To do, or not to do...

When we moved into this house, I started gathering all kinds of ideas for what I wanted to do to update this room.

I dreamed up everything from adding a window seat, to bookcases, to built ins, to some trim work, to refinishing floors, to a new fireplace surround and a fireplace insert for cozier fall days.

So many ideas!

So little time and budget.

While we’ve been able to work on quite a few other projects around our house (if you are new and want to catch up you can find many of them here!), this room has evolved in less dramatic ways than I envisioned.

But for this past season of our life, simple changes have been more than enough.

Instead of redoing the fireplace, we just painted it. Twice. :)

To do, or not to do...

Rather than a built-in window seat, we bought a rattan daybed that we ended up loving (and the dogs love it, too!).

While we still haven’t installed one bit of trim in here, we refreshed the room with paint and installed window shades.

To do, or not to do...

Of course, every so often (or every season!) we rearrange the space with rugs, furniture, art, lamps…we’re still experimenting and figuring out what makes us feel our best in here.

(If you missed my recent post, I shared how we’ve been liking our new white sofa here!)

To do, or not to do...

Similar leather ottoman / Sofa Rug / Round Accent Table / Woven side table trunk

I haven’t stopped dreaming up ideas for this room though. That’s what I do. But I’ve also grown to be quite content with it as it is. It’s comfortable. Inviting. Relaxing and cozy.

What more do I really need?

There’s something to be said about embracing simplicity, you know? Letting yourself just be content with what is. Feeling happy with what you already have, rather than always feeling the need to have new, or more…or different…or extra.

To do, or not to do...

My goal is that when I do decide to make a more significant change, it is a more thoughtful one. I want my home to speak to my heart. I don’t want to make changes on a whim just to reflect the most current design trends. I want to make changes that bring joy, make sense, are meaningful or serve our needs well.

To do, or not to do...

One of the questions I’m still pondering is whether or not I want to make a design change to my fireplace! Part of me still wants to redesign this whole wall. Part of me has grown to be comfortable with it as it is.

What are your thoughts, friends? If this was your home, would you change this wall? What ideas would you have for updating this fireplace? What inspiration photos would inspire you? Or would you just leave it as is?

Do you ever wrestle with the process of making design changes or decisions in your home?

To do, or not to do...
To do, or not to do...

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To do, or not to do...


  1. JJ

    You have several round things floating on your walls. Try adding a large arched mirror in white over the fireplace ..relating back to the arched doorways you added. I wouldn’t change the fireplace if it works.

    • Susie

      I agree, I feel like you need more weight with the pieces on the mantle. Perhaps something taller? Other than that, I like the fireplace.

  2. KMR

    I actually really love your current fireplace wall. It’s unique and interesting, but not flashy or trendy. I vote to keep!

  3. Angela G.

    I think my decision would be based on “is there some thing else in the house I want more/love less?” I see your fire place as you do- it could change but it is also fine the way it is. If spending money somewhere else is needed or would definitely bring you joy, then let the fireplace remain as is.

  4. Helene Reid

    I put an insert in my fireplace 5 years ago and have had no regrets. So warm and cozy and my dog just loves stretching out in front of it for her naps. If you take this root go for quality, a big difference in the heat output. I chose Vermont Casting. Made in the USA. Glass front so you can see the fire. We just love it and have it going all winter.

  5. Bettye Greenwood

    I agree that the fireplace wall could be seen two ways: embrace it’s quirkiness or do “something” to evoke symmetry. Don’t ask me what that something would be.
    I like the wing chair by your sofa. Is it a comfortable chair? My husband and I love to read but we have a hard time finding comfortable chairs. Where is it from please?

  6. Kim

    If it were me, I’d do a gas log insert Melissa and leave the fireplace as is. I think your fireplace wall is very pretty and always love how you decorate this room. So cozy!

    • Patty

      I agree with Kim. A gas fireplace would be great. I love the wall itself.

  7. Sherry Sanders

    I think I would just add a beautiful painting with colors that reflect your view of the water.

    • Kim

      I agree – artwork over the fireplace vs mirror. Otherwise, I really like the room as is. It looks inviting, cozy, and simple (that’s a compliment). The fireplace looks great as is IMO – sometimes working with, instead of replacing, is more charming and authentic.

  8. Amy

    I can see you going for a look like this:

    Or for a simpler fix:
    In this instance, the addition of a strong horizontal wooden mantel gives the eye something to focus on and takes away from the asymmertical nature of the FP:

    Off topic – I’d love to see an update post on your new deck and how you have it styled for this spring/summer, and how your landscaping is going since last year’s additions.

  9. Helene

    I’d definitely insert gas logs (healthier and easier)…. I like the look, but I’d probably replace the mirror with something else.

  10. Melinda Young

    I love this room and the changes you’ve made. It’s so cheery and cozy.
    In our old home (a1950’s ranch), we had a red brick fireplace wall and it had a built in on one end. It had a long red brick hearth that was wide enough to sit on. The brick never bothered me. However, after years we did add a gas insert. We were so glad we did. Our whole family loved to gather around it. It was perfect for cozy fall and winter days.
    Before we moved I considered painting the brick. That was the last idea I had for that room.
    With that, I love your brick painted and if you added a fireplace insert, you will love it even more. Maybe the shiplap above the brick to add a little more warmth to it?

  11. Deanna Rabe

    I think the fireplace and wall are charming, and suits your cottage very well. You have so much flexibility with that wall. I wouldn’t change it.

  12. Linda Grubbs

    I too love your fireplace wall the way it is. (Since you painted it) It’s lovely and is perfect for your cottage. I do like the idea of a larger round mirror.

  13. Diane

    For the short term while you ponder what to do with the fireplace, you may want to try a large basket filled with beautiful faux hydrangeas for the season. That along with a more substantial mirror and accessories on the mantle will be less costly and IMO..give a greater warmth and wow factor to that side of the room.

  14. Sonja

    I like your fireplace painted. I think a nice chunky wooden mantle would be nice. My friend did a cheater mantle. She laid a stained pine board in the shelf and trimmed it with crown moulding. It can be easily removed in the future, but looks so much more substantial than it is.

    I have a question. I’m going to paint my brick fireplace which spans the entire wall (10 feet!). Did you prime first? If I need to prime first, I need one that doesn’t have that toxic smell. I have dogs.

  15. Susan Langer

    I think the fireplace looks good as is unless you have money to spend in a redesign. But, I would punch up the wall above with a larger, more substantial mirror( not round) and then change the decor on the mantle. Let the fireplace be a focal point, rather then down playing it.

  16. Linda

    I would continue that bookcase up the wall. Somewhere to add some personality on the shelves and interesting items. Then maybe a mirror or larger picture over the fireplace. Your home is beautiful no matter what you decide to do!


    I love it just as it is! Somehow it works beautifully to me. I am not a big fan of changing anything just for the sake of change. There is value and strength in what is original for the home at the time it was built. But then, I still have a 1955 pink tile bathroom that I love. Oh happy day to you….

  18. Karlene

    Your room looks inviting and serene, quite the calming space. I’d be tempted to add a wood slab to the top of your mantel, just a touch deeper ( depth wise) than the brick top. Would carry your warm wood tones throughout the room and might be enough to be the change you are looking for.

  19. valarie sanford

    lean a large picture to the far left of the mirror and it will be perfect!

    • Ella

      Your mind works like mine. My innate response is to visually balance out the asymmetry. I was thinking floating white shelves to mimic the window size & shape visually on the left. (Shelves would meld in & not take focus of fireplace. ) However, I really like your idea maybe even better as it could be so quick & easy.

  20. Joni

    I really like your fireplace, but an easy way to update it a little and tie it into your raw wood tones in the room: Put a thick wood top over the white that is serving as your mantel. The wood with the white below would warm it up and make the area pop!

  21. Pat M.

    I love the fireplace itself since you’ve painted it and wouldn’t change it other than the often suggested gas insert and/or the faux wood slab mantle suggested earlier. You have a wonderful wall above it for sizable artwork and I would either use large pieces or create a gallery wall with smaller pieces that you love. You have large furniture (which is cozy and wonderful) so your delicate mantle selection, to me, is not enough. Also, a larger mirror is not my choice for that location since I think it competes with the beautiful view out your windows and more reflective light is not needed in your room.
    You have asked for suggestions, but in the end it should be what feels right to you – and if leaving it as is feels right, then don’t change a thing.

  22. Jo Jo

    Your fire place is beautiful and wonderfully cottage- y as is, but I personally woood convert to gas or propane insert. They look so authentic these days and are more energy efficient than wood burning as it can actually heat your room without losing heat up a chimney. I love your book shelf 5hat is offset on the side of the fireplace. Perhaps continue that higher up to draw the eye up higher ( you mentioned you have standard8 ft ceilings) I love books in a room…more the better, in my book. lol as they really warm the space! Then above the fire place a large painting or an arched architectural piece ( maybe one with mirror – I have one, found it reasonably at Kirkland’s) that is wood. But if you didn’t change a thing, I know I’d be perfectly cozy and happy in that room in all seasons. ?. Have fun imagining of what might be or could be knowing what you have already is lovely.

  23. MCM

    Hi, I love your fireplace wall the way it is. The only thing I would do is add a reclaimed wood mantle. It’s so nice that you can style your open hearth with pillar candles for that added cozy vibe should you ever choose to! :)

  24. MCM

    Whoops, I meant, reclaimed wood slab (vs mantle surround). …but I think you got my drift…;)

  25. Jan G

    Our home was built in the late 80’s and has a fireplace that was built with red brick in the middle all the way to the slanted ceiling and “wings” similar to what your bookshelf is only on both sides (with no bookcase, just partial brick wall.) It made decorating/furniture placement very difficult and the asymmetry of it annoyed me. After 17 years of living with the house like that we were doing some remodeling in the kitchen and decided to bite the bullet and lose the “wings”. I’ve never been as happy with any decision we’ve made related to the function and aesthetics of our house. There is now a mantel (breaks up the large expanse of brick in the middle) and bookshelves on either side. It wasn’t as difficult (read expensive) as I thought it would be. If you lost the bookshelf you could do a freestanding shelf or plants or something with some height that would lend some balance to the windows that are on the right of the fireplace. Just one woman’s opinion!

  26. AnneS

    I like the fireplace too. You could balance the mirror by putting a picture or another mirror over the bookcase. Maybe something rectangular with the tall end up. Or one big picture. Something darker for some color. Also, if you wanted some contrast, you could paint or stain the mantle and maybe the bookshelves.

  27. Bonnie Stoltzfoos

    Such an encouraging post. ? I get that feeling of gratitude when a space serves you so well, even in its simplicity. There’s a lot of joy there. :) I really like your fireplace how it is! The book shelf adds such neat character but I would of course be so excited to see anything you’d dream up! I like that it feels light. :)

  28. Christie

    I appreciate that you have made small changes, other than the kitchen (which is amazing). And the simple but thoughtful design of the original house is now updated and enhanced. I am more inspired by your design than if you had changed the house. It’s more like refined than redone. Thank you!

    • Christie

      Keep the fireplace as it is. The windows and fireplace position echo your kitchen. I read through the comments and someone suggested a simple wooden mantle. I agree! Also I liked another suggestion for a pretty Vermont Castings fireplace insert.

  29. Jackie

    Can you share the source for the floor lamp next to the sofa? The metal shade is warm and gorgeous.

  30. Becky Ruth

    I might add some wood trim somehow on the fireplace wall; a mantle??

  31. Leigh smith

    You style a room beautifully. I have no design sense. But, that wall is pretty empty. I would not do anything dramatic (my reasoning is 100% based on time and cost). However, what about some large black and white prints of your family?

  32. Ursula

    Great suggestions here Melissa– topping the mantle with wood, adding a tall, large mirror– I bet you’ll come up with a beautiful update! I’m joining team get-an-insert, electrical or gas. We have so enjoyed our gas fireplaces in Colorado (we’ve had snow yesterday and today and our gas FP is in use again!) and the Midwest. So nice to welcome home someone on a blustery day, or look forward to as a treat after shoveling snow! These warmer months are a good time to research brands, models, blower options, venting, installation, etc of a unit. If you decide to go ahead, you have plenty of time to install before the cold returns… and decide if you even want to spend that money when you have a BATHROOM situation that might be a much more pressing concern! ;-) It’s been a while since you posted about your main level bath situation. Which project could create more happiness?

  33. Carol

    I might try the baskets that are on the wall behind the sofa across the fireplace wall instead and put a large rectangular type mirror over the sofa so that when one is sitting on the daybed the reflection and view out your window wall can be seen in the mirror, expanding the feel of the room bringing the outside in, also.

  34. Karen

    Hi Melissa,
    I get the feeling that this room is growing on you just as it is. I say it’s good to trust that feeling, because it is telling you something. You may have to wait, though, to see what’s coming or what’s next. Don’t force it. It may be that the perfect idea is still out there waiting for you to discover it. Why not leave it as it is? You”ll know when you find the answer…it will jump out at you.

  35. Nikki

    To update the fireplace maybe you could add a stained wood top to the mantle?

  36. Lisa

    The only change I would make would be to extend the bookshelf that’s on the left all the way to the ceiling. Leave the top “mantel cap” and build the new bookshelf on top. Same width as below, but I’d build the top bookshelf with matching trim pieces on both the right and left side. It will help break up that wall a bit and add some architectural interest. Keep the things you have on the mantle but just move them in closer to the mirror or rearrange according to what looks best once the bookshelf is in.

  37. Kathi Builta

    How much is enough and if you feel balance in the room are personal choices, I would aim my focus out the window to that beautiful view. I would let the rest of the room stay cozy and simple.
    I’ll bet you will find a few large pieces (a larger mirror leaning on the mantle layered with a piece of art maybe?) for over the fireplace that will give you the look you want and still balance with the view.

  38. Karen Bunch

    I think the room is inviting and lovely. I have worked on being more content with using what I own, rather than always looking to buy new things. I am a dreamer and planner too, so I understand the plans that are, for now, on the back burner. :-)

  39. Nancy Worthington

    I like color! So if it was my house I would want it to POP/ way to much white

  40. Francesca Gunn

    I also love color….everywhere. Maybe paint the back and insides of the shelving? Just a little contrast to perk things up? OR maybe some sort of wallpaper( temporary, if so desired) on that wall above the fireplace. Neither ( or both) of these options are budget-friendly easy to complete.

  41. Cheryl

    I vote to keep the fireplace! If you wish to make a change, perhaps you might add a wood shelf top across the entire top (of the bookshelf and fireplace) and then add floating wood shelves above the bookshelves. This would carry up the bookshelves and add warmth and help create some separation of the bookshelves and fireplace. You might need to change the mirror to a larger size with this addition or replace the mirror with a lovely painting, as another commented. The round mirror would fit in well on the wall with the baskets and reflect the view from your large window.

  42. Debbie - MountainMama

    Your home is so lovely just the way it is, Melissa – I wouldn’t touch a thing! You’ve made the asymmetrical fireplace work really well in the room

  43. Shasta

    Your home is lovely! I would take out bookcase, add a bigger mirror over the fireplace. Love the floor lamp in that corner, so cozy, maybe a higher end table?

  44. Nina Simon

    Dear [email protected],

    If this were my home, I would not change the color of the walls. I think the bright hue of the house livens up the space with all the lovely furniture and little pieces of living. Enjoy your time in your abode! <3

  45. Elizabeth

    I agree with other other commenters that a big wood mantle would look great. I’d transform the shelves into a floor to ceiling built in bookcase.

  46. Linda Beard

    I enjoyed reading all the good suggestions. But, for a less costly fix, I would forget about a fireplace insert at this time. You can always do that later. But a fairly large picture over the mantel would give some weight to the arrangement. Then buy 2 lanterns for over the bookcase, maybe one smaller than the other. Get some battery- operated candles to come on each evening. There are neat ones that look like flames. Don’t make your lanterns too small. These things would fill in your area and make it look balanced with the rest of your room.

  47. Katie

    I like the fireplace as is. It has a clean and simple look.

  48. Debbie Richardson

    I love your sense of style and the idea of bringing joy into your home. I think a joyful color on the fireplace might be fun. You can always paint it back. :)

  49. Jennifer Larsen

    I think a rustic wood beam mantle would look amazing!

  50. Lorraine Messmer

    My inquiry has nothing to do with your fireplace. Thought I agree you should keep it as it is. My questions are. 1. How do you cover up the holes you make each season of redecorating? 2. Where do you store all your stuff when not in use?

  51. SS

    Your home is beautiful and I love your fireplace! I like that it looks original to your home. Decorating and renovating are hard on our budgets and our environment. Take your time to find creative pieces that maybe tell a good story. I find those fun finds are always more dear to me than something I picked up at a big box store. Enjoy your home and all that it provides!

  52. Karen

    I like the fireplace / book case wall as is. I love the texture of the stone work and the strong horizontal lines of the stone give the room a restful, calm feel. You can always change out the mantel decor, what you place on the bookshelves and what is in the fireplace, as well as re-arrange the rest of the room.

  53. Jan

    Your white fireplace is wonderful. I wouldn’t redesign it. Have you thought of shiplap on that wall? I know you have it in the kitchen, so it would definitely go in your house. A cool lantern, maybe.

  54. Julia Taylor

    I love the fireplace and bookshelf as is. You need a bold statement piece abive the fireplace and aomething else above the bookshelf. One of this bold pieces you talk about. You will know it when you see it.

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