When we first bought our historic mansion, the entire house was frozen in time. Absolutely nothing had been updated since it was built. We knew this to be true, because we have the original blueprints and building supply list from the builder.
The living room looked like this:
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Of course this SCREAMED potential for me, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. All that character! The trim! Rounded doorways! Plaster work! Crown moulding! I couldn’t get enough of it.
The house had been foreclosed on and was vacant for some time before we took possession of it. Apparently, the ceiling had fallen in at some point, which honestly just made it easier to wire up some can lights and get rid of the knob and tube wiring situation. Silver lining!
We lived with it this way for quite some time. Our priority was finishing the kitchen addition, because it turns out living without a kitchen for 9 months is extraordinarily inconvenient.
Eventually, that yellow-beige color was more than I could handle, and we had to do something about it! When you’re dealing with this much intricate trim, it will save you HUNDREDS of hours to just do the work of taping everything off and spraying on the paint with a paint sprayer (this is the one we use, and is worth every penny!) than to tediously hand-paint every little nook and cranny of the room. I learned this lesson the hard way when I painted the trim in the solarium.
Ahhhhh much better. Am I right?!
If you’re wondering what color of what this is, its just plain un-tinted white straight out of the can. Because we’re low-maintenance like that.
ALREADY an improvement, no?!
Even without a ceiling, the room felt EXPONENTIALLY better. But something about that plaster frame over the fireplace was making me feel itchy. It’s just… too over-the-top. There’s sooooo much ornate trim in this room already (which I love) but that picture frame was too much. It had to go.
It was a messy job, but so worth it. You can see our process in this blog post I shared.
I painted it all a matte black, and slapped a giant mirror on it.
Because I am who I am, I wallpapered it with a fun pattern along the way, and I loved it…
This look was fun for awhile, but I knew I would eventually tire of the bright colors and pattern, and be ready for a change.
I still loved the idea of pattern, but I wanted a pattern that would read more as a texture than a bold pattern. And the more I stared at the whole fireplace situation, the more I felt it needed more warmth. Honestly, I was wishing that there was a beautiful wood finish underneath the paint of the mantel, but we knew from reading the original specs of our home that it was a low quality wood that was intended to be painted from the beginning.
For a hot second, I considered doing a faux wood stain on the mantel, but ultimately I decided to instead bring some wood tones on the wall above the mantel. And that’s when I discovered wooden fretwork. You simply oil it to bring out the rich woodgrain (we used walnut!), and install it onto the wall using a pin nailer and a laser level!
There are SO MANY different fretwork designs, and you can choose the size, and type of wood you want! We went with this one!
I did also paint the mantel/surround a warmer putty color, and I love the combination of it with the wooden fretwork! Can you imagine if this was an entire accent wall? So beautiful!
I’m obsessed! I’ll never get over it!
I love the texture and interest that it adds. I wish I could whitewash the brick surround to reduce the “noise”, but alas the hubs has forbid it. He gives me a lot of design freedom in our home, so when he puts his foot down about something, I just let it go. pick your fights, amiright?
There are only a few tweaks I still need to make before revealing this whole room in its entirety! But if you need a peak at the other side of the room (and my obnoxiously colorful sofa choice), tap here!
Thank you for pinning!!
I love the that Nick put his foot down about the brick… and the tile Duck situation! Hahaha he really does have the most interesting arguments for and against!
I couldn’t get the link to the fretwork to go anywhere.
This transformation is amazing – and totally worth it to remove the frame.