Color Q & A Decorating Q & A

Reader Question: How Do I Handle My Wood Paneled Walls And Dark Brick Fireplace?

Today, we’re going to tackle a reader question from Ellen, who is having trouble deciding how to handle her den/family room that has a really dark brown brick fireplace and wood paneled walls. Here’s her decorating problem in her own words…

Ellen’s Question:

My problem is my den/family room. We bought this 1960s ranch almost a year ago, and the room has partly of a mid century feel, yet all of my furniture in the room is traditional. As you can see, the walls are completely paneled, except for the huge dark brick fireplace. There is lots of good light from the front windows, but the fireplace just dominates the room. I am trying to decide how to treat the walls and fireplace. Paint both? Paint one? Cover the brick with drywall? Help! There are too many options! The room is quite large and we spend the majority of our time in here in the evening, so I would love to get it done and not have to redo! Thanks so much for your help!

The Current Den/Family Room:

Let’s take a look at the family room that Ellen is working with. First, here’s a closeup of the two finishes in question — the wood paneled walls and the dark brown brick fireplace.

And here’s a wider angle view of the whole fireplace. It’s definitely large and currently looks very dominating on that wall and in the room.

And an even wider view of the area, including that wall of windows with all of that natural light pouring into the room.

And here’s a quick look at how the rest of the room is arranged…

My Suggestion:

People who have known me the longest are probably going to fall out of their chairs when they read my response (and I really can’t believe it myself), but I actually love your paneling. I’ve seen lots of 1960s paneling in my life, and I dislike most of it simply because over the years, most of it has changed in color and is SOOOOOOO unbelievably orange. And while yours definitely has an orange tone to it, I don’t find it offensive at all. I think the wood adds beautiful warmth to the room.

Now the walls may look different in person, and they may look way too over-the-top orange for your taste when you’re viewing it in person. If that’s the case, and if this room were mine, I think I’d still try to keep the wood, and maybe tone down the orange (if it’s too much for your taste) by using some wiping stain in a more neutral brown over the top. Just make sure it’s not too dark (you don’t want to turn it into a cave), and make sure you’re not trying to use a penetrating stain on those walls. A wiping stain is thinner than a gel stain, but thicker than a penetrating stain, and I find it the easiest to control. Old Masters is my favorite brand of wiping stain.

All that to say, if this were my room, I’d keep the wood walls and work with them. One thing I don’t like about how paneling was done in the 60s and 70s is all of the small (and stained) trim that was used with it. So in order to modernize the look a bit, I would add new trim or paint the existing — a larger crown molding painted in a warm white, warm white door casings, warm white baseboards, etc. But that’s a personal preference for me (I like substantial trims and casings, and I like them in a warm white), so that may not fit your taste at all.

So where I’d put the bulk of your budget and effort is the fireplace. I don’t think you need to drywall over it, unless you’re going for a more modern feel. But I’m guessing you’re not wanting a modern feel since you mentioned that all of your furniture is more traditional. And I don’t think you need to do any major renovation, like tear out what you have and start over. I think you can work with what you have, with some modifications.

If this were mine, I’d put money into purchasing stone (something light and natural in color, like limestone) just for the hearth, and then I’d paint the brick in a coordinating (almost matching) color to the stone hearth. The purpose of bringing in a light limestone heart is just to add more natural elements to complement the warm wood walls, and also to add a large solid surface to break up the lines of all of the small bricks on the huge fireplace.

This is obviously an outdoor fireplace, but it gives you an idea of what I’m talking about when I say that I would cover the hearth with a light-colored stone like limestone. I’m just talking about the horizontal plane of the hearth (the part you would sit on), and leave the rest of the brick showing.

And once the light, natural stone hearth has been selected, I’d suggest painting the brick to closely coordinate or even to match as closely as possible. To keep the brick looking natural, and not like it’s been painted with semi-gloss latex paint, I’d suggest a breathable mineral/limestone paint that’s made specifically for painting brick. That will give you the most natural look possible without resulting in an obvious “painted brick” look.

I would keep the stone/painted brick color a warm, natural, but light color. Keep in mind that the closer to stark white you get, not only will it defeat the purpose of trying to make the fireplace less of a dominating feature in the room, but it will also look way more modern than what you seem to gravitate towards. Here’s an example of the stark white with the stained wood walls.

You can see that the stark white fireplace is a definitely attention grabber, and combined with the stained wood walls, it has a definitively modern look to it. So if you decide to paint, just keep that in mind. A color that’s light and natural, but with some warmth to it, would be ideal, in my opinion. You can see the difference in color between that stark white fireplace above and this warm, natural (but still light and bright) fireplace below. That bit of warmth makes a huge difference.

But also keep in mind that it can’t be too yellow, either. If you can find something in a warm gray or greige — something to complement the backsplash that’s visible in the kitchen — that would be idea.

So that’s what I would do with the “backdrops” of the room. Once those are in place, there are some other decorating suggestions that I’d make to bring the whole room together. For example…

If you do keep the wood walls, it seems to me that this bookcase is an opportunity to bring in color in keeping with the nature-inspired backdrop elements of the wood walls and the natural “limestone” fireplace.

In its current color, I don’t think the wood color of the bookcase is complementing the wood color of the wall as it should or could. I think painting that bookcase is a great opportunity to bring in a color that would complement the wood walls. I don’t know what nature-inspired colors you like, but my mind goes immediately to green. I think something similar to this grayish green would look so pretty sitting against a warm wood wall.

Or if you like a little more color, and a truer green, this is another green that would look great against a warm wood wall…

Once you’ve brought color into the room on an item like that, then you can scatter that color, plus one or two other complementary colors, through the room with some pillows, throws, etc. on your sofa and chairs.

You could also take the opportunity to bring that color (those colors) into the room with either one large piece of artwork over the sofa, or adding a gallery wall comprised of nine or twelve coordinating pictures/paintings over the sofa to fill up more of the wall.

A final suggestion that I’d make is to rehang and add to the curtains on this wall. Since they’re right next to the fireplace, and the fireplace goes all the way to the ceiling but the curtains don’t, I think that’s adding to the dominating look of the fireplace in the room. Making that fireplace a lighter color will definitely help in making that dominating factor recede some, but so will adding visual weight and bulk to the window wall so that it looks like it can hold its own next to that huge fireplace.

I would take the curtain rod as high as it can go, and then bulk up the fabric by adding more curtain panels. And if you can either add a header tape to the top of those curtains to keep the header standing up straight rather than drooping down, or find curtains that have a more substantial header tape in them that can stand up and keep their shape at the top, that will help that wall have more of a presence as well. Since that fireplace is floor to ceiling, make sure your curtain panels are as well. Hang ’em high and as wide as you can.

When you bulk up the fabric on windows by adding more panels, they don’t necessarily have to cover more of the windows and block out light. I know that’s always a huge concern for people who resist the idea of curtains or draperies because they don’t want to block out light. But blocking out light isn’t necessary. You can still push them open just like your current curtains are. But the visual weight of the bulkier fabric will look more appropriate with the huge width of those windows, and that visual weight will pull some of the attention away from the huge fireplace.

Alright, folks! What suggestions do YOU have for Ellen?

(Are you stuck with a DIY or decorating problem and want input? Click here to submit your question. I post/answer the questions in the order that they’re received, so please don’t send questions if your contractor is on the way to your house right this minute and you need immediate advice. 😀 )

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56 Comments

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  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    A
    February 24, 2022 at 10:15 am

    The room is pretty furniture heavy, bringing the eye down to survey the room. I think removing at least a few bookcases (I count four currently) and getting a coffee table with legs so the brightness of the windows can flow underneath to lighten the room a bit. Also removing at least one chair and one end table or stool will help the room feel a little more breathable and allowing the eventual fireplace to be the star of the show. Great bones to start, there will be a lot of life in this room soon!

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      carswell
      February 24, 2022 at 11:32 am

      I agree, especially about the trunk as coffee table – it would make a better side table than in its current position. It’s very heavy there and not really well proportioned in front of the couch.

      Englarging on Kristi’s point about the curtains – a more substantial curtain rod would help too. The existing one is too thin for the expanse of wall/window it is covering. The light colour just draws attention to that. While light curtains are fine, the rod should be darker and more solid looking. IKEA has some great – and inexpensive – options for curtain panels.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Michelle Hoebbel
    February 24, 2022 at 10:16 am

    My paneling wasn’t pretty, so on a budget I decided to paint it. I love it. Good luck with your project.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Linda M
    February 24, 2022 at 10:18 am

    What you said! I too love that paneling, and I’m not a “paneling person.” I would paint the trim the color of the limestone, or a shade or two lighter, a light, warm cream-gray. Also, maybe consider thinning the paint for the brick, so it’s more of a wash. I also would love terracotta or burgundy for accents in rigs/pillows with the green. And bigger art. What a great room! And a brave person, to post their real life room. She has done a lovely job with her core furnishings.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      George
      February 24, 2022 at 11:30 am

      I too like the paneling but painting it is an option . The real issue is the fireplace looks completely out of place . It looks like someone plopped a newer , freestanding fireplace in front of the opening for an older fireplace . Also the ceiling tiles should be removed . The room seems very relaxing though

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Jill H
        February 24, 2022 at 11:40 am

        Nice eye George! I completely overlooked the electric freestanding fireplace in front of the actual fireplace.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Jennifer
        February 24, 2022 at 1:01 pm

        Agree about the ceiling tiles (make sure you get them tested for asbestos before you commence with the crowbar). If you do decide to paint, we just painted our 60s panelling with BM White Dove and it’s gorgeous.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Pamela
        February 25, 2022 at 11:40 am

        The ceiling tiles were the first thing I saw and need to be the first to go if it were my house.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Rose
      February 24, 2022 at 7:20 pm

      I’m sorry but I hate the look of paneling I have it in my house and I either painted it directly or I had paintable wallpaper put up and then painted that. I think it will make a huge difference if you didn’t have all that brown. I also would cover that brick because it’s not symmetrical and that looks off or you could paint it and have built in bookcases on each side of it so u don’t notice the brick as much

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Barbara
    February 24, 2022 at 10:18 am

    I like the ideas presented with color and stone. But I grew up with paneling and its not my favorite! I would put lap siding over the paneling and paint it an off white. You could make your own lap siding by cutting boards down and using a nickel for the gap to save money.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Nikki
    February 24, 2022 at 10:19 am

    I agree with you on the paneling. It is actually very pretty and warm. I also agree with you on the addition of different moldings. I think that the fireplace/brick should have the same treatment as the kitchen backsplash as seen in one of the pictures. I do feel that there is way too much furniture in this room that is sucking light right out of it.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Donna
    February 24, 2022 at 10:20 am

    I would also NOT paint the walls. The wood is very pleasing and seems to be of good quality. If you leave the walls as they are, I would recommend you consider painting the wood bookcases. The fireplace could be painted a soft offwhite. Your room will be beautiful.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Deb
    February 24, 2022 at 10:26 am

    I moved into a 60’s rancher 4 years ago. The family room was very dark paneling with a variegated brick fireplace. Before I ever moved in I told my painter I wanted that paneling painted white. I have numerous seascape paintings and prints that would be hung on those walls. It made the room so much brighter and feel so much bigger. I have never regretted it.
    I will say my paneling was definitely darker than the paneling in this room.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    suzanne
    February 24, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Love your suggestions and so simple and inexpensive to implement. I was thinking I’m kinda digging those paneled walls while viewing her pictures.
    Ellen you have a very comfortable tidy looking room. You seem to gravitate to water/sea artwork so green would be lovely with the gray furniture and blue and rust of your current pillow choices. My only suggestion would be to choose a muddy green with an undertone that doesn’t clash with either the chair in front of it or the new hearth.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      suzanne
      February 24, 2022 at 10:37 am

      I should also add that the room should look much brighter in general when the brick is painted so maybe wait tell that’s done before deciding on painting the paneling. There’s nothing wrong with a cozy room. Maybe change out the rug for an oriental style if that’s your thing. Theres a lot of gray going on in here.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gail Lee
    February 24, 2022 at 11:15 am

    I agree with everything you said Kristi!! I also love the paneling, and would add color to that bookcase and redo the fireplace and curtains as you suggested!! Make sure we see the finished product!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    CathyR
    February 24, 2022 at 11:30 am

    Love your ideas, Kristi. I too like the paneling and lighter beefier base boards. I’m surprised you didn’t address the elephant in the room—-the acoustic tiles.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Linda S.
    February 24, 2022 at 11:34 am

    I echo Kristi’s suggestions. You can always paint or restain the paneling later, after you get the green on the walls. The choice of green will depend on which direction your windows face. I just painted SW Cascade Green on a maple-furniture-filled bedroom with north light, and it really tones down the orange.
    For the fireplace and trim (and bookcase?) color, perhaps you could match it to a light color in your rug.
    Have fun, and I’d love to see the “after” photo.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carol
    February 24, 2022 at 11:35 am

    Such great suggestions. I learned a lot! I would just add that if you decide to paint over that beautiful wood (or the brick, for that matter), which I realize isn’t everyone’s taste, please seal it with something clear first so that, if in the future, someone would like to restore it, they will be able to do so without too much trouble. They will be blessing you. But I hope you’ll try Kristi’s suggestions first–I think you’d have a lovely family room. Good luck!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cate
    February 24, 2022 at 11:42 am

    Not sure I would ever say this but after you said to keep the panelling I took a closer look at it and I like it too! Great advice and you have a good eye!! Love everything you suggested!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Alta Craig
    February 24, 2022 at 11:43 am

    I like your suggestions, Kristi. By adding beefier trim, painted off-white, and lightening up the fireplace, it will make the walls look like they would if they were painted the paneling color, with off-white trim. Painting the bookcases the soft sage green would add some color, repeated in a pillow or throw in the same color family. Bringing the drapery up to the ceiling would also give them more stature and visually raise the ceiling. Great ideas!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Becky
    February 24, 2022 at 11:50 am

    I noticed that the brick in the kitchen is painted in a beautiful way that almost looks like a lime wash. I would duplicate that on the fireplace to tie the two rooms together. Once that is done you can see if the room still feels too dark for your liking and decide whether to paint the paneling as well.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Julie
    February 24, 2022 at 11:56 am

    My parent’s home had a mid century high quality paneling, it was pretty, I think veneer wood. Some is really nice as you say. For the fireplace…. check out Brick-Anew.com (I have no affiliate relationship). I did the mixed tones of grays/tans like real stone on my mauvey dark brown fireplace. The results were stunning and natural. It’s economical, they’ve chosen great color options and it’s intended for use near heat/fire (that feature put me over the top in selecting,, the extra value for the price point.). Additionally it is super easy to use. My daughter gave it as a Mother’s Day gift, we were done in an afternoon. Everyone that sees it thinks it’s natural and original. I encourage you to explore this product as you make choices. Mine is accented with cadet blue and tan furniture. Photos of mine are at their site as well as enumerable others. Have fun. We did.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chris
    February 24, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Is there a real fireplace behind the one sitting on the hearth ? I would paint as you suggested, because the kitchen backsplash is beautiful. Then get rid of the electricfire place hang a mantel instead. It would make it lighter on that wall. To me a fireplace in front of a fireplace is just too bulky.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Nola Brown
    February 24, 2022 at 12:15 pm

    Wow! Like all of your suggestions for Ellen. Would love to see an after picture!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Teresa Cook
    February 24, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    Paint both! I lived with beautiful 1970’s paneling for 10 years after I bought my house. I finally painted it 10 years ago and have never been happier!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jeannie
    February 24, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    I agree with all your suggestions, Kristi, and I speak as one who removed paneling from both our living room (light brown with black vertical lines), and our kitchen (dark chocolate brown).

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Deb
    February 24, 2022 at 12:38 pm

    I agree the paneling looks very nice and interesting. Doesn’t give me a dated vibe at all. And more full drapery is crucial. Pottery barn has some wonderful drapes, lined with nice strong headers that can be ordered in various lengths. Probably other places as well. The drapes might be a good way to settle on a color she wants as a jumping-off point for the rest of the room. I always start with the style & color of drapes, an area rug, or an awesome pillow fabric to decide on the colors and feel for the rest of the room. When I skip that step I usually spend more money fixing things or starting over.

    I would spend the bulk of the money redoing the fireplace wall. I’d cover the entire wall with bookcases on each side, Centering the FP (assuming that is doable — it appears to be electric?). If that’s the case I’d remake the FP surround to add some width. It’s too similar in width to the TV above right now. . Add lovely millwork around it and carry that into the bookcase look. Looks like an electric heater on the wall, so perhaps that can be moved somewhere else?

    Add a new slab on the hearth; a stone to complement the wood and paneling. And consider removing the brick hearth on the 2 sides, extending the bookcases to the floor with doors at the hearth level. Then the slab would not be as long, thus less expensive. The owners could also consider moving the TV to one of the bookcases vs. over the fireplace. If not, I think a wider FP box below the TV is an important change for proper balance and scale.

    With this plan, I’d move the standalone bookcases to another room. This frees up another wall for more artwork and perhaps a unique sofa table beneath and lamp.

    If they want to change the paneling, I’d cover it with board and batten and paint it a soft white or shade of white that compliments her home or the neutral in the inspiration fabric or rug, etc. A completely different color on the FP wall would be fabulous.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cindy Hays
    February 24, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    I would first keep the paneling beef up trim. Remove the add on early American style fireplace and paint it all to go with what has been done in kitchen. I would replace the sofa with something more linear less chunky. Also remove the trunk and get a longer leaner style coffee table. Paint the bookcases and do what Kristi says with the drapes. Beef up your rod if you can afford too. Remove early America wood chair . The room to me has an Early American look me not tradition. Not criticizing just this room is confused on which style it wants to be.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    jenw
    February 24, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    I actually like the paneling too! I’d start with a whitewash/limewash on the fireplace to lighten it. And, I’d spend my budget updating the ceiling. Get the tiles down and the ceiling drywalled or skim-coated. The ceiling tiles are dating the room more than anything, IMO. Then live with the paneling for a while. If it’s still too dark for you it can be painted. Love Kristi’s suggestions for the curtains and painting the bookcases. Agree with other commenters that some of the larger furniture pieces could be scaled down–I’d remove the cube-style case that’s under the chalkboard and just place a floor lamp behind the chair for lighting.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lana
    February 24, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    Not a fan of the paneling at all however this room has loads of potential. Love the natural light from those big windows. I would paint it all, but that’s just me. Agree on the drapery height. Take them all the way to the ceiling. I would lose those ceiling tiles. They look way too commercial. Also, you need more color in there IMO.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cornelia
    February 24, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    I live in a 1980 brick colonial house and your family room resembles our family that we completely remodeled from head to toe. We had a wood burning fireplace with a large 12 foot brick wall and a hearth just like yours, but red brick. My husband and I removed the hearth using a brick chisel from Home Depot. The brick wall remains but we dry walled over the entire 12 foot wall. Professional dry wallers framed the wall and completed that work.

    We installed a gas insert fireplace, new mantel and used a limestone brick tile for the fireplace surround. Colors are white-beige. We had paneling that was 1/2 up the wall. I removed that, took me about a day. Fixed the holes and painted everything. Bye bye to 1980 paneling, nasty brick which weighed down the room and we installed new engineered flooring. I did notice your fireplace looks like it is electric and sits on top of your current hearth. Think about repurposing that fireplace. Beautiful room, have fun with your project. Pittsburgh, PA

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Mark Tisdale
    February 24, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    I don’t have any specific suggestions but reading the part about the brick reminded me of a post that Mike Holmes made on Facebook last year about brick stain where he showed a couple of different applications including a Fireplace. For the fireplace example they went white but he showed other examples of different colors.

    Here’s the link to his Facebook post I managed to dig it up. https://www.facebook.com/make.it.right.mike/posts/415378506614036

    Maybe the special limestone paint you mentioned is the same/similar as “Permatint” which sounds like a specific brand? Wasn’t sure but thought I’d share.

    Mark

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chelle Ellis
    February 24, 2022 at 3:49 pm

    I love all of Kristi’s ideas, which would seem to make a substantial difference in the room.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Meg
    February 24, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    Honestly? First thing I would do is take every single thing out of the room. Then I’d get to the nearest home store, buy a few 5 gallon buckets of white paint and have at it. after that, I’d shop all the things that were in there to see what to put back and where.

    We moved to an old farm house that had So. Much. Brown. and it sucked the light and joy out of everything. With a clean, light background the possibilities are endless.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Rose
      February 24, 2022 at 9:13 pm

      I agree it’s just too much with all the browns! Paneling always reads dated to me….it’s depressing

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Sabrina
        February 25, 2022 at 4:21 pm

        But why paint everything white? There is a lot of warmth in the room. You can remove all the items, see what you got and rearrange it from there.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Fannie Wright
    February 24, 2022 at 4:32 pm

    In scattering color around the room, what about finishing the stained top on one of the tables? I also don’t like the large glassed lawyer style book case being black. I don’t know what she would need to paint it, but it stuck out to me.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jennie
    February 24, 2022 at 4:43 pm

    I know you are a VERY busy woman 😀but I was hoping there was going to be a mock up/ photo shop of how you would design the room at the end of this post. That would be awesome but regardless you gave great advice. Love that you are choosing the time to do this for others.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marianne in Mo.
    February 24, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    Here’s my thought: the two bookcases by the kitchen entrance – will each one fit on the hearth on either side of the fireplace? If so, I would paint them the green Kristi suggests, and anchor them to the wall to prevent toppling over. Paint the brick as suggested. Try a wood restore on the paneling – but for me, there is too much wood tone, so I would paint the paneling except for behind the sofa. If you want to keep the other bookcases, I would paint them the same as the walls, so they blend in more. Remove two chairs and a couple of occasional tables, if the seating is needed, get a small footprint love seat and a leggy, slim coffee table. Larger artwork on the walls, you could take the three pics above the sofa, add oversized mats and different frames, plus a couple other prints on the wall by the kitchen. Top the hearth as Kristi suggests, and curtians more substantial. I don’t know about adding larger trim since the ceiling seems low already, but if the tiles can come down, YAY! They seem old, but if they must stay, paint them a bright white.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    DWF
    February 24, 2022 at 8:51 pm

    We had nice paneling in the classrooms at my university but they painted it when they did a refresh last year. Paneling hides a multitude of sins in high traffic areas and you just need to clean and condition once a year or so and it looks wonderful (I’m pretty sure they never touched it in 40 years and it looked good). The new paint will get easily scuffed and dirty and will need much more maintenance. My vote is to keep the paneling and find ways to make it look more modern, like Kristi suggests. I am surprised she didn’t say anything about the ceiling. It that were updated and the fireplace with some tweaks to the furniture, art and accents, the room could keep its charm and not look dated.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    elle
    February 24, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    The suggestions are all right on. I too love the warmth and quality of the paneling. The color of the suggested new stone hearth and wash on the brick fireplace should have undertones that blend with the taupe chairs. I also agree with suggestions about the drapes. If the curtain rods extend onto the walls on each side of the window, the drapes when open won’t cover up the window, but instead will be mostly on the wall. It makes the window look larger. And hanging them higher will also make the windows more important. A few throw pillows, a colored throw, and art can add some color and texture to the room as suggested. Perhaps the trunk coffee table could be replaced by a more open glass and metal table?? These changes could add to the cozy feeling this nice room already has. Maybe the nice smaller black and white art currently over the sofa could be hung vertically on the left side of the fireplace.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Andy
    February 25, 2022 at 2:24 am

    That panelling is ravishing!
    So l would start with that.

    Clear the room, as there is too much furniture, so that needs editing, and then address the dominating fireplace.

    First, the television needs to disappear. It’s that huge black thing that looms over you and needs sorting out immediately.
    Once you remove that, the fireplace is not so bad, and l echo all the other suggestions to paint it in a matt emulsion.
    The television needs to go into a frame / cupboard or whatever, that allows easy access for instant viewing.

    I agree that long floor length curtains of a light colour are also necessary.

    So once that beautiful paneling is shining, the fireplace is painted, the curtains are hung on a beefier set of poles, then dress the room in some light and cheerful but warm colours.

    The panelling says “Autumn” to me, so l would go with the glory that is full autumnal warmth. The room as it is seems too dreary, but it is heaving with potential.
    Paint the bookcases, get a jaunty new rug, and add loads of autumnal coloured cushions.

    That panelling would then be the star of the show. Lovely.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kim
    February 25, 2022 at 7:38 am

    Maybe do a whitewash on the paneling. It would give the room a cottage feel and lighten things up dramatically. Follow up with the other suggestions Kristi made for the room, especially the fireplace.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Adele
    February 25, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments, so this may have already been mentioned, but I think the biggest problem is the heavy, dominating fireplace that seems to have been added on in front of the original firebox. Perhaps if the hearth were at floor level it would look ok, but perched on the raised hearth like that it looks odd. My sister lives in a 1961 home with a similar hearth and at some point the original wood burning fireplace was converted to gas within the original firebox. This fireplace looks as if it is electric. If so, it seems as if it would be possible to run a electrical and a plug to the original firebox and place electric logs inside it.

    I also like the paneling as is and Kristie’s suggestion to paint the bookcase and get more colorful artwork and some colorful pillows. Perhaps do the new drapes in a pattern that picks up the color of the bookcase, the art work, and the yellow-orange paneling.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Julie B.
    February 25, 2022 at 8:03 pm

    If it were me, I’d begin transitioning to MCM furniture. Your house and your furniture will never play well together otherwise.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sabrina
    February 25, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    Kristi is right on the money with her suggestions. I was thinking of some of the same things myself. cozy room. And lovely warm paneling. I like how it contrasts with the gray brick in the kitchen, and adding lime stone cladding over the bottom mantle would enhance that. I would also paint over the brick with real white wash paint.

    The room makes a nod to the mid-century modern style while remaining contemporary. People associate “modern” with the MCM style, but traditional and Americana kinda looks were popular too. I agree the room could benefit from some editing. It seems too crowded.

    The brown bookcase is also competing with the paneling, and it would look nice painted in a sage or celadon green color or maybe even a creamy white. It would be easy to bring more blue and green into the room with accessories, or even a large pattern rug with a muted palette and a Persian style like Kristi’s living room rug.
    Large art over the couch and in place of the TV would also add more without needing as many accessories.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Claire
    February 27, 2022 at 3:52 am

    i agree – that wooden panelling is beautiful.
    i’d def paint all the other wooden pieces so the wall panelling has less competition. let her shine!
    def upgrade curtains
    definitely too much going on with the fireplace having bricks and tiles – so making all that more cohesive would transform it for not much money.
    i’d get rid of ceiling tiles if budget allows.
    beautiful relaxing room tho! no wonder you spend so much time in there xx

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    laura
    February 27, 2022 at 8:52 am

    The comments are great!
    One of my friends is a stager and her best advice before making any changes to a room is to clear it out (it’s a pain, but it is such a great use of time- scoot it into the next room).
    Come up with a one year plan to manage budgets.
    Loved the comments! laura in Colorado

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dawn
    February 27, 2022 at 10:52 am

    Ellen, if you decide to paint your fireplace I cannot recommend this DIY enough. I used the exact paint colors listed and a third one that matched the wall color. All colors blended beautifully and my fireplace has a natural look instead of just painted brick. https://www.lowes.com/n/how-to/modern-fireplace-makeover

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    deb
    February 27, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    Eliminate the curtains unless you just have some panels on the side and take them to the ceiling as suggested. Find blinds, preferably nothing too dark. I would actually go with the pleated shades, that are not too expensive, but as close as possible to the wall color. That would give the room more cohesion and they can go all the way up during the day to let the light in.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Shawn
    February 28, 2022 at 2:01 pm

    This is actual beautiful paneling & I wouldn’t paint it. Love the inspiro pic with the white painted brick and think this would look lovely in her home. Raise the curtain rod closer to the ceiling and extend wider to the brick on the right & be sure to leave drapes wide open so they don’t cover any of the glass. Could also get a more sheer type of drape unless you want similar to current for privacy. Not a fan of the large wall unit bookcase or the trim on the bottom doors. if keeping then remove the doors and put plain or mission style doors on bottom. I like the idea of using color but white will be good and match if you paint the brick white. You don’t have to do everything at once. Starting with the brick and curtains will be a big change and then you can have a better idea of what you would like. Should them consider replacing the area rug that’s on top of the carpeting with something a little more of a contrast, or just remove it all together.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Linda
    February 28, 2022 at 5:06 pm

    Are the bricks surrounding the fireplace real brick? They don’t look like they are. If they’re not real, perhaps you can remove them and the artificial hearth?