Looking for suggestions for our living room
August 31, 2013 in Design Dilemma
We recently moved into our new home and would like suggestions for decorating our living room. We were thinking of painting all of the oak (beams, built-ins, mantle) white (although we considered staining it darker) to give it a fresh look.

We have ordered a fireplace insert with a log set and were planning on using a marble tile (Emperador Dark) on the surround. We think we will remove the detail piece on the center above the fireplace. We will update the fixtures on the wetbar and likely stain it dark as if it were furniture. We will replace the fan also.

We are looking to go with a transitional style. Any ideas or recommendations (small or large) are *much* appreciated!
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Barnhart Gallery
alex, you hardly need us! Great plan, down to the last detail. Post an after!
2 Likes   Thanked by alexlauerman    August 31, 2013 at 7:04PM
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II think you should paint it white rather than stain it darker, as all that wood would be even more oppressive, if stained darker. Your lounge suite appears to be a very dark brown and will look very heavy once you paint all the woodwork white. If you have the funds to replace the lounge suite with something lighter in color, it would help give the room a light and airy feel. You have a great wall of windows, are the window frames going to be painted white too?
1 Like   Thanked by alexlauerman    September 1, 2013 at 2:48AM
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Matilda Bos Design Studio
Hi Alex......I do agree that lighter would be better, but there is so much oak trim, walls and wainscot that
the question is where to start. My suggestion would be to paint the ceiling and beams BM White Dove. All
the trim around the windows, doors and wainscot the same and the walls as well. I would remove the bar
completely and in that space put a long console that can be treated as a bar (no sink). The fireplace wall,
including the cabinets and fireplace surround, any detail on that wall and paint it BM Silver Fox, I would
also take the curvy detail on the cabinets away, just square it off. So, Now that you have a space more
current, when the budget allows, I would suggest a large sectional in a neutral textured fabric, as a beginning.
1 Like   Thanked by alexlauerman    September 1, 2013 at 4:51PM
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Going against the grain, I love the room the way it is! The wood is judicious with a light ceiling. I wouldn't paint any of the wood. [I am not opposed to painting wood, having painted the warm oak in our den an antique white.)

The only changes I would make would be to change the grey surround around the firebox to either tan or black marble, add colorful pillows to the chairs and sofas, and fill the bookcases with colorful leather-bound books. A colorful oriental might also be nice as a floor covering.

You already have a superb room. I would keep it just as it is.
0 Likes   Thanked by alexlauerman    September 1, 2013 at 10:38PM
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I can't help but wonder if, 30 years from now, everyone will be slaving away removing layers of paint to reveal newly coveted golden oak! Craziness! Having said that, though, I am also totally behind you painting it all out to a fresh white - it will look sensational! Only additional idea I have, if it suits your decor plans, is to paint the back walls of the cabinets in a charcoal or medium Gray for a little added interest. But I guess it depends on what you plan to accessorize them with. Happy painting - you have bought yourself a beautiful home!
3 Likes   Thanked by alexlauerman    September 1, 2013 at 10:57PM
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Have you thought about treating the wood separately? I would stain the beams darker, the possibly paint the wooden furniture after the beams are darkened to see what it looks like. That is if you HAVE to do things to it. I think just an updated fan is all you really need!
0 Likes   Thanked by alexlauerman    September 2, 2013 at 2:39AM
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I would suggest changing out the blinds for some simple curtains/drapes, nothing too heavy, something airy perhaps. They will transform the room as well, making it a little "softer" in contrast to the wood. If you are open to changing the blinds to drapes, try doing that before painting (if even just with interim curtains), and you might not need to paint all the wood in the room once the curtains are up. I don't think everything needs to be painted, which I prefer to the staining. I would paint the ceiling beams, the window trim, and the walls behind the bookcases. See how that looks, before deciding to paint the bookcases, and fireplace. I think it would be nice to leave something in the current wood (not stained darker).
0 Likes   Thanked by alexlauerman    September 2, 2013 at 4:08AM
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I'm sure you know what's involved in staining wood. You need to sand or otherwise remove all the previous stain before you can re-stain. Painting will be a lot of work, but staining will be even harder.
0 Likes   September 2, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Sorry for the slow reply. We've been extremely busy with house projects.

2dogssashatess, We aren't sure where we will leave off on the windows. That's a good question. I dont know if we will be able to paint all of the windows white, so we may just leave everything inside of the trim wood colored. They are nice new windows so we wont be replacing them. Thanks for the tip on the furniture. We'll keep that in mind and probably replace these in a few years.

Matilda Bos Design Studio, thanks for all the color suggestions. We will probably use many of them (maybe not the console, although we will keep that in mind).

karemore55, I agree completely about wondering if we will regret this in 30 years (like when people used to put linoleum over hardwoods). I don't think it's okay to sit around and wait for things to come back in style (I think we're on the same page), so I think we should do whatever we think will look best, while keeping the permanent changes in mind. My step-dad is a contractor and said staining would be about 1/3rd more work than painting, so I'm aware with what's involved. The stain doesn't need to be completely removed according to him (he's done this a lot by roughing up the wood and using a deglosser, then applying gel stain).

terriuskum, I should reattach a better picture with correct white balance so you can see exactly how it looks. It looks okay now, but there it definitely feels straight out of 1990 (golden oak everywhere).

smileyface2013, Good idea. We are actually considering putting a big roller shade and remove all the wood blinds, that way we can have a nice open view out onto our yard. It's fairly obstructed right now, unless we open and close the blinds frequently (I know it sounds lazy).

So we have three votes for keeping some of the wood and/or staining some of it (smileyface2013, terriuskim, and dlbconductor), and three for painting it (karemore55, Matilda Bos Design Studio, and dogssashatess). I suppose there is no one right answer. I may mock it up with a tool (google sketch up?), but I think it'd be time consuming. Painting white is safe (hard to go too wrong with white), getting a mixture of woods and dark stains right is a little more risky.
0 Likes   September 6, 2013 at 6:41AM
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Andrea D.
Primer and paint for sure. Since we don't know what the future style will be, we can only live in the now. Good luck!
0 Likes   September 6, 2013 at 6:55AM
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Dar Eckert
You can go darker without all the stain process. Try minwax gel stain. It is applied over the existing stain without all the sanding. It gives a lovely finish.
0 Likes   September 6, 2013 at 6:58AM
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Sustainable Dwellings
I think you should get a warm, colorful area rug and start popping some color. You have a unique opportunity to have a warm, inviting space that is distinctive and comfortable. Not everyone needs to paint it white... Look forward to seeing your project unfold.
0 Likes   September 6, 2013 at 6:59AM
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Amy Cali
I'd live with it for awhile. I HATED my oak trim but after several years it has started to grow on me. I would however remove all the curved traditional detailing i.e. top of cabinets and medallion above fireplace. I'd change out the surround and fan as you mentioned. I would also paint the walls. Sit back breathe for a few months and see if the oak still drives you nuts.
0 Likes   September 6, 2013 at 7:19AM
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Amy Cali
Are the cabinets alongside the fireplace built in? Upon 2nd inspection, I'd pull them out if possible. They are too traditional.
0 Likes   September 6, 2013 at 7:20AM
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Amy, Yes.

The oak doesn't drive me nuts at all. I'm sure I can be happy with it. I'm looking to improve the house so I can enjoy it even more.
1 Like   September 6, 2013 at 7:23AM
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The main thing that screams out to me is the curved detail on top of the shelves. If that could be removed, it would make a big difference. What a beautiful room. I think, before you do any painting/staining you should add a colorful area rug, pillows and accessories and sit back and relax. That may be all you need.
0 Likes   September 6, 2013 at 8:27AM
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Alex, one more thing to consider is how long you think you will be living in this house? If its your forever home, you can go with your heart here, but if there's re-sale in your near future, painting it all white will create the updated look that will help sell the house. One thing is for sure, you are lucky to have so much millwork and detail that give your home soul!
0 Likes   September 6, 2013 at 9:32AM
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Dar Eckert
The room does have a wonderful glow with the color of the woodwork as it is. Maybe consider removing the upper part of the bookshelves. I'm not sure if there is paneling behind the shelves or not. If not sheetrock up to the beams. You may choose to put in floating shelves or art instead of the existing shelving.
2 Likes   September 6, 2013 at 9:35AM
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