Why, hello there, den! You’re looking so much less neglected these days!
I’ve written approximately 14 posts detailing all our big plans for this room, each one completely different from the last. But I think we should probably just pretend the first 13 didn’t happen, and that it all started with my post back in October, because three months is a perfectly respectable amount of time between plan and execution. Also, that was the post where I talked about how we were going to paint the crazy ass big fireplace the same color as the walls, and that’s what we actually did. See?
Here’s the fireplace (and the walls are in there, too) before:
I’ve always felt that the fireplace is all out of proportion to the house (and stylistically not the best fit, either)…and for awhile we planned to rip it out and build or buy a new surround. But that started to seem like too big of a project, so painting it the same dark color as the walls in an attempt to get it to kind of blend in was my compromise plan.
And then I sat around staring at the walls for awhile and reluctantly admitted to myself that if we were going to paint the fireplace and walls a dark color, we were going to need to do the trim, too. Everyone knows that painting trim is hell, but I just couldn’t see a way around it. The white trim with the dark walls and fireplace made my head hurt when I imagined them. And so we spent much of the week between Christmas and New Years painting and painting and painting.
But now we’re finished! And I’m so happy!
The den’s on the north side of the house, and has just the one window in it (it’s a big bay window, but much of it is blocked by the sunroom and the chimney from the sunroom fireplace), so it’s a surprisingly dark room in an otherwise pretty bright house. It also suffers from a lack of overhead lighting (there are just two lights above the fireplace), and there’s no room in the budget to fix that anytime soon. But I read somewhere a long time ago, and I’ve found it to be true, that you can’t make a small room seem bigger nor a dark room seem bright by painting it a light color. So we decided to embrace the cozy vibe and paint it navy. And it actually makes the room feel bigger (of course, the fact that we cleared a bunch of crap out of here before we painted didn’t hurt, either).
(that’s Abe’s little Pottery Barn table and chairs that I found on a local FB yardsale list. I thought I’d end up painting them, but the colors actually work well in here, it turns out. Excuse the nuclear explosion happening outside that window.).
I wrestled a bit with what sheen to use for the fireplace and trim. I considered just doing absolutely everything matte, but I wasn’t sure how it would look and I was worried it wouldn’t hold up well (I googled some, and matte trim just doesn’t seem to be something anyone does). So we ended up with matte for the walls and satin for the trim and fireplace. I still wonder if I would have preferred the look of the fireplace matte, but I do think it would have chipped like crazy and I would have regretted it (as it is, there’s no topcoat on it, and we may end up having to put one on the hearth at least down the road. We’ll have to see how it holds up).
The fireplace surround is some kind of plaster material. I googled a bit to see if I needed some kind of special high heat paint, but it seemed like I didn’t for something that wasn’t actually going to be in contact with fire (full disclosure: we’ve never actually used this fireplace. It’s gas, and we want to convert it back to woodburning (I’m not clear on whether there’s an actual conversion that has to happen or if you just don’t turn on the gas and put wood in there), and getting the chimney cleaned plus talking to someone about that has been on the to do list since our first winter here). So our painting method was a coat of primer followed by two coats of the paint (and it was NOT FUN getting in all those little crevices. We ended up buying a new one inch brush for the task after a failed experiment with q-tips).
There was a minor catastrophe with the paint. I picked Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy for in here, because that’s what color we painted our dining room table awhile back, so I thought it was a tried and true choice: a nice, deep gray-blue:
Dave went to our closest Ben Moore store and came back with two gallons of matte and one gallon of satin, both “Regal Select,” because Dave always somehow manages to buy too expensive paint. We started painting the walls….and they looked nothing like our dining room table. They were unequivocally navy–much darker and without the gray.
I thought this was weird, but I liked the color a lot, and I thought maybe it was just the difference in lighting and scale or whatever, so we shrugged and kept painting.
Then we opened up the satin. AH! THERE was the gray hale navy like on our dining room table! They didn’t match at all. Which, of course, wasn’t going to work, even though we liked both colors, since the whole point was matching fireplace and walls.
Dave took both cans back to the store, where the guy (not the same one who’d mixed them) declared, “that’s screwy as hell!” and then remixed the satin while mumbling something about how Benjamin Moore has changed the bases or something. So I still don’t know which color is really Hale Navy, but all my paint matches now, and I love the color, so I’m happy.
Note that the lone doorframe is still white. I’m trying to decide if we should leave it that way. I’m thinking I don’t really mind it, and the problem with painting it navy is knowing where to stop…..do I paint the middle part between the two rooms navy? The whole thing? Just the side in the den?
That ottoman (there are two of them in here, actually; the other one’s at the end of the sofa) is new, too. I’ll talk more about that and about storage ideas in here in general next time.
There’s still a lot more to do in here, but I’m so happy with the progress so far. And everything else will seem super fun and easy compared to painting trim!