Please help me with this room!!
mrsrossotti
October 24, 2013 in Design Dilemma
My living room is capped on both ends with overwhelming rock walls from the 70's. Neither removing them or covering them is an option as these are actual rocks and not a façade. The surface is totally uneven so nothing can lay flat against it. Some of the rocks jut out several inches. The picture here shows one end of the room. The other side is a full bar completely fashioned out of the same rock mixed with a black slate top ( most of the wall behind the bar is made out of rock too). I don't even know where to begin with this room. When we moved in the walls were lined with barnwood and the room had blood red carpet. Really, really dark and awful. Believe it or not this is a massive improvement from what it was before but now I'm stuck. I need to find a way to make these rock walls work somehow.
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travisinteriors
You can dry wall it. Then paint not impossible. I agree just to much. I think I would leave some right around fire box. Change to black fire screen. Also TV looks very high and looks strange on wall. If you dry wall and want TV there. Add a thick long mantel then drop TV to 6" above mantel.
October 24, 2013 at 10:14am   
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Value Wood Floors Limited
We would suggest laying an engineered or solid hardwood. Choose one of the warmer and lighter shades that you can see in the rocks. I would also suggest white washing or using a pickled stain on the ceiling. This will definitely warm up and lighten up the space.
October 24, 2013 at 10:15am     
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OnePlan
This style covers up a little of the stone and makes a feature of what you do see ... Might work to lighten this up for you ?

October 24, 2013 at 10:36am     
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apple_pie_order
Quite a fireplace wall. How much do you like the rocks? Do you have photos of each wall in the room, taken in daylight with all the lights on? On my monitor, the furniture looks pale green.
October 24, 2013 at 10:43am   
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mrsrossotti
Thank you everyone for your comments. I really need help. When we were doing the first round of updates for this room we decided not to paint the plank ceiling because I was afraid to do something so permanent to the wood. In retrospect I regret not doing it. The tv was hung so high because we have always planned on putting a mantle there above the fireplace and replacing the gas unit to one that is a bit larger ( the one in the picture doesn't quite fill the space). Please continue commenting...more pics to come of the rest of the room.
October 24, 2013 at 10:52am     
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unwantedadvice
Wow, what a dilemma! I can understand not wanting to paint over the rocks, they are quite beautiful, but yes do overpower the room. And on both ends. I would definitely consider painting the plank ceiling, perhaps the same color as walls. Looks like a variation of cream. Hopefully would lighten up the room some. As far as other end of room, sans pics, I would try and remove the black slate bar top in favor of something lighter. Can't wait to see more pics! :))
October 24, 2013 at 11:39am     
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incubus_of_habit
I like oneplan's idea. Sheetrock the left and right sides, leaving the rock 'chimney' in the middle. It'd be recessed, of course, but that's actually be a rather unique (and, I'd argue, rather modern) look. Then, place the TV on one of the sheetrocked sides. This turns the rock into a narrow detail rather than an overwhelming theme to the whole place. I'd go with a lighter color on the new walls, and then consider white washing the ceiling tongue-and-groove.
October 24, 2013 at 1:04pm     
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mrsrossotti
As promised here are more pictures of the whole room taken during the day.
October 24, 2013 at 5:14pm   
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apple_pie_order
Excellent photos. Do you have one of the wall to the right of the fireplace as you face the fireplace?
October 24, 2013 at 5:25pm   
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sstarr
The lights are bothering me.... they remind me of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"....
I'm waiting for Richard Dreyfus to come out and add some more rocks to the wall.....

Use some nice floor lamps instead. You need light down at table height around the room.
October 24, 2013 at 5:30pm     
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Celia Bedilia
I agree paint the ceiling I did that in this room. The clients love it!
October 24, 2013 at 5:39pm     
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apple_pie_order
The rock bar is almost a grotto. Quite substantial ends to the room. Have you considered taking the tv down again and putting it against one of the side walls to make it easier to watch? The sofa sections could be rearranged to mostly face the tv.

I see the need for the four sets of lights on the ceiling's beams. Can the shades be hidden behind the beams, as you face the fireplace? It might be worth trying a new discussion question about how to light this room, so you can get some professional opinions. It's almost like a Hollywood set.

Yes, I would paint the ceiling white. I'm usually not in favor of painting wood panelling or ceilings, but some times it is warranted. Or you could cover the ceiling in stretched fabric applied with a staple gun, or perhaps removable, strippable plain white wallpaper liner if you did not want to paint.
October 24, 2013 at 5:45pm   
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beattieboggs
Paint it white. Then you can reevaluate how you feel about the rest of the room.
October 24, 2013 at 5:50pm   
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Alicia Paley Home Interiors
I suggest paint, too, but not a solid white. Dry brushing them with a creamy white would soften the darkness of them, while still preserving the natural look. - I don't recommend using wallboard over them, because, as you said, they protrude at different depths. You might have to build the wall out quite a bit, which would take up floor space, and might interfere with the beam closest to that wall.
October 24, 2013 at 5:57pm     
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incubus_of_habit
So, I still stand behind the advice that you sheetrock part of the fireplace wall but...hoo boy...is that the kitchen on the other end? A bar? That is a WHOLE LOT of rock. At this point, I'd suggest going full-retro. Finish the room with thick burnt-orange shag carpet. Get some red and yellow stained glass chandeliers and a handful of lava lamps. Toss the furniture and replace with bean bags. Finish the decor with plenty of macrame pot plant hangers.
October 24, 2013 at 6:12pm     
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incubus_of_habit
OK, joking aside...how realistic would it be to knock out the bar itself? Leave the back wall and counter, but replace the bar part with something much more streamlined and modern. That way you are creating contrast rather than rock, rock, rock, and more rock. Given the new bar will cover at least the bottom 4 feet of the back wall that may be enough to balance things better.
October 24, 2013 at 6:13pm   
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carpouli
Paint the ceiling and walls with a light color. Add a mantle of some sort to make the fireplace more to scale with the large rock wall.
October 24, 2013 at 6:26pm     
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Galilee Lighting
I like the idea of painting the ceiling. I think that a beautiful chandelier will bring life to the space
October 24, 2013 at 6:32pm   
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LDD Consulting art and decor
Since covering up the rock is not an option, you could "wash" it with a paint color to lighten it up. I would pick a great neutral color, paint the walls and the ceiling in the same light color, and then water down the paint to wash over the rock. Finally, I would "beef up" the scale of your mantle- the television looks way out of proportion to it. I would get rid of track lighting too. Maybe go with some small recessed cans.
October 24, 2013 at 6:35pm     
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Laurence E Fosgate
I think the rock is marvelous and would make it work. Lightening ceiling- maybe pickling and washing will do it. Light fixtures are definitely not working. The right chandelier- art glass, iron, stainless - could definitely help. Fireplace surround of shiny black granite might be nice. Presently lt is proportionately way too small. Lose the tv on that wall - it trivializes the rock. Could imagine a great abstract expressionist painting a la Rothko over fireplace, or conversely a nature scene that would be of the same kind of environment that the rocks come from- maybe a waterfall. Furniture should be very clean line and perhaps strong vivid color.
October 24, 2013 at 6:58pm     
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John Yorman
How many square feet is the room? If you don't mind answering.
October 24, 2013 at 7:02pm   
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OnePlan
Wow ! I think if you painted the walls and the ceiling as the lightest colour of the stone there is - then you won't go too wrong - ( white will contrast maybe too much and therefore make the stone even more prominent) and maybe section the stone ends as per my previous comment (both ends and under bar too ) - the lighting too - I agree with Starr - could be improved with a lot more middle height lighting - but also LED's or Halogens in the boxing like the photo posted earlier -
Love the suggestion about moving the TV too - as will free the space up on the stone wall of have something that you love there instead ! it has the potential to still be an interesting room - but not so overwhelming !!! Good luck with it all ! Will bookmark this - as I want to see the finished results !!! :-)
October 25, 2013 at 1:15am   
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meraluna
http://autexindustries.com/nz/quietspace/ceiling-tiles/gallery. I have been reading the posts about painting the ceiling and this could be an alternative to paint. I would also suggest a soft sand light to white mortar between the fireplace stones to lighten or lessen the impact of the rock face. Perhaps spackle could be used. (Not easy to remove but doable) Note, both of these items are removable. I also have no experience with design, just adding an idea.
October 25, 2013 at 4:51am   
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J Petempich
If you would like to keep the bar, I was wondering if it could be covered with a wood counter top. A template could be made for the back counter and then cut. Wood horizontal slats for the side of the bar with maybe the rock showing through or solid. I think this could be attached without destroying the rock bar and tile under it. I think toning down the bar, changing the lights, and getting rid of the TV would be great. I like the rock, there is just a little too much of it.
October 25, 2013 at 5:17am     
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Bill Yockey
Agree with Laurence, with the dark ceilings and the stone, you need warmer or more vibrant colors in the room.
October 25, 2013 at 5:38am   
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practicalgirl
Like the rock in general. I think most of your issues have to do with lighting (or lack thereof). I would consider installing skylights (2 probably opposite one another within one of the the beamed sections, moving the TV from the rock wall to either of the side walls, and doing more layered lighting (with lamps and such). More vibrant decor (deeper/richer colors would help to balance the visual of the rock). I would also consider doing something with the existing windows....they don't seem to have trim and don't seem balanced in the room.
October 25, 2013 at 5:53am     
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Nelson Brackin Architect
Skylights cut into the roof deck would bring much needed natural light into the space. I would suggest a series of skylights along the ridge of the roof would add to the space. Or to just place skylights at the ends of the room to add light to at these areas.
October 25, 2013 at 5:53am     
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tallrobb
I would add wood blinds to bring down the color of the ceiling and add a colorful rug
October 25, 2013 at 6:35am   
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J Petempich
As for lighting, a loft look with exposed conduit might look nice in this room and would be easy to install. I would not paint the ceiling if more light improves it. On the wall with the fireplace a horizontal board at about 8 feet and a couple on each side of the fireplace would break up the massive stone wall. This may be impossible because of the profile of the stone but maybe a carpenter could cut the profile in the wood. I would be going more for a loft look than having to make major painting and drywall changes.
October 25, 2013 at 6:38am   
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leelee
Yes, you should've painted the ceiling but not too late. Think about building a mantel around the fireplace. That wall is so big and imposing and then there's the little tiny fireplace opening. Make that FP look in proportion to the rock wall. None of these pics are exactly right but maybe the idea is right?
October 25, 2013 at 6:44am     
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leelee
Change your track lighting to something brighter, halogen?
October 25, 2013 at 6:45am   
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J Petempich
Here is the ceiling at our cottage. The stain is about the same color as yours. I am glad we didn't paint it. I really think it is all about your lighting.
October 25, 2013 at 8:17am   
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Sustainable Dwellings
Your room is GREAT! If you don't want rustic, find someone who does and move!!! Then, you can have a little bland house like most people do. OR, you can mix some contemporary in furniture and accessories... Right now, you need great lighting and some good furniture.
October 25, 2013 at 8:25am     
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regina5697
I'm in agreement with moving the Tv....to the wall between the door and small window. Turn the sectional around for the tv. The bar will feel more like a part of the room then. Use the fireplace wall as another area... Think two chairs facing each other with an ottoman. I like the rock and wood. While I like the idea of painting either of them a lighter color, I would have to agree with changing the lighting before engaging in an irreversible paint mistake.
October 25, 2013 at 8:34am   
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regina5697
I must add that it's hard to tell from the photos if you have the square footage to turn the sectional and have a separate seating area by the fireplace. That concept might entail a new sofa or sectional ( which I would consider anyway to update the room).
October 25, 2013 at 8:38am   
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mgain4
Need all the above strategy, with the exception of painting the ceiling. I think you will regret painting. Break up the visual of the rock with an oversized mantel. Even could consider floating shelves mounted to the rock wall. Use halogens to brighten up the space. http://images.techlighting.com/Mobile/Tech/catalogs/pdfs/kable_lite.pdf
Skylights are also a great suggestion. Consider adding light slate to hearth or use concrete http://www.hgtv.com/home-improvement/concrete-fireplace-hearth/index.html. Same meathod could be used the cap the bar if you decided against the wood cap, although I would take the bar out. One rock wall is enough. Also consider breaking up part of the hearth for built-ins or wood storage. Wood floor will also fit better with the room and lighten up the space at the same time.
October 25, 2013 at 8:53am   
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J Petempich
My idea for lighting would be to have an electrician run conduit perpendicular to the beams like they would in an industrial plant with electrical boxes staggered. Then use the small industrial lights for lighting that are used in lofts. There wouldn't be a need to alter the ceiling this way.
October 25, 2013 at 10:04am   
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sharleeg
Unique.. but overwhelming. Also quite a dark space. make any lighting changes that you can, build some bookcases with planks similar to ceiling on each side of fireplace and create a nice large mantle ( so you are covering a large portion of the rocks) then, paint the entire walls and ceiling the same warm light creamy beige ( not too white... needs warmth) I would prefer to see wood flooring, instead of the beige carpet myself. Best of luck!
October 25, 2013 at 10:40am   
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Fred S
Sometimes I wonder if people add lights to deliberately detract from the room. All those little lights do more harm than good. You need much more indirect lighting shining just on the walls, not back into your face too. In this case, track lighting with many small heads aimed at the wall and crisscrossed all over, but not too bright, so on dimmers. Other layers of light like the big one in the middle and some floor or table lamps will also balance it out.
October 25, 2013 at 11:04am   
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joots07
Much larger, chunky fireplace surround. whitewash the ceiling--or keep it dark so it recedes. get rid of all the bitty lights and hang a couple of handsome "manly" chandeliers. Biggest expense could be a couple of hand-woven tapestries for either side of the fireplace. I mean BIG. I'm picturing textured wild fibers, so the effect is rough and natural, like your stone, but soft to pose a contrast and relief. Stronger furniture, in vivid solid, colors. Everything you put in this room must compete with those awesome, dramatic stones, so keep it strong and assertive.
October 25, 2013 at 11:19am   
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joots07
Another thought - the furniture in there now sort of shares the form of the stones, with the curves and bulges. If. you spring for new furniture, consider more squared off, chunky pieces in colors that compliment but don't match or pick up on the stone. Turquoise or hot red might work.
October 25, 2013 at 11:25am   
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Nelson Brackin Architect
I think that a solution is in a combination of many of the ideas already shared in this discussion. To relocate some items and to change the lighting will do a lot to the space.

The idea to relocate the TV to a sidewall is a good one. A piece of artwork should be over the fireplace. A thick long mantel as travisinteriors suggested is a good idea, coupled with a fireplace surround. Replacing the fireplace with a larger one that is scaled to the room is a good idea. You will find that by scaling the mantel and fireplace to fit the room will balance the space.

On the sketch I did you will see some added detail work on the mantel as an accent. And to either side of the fireplace I sketched a display case to show an art piece or special memorabilia.

A ridge skylight would greatly increase the daytime light levels in this room. In the evening effective lighting designed to complement the space and controlled to allow different uses will greatly alter the room from a dark space to a bright one. A motorized shading device in the skylight would be a good idea as an added feature.

I suggest removing the track light fixtures. Provide paired down lights mounted to either side of the beam. Also provide paired wall washer light fixtures to illuminate the sidewalls of the space. I would not recommend mounting lights to the bottom of the beams. The bottom of the new light fixtures should not extend below the bottom of the beams.

The pair of down lights that would be closest to the stonewall would be directed to illuminate the mantel and artwork over the fireplace.

I propose that you add a cornice shelf over the door opening that would extend the length of the room, as well as one on the opposite wall at the same height. The cornice shelf would provide a place to mount concealed up-lights to illuminate the ceiling. Recessed puck LED lights in the cornice shelf would provide accent down lighting.

The ability to control the lighting with dimmers will greatly enhance the space. The paired down lights near the skylight, the wall washers, the cornice shelf up-lights, the recessed puck down-lights, and the lights over the mantel all should be able to be controlled independently. A pre-set lighting control panel will allow you to create a lighting level that works best for different activities easily.

Sstarr’s comment on the lighting is a good one. The reflectors for the lights need to shield the source to cut down on glare. Floor lamps would be a good choice for lighting near seating areas.

I propose to locate the TV atop a low credenza on a sidewall. The credenza would provide space for storage. Vertical supports for glass shelving would align with the beams above and would extend to the cornice shelf above.

A line of casement windows on the opposite sidewall would bring additional light and further open the space.

I agree with the comment to not paint the wood ceiling or stone, both would be very wrong. Better lighting that allows flexibility in its use is the key.

Attached is a sketch I prepared illustrating these ideas. Good luck sorting through all of these ideas.
October 25, 2013 at 6:09pm     
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Nelson Brackin Architect
Here is an example of a renovation project I did in which I added skylights. I also designed the bookcase. The vertical bookcase supports aligned with the beams between the skylights above. The skylights transformed the space, bringing the color of sky and the light of the stars into the room. It is the most used room by this family.
October 25, 2013 at 8:22pm     
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kathy
hmm - must be the season - I think I'm seeing more 'fireplace' and fewer 'curb appeal' questions!

@mrsrossotti - to see someone else who has an overwhelming fireplace, check out this discussion: http://www.houzz.com/discussions/323878/Monster-of-a-Fireplace---I-ve-never-seen

good luck!
October 25, 2013 at 9:09pm   
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joots07
If you like the textile idea, you could also seek some Pendleton blankets. Old and worn could add to the charm (and keep costs down). Go for the real thing, not synthetic fleece type blankets.
October 27, 2013 at 8:40am   
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HERE Design and Architecture
In general, while the wall of stone is not necessarily what I would have designed, the room has a certain simplicity and integrity to it that I think are worth acknowledging and emphasizing. I think that the squishiness of the carpet and furnishings detract from that. If you remove the carpet and install some kind of a hard, fairly uniform floor (such as hardwood or polished concrete) and get much sleeker furniture, I think I would like the room much better. I concur with somebody's comments above about having a better lighting strategy. Finally, if I were going to spend any money at all building anything, it would be more windows in the left wall.
October 27, 2013 at 2:39pm   
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ewe3
Is the OP still here? Would love to see answers to questions posed so far as well as others:
- Can the carpet be replaced w/ other flooring?
- Can windows and/or skylights be added anywhere to lighten up the space?
- Is it an option to replace furniture with pieces with a lighter profile?
- Is it an option to remove the bar altogether or replace it with a lighter version?
- Can the TV be moved within the room or to another space in the house?
- Is that a pillar of some sort on the window side of the bar?
- How many windows are on that long wall to the right of the fp? Can you include a pic of that wall head-on as well as a head-on shot of the opposite wall that shows the windows next to the bar?
- Is it a possibility at least to cover the horizontal hearth surface with something like in leelee's pic #3 above?
December 11, 2013 at 10:35am   
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Wendy
Lighting is key in this room. Worth getting a professional in.
December 11, 2013 at 10:54am   
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Paris Flea
Please lighten that room up, white wash the rock. All of the weight in the room is in the rock and ceiling. balance it out by lightening the rock wall . Please post "after" pictures ,looking forward to seeing which direction you take. Best of luck . Paris
December 11, 2013 at 11:10am   
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