Hello there! Dawn here, from DesigningDawn.com. Last month I offered up my suggestions for one reader’s submission (in the form of a Photoshop room mockup) and was happy to hear that you guys wanted more! So I’m back at it this month with my thoughts on another reader room dilemma.
If you follow Remodelaholic on Facebook (and you should!), you’ve probably seen several of the reader questions that are submitted every month. As I mentioned last month, I love the helpful community vibe of these posts, so here’s my two cents on one reader submitted question and a mock up what I would do if I were in your shoes! (Pssssst— you can submit your reader questions by messaging Remodelaholic on Facebook!)
First though, my disclaimer: While I can recommend products that I think look nice, I have never seen this room in real life and don’t have accurate measurements. I can’t guarantee that any of the products I put in my ‘virtual’ design will actually fit correctly in the space (or that they’ll fit your design style for that matter), and this is not intended to be a professional design consultation. So think of this as a just-for-fun rendering that hopefully gets your wheels turning and provides some inspiration!
READER QUESTION from Catherine —
“Hello! My husband and I just purchased a house (from 1982), and it has a hideous fireplace. There is currently a pellet stove (that is not operational) just set in front/inside the front of the fireplace. What is an inexpensive, but good looking upgrade that we can do to this fireplace? We are not really concerned with it functioning, but would like it to look a lot nicer. Thank you!”
What would you do with… Catherine’s non-functional fireplace?
Well, Catherine, when I first saw this photo I sympathized with your dilemma. Not only is the fireplace a little wonky looking with a non-functioning stove stuck in the middle, but it is just enough off centered to make me twitch!
If you’re not familiar with my background, I’m a professional graphic designer by day (hence my affinity for Photoshopping rooms into pretty mockups!), and one of the rules I live by in any visual design is if you’re going to make something off centered, make sure it is asymmetrical enough to look intentional. A good guide is the golden ratio of 60/40. In other words, if it’s just a tiny bit left of center (like this fireplace) it tends to look like it should be centered, but just isn’t. If it’s at least 60% off center, it looks like you meant to do it! 😉
As you can probably tell, the off center issue is bothering me more than the weird stove stuck in the fireplace, and the combo of the two is why I chose this little challenge to help Catherine out with some ideas!
My first stop in any design question is always some internet inspiration. In this case, I was searching out two specific solutions. 1) Non-functional fireplace decor ideas and 2) Off centered fireplace balancing techniques. Of course the internet is filled with inspiration gold, and of course I have to share some of my favorites with you!
First of all, can I just say that I’m now convinced that non-functioning fireplaces are FUN! You can do so much with that little space. Case in point:
Seriously, from book storage, to a succulent garden, to a pottery display, people are getting so creative with the little nook created by an unused fireplace. A perfect example of how to embrace something that could be considered a flaw, and make it into something pretty fabulous.
As I mentioned, I wasn’t just focused on the unusable part though, I was also searching for some inspiration on asymmetrical layouts. And of course I found that too!
I feel like it’s important to point out that while these asymmetrical fireplaces have very different decor styles, they all have one important thing in common, and that is the very strong horizontal mantle. This is important, because it creates a visual line that draws your eye away from the fireplace as the sole focal point, moving your view across the length of the wall and creating that intentional placement that we’re going for. Side note: I should also point out that if you have a very traditional design style, an asymmetrical fireplace is probably not for you. You’d be hard pressed to find an example of a traditional or ornate fireplace that has this off-centered look to it as those styles tend to favor a very balanced design.
Back to the task at hand. With all that inspiration in mind, I was ready to tackle Catherine’s fireplace, and here’s what I came up with. I’ll save you having to scroll to the top again, by posting the before picture first. You’re welcome!
And here’s my mockup:
I swear this is the same room, and I really didn’t change that much! I tried focus on changes that wouldn’t require a huge renovation or a ton of money. Here’s a side by side comparison that makes the changes a little easier to digest:
The biggest change here was to make the fireplace much more substantial. Building out a larger surround and adding some shiplap or paneling above that goes all the way up to the ceiling will emphasize the amazing height of your room (jealous!), making the space feel large and open. If you’re hesitant about building your own surround, a fun alternative might be to scour flea markets and antique stores to find an appropriately sized antique fireplace surround that you can re-purpose. Then you can top it off with your own mantle and shelving to get this look. If you go that route though, try to look for something that isn’t too ornate. As I mentioned above, a very traditional/ornate style will look a little out of place in the middle of an off-centered design.
I also updated the wall color in my mockup. It could just be the lighting in the photo, but to me the tan walls made the flooring look a bit peachy-pink toned, and I think a nice mid-dark gray would help neutralize that without the expense of updating the flooring. Again, I haven’t seen this room in person, but it looks like you get some nice natural light and could easily rock a more dramatic wall color.
I think we’ve established that I was bothered by the slight asymmetry of the fireplace. Without replacing the decorative tile work on the floor, it would be difficult to make the fireplace look centered, so instead, my main priority was to embrace and emphasize the asymmetry as a unique feature and make it look intentional. To do that, I would create an extended mantle across the wall (refer back to my notes about the inspo pics above), then add additional floating shelving on the right side of the fireplace. It balances out the wall and adds some extra storage in the process!
Obviously decor details are a personal choice, but with a ceiling this high, I think you could easily get away with mounting the TV over the fireplace to further make this area the main focal point of the room and eliminate the extra TV stand on the floor next to it.
Inside the fireplace there are a ton of options (yet again, refer back to those inspo pics above), but I love the look of stacked firewood, real or faux depending on what kind of room you have behind that stove once it’s removed. It adds texture and a natural element that I think will really help warm up your room with all that tile flooring. Here is a great tutorial on building a faux fireplace that has some good tips to help with framing out the surround, as well as an awesome idea for that stacked firewood look.
So that is what I would do, Catherine. What do you guys think? What would you do with Catherine’s non-functional fireplace?
Sources for the mockup above:
As always, thank you to Cassity and the Remodelaholic team for having me back each month. If you like this post, and want to see more reader room mockups, let me know! (And ask your questions by sending Remodelaholic a message over on Facebook.) Also I’d love for you to visit me on my blog, DesigningDawn.com, or follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. Have a great day, friends!