update your window treatments, as the wood is too matchy-matchy. I like roman shades, personally. Then I'd try to bring in some color with an area rug, couch, chairs, and pillows. You could even make a cushion for the window seat and add some throw pillows there too. As for the wet bar area--is this connected to your kitchen? It's difficult to tell the arrangement from the photos. I think all your plans for that space are great. You could add some pendant lights and bar stools if it's going to be an eating area. Good luck! I'd love to see what you do with it!

  • I think you need to beef up the mantle. It is too small for the scale of the fireplace. Plus you need to bring big drama to the mantle! that wreath is too small and is lost in the brick. is that your tv on the floor? and kids toys in the room? I see a bay type window with a seat which could be additional seating for guests in beautiful fabric cushions and window coverings. I love light sheers in my rooms because I love the sun. To update you could paint the beams and wood (I did this and love it). I would think about building shelves on each side of the fireplace and putting a beautiful backing of fabric or wallpaper on the backs of the bookcases. If that is your tv on the ground then i would seriously think about different room arrangements and put tv on the large wall. where is the wet bar in relation to the rest of room? I would not have a sectional in that room and would think about comfy sofa and 2 comfy chairs for better seating for adults and tv watching if this is the room for that. You could also use some color on the walls even if it is a beautiful neutral taupe/beige color. As far as the wet bar, do you need it? but i do not know where it is in relation to everything else. you have a great room to work with. i had 4 kids at one time and I always had their toys in their rooms in the closet with a toybox and shelves and baskets. i just threw some ideas out there. but the room painted and trimmed in white would give this room a makeover for little money. good luck

  • Kathy
    Kathy Mcdonough, GA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Put tv over the fireplace and maybe lower the mantel?

  • Curtis Mikolaiczik
    Curtis Mikolaiczik Flint, MI
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I think you should sand the wood wall just enough to take the shine off and then do a white wash over that and the brick. Not enough for it to be completely white painted, but enough to soften it. Or you could strip the wall completely and use different colored stains and make it look like a recycled wood wall. It is a good room with tons of potential. Or you could build built in shelving on that wall and use it as a library and decoration area. I'm jealous of this space!

  • Susan Alkire
    Susan Alkire Elma, WA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I would paint the fireplace brick. I painted mine white, didn't fill in the caulk, just painted over and let its natural beauty come out. I would leave the ceiling white and paint the walls whatever color you want to live with... Everyone was shocked at the beauty of the fireplace after it was painted. I would then live the wood just exactly as it is. A pale green wall would be beautiful. If you really like color, mine were cranberry on the bottom, khaki (which is like a pale gray) on top and then my fireplace and trim were white. You already have the darkened wood which would be a natural trim. Then throw around the colors you like that match and as long as it has the colors you chose it will pull it all together. Paint is the miracle, cheapest cure for most anything. ;) Good luck with whatever you choose.

  • Nancy W
    Nancy W Gadsden, AL
    on Sep 18, 2014

    u do need to draw attention to the fireplace its your focal point ..right now it blends with the wall..it needs to POP.if u dont wanna paint like annebode suggested u need brighter colors on the mantel think big and bold.. maybe some large vases or a big picture ..or both. what is on the opposite wall .. move the children's toys away from the window ..thats a beautiful wiindow seat , need cushions and some throw pillows that will make it warm and inviting ..if its in the budget i would get another sofa ..and put it facing the fireplace .. if not try using them apart and maybe put entertainment center on that wall for the tv..hope my suggestions was helpful.. good luck look forward to see how it turns out

  • Cecelia Warner
    Cecelia Warner Umatilla, OR
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I agree the walls in a pale off white lighter beige color and Pure white trim on the mantel. It's a gorgeous room. Some type of display floating shelves on those large walls next to the brick would be nice. Definitely let the mirror and shelves go from the wet bar too.

  • Nena Lynn
    Nena Lynn Greenville, SC
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Everything makes the eye go UP in the room...the roof line, the beams, the gigantic brick wall. Think HORIZONTAL. Maybe whitewash or paint the paneling and brick, then do a very wide mantel that extends wall to wall over the fireplace, and add a few horizontal shelves on the sides (storage!). Paint the beams the same color as the ceiling. Perhaps even consider doing some subtle, wide horizontal stripes on the other walls to carry on the look throughout the room. And while the sofa is beautiful and comfy looking, it looks too big for the room making it appear cramped. Using smaller furniture in brighter colors in the furnishings will help ground the room too. I hope you'll post more as you work on this very interesting room!

  • Debbie Rowinsky Johnson
    Debbie Rowinsky Johnson
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I would paint the slanted wall a color.If you are keeping the walls white then you could pick any color you wanted. I would do something with the mantel The mantel is too small for the wall.

  • Dana Burnett
    Dana Burnett Fort Worth, TX
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Get the mirror and glass shelves off the bar. Get a new counter top if you can afford it.

  • Sarah Marks
    Sarah Marks Palmdale, CA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    light gray and white stacked stone on the fireplace and lighted white shelf units on either side running all the way to the ceiling.

  • Sally holway
    Sally holway Suwanee, GA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    How about whitewashing the wood walls and fireplace, taking the mantle down and turning the whole wall into a great art gallery? Start with BIG art...fill in with smaller prints, canvases, etc.

  • David
    David Marion, AR
    on Sep 18, 2014

    A stone veneer over the brick or just paint the brick. Use a hand hewn cypress or cedar log/beam as mantle, adjustment height depends on thickness of the timber. Get the gloss off of the wood, maybe a de stressed look or built-ins on each side using the wall as the inside back. Have Fun

  • Carole
    Carole Clayton, GA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    It's a nice room. I would focus on the fireplace, beams and wood wall. Would malt it a lodge like room.

  • Nena Lynn
    Nena Lynn Greenville, SC
    on Sep 18, 2014

    PS....one of my best friends lives in Naperville! Small world!

  • Bamasusanna
    Bamasusanna Decatur, AL
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I'm going in a different direction from everyone else. LOL I would keep the brick as is, but paint the mantle an egg plant color. Then I'd darken the wood walls and beams. Bring in your color with some art work. A tryptic would work well between the vents. Add a window treatment with some color and repeat those colors with throw pillows throws, etc on your couch. I like your idea for the bar. Get rid of the mirror and sink! use that as your display area, or turn it into book shelves. The TV needs a new home... but I can't figure out where! LOL

  • Kayo Frazier
    Kayo Frazier Orlando, FL
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Ok, Here's my 2 cents...I would leave the wood paneling, paint the brick to white, replace the mantel w/ something bigger chunkier to match the scale. Then on the longer side of the fireplace & mantel I would install floor to ceiling free floating bookshelves. The upper shelves can hold artwork or books. Bottom shelves can hold baskets of toys. or whatever else you have. For the bar, I would take down the mirror & shelves then pick your favorite color & paint the wall. I would put up shelves again, but I use corbels to hold the shelves. I would replace the counter w/ a dark quartz or silestone. So, those are my suggestions...Take em or leave em.

  • Michelle Wilson
    Michelle Wilson Canada
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Box out the upper half of the fireplace brick, wrap around mantle, book shelves either side of the fireplace, paint or remove the paneling, paint out or cover the brick with cultured stone with a black slate for the hearth....just a thought !

  • Kelli Hembrook
    Kelli Hembrook Waukesha, WI
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Have a different rustic mantel built that houses the electrical cords for the TV. Mount the TV above the fireplace and have framed in like a picture or mirror would be. Then tackle the bookshelves etc.

  • Funnygirl
    Funnygirl Kitty Hawk, NC
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Pretty room.would first prime,paint bar top with a neutral enamel paint.you then may need to paint several coats of polyurethane after painting.check with the people in the paint department.They usually have a lot of good advise.I like both the fireplace and wood trim,but not together.I would find some blankets,sheets,tablecloths,curtains,or extra fabric to tack to the walls and around the fireplace in the general colors you might like.I would also paint the mantle last.I like your blinds.To finish the room I would add a fabric valance,and large pillows that coordinate with the colors you choose.I love your room. great bones.I would not paint the ceiling trim.

  • Jeanette S
    Jeanette S Atlanta, GA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Looking at the styles in your neighborhood, I would never expect this kind of design inside. Please do not get your feelings hurt, but that wood walls and wet bar era was not one of my favorite. But this is still a beautiful room! I would take out the piping in the bar and cap it off. Remove the bar top, the shelves and mirror...all that says bar. Put on a board top (no overhang...just make it the size of the other shelves) and then add more shelves for a bookcase. Decorate with baskets, books and things you love like family pictures. Paint the room a pretty light color. You have a several beautiful very light grays in your brick...pick a gray with just a whisper of color! (Hint: put in white blinds...it will change the color of the light coming into the room. Blinds can be slanted upward to deflect evening sun.) (You can google how to build and finish off bookshelves on the sides of the shelves that face outward.) Were it me, I would sheetrock over that wood wall if budget allowed or paint it out. If you decide to paint it (which will be pretty) make sure you get a very good primer! Those paints with primers included sound good but my experience has not proven to be good and they are very costly! They take 2 coats no matter what someone says. We tried it and went and got primer and plain old paint to redo the job. Leave the beams and mantel as is for now! Be sure and post photos.

  • Jeanette S
    Jeanette S Atlanta, GA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    P.S. I just had to come back and say that I think all of us are living with a few things that we just want to change...that does not make them bad. I went and changed all my darker hammered door knobs to brass as well as my faucets (the expensive ones) when it was the rage in the early 90s! Know how foolish I feel now! HA! But it is what it is. I am too old to follow trends...it is all I can do to keep the place almost dusted! Ha!

  • Kimberly A
    Kimberly A Chesapeake, VA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Well, this caught my attention because the entire back half of my house was paneled exactly like that. We took down the paneling, then drywalled and plastered. We then repainted everything a nice updated light color. You can also resurface your fireplace with wonderful slate tiles. However you may not want to carry that all the way up. You can also drywall and plaster over the top portion which will actually make that area seem less massive. With regard to the wet bar, do you still want to have one? If so, then just put a new counter top on and do mosaic tile backsplash. Good luck with your choices!

  • MaryEllen T
    MaryEllen T North Brookfield, MA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I would get rid of the slanted wood by the fireplace, replace with built-ins on either side. If you want to keep the bar- remove the mirror, replace the older shelving with floating shelves, an new counter top, and paint the base. Beautiful fireplace.

  • Janice Fisher
    Janice Fisher Clayton, IN
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I agree - that bar is horrid. Take it all out. Paint the fireplace and wood walls.

  • Rob F
    Rob F Alpharetta, GA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    Remove the mantel, add a Huge SILVER MIRROR or HUGE SILVER WREATH, replace the broken wood slats on the windows and put black and silver or black and white toille window treatments (ie: roman shades), and hot glue black ribbon or fringe on the lamp shade. You can even make matching pillow covers for the sofa. Get a zebra print or something with red in it for a ground rug under the table.

  • Andrea Robinson
    Andrea Robinson Monroe, GA
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I like that the wood work matches and I love the exposed brick, so I wouldn't change either one. My plan would be to raise the TV up onto a substantial cabinet. Box out the existing mantel for a more modern look and add 3 floating shelves to match on the longer paneling side with art. I would use a warm neutral paint color on the walls. Replace that lone end table & lamp with a slim floor lamp that can be used for fireside reading. The wet bar would make a nice toy storage area if remodeled, but I would keep it. It would make an adorable "concession stand" if you went with a home theater theme for the room. Maybe add a wine fridge, soda stream and popcorn maker? It would also make a great coffee/beverage center as the kids get older, so I would leave the plumbing connections underneath even if I removed the sink now.

  • Sue Cranmer
    Sue Cranmer Searcy, AR
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I actually like the fireplace wall but do think the mantle needs to be more substantial. Agree with the lady about repurposing the bar area into shelves. I think different, lighter in color and size furniture could go a long way to making the room seem lighter.

  • Bethar
    Bethar Dade City, FL
    on Sep 18, 2014

    I like the brick as is, I would love it if my brick was like yours and not ugly plain red brick. I think the wood paneling needs to be painted, too dark and it distracts from the fireplace, which I think should be the focal point. Leave the beams as is. Paint mantel with chalk paint in a neutral color. Decorate mantel and and fireplace with larger items. Roman shades on the windows as Rob F. suggested would be beautiful. You have to live with it so start with paint samples in colors that you like.

    • Jane
      Jane Trussville, AL
      on Sep 18, 2014

      Excellent ideas. I was thinking along the same lines. I also like the idea of shelves behind the bar and do away with the mirror.

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