Archives for January 2012

Our New House Entryway: Adding Old World Character {The Faux Fireplace Mantel Dilemma}

Our New House Entryway: Adding Old World Character {The Faux Fireplace Mantel Dilemma}

Adding Old World Character to a New House

So, most of you might know we moved to this brand new Craftsman style house in Washington three years ago (MY how time flies) from a charming old English Tudor in Portland Oregon. The reason we bought a new house is because we knew we would be too busy and frazzled to deal with things like messy time consuming remodels, pipes rusting out or rodents under our sink. Been there, done that.

We definitely made the right choice for this season in our life. But, we really miss the character of an old house. We don’t miss the rodents, though. So, we are just starting to try and build more old world character or at least some more personality into our home in small, manageable ways. Last year we changed our dining room light fixture, from the builder’s flying saucer light to our more charming lantern.

Our New House Entryway: Adding Old World Character {The Faux Fireplace Mantel Dilemma}

This year we are continuing to replace the basic builder lights, one by one. We changed this entry light to a little coastal lantern recently (we got it at Home Depot, I think) because we wanted something small that would complement the painting and our style, but not dominate the wall. It does the trick!

By the way, we found that gorgeous painting in a CLOSET at our old house before we moved in. We paid the owner $100 for it and when we had it cleaned, appraised and framed, it turned out to be the work a painter (who was a friend of Monet!) in the Impressionist era! SCORE!

But don’t worry, we won’t light the mason jar candles and catch it all on fire.

Our New House Entryway: Adding Old World Character {The Faux Fireplace Mantel Dilemma}

Anyway, so here is what we started out with on this wall just before Thanksgiving. Yeah. I know it is sometimes hard to tell paint colors, but before they were kind of dusty pinkish beige and now they are brownish gray. In case you didn’t know, I call them swine walls, because they just remind me of the color of the under belly of a big.

For those of you who like pink walls, trust me, I’m not judging pink walls anywhere but at my own house. I just don’t like them personally for MY house, but they are certainly fabulous at yours. I like pink just fine.

DISCLAIMER: For the record, I like pigs too, especially Wilbur. I just don’t like my walls to oink at me.

So we had the entry (or foyer, if that is what you fancy folk call it) walls painted (Studio Taupe) the week of Thanksgiving (I didn’t post pictures of that since it was too close to Christmas, so I’m catching you all up now!). We also painted the striped wall, which I also need to post about. It is over to the left of the fireplace wall, under our stairs.

I decided that I wanted to use the mantel on this wall, in spite of the air vent, because I thought it would give the entry a little more old world character. New house entry ways can feel kind of tall and cold so I wanted to really give it a lot of warmth and personality. Most new houses probably don’t have a fireplace in the entry so this seemed like it would really warm the room up visually.

Our New House Entryway: Adding Old World Character {The Faux Fireplace Mantel Dilemma}

But the dilemma is that crazy return air vent.

What should I do about that? I cannot cover it up fully, the air still needs to be able to circulate. I could paint it the same as the wall color, but I think it will still look like a little off and like its missing something. I need to fill the whole area with something, but what could beef it up without blocking the air vent? I can’t set things on the floor in front of it or it will be too crowded.

Ideas? Creative suggestions?

Our New House Entryway: Adding Old World Character {The Faux Fireplace Mantel Dilemma}

I have a fireplace screen, so maybe that would help in some way?

There is a little bit of space behind the opening of the mantel so I could possible attach some sort of wire mesh or screen or something to it, as long as there air can still flow. I was going to put a chalkboard painted board there until we decided on this wall with the air vent, then it was not possible to use it.

I kind of want the fireplace to look classic, maybe not so crafty or tacky, but obviously it is not a real working fireplace so I am not opposed to a little creative license there to give it more creative personality.

Here is what the wall looks like across from this mantel….

And here is how I solved another dilemma, covering a row of light switches!

Thoughts on how to solve my dilemma?


Update: Lessons from A Failed DIY Project (this one, ha!)

What to Hang on a Wall {Life’s Little Dilemmas}

What to Hang on a Wall {Life's Little Dilemmas}

Sometimes I ponder the deep questions of life, like what should I put on my wall?

A few weeks ago I was trying to figure out what to do with a relatively small space between my front door and living room windows. It had an awkward placement of light switches so everything I tried to hang looked off balance, too high, or just seemed to accentuate the switches.


What to do? Hmmmm.

So, as I often do, I started looking around my house for a solution. Because that is how I decorate, I have very scientific formulas for solving decorating dilemmas. Basically, I wander around my house as if I’m at a store looking for just the right piece for my home. Except, I’m already home.

What to Hang on a Wall {Life's Little Dilemmas}

When I spotted a basket, I knew that was exactly what I needed. Not only did it solve the issue of the unattractive switches (I just take the basket off the nail to turn off and on lights and then put it right back, easy peasy), but it gave a fun little artistic display of craftsmanship that suited my craftsman home.

What to Hang on a Wall {Life's Little Dilemmas}

To add to my basket wall display, my daughter spotted a wire basket on sale while we were shopping at JoAnn’s fabric, and then I added a little mirror perfect for making sure I don’t have spinach in my teeth before I walk out the door.

Maybe I’ll add more baskets to my collection over time, but that is all I had for now.

What to Hang on a Wall {Life's Little Dilemmas}

After I saw the wall and it was good (I learned that decorating lesson from God), then I moved on to another wall on the other side of the door. I’m kind of into making sure that things flow around the room and look right together, so I just felt like I wanted more of the same type of texture somewhere else. So, another mirror for teeth checking and a smaller version of the wire basket did the trick!

Right about now is when I regret not cleaning my mirrors before I took pictures. Oops! But, you know. I’ve been kind of busy with things like Christmas so I’ll get around to that, sometime.

What to Hang on a Wall {Life's Little Dilemmas}

I happened to have a random little hook that looked like something you’d have on a boat to tie a rope or something (update: an observant reader says it is a hook to hold up the cord on blinds!), so I used it for hanging the wire basket. Usually I just hang things with nails but sometimes I like to add a little something extra by using a decorative hook or knob instead.

By the way, here is where we discuss what this hook actually is called!

What to Hang on a Wall {Life's Little Dilemmas}

Edited: I got a new basket for this wall so I’m adding the updated picture above!

I love the warmth and texture and personality the baskets bring to the entry and I think really makes a nice unique statement. Another decorating dilemma, solved.

Oh, but now I have another decorating dilemma in my entry and I think I’m going to ask for your help in my next post, so be prepared to put your creative problem solving thinking caps on for me.