Let’s talk about breathing room. One thing we learned from our last house was that we prefer to let rooms “breathe” a little. Which means resisting the urge to fill every corner and span of wall with furniture and plant stands and coat racks and storage baskets and everything else that you can stick in there to crowd the perimeter of a room. So after a bit of deliberation we decided that letting the previous shelf-riddled corner of the fireplace breathe was the best choice for us. I actually attacked them after only a few days of living here and realized I never shared the pics while writing my list post– so here they are.
We’re planning to add storage ottomans and to build or buy a new media cabinet with lots of storage space in other areas of the room, so we’ll still have a nice amount of stash spots in there without potentially forgoing the whole balance thing by keeping those shelves.
See balance is key to us because it seems to keep spaces feeling more inviting and relaxing. And we knew that a shelf full of baskets, books, and stuff on one side of the fireplace would make that small niche feel heavier while the longer bare expanse of wall on the other side would feel, well bare and unbalanced by comparison. And we didn’t want that wall to feel lopsided. Especially since it’s such a small nook. You know how you wouldn’t try to stuff the smallest corner of your bedroom with the largest piece of furniture (like a floor to ceiling bookcase?) and instead you’d save that for a larger expanse of space (and would probably leave that smaller corners well enough alone)? That’s why we thought those shelves had to go.
Different strokes for different folks though- I’m sure some people would have loved to keep them around. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to break out the ol’ screwdriver-as-chisel method:
The wood shelves lifted right out, but the shelf supports turned out to be tough cookies thanks to super long nails holding the shelf supports in place on each side. But I was still able to get ‘er done all by myself while John was on Clara duty. Girl power (why do I always picture the Spice Girls when I type that?).
The walls were looking a little rough in some areas due to some particularly clingy nails. Yikes.
… but it was nothing a little spackle couldn’t solve. And the previous owners had sweetly left behind this lightweight kind so I gave it a try for the first time in my life (we always get the heavy duty traditional stuff, also by Dap).
The verdict? I loved it! It’s really airy and whipped, like shaving cream. And it’s easy to get a super smooth skim coat over every hole in the wall – even that insanely large one pictured above. Look how easily it cleaned up:
I just used a flexible metal putty knife and smoothed it on. Unlike the heavy duty spackle that I’m used to, this lighter stuff said that it didn’t even need to be sanded. But I gave it a good once over with some high grit sandpaper after it was fully dry just to make it as smooth as possible. I’m in love with how easy it was, so I already have a big tub of this new lighter spackle stuff on my shopping list. Now all we need are a few paint touch ups to make all evidence of those shelves a thing of the past.
If only we had the wall paint around to touch things up. Wop wop. We haven’t come across that yet (although it might be hiding in the basement somewhere) but if we don’t find it we could always bring home a bunch of white swatches and try to make the closest match. Or better yet, we could get our butts in gear and paint the entire room in the soft gray color that we have yet to settle on (and take the trim to a nice glossy white color while we’re at it).
That little corner might not look like much now, but we promise to share pics of the whole room from that angle as it evolves and we take on more projects (like painting, hang more stuff on the walls, and adding in more furniture). That small breath of uncluttered space in the corner will be a welcome break indeed. Plus we picture kiddos hiding there with their eyes squeezed shut who fully believe that they’re invisible. Ah youth. Remember when you’d close your eyes and hide somewhere totally obvious and fully believe that nobody could see you? Those were the days.
Pssst- We announced our random winner for this week’s giveaway. Click here to see if it’s you.
Haha…..first comment. I can’t wait to see what color you guys decide to paint the living room!
Wow, what a difference. Looks great!!!
Great job, it already looks so much brighter and happier and I can so picture Clara hiding in there, probably with Burger at her side. Can’t wait to see it all painted and decorated in true YHL fashion.
Sugar Cookie says
So glad you took out those shelves. That’s the first thing I would have done too!
Can’t wait to see that room with white trim!! So glad you’re going to paint those beams… the dark trim just doesn’t match the rest of the house (or your style!)
Question for ya (‘cuz I know you don’t have enough of those to answer)… have you guys always loved an all-hardwood floor house? Or do you ever yearn for some soft carpeting? We’re getting ready to put hardwoods in our entry & kitchen, and keep debating whether to carry it into our currently-carpeted living room & den. I love the look of hardwoods, but the softness of real carpeting (vs. throw rugs.) Also, our living room has vaulted ceilings, so I’m worried about the echo factor.
We are hardwood floor people to the max. An area rug can cozy things up, but we’re not really fans of wall to wall carpet (we had some in an old apartment and just found that we had a much easier time keeping the hardwoods looking cleaner (whereas the carpet always looked a little worse for wear). If it was us, we’d add in some big plush area rugs for your living room & den (which will definitely cut down on the echo factor). Good luck!
Such a small change, but it really makes a big difference! Way to get in there and get er dun. :)
Looks much better now! Isn’t it funny how older homes have quirky details like those shelves? Adds to the character! Can’t wait to see how you guys transform this home! Oh…can I make a teeny suggestion? In my humble opinion, I think you should remove the green shelves under the wreath. Let it just be the wreath on the wall, IMHO. :)
Any chance you would be willing to paint the walls your choice of gray before painting the trim and beams? My husband and I are having the “paint the trim” debate and you trim is just about the same color as ours. There is definitely a lack of pictures out there of wood trim with walls painted something other than the norm (sage green, warm beiges, and off-white – great colors, just not us). I’m for indulging him and not painting the trim (right away anyway), but am feeling a bit challenged in the color department.
I also think I have that same shelf, which now lives in our daughters room. Definitely need to choose a fun color to spice that up!
We’ll have to see what order we tackle things in, but you know we share lots of progress pics so we’ll def. post pics of the wall painted without the trim if that’s our order of attack!
Institutional white with brown beams, what were they thinking.
Everything is looking so much better now. It would be neat to take down that whole wall behind the fireplace and just let the fireplace (backside) be the architectural interest.
Cait @ Hernando House says
Woohoo girl power! I <3 lightweight spackle, and that little corner looks great without the shelves!
Better! Perfect kid-hiding-spot. Just wondering… are the parquet floors staying?
Yup, the plan is to get them refinished along with some of the other hardwood varieties that we have going on so they all tie together. You know we like rich cohesive flooring…
Yay for (relatively) small easy projects that make a big difference!
I was trying to do something similar last night….taking the old brackets from the blinds out of our window trim. do you have any tips for removing stripped or painted over screws?
This might sound like the caveman solution, but sometimes I just dig them out with a screwdriver and then spackle over the holes I leave in my wake. As you can see from this post, big missing chunks aren’t too hard to repair. But when it comes to your window trim you might want to be more careful. Maybe google around or hit up yourtube for some ideas when it comes to dealing with stripped screws?
Leanne (For Health's Sake) says
I prefer minimal stuff out too! Balance is key!
It’s like a wannabe built-in that just isn’t as nice as the real deal. Glad to see it go!
I think that the light weight stuff needs a light sanding myself. it’s good stuff!
Check out Valspar’s “Filtered Shade” It is a very attractive/somewhat smokey gray color. It is present without darkening the room. Might work great for that room especially against the white.
Sara @ House Bella says
Looks great Youngsters! Way airier over there without the shelving. Can’t wait to see the new gray color – we’re all about gray and high gloss white over here, too.
Love it! I can’t wait to see which gray you settle on, hubby and I are still debating…it’s a very tricky color we’re finding.
That would be a great little nook to store some cut firewood once y’all make that fireplace double sided.
What a huge difference. No shelves looks 5000 times better.
I love demo – in hindsight, I think I could have happily made a career out of running one of those big ball-swinging machines that demo buildings!
Lindsey Rockers says
ey guys! just thought i’d pop in with a quick color suggestion for you :) we have two colors of gray in our 1930’s craftsman bungalow, and love them both A LOT! One is Cinder Block by Ralph Lauren, and the other is Wheat Bread by Behr. love love LOVE them and cannot recommend them enough… my sister and a friend of mine have both already painted rooms in their houses the same colors after seeing ours, and we get compliments on them all the time! good luck :)
Love the decluttered look! I agree about loving hardwood with some plush area rugs. I bet Burger will love playing hide and seek with Clara. My dog is surprising awesome at this game, he always finds the person hiding. It’s his favorite game!
I bought that smooth spackle once by mistake and I too LOVE it! It’s so much easier to use.
Ashley T says
hdstoker, my parents’ house has a great room with cathredal ceilings and hardwood. They’ve never had any echos even with only having the one 5×8 rug in the LR half. :-)
One little trick I learned from my dad (who has a drywall business) is that if you’re doing a small area with spackling instead of sanding and getting dust everywhere, get a wet sponge and wring it out good and do a few swipes of the area.
I like it better without the shelves!!
Melissa @ Sassy Mommy says
OMG- thank you for the tip on the new product. I also use the old-school starts purple and turns white when dry mess. I never feel like it covers quickly and easily. I have already emailed my husband orders to get this for this weekend when I start taking down towel bars and filling in holes. Thanks!
Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf says
I completely agree! We live in a rental that used to belong to our landlord’s mom, and she installed shelving and storage EVERYWHERE. Some built-ins are nice, but it honestly looks rather crowded with all the awkwardly placed shelving. If I had my way, I know of at least three “storage” pieces that I’d strip away.
totally off subject… I went to the air n water website to order the cute red fireplace, it would not give me the 10% off for using YOUNGHOUSE.. has anyone else had a problem or am I doing something wrong???
John’s emailing them to hopefully figure things out for you. In the meantime have you tried it without caps lock (it might be case sensitive, so “younghouse” might work if “YOUNGHOUSE” doesn’t). Let us know what happens and we’ll keep you posted when we hear back!
Are those twinkle lights on the top going to stick around for some upward illumination????
I actually was just telling John I want to leave them up there. But I want to get some on a white strand instead of a dark green one so they add some glow without being super cord-y.
Yes, those shelves had to GO! I’m surprised I didn’t notice them earlier — went to your house tour to see them. Love the hiding spot idea — it would probably be all nice and toasty in there!
You’re not going to paint over those wooden beams, are you? They make the room so cozy! http://bit.ly/e6Ggs5
Yup, they’re just not our cup of tea so they’re getting a nice coat of white paint (just like the dark beams in our old house). But we definitely subscribe to the to-each-his-own theory of decorating, so if dark beams float your boat we say go for them!
We chose BM’s Iced Cube Silver as a starting point for the grays in our house. It’s a bluer gray and very lovely.
Elizabeth Mackey says
Being a Libra, it seems it is all about balance for me all the time. Those shelves would have been goners if I moved in.
It already looks so much more balanced and ready to go!
Jen @ The Decor Scene says
Love that corner without the shelves. Really didn’t make any sense to me why they were there in the first place.
So when you paint the walls in the LR, are you also painting the fireplace back I guess you would call it? Sort of to make the fireplace back blend in with the wall? or are you leaving it white?
Good question. We’re still on the fence about it. We might try painting around it and leaving it white to see how that looks first and going from there…
I tried younghouse and it changed it to YOUNGHOUSE.. and it says 10% off and then click APPLY.. I click, but nothing.. crazaaa =) I will try again later, thanks for checking for me!
So sorry about that Lesley! John’s on the case. Details soon (we hope)!
UPDATE: Unfortunately their system just isn’t allowing certain models to be marked down (which you were experiencing firsthand) so our only update is that the code only works on some models (not that cute little red one, sadly). Total bummer.
Dawn SC says
How do you got about matching paint that you don’t have? Do you just get swatches and pick the best match? Do you worry about brand of paint or browse multiple?
We’re running into the same problem and my husband is convinced we won’t match it exactly (or close enough) so we should just paint the whole thing. Which I do eventually want to do, but it’s an open floor plan with living room, kitchen, and dining room, so it would be a bit of an undertaking. Plus, I want to paint our kitchen cabinets something other than the hideous brown they are currently, so I’d like to come up with a plan for the whole space before we paint the main room to minimize hassle…
Yup, we tape them up against the wall color and observe them at all times of day and try to pick the ones that’s as close as possible (we did this with our tan sunroom in the old house and got a perfect match). We usually go with the brand that makes the swatch so we get the closest match (color matching to that swatch might result in something a teeny bit lighter or darker). Hope it helps!
Snickrsnack Katie says
Looks infinitely better without the shelves! Good work!
My uncle just installed new baseboards and shoe molding in my bedroom and hall, and he left me with a jar of Dap’s Fast & Final. That stuff is great! I filled all of the nail holes, and because my trim is bright white, I didn’t need to sand or touch up paint. Glad you guys “accidentally” discovered it, too!
Your place is coming along great so far.
Looks so much better! Was wondering if the opening(to the right in the picture) could be made bigger by taking down the small wall? You would lose the strange alcove but it may make it look better. I have been refinishing and living in old houses for the past 15 years and don’t think I will ever buy/build new. They are so much fun even with all their quirkiness!
We’re considering a number of ways to expand doorways down the line. Right now we’re favoring the idea of widening the doorway on the other side (the left) of the fireplace so there’s a bigger pass-through to the kitchen, but you never know…
I love doing projects by myself too at times. Other times, I need someone with stronger arms…ha! LOVE your new house!
Karen James says
Ralph Lauren has some nice greys you might want to check out. Linda at nyclq-focalpoint.blogspot.com” and also at HGTV.com RMS:”nyclq” painted her LR/DR in greys. Her choices were RL Urban Loft UL05 Cinderblock and RL UL26 LampRoom Grey and they seem to go with ALL her color changes. But there’s so many other choices you could color match from ;]. Just some suggestions in your quest for grey…
YHL is the BEST blog. Keep doing what you’re doing – being yourselves.
Thanks for the shout out Karen!! =)
YHL – You have a great blog!!
Looks good! It’s so fun to see the little projects you are tackling and how they make a big difference!
As a side… Sherry, how on earth did you take that pic of yourself holding the screwdriver and hammer, lol??
My magic helper (aka: the hubby) popped in and snapped it with one hand (the other one was holding the baby). We’re getting good at the whole multitasking thing. Haha.
Good call on the shelves. Anytime I looked at a picture of your fireplace my eyes went directly to those shelves. Now the fireplace gets to be the main focus instead of fighting for competition.
Ami @ beyondpeasandcarrots says
totally agree, much better without the shelves!! I bet Clara and her friends will love the hiding spot too ;)
I’m a little confused about the trim in that space… is it a partial wall going up looking into the kitchen? Is that a deep or narrow ledge up top, where the lights are resting? And last question about that wall: Have you considered taking out the wall that was supporting the shelves to widen that doorway?
Just curious… I realize there is a lot to tackle when moving into a new house, and that nook in particular is hard to decipher in the pics. Love the progress, and I know it can be challenging to hold off and take things slow… I’m enjoying seeing it in real time!
Scroll back a few comments for the answer to your second question. As for the first one, here’s a pic that will hopefully help (it’s just a recessed shelf up there): http://images.younghouselove.com.s3.amazonaws.com/2010/12/NewEmpty-Family-Room-3.jpg
Love the fireplace with out the shelves! I think sometimes people feel the need to fill awkward spaces with something, which of course leads to more awkwardness! Good decision!
What an odd little corner. It looks better without the shelves. You guys are great at seeing potential.
Not to clutter things up, but I could see matching skinny floor vases with tall branches on either side the fireplace to balance it out a bit. I saw some where the branches were spray painted glossy white & thought of you.
Or maybe your big dog sculpture could sit there! So fun, I want to decorate your house too, haha! :)
Haha, our ceramic dog has moved all around the house, so who knows where he’ll end up next!
maybe you should try to sneak him into all your pictures and see if anyone notices. :P
Haha, Burger might get jealous…
Amber V. says
I think you made a great choice removing those shelves!
I picked up a tiny tub of that lightweight spackle this week to fill some holes in my walls in preperation for painting. I was on a long hunt for the perfect gray as well and just settled on the perfect color – Glidden’s Smooth Stone- after 6 (!) sample cans.
Happy Hunting for that perfect hue.
Off topic, but I’m in the market for a crib mattress. Have you been happy with Clara’s Savvy Baby? It’s pricey, but the reviews on other “organic” mattresses are mixed. I know you’re no longer accepting free gifts from vendors – would you buy this now if you needed a mattress, esp considering the price ($400+)? Thanks! Love the blog!
Yes- we have been so pleased with our mattress and would totally buy it! Clara’s a great sleeper and we’d pay any amount to recreate that trend if our mattress were to disappear! We paid for our own (tres expensive) organic mattress, so it only seems fair to spring for one for the baby too.