I’m a bit late in posting this. How late? Oh, just about 6 months or so. This second stage of renovations on our house was completed just after the master bath, but I’m just now getting around to sharing it. What did we do? Added some built-in bookshelves around our fireplace and refaced the fireplace itself since the mantle was kinda dinky and the granite wasn’t really our style. It took awhile and wasn’t cheap, but man, it was worth it. Built-ins are amazing.
Like so many other things in our house, messing with this revealed several hack-job DIY issues and some just plain old broken things. First, we learned that the entire back wall of our family room is brick. There’s just a layer of drywall over it. Cool, totally not the right way to have done that. There are also some electrical issues which we kind of already knew about but now know a little better what’s going on (let’s just say whoever did the wiring was NOT an electrician).
We could also finally see just how broken our chimney damper was. The answer: super broken. Like, it won’t even move. Our fireplace appears to be gas now, but very clearly used to be wood burning as there is an absurd amount of soot in the chimney (like, it’s never been cleaned levels of soot and ash). Phase two of this project will be getting someone out here to fix the damper, clean the chimney and ensure that the thing is actually safe to use, since hey, they probably DIY’d that gas line, too. I wish I were kidding. (Turns out, the whole thing was a huge mess and while we fixed the damper, the rest is unusable at present. It needs about $2-5,000 worth of work, so not getting done anytime soon).
Now, back to the built-ins. They are glorious. Seriously, I love them. They make the room look so finished and so cozy. Even better, our TV is now no longer sitting on the hearth and is actually mounted on the wall where a small child could not easily pull it over. The tangle of electronics cords is also hidden away and no longer tempting little hands to mess with them. Basically, a ton of safety hazards (also eyesores) have been removed.
What’s more, we now have A TON of storage in here that we didn’t have before. I’ve finally brought all of our movies and board games from their far flung storage spaces and put them here where we can actually access and use them.
The fireplace itself is now covered in a pretty marble tile (from the Tile Shop, which is the closest tile shop and we are lazy) and the hearth is a nice big sheet of marble. We originally wanted brick veneer, but were told by a couple of local retailers that people don’t want that anymore so they don’t really sell it. They only had stone and we didn’t really love any of it, so we changed our design so that we’d just need a little bit of tile instead. I think it works– it’s pretty classic and should go with whatever we decide to do in here.
The metal part of the fireplace used to be a crusty old brass, but my husband spent several evenings sanding and painting it (with heat resistant spray paint) so that it would look a bit more integrated in the new design. Definitely an improvement.
The built-ins provide lots of shelves that now house things that are both useful but also meaningful– all of our most favorite decorative things now have a place where we can see them every day. It’s awesome!
Sooo many vintage cameras and owls. Plus, a boat my husband’s grandfather put together by hand.
Overall, the project was totally worth it and really makes this room, the one we spend the most time in, feel like a cozy retreat.