I’ve been stalling a bit on further family room progress because I can’t decide out what to do with the walls flanking the fireplace. We had a few architects out to the house last week to give us some general ideas for what’s possible in a future addition and discuss our goals. In short, everything we want to do is possible and won’t even require us to bump out the house that much (meaning we can still preserve a backyard!) BUT as suspected, it will cost somewhere in the range of $250,000 and require us to move out for many months.
Yea….so now that you’ve thrown up a bit in your mouth at that number…because I know I did… let’s return to our regularly scheduled interim changes (ie. those that I’m ok with getting undone when we eventually do this renovation).
Here are the 2 main walls in the family room – the one behind the couch and the walls flanking the fireplace. They are directly opposite each other in the room. I’ll discuss my thoughts for the wall over the couch in a second.
This wall is the bain of my existence. It very squarely separates the family room from the kitchen. The only hope I have of connecting the two spaces and really opening up the main level is to get rid of this wall which means getting rid of the chimney from roof to basement. We have batted this idea around 100 times but hearing it from tenured architects really made me feel less crazy. Apparently it is very common and one of the architects had even done it in his own home. It will flood the family room with light and buy me 2 feet of additional space here and in the bathroom upstairs (where the chimney runs behind the bath tub/shower).
In summary – this wall is going at some point. Realistically speaking, we’re not tackling anything that requires major demo for several years so I feel justified in taking on projects that won’t break the bank but will make big visual changes.
My goal for this side of the room is to create some visual interest around the TV/fireplace wall and give me a spot to showcase family photos and art. Like most young families, we have all these great images that never make it off our phones/cameras/computers and I really want to use the family room where we spend most of our time together as a place to display those images.
I have 3 ideas. Here goes.
Option 1: faux built-ins from pieced together IKEA shelving units like this.
I’ve got 50″ to either side of the mantel to play with and the floor to ceiling height is 104″.
Ideally I know that built-ins around a fireplace should look like this.
And I could probably accomplish this but I really don’t want to do the whole space directly over the mantel (behind the TV). And I can’t decide if it will look strange or not to have just units on either side with the TV then set back. Basically we’re talking about the opposite of this, where the units are set back and the TV/mantel piece is bumped forward. This I can wrap my brain around.
This is more what I would end up with, though not this drastic because my existing mantel only comes out 8″ and the IKEA Billy bookcases I would consider for this project are 11″ deep.
If I use a standard Billy bookcase on either side paired with a narrow Billy bookcase on either side and top both with their respective height extenders I can get this. I fill 47.25″ of the 50″ side openings with just shelves and add trim around them to make up the extra 2.75″. The extenders on each unit will make the full piece 93″ tall, leaving me with a little under a foot of space from the top of the unit to the ceiling. Realistically I’d probably end up with even less because I’d want to put the units on a base (the hardwood near the hearth is not level) and then add some crown on top.
So that’s option 1. $310 for all the Billy pieces detailed above, plus probably $50-60 for the trim, caulk, paint, etc and I’ve got mock built-ins for under $400.
Option 2: Photo ledges. I fill the space to either side of the TV with 3 IKEA Ribba ledges and use them to create a less permanent gallery wall type installment. I like that I could continually play with what’s on the ledges, adding and taking away as our family grows and we make new memories.
Terrible mock-up but you get the idea. The ledges conveniently come in just about the width I have to play with. I could mount the lowest one right around or slightly below mantel height. This would leave the space below empty so I could tuck a chair or stool up against the wall for additional seating when we have guests. Mr. H+F is against option 1 because he doesn’t like that it juts out into the room and eats up 8″ of space.
Option 3: Scrap the built-ins and ledges and do something purely decorative like mirror panels with some low profile chests below them. This would certainly add some interest to the room and I like that it would make it a little brighter (this side of the room can be dark).
Over the couch, I’d like to do a gallery wall in some sort of loose arrangement like this.
So…what should I do?
Do you think the ledges + gallery wall is too busy (the walls are opposite one another)?
In an already narrow room, do I dare add built-ins and take away another 8″ of floor space?
I welcome any and all suggestions. I’m dying to finish this room!