Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our Plan for the Living Room Built Ins

One of the things that I wish our house had (other than a larger backyard) is a fireplace and mantel. I guess when they built it in the 20s, budget was also at the forefront of their mind and they opted out of one. I wish I could go back in time and explain to them how they should really just go for it, because in the year 2013 this girl would really like to get her hands on a mantel to decorate for the holidays.... If only.
For a while I just accepted it and just put it on the "Want List" for our next home... but then one day a few weeks ago as I was sitting in our living room, it dawned on me that I don't technically have to have a fireplace to achieve the look that I'm wanting. (Although I will admit that a fireplace would be nice and cozy). I honestly can't believe it took me this long to have that 'aha' moment. (Shout out to Oprah)
So with that... this is what we're working with...
Have I mentioned how nerve-wracking it is to upload pictures of your home?
Ok- just thought I'd share....
We currently have 2 small built in bookshelves that flank each side of the main wall in the living room (PS- the living room is a whole other story... Working with mismatched furniture and giant sectional has made that room the most difficult to work with so far. Hoping to make some strides soon in that department, but right now I kind of feel stuck). The bookshelves were originally a dark wood tone which we painted white soon after Nathan bought the house. (I WISH I had a before picture of those... I feel like they have to be out there somewhere, so if any of my friends have any please pass them along). Painting those bookshelves white made a HUGE improvement and I didn't think about them too much more after that. However, once we got married, moved in, and started using the living room on a nightly basis, they didn't seem right to me anymore. It could have been when we hung the large flat screen in between which made things feel really heavy and unbalanced.. or when we added the dark (and cheap) TV stand in front of the wall (already moved out of the way in the picture above). I always thought the wall just looked off, and felt like there had to be another solution....
So.... I started searching for some inspiration and quickly came up with a plan that I feel will make the room feel taller, more balanced, and less heavy. Here are some of the inspiration pictures:
Found this picture here. Love the detail above the mantel.
Another one with great detail.
The side bookcases remind me of what we're working with.
I really just like the look of this room. Looks so peaceful.
I like that the back of the bookshelves are vertically wood planked.
Couldn't find the main source for this one.
Pulled this one because it gives me a good idea of what we can do above the 'mantel'.
 Clean and simple lines. Very doable. Plus- that is some great V-day decorating.
I could see my friend Jayme going all out like this.
Last but not least, this is from one of my favorite blogs, Honey We're Home.
I thought this was a great media center that gave me a good idea of how our wall
with a TV can look. I really like the detail of the storage on the bottom
(and the painted back panels)
Our plan is to make the wall a hybrid of a large built in/mantel/entertainment center. We both like the TV to be at eye level (Nathan's reasoning- because that's where a TV should be placed. My reasoning- If we're putting in a mantel there's no way I'm placing a TV on top and wasting prime real estate... Mantels are clearly for decorating purposes only). It won't be your normal look since the TV will be under the mantel, but I think it will end up working for what we have going on. We (as in Nathan) also plan to build center lower storage under the TV to balance off the existing lower storage under the book shelves. The final task will be replacing the existing cabinet doors with some more substantial wood and detail.
Here are a few plans I made up in Power Point (I'm a power point addict. I seriously use it all the time for the weirdest things... and it's never for a 'slide show'). I'm still not sure of how we are going to detail the mantel (if at all), but I played around with some ideas. Good thing is- we can get started on this and deal with the detail later once it's decided.

 What do you think? Any suggestions? I think I've been staring at this wall for too long!



  1. The last is my favorite. I just like the idea of it being sort of a built in frame for your decorations. That's my two cents!

    1. I think I like the last one too. Good point Downtown AB! Thanks :)

  2. I love your style, and how cool how you did those mock ups! I love the first and last ones. It's going to look so fantastic!

  3. p.s. Thanks so much for adding my media cabinet too- a sweet surprise when I was reading this post! :)

    1. Of course! I think I just did a double take reading your comment (and may or may not be a little star struck) that you wrote on my blog! haha. Thanks for checking it out. As I said above- your blog is one of my favorites! Hope you come back :)

  4. Hi Tricia, First of all thanks for the shout out ;) Last year when I began working on updating in my bedroom, I kept on looking at very similar layouts of bookcases but with a fireplace in between them. I don't like a tv above the mantel either.
    I like the plans you've made, especially the first and last one, I've got to give pp a try. Whatever you do is going to look great, I love your style.
    The bookcases I made are all done you can check that post here:

    1. Thanks Cristina. I just checked out that post! Thanks for sending me the link. They look great and you did an awesome job! More inspiration :)