October 27, 2011

Before and After: The Fireplace

Introducing....the longest fireplace mantel in the world. Okay, maybe not, but it sure does feel like it. Aside from that title, it also holds the record for "Hardest to Decorate'.

The fireplace is the first thing that you see when you walk in our front door and it definitely grabs your attention. This is what we saw the day we toured the house:

Certainly not in its prettiest state, but the brick was gorgeous, the mantel was very well-made and we fell in love. See the little cubby-hole to the right? I had never seen that in any other fireplace! Unfortunately, after we bought the house and tried starting up a few fires, we realized it was a pain in the a--. Not only were we not excited about having to buy firewood, but the air circulation on the room was not conducive to actually having a successful fire. On top of all that, we live Atlanta - not exactly the Artic Circle. We decided to convert it into a gas fireplace. Of course I have no pictures of this process, but Brian did it all himself. It did require cutting a HUGE hole in the guest bedroom wall (to access the firebox), but other than that, it seemed fairly easy. We bought some very realistic fake logs - I know the gas logs from long ago can be very fake-looking, but I swear they have come a long way. Now whenever we want a fire, we just have to turn a key and use a lighter to get a spark! 

After the conversion, it was on to painting. This mantel was practically screaming 'paint me white'.

We weren't concerned with 'painting in the lines' since we knew the walls would soon be painted. Embarrassingly enough, it stayed this way forever.  

Finally we painted the living room walls and this was the final product:

So crisp and clean! The next issue was what to put over the mantel. The space was too narrow for a television, so we knew that some artwork was the way to go. I figured three classic frames would provide a nice backdrop for any seasonal decor that would actually go on the mantel. Target had the perfect dark wood frames with clean lines. Ah, but we're not done yet - next it was figuring out what was going in the frames! Immediately, I thought of my childhood friend, Ross. He is an architect and amateur photographer who takes amazing urbex photos. He graciously offered to send  me three pictures of our choosing. The ones we chose were not only cool, but they were all from abandoned Catskill resorts near my hometown. Please check out his Flickr page to see hundreds more. Here they are all framed:

In case you wanted some close-ups:

In hindsight, I would have hung the frames a little closer together (toward the middle) to leave some extra room on the ends for decor projects, but we do love how it came out. As for the cubby-hole? It's currently serving as record storage:

And no, I am not exactly thrilled with that setup. I am thinking one of these would look perfect in that space:

It's Pottery Barn (of course) and it's ridiculously overpriced, but I have my eye out for a cooper bin that could work. Need a visual of how it could come together?

Yeaaaa baby.

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