Asked on Mar 01, 2013

Help! Can you help redo this living room? Rock, brick, bookshelf, off center window are too challenging for me.

Cheryle Ryan
by Cheryle Ryan
Please help me with this living room. We recently purchased this home but I am not sure where to start. It has a huge rock wall surrounding the fireplace but it doesn't go to center of vaulted ceiling. The large window is off center. The left side of the room has a huge built in bookcase. The right side of the room has a curved brick wall which leads to the dining room. There is a 1/2 wall brick planter separating the living room from the dining room. I like the brick but am not so sure about the rock. My furniture is Queen Anne style so this is really a challenge for me. I would appreciate suggestions. Thank you
Left side of Living Room shows book shelf, fireplace, rock wall, off center window, vaulted ceiling.
Right side of living room shows same window, curved brick wall and planter.
  48 answers
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Mar 01, 2013
    @Cheryle Ryan have you considered painting out the book shelf in a soft brown/beige - maybe pick up a colour from the brick. Could also consider painting out the window frame. Could also consider adding either a fireplace surround or a a mantel. If you had a piece of art to hang above the fireplace it would break up the stones and inspire you for colours. I love to shop Homesense for these add ons, ofcourse in the sale section. Not sure if you have verticals or there is a fence in the background. Perhaps a window treatment. You could also consider an area carpet in front of the fireplace, or under a table to pick up on any accent colours you decide on. I find it takes me a a few months to a couple of years to finish a room before I start again LOL That is because I am very frugal and rarely pay full price LOL Thanks for posing the question and please do update us on your plans.
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 02, 2013
    Thank you for your comment, Gail Salminen. I had considered using a soft white for all the woodwork, including the wood beam. I also considered using a pearlized white paint to soften the rock but wanted to consider other options before doing something so permanent. I thought that with light blue or light turquoise walls I could soften the stark contrasts, but still am not sure.
  • Kimberly Barney Kimberly Barney on Mar 02, 2013
    I would not paint over the brick or the stone. Those are two beautiful features in the room. The window can be camoflauged to not look off set but simply placing a full wall of drapes. This would also add color to the room other than the browns in the brick and stone. I would definitely add a mantel to the fireplace. The extra decorating space would add color and where are the stockings going to go afterall?????????? To brighten the room, you may wish to place a mirror over the fireplace. I would paint out the bookshelf and the trim in this case even though I love natural wood but it is just making this room too dark. I would also suggest that you go with a neutral paint color that would play off the stone. There is a Farrell Calhoun paint color called Moondrop that works well with tans and grays that you may consider. You may wish to consider using baskets in the lower shelves as a way to bring the drapery color onto the shelf wall. The curved brick wall needs to be more a focal piece by maybe adding a few curved picture rails.
  • Rose Fisher Rose Fisher on Mar 02, 2013
    I am not a fan of the stone as it is outdated. The brick is a wondeful feature and I would leave that. The bookcase is too dark and should either be removed or painted a neutral light color to match the walls. If finances are an issue I would just remove the brick and add drywall, paint then add a very simple mantle. Your queen anne furniture needs to be the focus of your room not stone which would distract. If you could afford it a solid slab of stone around the bottom portion of the fireplace or even to the very top would look spectacular. Des the ceiling fan need to stay?
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 02, 2013
    Thank you, Rose Fisher, for your suggestions. It's a small world. I lived in Twin Falls a few years ago. I was thinking a very pale aqua or beige for the walls and white wood trim (with or without the book case).. Then my white furniture could be accented with changeable colored decor.
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 02, 2013
    Kimberly Barney, thank you for your suggestions. Would you cover the entire wall, from the rock edge to the doorway with drapes? My husband likes the rock wall with mantle idea, but I am afraid it looks too rustic for the furniture. If I can stay with the Queen Anne furniture I wanted to replace the ceiling lights with crystal chandeliers which will match the one hanging in the dining room.
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Mar 02, 2013
    @Cheryle Ryan if you think a stone mantle will be too rustic and want to soften the look but still have a mantle, consider a wooden shelf mantle, perhaps finished the same as the bookshelves, if you keep them or stain the same as the furniture. I like the idea of a chandelier, but remember it will be placed high, so cleaning may be cumbersome if too ornate. I agree with Kimberlly about not painting the stone but rather work with wall colour to minimize the impact of them.
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 02, 2013
    Thank you, again.
  • Pat S Pat S on Mar 02, 2013
    just my 2 cents... I love the room. Get some paint samples of the blues and aqua you like and try just painting the color on the back inside of the shelves... paint everything else including the trims in your choice of beige...perhaps you could find a drape with "that" color and hang floor to ceiling, so when they are open they frame the window; or pull colors from your furniture (if any) When you add furniture I would put a seating area on an angle in front of the fireplace and a couple of comfy chairs for reading with a table on the right end in front of the window. Off setting the furniture should help take the focus away from the window location. A mantle and large hanging (mirror) would work. A console table under the planter with a small light, tray for keys... and framed photos on the brick wall... make it tell a story about you and your family with memories and stories.... good luck.
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 02, 2013
    Thank you, Pat S. I like the idea of painting the back of the book case. I may give that a try just to see how it makes the rest of the room look.
  • Becky from Practips Becky from Practips on Mar 02, 2013
    Definitely looks like a challenge. I like the mirror and mantel ideas mentioned before. It will help cover the stone without going into the expense of a more permanent solution. You may want to go with a wider frame on the mirror in a color to coordinate with the other colors you decide to use in the room.
  • Jenny@birdsandsoap Jenny@birdsandsoap on Mar 03, 2013
    I happen to love the brick and the stone! I think they are neat architectural features and natural materials are timeless, really. Right away, I would update the trim by painting it. The dark trim was popular during the 80's when the country look was all the rage with mauve, dusty blue, calico wallpaper, and that dark trim! Modern country style uses white paint. I would paint all of the woodwork including the shelving a crisp white, and paint the walls a light, airy color. I would also update the fireplace insert and eliminate the brass. Dark trim and brass fixtures scream dated. Update your light fixtures and other hardware to bring the room into this decade. A large mirror would look great hung on the curve of the brick wall with a console table underneath to ground the space. You could back the freshly painted bookcases with a fun wallpaper to create a stunning focal point and highlight your favorite treasures (personally, I would just tack it up there because I would probably change my mind and want something different in a year). I like the idea of a thick beam style mantle over the fireplace. It would go well with the natural stone.
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 03, 2013
    Great suggestions, Jenny. Thank you. Becky, your ideas are wonderful. I especially like the mirror idea.
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Mar 03, 2013
    The first thing you have to consider is location and how long you plan to be in that area. NM is known for rock, adobe, etc. Secondly, budget. If you cannot afford to have all this rock and brick removed (which will mean a new floor too and just how does it connect to a lot of other flooring??? could be very costly). Either take it all out and make it without any brick/stone/bookcases or just work around it. Painting it will ruin the effect that people look for in that area. I am very much a traditionalist! Love the Queen Anne and mahogany, but I would not paint over local features unless I could afford to take a hit on a resale...but would remove them!
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Mar 03, 2013
    PS. I would hang a traditional quilt over that brick (flexible rod suspended from ceiling). Paint the bookcase white, place a large mirror or picture over fireplace and set a couple of large colorful chairs on each side of the fireplace to draw attention from it and add a very bright rug....I'm thinking yellow or even cranberry which will be beautiful with a light blue...sort of seafoam blue.
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 03, 2013
    Thank you, Jeanette. Those are great ideas.
  • Luisa Pazos Luisa Pazos on Mar 03, 2013
    Love the shelf i would stain a richer color great for family pics. i would put nice ivt by the fire place and keep light earth tones in the house cause of the natural looking rocks cost effective ideas just a thought
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 03, 2013
    Thank you. I am beginning to see the possibilities. What was overwhelming is now changing to exciting smaller projects.
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Mar 03, 2013
    @Cheryle Ryan if you are looking for info on refinishing frames @Petticoat Junktion posted on frames she did, colouring is aqua and they are absolutely beautiful! :)
  • Tracey T Tracey T on Mar 03, 2013
    Jenny and Gail have the right idea, can't wait to see what you come up with..Love the brick look
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 07, 2013
    Thank you so much for your ideas. I am looking forward to getting started. Have purchased the mirror, have lots of paint samples but am waiting to get the furniture in place before I go any further. What was overwhelming is not nearly so now. Thank you!
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Mar 08, 2013
    We want to see finished photos for sure! Good luck!
  • Cheryle Ryan Cheryle Ryan on Mar 10, 2013
    Thank you all for your ideas. Now I have to get going on this project
    • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Sep 19, 2014
      @Cheryle Ryan take pics along the way so you can post your progression when finished. It helps others to see how others approach a daunting project. Look forward to seeing the final project.
  • Kim Kim on Mar 16, 2013
    you could pick up one of the colors in the stone to add to the window wall so it wouldn't stand out as much, or faux finish that wall to look like stone.
  • Lynn Jordan Lynn Jordan on Jan 17, 2014
    omgosh! I love that room! floating furniture would work. put a rug with some colors in front of the fireplace then drapes with that same color, and then a few throw pillows with same colors and you will look like a million bucks! try drawing it on paper first with different colors, even painT colors on those book shelves. good luck! YOU CAN DO IT!!! (:
  • Cynthia E Cynthia E on Jan 21, 2014
    If you dislike the type of stone on your fireplace you could build a surround over the stone you could finish out the wood by painting or staining, other options would be to cover surround with a different type of stone say stacked in a veneer or a brick veneer (they have these -look and feel real)that is in same style and colors as your other wall if you wanted you could continue the stone or brick veneer across the rest of the window wall. The bones of this room are beautiful -Good luck post pics of what you do.
  • Bananas! Bananas! on Mar 19, 2014
    Agreeing with Cynthia E here....but instead of covering all the stone, just cover above a mantle that you construct, then wainscotting above painted the same cream or off white or whatever colour you choose for the will pull it all together and the eye will catch the wainscotting and mantle and bookshelves not just all the stone... idea is here * $82 bucks? how can you beat that?? afterthought: paint out all your baseboards to same colour as wainscotting and mantle and shelves and make the baseboards LARGER using this cool cheap technique (I've tried it and it works super well) *
  • Sandy Sandy on Jul 29, 2014
    I would try whitewashing with a chalk paint over both the stone and the brick to give them a more updated cohesive look. I'd paint the bookshelves the same color in a semi-gloss paint. Then I would add a wood shelf mantel either leaving it natural or painting it the same color and finish as your bookshelves. Once you add some drapes, rug, furniture, lighting etc., your room will be beautiful and pulled together. Good luck!
  • Christine Brown Christine Brown on Aug 26, 2014
    Look brick is ok, clean it and gloss it. I would put a different window in, that just way off. Paint the shelves light and at end maybe a little darker. Add light above, around just somewhere it would look warm. Get some of those vinyl stencil, just add love, smile or everyday needs reminders ! It will shine, But that window has to go, it should be over and more up and down, You could put two or three longer windows. Painting the brick with the light will add a different affect. Dont paint those brick , you will not likeit. Waterproof and shine them
  • Centrd Centrd on Sep 18, 2014
    I'd frame the fireplace out with some kind of wood to tie it in with the bookshelf and paint it all white. I'd leave the brick as is, it's a nice feature, something many people would love to have. I just think it fights with the fireplace. If you can't frame out the fireplace with wood, then second choice would be to plaster it. You still get the impression of stone but a cleaner look. And I personally think it would still tie in better with the brick. I think the window is fine, you just need to dress it with some nice window coverings and it'll be great. Love the light and if it's placement bothers you, you can always compensate with your window coverings. Check out what Nate Berkus did for some really awful windows (last pic).
    • Centrd Centrd on Sep 18, 2014
      I don't know why that last pic won't upload correctly. Just look it up and you'll see how he took two tiny windows and an ugly air conditioner and camouflaged it with blinds above to make the windows look tall and downplayed the air conditioner.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Sep 19, 2014
    I'd frame out the stone on the fireplace. Too much going on with brick and stone. Agree to paint out the wood bookcase as entrd suggested to lighten up the space. I'd lose the vertical blinds and do a treatment compatible with your style. Can't see Queen Anne being at home as the room is now.
  • Wendy Huska-Jackson Wendy Huska-Jackson on Nov 30, 2014
    Break away brick?
  • Emily Max-Oscartu Emily Max-Oscartu on Dec 01, 2014
    The wonky angle of the stone fireplace seems to throw the eye to the ceiling and also makes the room look off balance. Since Queen Anne is all about symmetry, I'd cover the rock wall with very thin plywood (It can be glued to the rock with industrial adhesive so that it can be pretty easily removed if you ever sell) and add moldings like a large picture frame on top half and a painted wood fireplace mantle on the bottom to give the hearth more character. The whole thing can be painted the same color as the window wall so that it looks more cohesive and balanced. As for the brick, I would just stain it a rich brick color and add some beautiful oil paintings in ornate frames to offset the hardness of the brick wall. Good luck!
  • Christine Brown Christine Brown on Dec 02, 2014
    @hometalkDo not take out brick, use a glossy finish. like a marine paint. Fill That Stone with lights on top and add your family pictures. Dont take stone out , it add warm feeling. Your lights above and pictures will make it look warm and if you want take those book shelves out all together, open up the room. Get to windows to replace that awful window with two straight windows and move that fireplace out, or put it in between the two new windows. Why is their a sliding cover after bricks and what is the door, hope it is goes outdoors. You would have to replace siding but that cheap. You enhants your space and if you covered those bricks, you losing value. If your fireplace is straight which does not look like it, try to find bricks that look like what you have. You will have lighting people who is special to you and the marine paint that they use will glow.
  • Leigh Rowan Leigh Rowan on Dec 03, 2014
    I agree, cover all of the stone except for enough to show around the Fireplace, add a mantle. Also when you do this you can now add wire and power to put the TV above the fireplace if you want to, or a light for a hanging picture. I agree the window doesn't do you justice. Have the curtains pull to the opposite side of the fireplace to help balance. Paint the back of the shelves but not the shelves to lighten that end of the room. This will also have the items on the shelf pop. If you like the brick but not the weight of the brick do to the color, you could paint them too. Good luck
  • Kayo Frazier Kayo Frazier on Jan 06, 2015
    Here's my 2 cents...I would paint the bookshelves the same color as the wall on the other side of the stone fireplace this will give the room balance. I would NOT change or cover the stone fireplace all I would do is add a thick, chunky mantel. For the curved brick wall I would roughly plaster it leaving chunks of brick exposed. Then add short floating shelves to the straight part so you can put decorative items on it. The 1/2 wall bet. the living room & dining rooms I would remove the planter part & top it w/ a marble piece or something you can afford. Then add glass shelves so you can display your fine china, silver or other dining pieces you don't use very often. Then light it from above so you can see the displays. Hope this helps.
  • Christine Spencer Christine Spencer on Feb 26, 2015
    I would leave the stone and brick. For the fireplace area, add a good sized mantle. Have an electrician install two light sconces above the mantle. Drywall in the stone area below bookcase, or if possible remove the hearth area entirely below the book case. Paint the bookcases and under the hearth area (now drywalled) a creamy white. I'd also spray paint the brass strips on your fireplace insert darker to match the rest of the unit.
  • Kathy Bettis Marez Kathy Bettis Marez on Mar 19, 2015
    Paint will do wonders is this room. Pick your color palette and do the walls and those fabulous bookshelves. My personal choice would be a silvery sage on the walls and a nice cream for the shelves. Drapes on that window that extend from right below the ceiling to the floor. You can even correct the window by way of using enough drapery to visually center the window on the wall. The stone wall definitely needs a mantel...which you can dress up with a mantel scarf and some large pieces of colored glass vases. Aww, then comes the fun part...put lots of nice items on the shelves..not the least of which is books. But you want to use other nice collectibles, as well. Place some of the books horizontally...others vertically. If you have bookends, use one on one shelf and the other on a different shelf. The frame of the bookshelves will act as a way of holding up the books on one side. Bring in some greenery and fresh flowers! That room is a diamond in the rough, just waiting for your touch! Now get to it.
  • Rhonda Miller Rhonda Miller on Jun 15, 2015
    Use brick stain instead of paint. No maintenance. Stain fireplace and bookshelves. Leave the curved brick wall alone it is cool and beautiful and a work of art.
  • Nancy Nancy on Aug 10, 2015
    I would leave the brick wall alone... it is beautiful and the colors feel modern... I had a rock fireplace just like this in a corner, and it certainly does throw the room off, especially with the brick... I too would cover it with some type of material, whether that be drywall, plywood, strips of wood (similar to fencing), plaster, anything to "remove" it, and the drapes on the opposite side of the window, is a good idea for balance... would love to see pics when you are finished.
  • Sue Sanders Sue Sanders on Oct 27, 2015
    The fireplace end of your room looks dark and dated. I agree on the mantle but looks like it will extend in front of your bookcase so you would have to keep the mantle short in width...about same width of fireplace opening or little more. The bookcase definitely needs a coat of light paint...cream, as suggested above, would be nice to lighten up that area. The brick wall should remain as is. The planter could be put to better use and liked Kayo Frazier's idea. You have been given some great ideas above that you could incorporate a little from most of them.
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Jan 20, 2016
    Congratulations on your new home. Love the room. I would paint everything a light color such as Sundrenched Sand (WalMart) to unify the room, leaving the curved brick wall original. You can always paint it later if you so decide. Accessories will make the room pop with color. (I'm so jealous.) Have a great time making it your own.
  • Moxie Moxie on Jan 20, 2016
    Yeah! New Digs lol : ) If this was my space and I had your furniture...I think I would dry brush white the curved brick wall and the stone wall to bring some visual continuity and paint the shelving units white. I would add plinth blocks to the door frames in the house and add some moldings above the doors and windows to set the stage for the room feel (also white); I would ditch the ceiling fan for a more "pretty" dangle type fixture/small chandelier and then add accents that pull it all together. You may be able to offset the weighted spaces with large objects (plants/art/crafty up-cycled items) in the right spots - try to create a lower (at eye or below level) focus point with decor that grabs your eye when you walk in the room to keep the eye from getting lost in all those ceiling angles - I would paint over or get rid of the stripped wall paper and update the window treatment. Keeping everything light and the same color I think would help blend all the different textures into the background to allow your items to pop and set the feel of the thoughts; enjoy what ever you do!!
  • Anita Elaine Anita Elaine on Mar 27, 2016
    I find the NOISE of stone plus open shelving to be difficult to live with. The textures overwhelm all else in some rooms. So I would probably make staggered planter shelves onto the stone work so I could "forest up" the stone wall. I would shower curtain the shelves to hide most of them and only leave one group (furthest from the fireplace) open to the room. I would do the same kind of heavy curtain over the window BUT put sheers in middle to lighten the zone. If you are able to find neutral nicely heavy curtains, it will quiet the noise of all those textures. The REASON that I suggest shower curtains is fireplace soot. I find regular draperies do not stand up to the oils that burning fireplaces put into the rooms air; while shower curtains can be rinsed weekly if necessary and still look great (hung up wet helps humidify the room too).
  • Rhonda Miller Rhonda Miller on Mar 28, 2016
    Have u did any changes. Would love to see picks. I love the curved brink wall.
  • Glenna prosser Glenna prosser on May 23, 2016
    I would put pot lights in for light, paint book cases, and put down wood floors. I would face the brick, I think the stone and brick in same room would fight with each other but not sure.
  • Karol Karol on May 24, 2016
    Paint the entire room including the ceiling, bookshelves and backing in the same color. I like the color you have but something like a straw or light yellow sand would work. Also water down the paint and apply to the rock as well before you hang some plants in front of the curved wall. Hang sheers, curtains and valance centered on the wall and not on the window. Put something really interesting on the floor, wood flooring planks running horizontal would make the room seem wider. Take it from there. Have fun.
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on May 25, 2016
    Just curious, what did you do with the room?