Fireplace Cushions…Yea or Nay?

I’m clearing out closets left and right, and stumbled upon these cushions in the back of one of them. The previous owners had the cushions made for our fireplace in our family room. I liberated that hearth immediately when we moved in, but held on to the cushions for later review because I saw their potential practicality. And the fabric is quite adorable. The time for decision is now. I want closets cleared of stuff we don’t need. So…do we need these or pass them along?mid century rock fireplace brutalist sculpture cushions hearth Pros: They are well made, comfortable, in near perfect condition, in a good choice of fabric, and they soften up the hardness of all that rock.Cons: Sections were made to fit around the former fireplace surround, which is long gone, rendering the sections confusing and clunky. They also block access to the built-ins, which house our much used board games. And not that we have fires often, but it sounds annoying to remove them all when you want a fire.I could hang on to them and bring them out for gatherings, but who are we kidding? I’m not a party person. I’m not a people person. I don’t hobby entertain. And I have a gazillion chairs because what I am is a chair person. And these take up quite a bit of storage square footage, which I don’t yield lightly. So unless our family will use them in our daily life, this is where we part. I’ve been uncharacteristically decisive and ruthless with nixing possessions lately, but these are leaving me stumped! Weigh in (or on IG)! And a happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there!!! I don’t normally fist bump, but motherhood deserves a big one! xoxo


Family Room Rearrange

mid century family living room abstract painting tulip table coffeeHey all! Today I’m sharing the 17th rearrangement of our family room. OK I lost count at 10, but there’s been many versions. A little context. This room was the room that sold me on this house. Rock fireplace + sunken living room = take my money. Unanticipated, it’s the room that I can’t figure out. It’s constantly in a state of transition, and therefore one I rarely share. Here’s how it looked last year, and the year before that. The main workarounds are its large size (needs more substantial furniture/accessories than I’m used to), dueling focal points (fireplace and tv), and a lack of wall space (step down, divider, and sliding door occupy one wall and fireplace occupies another). A few months ago we upgraded the fireplace screen and refreshed the fireplace built-ins, and just recently we reconfigured the layout and added some new-to-this-room furniture, all of which have dramatically upped the flow and function of this space. Let the lack of cord management serve as evidence that we still have some work to do in here, but I feel like we are headed down a promising path! Pictures first and more words below!
mid century family living room fireplace tulip coffee table saarinenmid century family living room fireplace rocking chair danish teak mid century family living room tulip table coffee abstract painting lamp mid century tv television zenith stereo credenza console danish record cabinet vintage mid century family living room tv television credenza console danish record cabinet vintage

Things that are working include:

The new layout. Dramatic improvement. The TV/fireplace double focal point is self-imposed. We adore this room too much to waste it as a rarely used living room, the intended use, and want to make it our main family hang out space. Read: TV TIME! I didn’t want to cheapen the fireplace wall by hanging a tv on it, leaving us with only 2 tv wall options. We tried floating the couch and hanging the tv on the wall next to the fireplace, mainly so that I could theoretically stare at both. That was OK, but really closed off the room and ate up a lot of floor space. Also, the tv looked ridiculous on that giant wall and I could never find a work around for that. Moving the TV opposite of the fireplace solved a lot of issues. For one, the TV isn’t right in your face when you approach the room. For two, the room has opened up into the rest of the house and to the yard. For three, way more floor space for playing and hanging. I can’t keep one eye on the fireplace and one on the TV anymore, but that sacrifice is worth the gains.

The coffee table! Moving the couch against the wall made clear that our old coffee table (which I AM MADLY IN LOVE WITH) was not gonna work. Just to get a sense of what size we needed, I dragged in our large tulip coffee table from the patio (a 42 incher) and it was perfect. Like the room had never felt so pulled together. I really did love it outside, but my husband despised eating at such a low table. So, the decision to move it permanently into the family room made sense. It makes this space. And is so family friendly, a great place to gather around for games, coloring, or fort building. I still think that mosaic belongs in this room, but I haven’t found a logical spot for it, so the den is housing it for now.

The stereo cabinet. The first try of this arrangement brought in our bookshelf from the den to sit under the TV. While that was a big upgrade itself, the piece was never quite right. The light color and tall and narrow scale didn’t feel beefy enough to hold its own. And double shelves facing each other created a secondary fight for attention that was way too much clutter for my eyes. A long and low vintage record cabinet has been on my FIND ASAP LIST for years, for this room and all other family rooms before it. I even passed up on a gorgeous 7′ teak credenza a few months ago to wait it out. I’ve been pretty picky with design and price so it hasn’t happened sooner, but somehow this beautiful Zenith popped up on Craigslist recently and we jumped on it. To be clear, this item is on my husband’s DO NOT BUY EVER LIST. He’s practical and thinks having 6′ of heavy just to house one record player and two speakers is INSANE. It may be. But to me it’s the obvious and only solution. And a dream fulfilled. I’m also practical, and more storage only means storing more stuff. We don’t need either. Let’s not talk about how the stereo and record player currently aren’t working. Instead let’s focus on how well this record cabinet is working in this space.

The TV. At this point in the journey it became clear that it was time to buy a bigass TV. Our old one was tiny for even a tiny room, comically minuscule in this large space. I pushed back for years against a big TV because I didn’t want it to shout louder for attention, but upping the size dramatically improved the balance of the room and made it stand out less. Shocking but fantastic. (Part of my bargain for the record cabinet means I will joyfully live with a mess of cords until my AV dude feels like getting around to it. Gladly.)

The brutalist sculptures. YES. I’ve been in a big purging mode, really focusing on only keeping and having and hanging things I love. I’m so in love with these. Maybe two is too much for one room, but they are the things I currently want to look at.

That large painting. Though our bedroom is majorly missing it.


Things that aren’t working include:

The side table situation. We have two matching Heywood Wakefield tiered tables that I love. Ideally, they should be much bigger. But, like I said, I love em and they’ve been good to us for many years, so I’m gonna be content with them until the day I come across a cute, beefy pair for cheap.

I’m not loving the couch color. Now that I have a clearer vision, I wish the couch were orange or brown. Or at least lacking in blue undertones. And a foot or two longer wouldn’t hurt either. But again, contentment! Making it work!

So much busyness. There’s a lot going on. I lean towards the minimal side of life. In person, it isn’t as in your face because the room is so large, but I look at some of these pictures and think a crazy person must live here (she does – hi).

The step down. As you can see, fully unfinished and a mess. In due time…

The railing. We decided long ago to nix it in favor of a wood divider, but just haven’t gotten to that fun project yet. Can’t wait, but front yard duties call.

Baseboards. Much like the rest of the house, baseboard neglect. I failed to paint them, failed to remove them, and failed to replace them. Yet.

Not enough wood in here. The painted fireplace built-ins are better than they were, but I hope to one day rip those out and build custom walnut built-ins, a custom walnut mantel, a wall of walnut (behind the couch). My husband doesn’t call me Custom Jenny for nothing…


The current list:

My dream for this room is a cross between the Parker’s fireplace room and this Kelly Wearstler masterpiece. Common elements: cozy, textured, earthy, and brutal, basically like a refined hippie lair. I’m not totally there and doubt I will ever have a wall of Stan Bitters (SINGULAR LIFE GOAL), but feel like this space has a point of view and is making sense for our family for the first time since we’ve owned it. Or at least enough to live with while other projects take priority right now. Thanks for reading!!!

Painting Built-Ins

mid century fireplace shelf built in cabinetI’ve been putting in time in the family room, trying to get to a place where things just make more sense, but I’ve been stalled on this built-in cabinet. I’ll admit that it’s useful, displaying pottery hoards/Salton Sea relics in an uncluttered way up top and housing board games below. On the flip side, it competes with the fireplace and, while not the ugliest, is a far cry from the custom walnut shelves/walnut mantel/insane vintage light combo of my dreams. Considering the 100 other projects in line and the fact that there’s nothing really wrong with it as is, we won’t be bringing that dream to life in this year so I recently sucked it up and painted for the interim. New paint coupled with the fireplace screen swap has this side of the room looking fresh…though I’m not showing you the full width because Christmas tree is still there!!!

The color is Behr Potting Soil. White paint was the default, a pinkish tan to blend with the rocks was considered, but I ended up going dark last minute. Not sure if it’s the right move, but the dark color brings some heft to this large room, highlights the only tall ceilings in the house (so sunken!), makes my orange crap really pop, and helps me visualize dark wood over there. I’m proud/embarrassed to say that I painted the whole thing with two $3 sample jars of paint. The color is somewhere between charcoal and dark brown, the two colors I couldn’t decide between…so basically a cop out! It turns a little olive under the fireplace ceiling light so that’s kind of weird/delightful. behr potting soilIf nothing else, I improved upon the shelf styling, which has been an ongoing lesson in scale and color next to that giant fireplace! And we upgraded knobs to these sweet things, relocating them to the top. Things used to look like this:

mid century fireplace shelf built in cabinet

I hope to give some better (read: non Christmas tree) looks at the whole room soon, pending a few more tweaks! Now tell me: custom walnut craziness should be happening there, right?! Am I right or am I right?!