Our den does not actually look anything at all like the Brady Bunch family room. But I mentioned in a planning post way back a long time ago (umm. TWO YEARS AGO. Damn, I’m slow) that the Brady Bunch family room was my inspiration for the general feel I was going for in the space and for how I envisioned us using it. Also, it does have a sectional, so I’m sticking with it, even though our sectional is not quite so…plaid as the Brady Bunch’s was.
I just read back through that aforementioned planning post for the first time in recent memory….and it turns out the whole Brady Bunch inspiration is pretty much the only thing we kept. Back then, we were going to rip out the old mantel and build or buy a new one. And there was going to be whimsical wallpaper. Here’s what the room looked like back then; we’d already gotten our Karlstad and our awesome and incredibly cheap rug, but everything else was untouched and badly in need of….touching:
So the biggest change to the original plans was that, as you can see, we kept the original (well, I’m sure it’s not original to the house, but original to the house as we knew it) mantel and opted to paint it instead. This was a decision born mostly out of financial concerns and probably even more out of fear of screwing it up. But I can say now that I’m really glad we kept it. I never thought I’d say this, but I actually like the fireplace now.
Before it just seemed out of proportion and out of place, but painting it the same color as the wall and opting for some other antique-looking, less streamlined/modern stuff in the rest of the room helped it feel more at home here. The whole room–walls, trim, and fireplace–are painted Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy. We used matte paint for the walls and satin for the trim and fireplace. That was awhile ago now, and I’m happy to report that the fireplace paint is holding up well, for the most part. There are a couple of small chips that I need to touch up, but nothing major. If I have to break out a brush every year and a half or so to touch up, I can live with that.
The gallery wall is almost as exciting as wallpaper and was way less work. Although it did take me many months to slowly assemble it from (mostly) thrift finds. I had no particular criteria for inclusion here; it was strictly an “I’ll know it when I see it” school of art collection. So there are a number of vintage oil paintings (most prominently the Sad Pilgrims over the fireplace; my mom actually gave me that one years and years ago), plus some needlework of assorted types. The barn painting is one my grandmother painted.
The dresser to the right of the fireplace used to belong to my great grandparents. My aunt had it for awhile and passed it on to me when she didn’t have a place for it anymore. I love the wood and the subtle, pretty little flower design:
There was a time when we were considering actually doing built ins around the fireplace, but in the end we went with this DIY corner shelf that we built based on an Ana White design. The shelves hold a lot of actual books and then a bunch of other stuff, too. Like some of Abe’s toys and games in that big box, DVDs in some of the bins, and, of course, brass animals. And photos. The paint color is green agate from Behr Marquee.
Still loving this little vintage toy piano I got on ebay for our Decomposing Composers Halloween. Who knew it could be non-spooky decor, too?!
I posted this on Instagram the other day….it’s all four of my and Dave’s grandfathers, at our wedding 17 years ago. Dave’s mom got them all together for a photo, and I love that we have it. I just wish we had one of all the grandmothers, too.
Itty bitty Gus!
The bighorn sheep lamp was a clearance find at Target awhile back:
I kept things very simple on the mantel, since it’s pretty well surrounded by….stuff between the shelves and the gallery wall. But the mantel did give me a place to put these little brass birds that my brother and sister-in-law gave me for Christmas year before last. They were on the piano in the library, but the kids complained that they rattled around when they played. For some reason, my kids regard the piano primarily as an instrument for playing music instead of as a display space for brass animals. Weirdos. Anyway. My birds are happier in here ANYWAY. And I put my brass….stork? on the other end to keep them company.
I realized after my good light went away that I didn’t get a wide shot of this side of the room. Not as wide as I wanted anyway. So here’s one with bad light:
Looking back the other way:
We’ve had the Karlstad for 2 years now, and I love it as much now as the day we brought it home (it was a Craigslist find). I’ve always wanted a big sprawling sectional that the whole family could fit on easily, and it really does fit both the space and our big family perfectly. My mom found the rug at Goodwill for me, and it cost remarkably close to nothing. My stepdad got a veteran’s discount on it, so they paid $15. !!!!!!!
I’m still not entirely thrilled about the coffee table situation (or the lack thereof). The ottomans work okay and the storage is great, but it’s kind of a pain to move them around and they don’t hold up to wear and tear terribly well so far.
The picture ledges (from Ikea) have been up forever; they’re one of the very first things we ever did in this house. I like how easy it is to rotate photos in and out with picture ledges. At least in theory. In actual practice, the same pictures have been up there forever. Abe is turning one in the newest addition (he’s 4 now).
The two newest additions to the room are here. There’s not much light in this room (two overhead lights mysteriously aimed right at the fireplace (“look at me! I am the focal point in this room!” our fireplace screams), so we added the lamp on the corner shelf and these two adjustable sconces on either side of the picture ledges. They’re from World Market; right now they’re $60 each, but I’m pretty sure I either got them on sale or used a coupon. As one does at World Market.
We also finally got around to printing and framing some of the family photos I’ve taken over the past few years. More on that in a separate post:
So there it is! A finished space here was a long time coming, but I’m so happy with it now that it’s done. This is our default family hang out space. We watch TV in here, read, the kids spread out and do school….and sometimes Abe and my brother, Sean, perform a banjo duet in here: