Asked on Jan 14, 2012

Can you find the elephant?

SandraBarbEdie Goodspeed


This client almost didn't purchase the home because of the appearance of the bookcases and mantel. Her real estate agent explained that it could be changed. . . the photos will show the difference that was made with the use of decorative painting. Moral of the story: If you are going to make an "improvement" to your home, make sure it is done well and will be a value added enhancement.
Be sure to let us know what you think of this transformation. Thanks.
Feature wall BEFORE
Feature wall completed
This is just WRONG!
1) Mantel painted to appear like real wood that matches the client's existing furniture 2) Color for bookcases inspired by subtle tones in the fabrics 3) Bronze highlights on fire screen and doors to blend with her accessories.
It all works together
A soft texture detail and bronze outlines add additional interest. This is a step above ordinary cabinet glazing.
31 answers
  • KMS Woodworks
    on Jan 14, 2012

    Your work is awesome once again...but to me the bigger problem is the scale of the side units...they are just too big for the scale of the fireplace and mantle. If those side units topped out at a level below the mantles top it would look better to me...and others perhaps?

  • Erica Glasener
    on Jan 14, 2012

    much better with your improvements

  • Peace Painting Co., Inc.
    on Jan 14, 2012

    That went from being a white elephant to looking as nice as it could. The rich colors are a joy to see; and the detail around the cabinet doors so subtly beautiful. All nice touches to realize a vision that sets that room off. Quite a gift you have there! All that's needed is a roaring fire. CP

  • KMS, In a perfect world there are many structural changes that would be wonderful to make. But, budgets and time are always a part of the equation. . . especially with the cost of a plane ticket to get you here!!! Usually, I am in the position of doing the best we can with what we are given.

  • Great change!

  • MJN & Associates Interiors
    on Jan 15, 2012

    Wasn't this our first work together?

  • It was either this one or the project on my website called "Opening Act".

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Jan 15, 2012

    I know how you feel .....the whole time money balance act...

  • Linda K
    on Jan 15, 2012

    Nice pull-together.

  • JP S
    on Jan 15, 2012

    WOW,what a difference!! @KMS,I think a picture or mirror in that space above the mantle would work!!

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Jan 16, 2012

    Jeanette....a picture or some art print could work too....pulling the colors from the side units.

  • JP S
    on Jan 16, 2012


  • Natasha K
    on Jan 16, 2012

    Yes, the elephants are in two paces! "Improvement" is beautiful!

  • Teresa D
    on Jan 16, 2012

    I really like the texture

  • Pam R
    on Jan 16, 2012

    I really like the make-over! It looks more sophisticated.

  • Faidra at CA Global Inc
    on Jan 16, 2012


  • Sheila G
    on Mar 4, 2012

    Beautiful job working with what you had, made the "scale" fit....seeing is believing. Hard to believe they are the SAME cabinets!

  • Susan S
    on Mar 14, 2012

    Kass I totally relate to having to do our best w/what we've been given. I'm positive that had you been given free-reign and carte blanche there were a gazillion other things you could have suggested. BUT, in this imperfect world you were "hired" to turn the pig's ear bookcases/mantle into the proverbial silk purse and THAT you did accomplish!! Now, as to scale - our view of this project is limited to what we can see in the pictures. We don't have the benefit of viewing the entire space. But, if you look at Pic #1 - ENLARGED, you will see waaaay up in the right corner is a window, so I am going to say that room has a really high ceiling!! Therefore, the tall bookcases actually are in better scale to the over all porportions of the room. If they were brought down to mantle height or lower you'd have this cavernous empty space. RE: Putting a mirror or painting over mantle - too predictable. That's what everybody does because that's what everybody knows how to do. Make it symetrical and you can't go wrong, right??? If something dimensional such as a really classy metal sculpture was added it would also create interest and volume.

  • Lizz Reese
    on Mar 15, 2013

    So much better!

  • Sari Croson
    on Mar 16, 2013

    KMS, I was just going to suggest the same thing. A larger piece of artwork, mirror or a "metal' architectural piece would balance out the wall units nicely, imho....great improvement though!

  • Brenda
    on Mar 17, 2013

    I think adding more height to the fireplace made a big difference. All it needs now is a big mirror on top of the mantel, a mirror really opens up a room to make it look larger. I sure am jealous it looks beautiful. Just beautiful.

  • Shelley Paul
    on Mar 17, 2013

    I like the painted change, but To my eye, to have the whole thing truly look like it goes together; the mantle should be cut back at the sides and the book cases butted up next to the sides of the fireplace surround....making it look like the whole thing was done at the same time. A large painting or mirror above the fireplace was a good suggestion too.

    • Karen
      on Mar 11, 2015

      I know I'm late to party on this one but had to tell you how much I agree with you! The exaggerated molding angled out always ruins a built-in look, IMO. Cutting flush also gets rid of distracting painted area. And larger accessories by all means.

  • Kel C
    on Mar 18, 2013

    Do you have suggestions for painting a metal door to look like wood?

  • Sharon E. Hines
    on Mar 18, 2013

    WAY better.

  • Scott Jaime Bailey
    on Jul 27, 2013

    personally i like the wood grain look its old syle adds character

  • Joann Jarvis
    on Jan 27, 2015

    The makeover looks more formal and I much prefer the new look to the fireplace. Good job!

  • Diana Deiley
    on Nov 15, 2015

    Hmmmm I like the old look better. I would have changed the wall color to enhance the wall unit. New knobs will work also. But, still a good job.

  • White Oak Studio Designs
    on Dec 31, 2015

    You did a great job. I think if this was mine I would have painted the wall units to match the wall color so they blended in and the fireplace stone would have become the focal point. isn't it interesting how our tastes are? I'd love having all those shelves and all the space!! AND it was brilliant to remove two doors to put in the TV...Kudos!!

  • Edie Goodspeed
    on Jan 7, 2016

    Great job! It is apparent before picture shows someone who did not know what they were doing. Your client made an eyesore beautiful! I am amazed how many people can not look past a paint color, carpet or even a shower curtain when looking at a home. Gone are people who look at a home that want to make it theirs. Seems like everyone wants a move in ready. Prob why "house flippers" are buying up!

  • Barb
    on Jan 12, 2016

    This is stunning!! Beautiful work!

  • Sandra
    on Feb 24, 2016

    Wow, what an improvement. Mint looks terrific. I am very sure the owners are more than pleased.

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