Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Decorative Advice

My Whidbey Island Picture Post was supposed to go up this morning....but my good posting-pictures-to-Blogger luck ran out after yesterdays post; the pictures aren't loading quite as quickly today.

I can hardly believe it's Wednesday...this has been a good week. 

All right friends, I need some advice.

Now that my kitchen is finished I am ready to tackle another room in the house: The family room.

There is a lot of brown in it and although I adore the color brown, I require a lot of light in my day. The overpowering brown in this room depresses me.

I have been very, very seriously thinking about painting the brick on the fireplace...The Mister is not so sure. 

I think if I did it in white it would look awesome and brighten up the room a little (have I mentioned I cannot stand dark rooms?).

He thinks painted brick isn't attractive. 

I'm thinking about painting it now and asking for forgiveness later.

Then he'll come home and tell me how brilliant my idea was...

But I digress...

Here are some pics:
Don't get me started on the book drives me insane that the books don't stay organized.  Call it my CDO (sort of like OCD, but alphabetized, like it should be), but those shelves always make this room look messy. I guess I would rather have the kids pulling books off the shelf to read than always having a tidy house...that's what I tell myself anyway.I inherited that Turkish rug when I married The Mister. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, it's a bit fussy for me...I'm seriously thinking of buying a cheap carpet in a solid color. Maybe even one of those piece together flooring deal-y's

That coffee table was handed down to us in our early years, and I am certain I am not going to buy a new one in the near future, so I just need to paint it. But what color? And do I paint the side table the same?

I look at these pictures and they make me laugh because as a teenager I used to tease my mother (unmercilessly) about how everything in her wardrobe and house was brown.  Even the fingernail polish she wore was a shade of brown.

And here I am. Stuck in a brown state of living room. (she has long since moved on from her brown obsession)



mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Definitely paint the brick! It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

I also think you should paint your coffee table, but find your new rug first before you decide on a color. I like black or deep red, but of course that all depends on what other colors you pull in.

Can't wait to see the finished room!

LOVED your AZ pics too...your kids are so handsome and beautiful.

Good luck with school, Kellie!

Mary said...

Disclaimer - I have no sense of color or style and should not be counted on for decorating advice.

So, that being said, I really only have one thing to say. Don't paint the brick. I've never seen painted brick that didn't want to chip like crazy. If you like the shabby chic thing it's fine, but if you like things neat and tidy, I think that constantly chipping paint would drive you batty. That's all I've got and it isn't much. lol

Kendra said...

I am the queen of decorating and painting on the cheap. That's what I'm doing right now, room by room. But, I'm not afraid of color. I don't do neutrals. Brown/tan/taupe would never work in my house. My walls are currently yellow, green, and blue. If you are brave enough to do color, go for it!

My advice? Pick a rug and new pillows you like in a bright, cheery color because adding color accents to neutral walls is an easy fix. But I would upgrade the rug. It's served it's purpose.

If it were MY room, I would paint the brick, paint the trim, and even (GASP!) paint the bookshelves white. They would really perk the room up and give it a cottage-like feel. There are specialty paints for masonry what withstand heat and chipping. Check at your local specialty paint/hardware stores. I've done it before and it looked fine, even scrubbed soot off.

I'm excited to see what changes you decide on!

Melissa Angert {All Things Chic} said...

my family room has brown furniture with yellow walls, white trim, red curtains & rug. you could do that fairly cheaply, less than $200. check out walmart's canopy line and target has great 'faux-luxury' items like 'silk' drapes for only $20.

i also adore brown with lots of shades of blue!

DO NOT PAINT THE BRICK!!!! if you paint anything, paint those shelves!

Sandy M. (neweveryam's mom) said...

My friends just did a "re-do" on their family room & painted the brick a creamy white, the bookcases the same color & the wall behind the bookcases a beautiful green (fairly light). It totally changed the look of the room & it is fabulous. There ARE special paints for brick so it will not chip & will resist the heat.
I too love color & would go with girlymama's suggestions, but also would start with the rug to get your color scheme. Then pick out a color in the rug that you love & paint the coffee table with that. You can really brighten the whole room & still use the brown sofas. Can't wait to see your finished product!

Anonymous said...

The fact that I'm even bothering to comment on this post makes me snicker to myself. If you could see my surroundings you would run from any advice I had to give right now.

That said, in almost every magazine I've seen as of late, decorators are painting the backs of shelves a pretty color and it looks so amazing. I saw that PW's friend is doing something similar except she's covering some sort of foam board with cool fabric.

The kids' bookshelves were driving me to drink so I finally took a big wicker chest and dumped a bunch of their favs in there. It's easier for them to put them away now and I can rotate books from the shelves into the mix. It's kept my shelves neater this move.

I'm eager to see what advice you get because my sunroom is looking very neutral.

Gretchen said...

To paint the brick or to leave the brick. That is the question (even if written in statement form). Friend, I'm here to lurk, glean, & copy. Decorating is NOT my gifting area, but I know what I like. I've actually been toying with painting the brass frame around my fireplace, as well as the brick. So thank you for having this need, that I may use it to my benefit. ;)

Re: the "messy" bookshelves...ours look the same. Occasionally, I'll pay J to organize them, but it's a losing battle. Have to remind myself that we have to actually live in the house, too.

Lori said...

Hey! My first thought was to paint the brick, but then one of your comments below made me think that perhaps you should paint the shelves first. Then you can always paint the fireplace after, right? Have fun, and post before & afters!

Woman Interrupted said...

Paint, Paint, Paint! The Nester say to paint first and ask forgiveness later. It will brighten everything up.

With all that brown, you're working with a neutral palate and you can add punches of any color you want.

I say, paint the bookshelves and fireplace something light and creamy, then add in touches of color on the coffee table, in pillows, accessories.

My friend Girly Stuff painted her fireplace in a previous house. She smeared joint compound on first. You could still tell it was brick back there, but it made it less porous and the result was smoother than just painted brick. It made a huge difference in the room.

I'm curious about the rug tiles...if you decide to use them, let us know what you think!

Kristin said...

I would paint the shelves and leave the brick. Shades of green on the windows would be pretty with the sofas and the brown in the brick. A solid color rug would be good, and then find some pillows in fabrics that make you happy :)

Blue Skies said...

a few thoughts very quickly .....
paint just the shelves, or the backs of the shelves, and see how that helps. Pick a cheery color that you like. You can't "unpaint" brick...

Get a few cheery throws or pillows to get a pop of color on your couches and candles/bowls/decorative objects on the table to pull colors over to there....

Put a cornice board or swag or valance on the top of the window to tie the whole color scheme together. Mix up your solids and patterns to give interest and to have a color palate to choose from. Another place to start when choosing colors for a room is with the rug. Those are expensive and hard to match when you try to find one at the end of a new decorating run.

adrienne said...

I would paint either the brick or the book shelves a vanilla milkshake color. You could also paint all of it, but I would start with one or the other first. If you hate the brick, could you hate it any more if you painted it??? Probably not! Paint your tables too, why not? And what about a cheap sisal rug? It's a lighter shade of brown, still neutral, but with some texture. And put something fabulous over the fireplace. And something large. A big fat pumpkin and some Indian corn?? Or is it Native American corn??? You have lots of windows, so lightening up the furnishings will make a huge difference. Keep us posted with more pics!

Such The Spot said...

I have no experience with painting brick my friend. Sorry I'm no help. I think Sandy M. has some great stuff for you though!

Dana M said...

Having the same dilemma at my house--big brown fireplace in the living room with not a lot of natural light. It is soon to be painted the same color as the walls (with a special paint, of course). I don't think we could like it any less if it were painted and, hopefully, will like it more!

Tracey said...

I am not good at the decorating thing..but, here's my advice..Whatever Sandy M. says, do it. She's a genius and has since passed the decorating gene on to her brilliant daughter.

jen said...

The first thing that came to mind was exactly what a few of your commenters said - paint the shelves a bright, clean color and paint the wall behind them something pretty. I would definitely do that before I painted the brick; painting brick is forever.

About the books: I know it's a bit silly, but we have "nice" bookshelves where were store our nicest books and the books that adults read (because adults can put them away nicely) and a few baskets with office supplies. Then we have our "functional" bookshelves that are in less-public rooms where we store all of the books that we read a lot and our homeschool books. That way my built ins (which aren't really built in like yours but look permanent) stay nice and neat and I don't have to heckle the kids about putting books away. Don't know if you have room or budget for some shelves for an out of the way spot - just food for thought!

really.truly said...

If you don't want to paint the brick, paint the bookcases! Maybe a cream? Also, I would paint the walls, but I'm all about lots of color on the walls. I have a brown leather couch and have green walls. Maybe test out some colors to see what you like. I like the idea of painting the coffee table too(black shows the dust, I made that mistake);). Have fun with it, I love redecorating!!

Carpool Queen said...

I'm with Jen on the bookshelf thing. Put their books in another room or underneath behind the doors, and leave just a few books out with other decorative objects.

Might I suggest NOT painting the brick? I painted mine, and I'm still not so sure that I should have. Besides, it was a pain in the keaster to do. (And yes, I did every blessed stroke myself.)

I would suggest painting your table a robin's egg blue and use some blue accent painting on the backs of the shelves or some blue objets d'art on the mantle.

And I don't know why I'm bothering to type all of this since I'm seeing you tomorrow and I'll just tell you this all over again.


Amber said...

I have no sense of style or color or decorative ability.

Not at all. Never even pretend to have it.

But...I will say that your kid-friendly book shelves make me smile. :)

Sandy M. (neweveryam's mom) said...

One other thing: if possible, take a lot of the books out & put them in the kids' rooms. Then lay several books down, one on top of the other with the bindings facing outwards. Set a favorite "knick-knack" on top of a stack of books, & a plant or other "eye-catcher" next to the stack. Do this on every other shelf to create some variety, then stand the books up on the other shelves. I like the robin egg blue idea for the coffee table IF you like that color. Looking forward to see what works for you!

Melissa said...

Our bookcases surrounding our fireplace are cream. I'm getting ready to paint the back of them red. I've recently gone through all the rooms in my house and made a "pop" of red everywhere. It's my signatuh culuh.

I'd keep the brick and paint the bookcases (and maybe the backs an accent color). I'm with Mer on the table...wait til you get your rug picked out.

And I organized my bookshelves by color. It looks very nice & streamlined...and it's easy to re-shelve them when you're done.

Gretchen said...

Do it! DO IT!!!! You will not be sorry. When we built our home, I had the brick painted from the start. Here's a picture: (

I am a friend of CPQ, so if you would ever like us to have a field trip over to your house, I'd love to come play ... and we can have a little free design consult :)

About the color... If you painted the walls a soft green or blue, it would totally change the look of the room, but keep it airy. Then, I would paint the coffee table the same color, but a shade darker as the walls.
You will be surprised the difference a new rug will make... I'm looking for one myself!

Tiffani said...

I missed this post?! Can't get over all the advice!! Such great info but a lot to filter, no?!

I like the idea of painting your table a fresh blue or something (not black, agree w/ Mimi about the dust, I painted a little endtable and it drives me nuts even in all its vintage cuteness)...

Can't wait to see what you decide...see, if I'd seen this post we could've discussed this last night!! ERRRR.

In fact, I've thought of about 25 other things I wanted to talk about!

Michele said...

I'm in a hurry so I didn't read any other comments. this may be repeat advice. Painted furniture is the "in" thing in decorating now. Keep your brown, yet paint the end table and coffee table something colorful to brighten it up. I love a mustardly yellow or a tiffany blue. Putting some nice, colorful throws on the back of your sofa will also add some brightness. I'm a girl who loves some color on the walls . . so, again, maybe a tiffany blue or mustard yellow? The mustard yellow would keep it warm, yet add a little sunshine to it.

I love the idea of painted brick. In fact, in our flipping we have painted brick. however, in our new house we have a brick fireplace that Jon wanted to paint to brighten the room up. After we got the decor in there he was glad that we didn't. The problem with painting the brick is you can never, ever get it back to its original color. . . therefore, I'd let it stay and brighten up the room in other ways:)

I can't wait to see how it turns out.

One of these days I'm going to get around to doing the before/after of our new home. Have a great weekend.

Brandy said...

well, I have some ideas to chime in with too.

I love your sofas. I agree that the room needs color. Personally I think blue looks better with chocolate brown, and blue and brown is a bit played out. I would suggest a nice green - something similar to the more yellow-ey shade of green in the design on your blog background. They had a brown/green/white display at Ikea recently and it was so fresh looking.

I love the rug idea. It should be something graphic and bold. I think the rug is a great place to use color, but of course if its an investment its less likely to be replaced so obviously you need to choose that color wisely. If you can get something you like cheaper, then obviously you can change up your accent colors in a few years.

My first thought with the brick was - paint it. My mom painted hers and she is soooooo happy.

However....after seeing the rest of the room and thinking about those shelves, I would leave the brick, but definitely paint the shelves. I like the creamy vanilla idea - or white white. Also like the idea of moving the kids books elsewhere if possible.

Whew..this is getting long!

For the table - do you have an Ikea nearby? Their Lack coffee table in white would be really nice with the green (if you go that way) and if you did paint the shelves. The advantages - its inexpensive, has lots of storage, and you could do matching side tables. It looks fresh and clean. I think the table you have is a bad proportion for the room and the sofas. I would replace it if you can. Of course if not, paint will definitely help.

Maybe swap out your dark iron lamps for something more modern and maybe aluminum or steel.

Overall, I would say go bold, graphic, and modern with your accessories (I kind of see the tables as accessories), with the classic neutral sofas, fireplace and built-ins as the anchor.

The more I look at it, I really like the fireplace brick. Especially the arched opening.

Ok. There you go! =-)

Tanya said...

I would paint the bookcases before I painted the brick. Your fireplace is beautiful the way it is! You just can't see it because it blends into the bookcases. And maybe the bookcase clutter wouldn't bother you so much if it rested atop a fresh coat of paint. :)

Secondly, the rug is nice, but it's too small for this size room. You need something bigger. If you're on a budget, check out IKEA. They have some nice stuff really cheap. Also, I just ordered a rug from I got a GORGEOUS piece for ONE THIRD of the price I would have paid storefront. I even got free shipping and a free rug pad! Their customer service leaves much to be desired, but you can't beat the prices.

As for the coffee and side tables, I would go for red or a deep olivey-country-green. But that's just me. :)

I'm actually in the midst of re-doing our house, too! We're getting all new tile (floors and backsplash) and painting the walls in the kitchen. Then we're completely redecorating the living room. I have a friend going into interior design. She's helping me out for free while she gets her business under way. I'm learning SO much from her!!

Jewel said...

I DID paint our brick and then regretted it. It might have been because a friend (with her back to my painted brick fireplace) said "brick should be brick colored". She must have got the message in my expression because she turned around and quickly added, "And if it is white is the only option". Haha! But seriously I did regret it because it just never looked right and now we have taken it out and are replacing it with something else. If I were you I would consider painting the bookshelves white instead. You may not be able to do that because of the trim, but we have brown couches and brown hardwoods and the white trim definitely works.