Making Plans for the Poor, Neglected Den

Here’s my inspiration picture for our den:



It’s the family room from The Brady Bunch!

Okay, so maybe SOME details will be different. Okay, maybe all of them. No paneling or plaid sofas or sliding glass doors. But it kept popping into my head when I was thinking about how we use our den and the sort of general mood/feeling we’re going for. Our den’s tucked in the back corner of the first floor, separated from all the other rooms, and usually it’s just our immediate family hanging out in there. The library and dining room and foyer are what people see when they first walk in. The kitchen and sunroom are where people tend to hang out when they come over. The den is where we watch TV and hold very serious family meetings led by our earnest patriarch, Mike Brady.

Except not really the last part. Just the TV part.

So, basically, we want a fun, casual, comfortable space. With a TV.

The den, formerly known as the saddest, most neglected room in our house,  has gotten a little bit of attention over the past few months, with a new rug and our beloved Karlstad. And, truth be told, it’s probably going to be a little while longer before much else happens. Our basic plan for the next few months is to finish up the basement, finally get our shelves put up in the kitchen, finally finish the master bathroom (sense a trend?), and THEN get to work on the den. With some other, smaller projects thrown in here and there. I’m both excited and overwhelmed about all of it, pretty much.

But I thought I’d spend some time talking about what we hope to accomplish in here when we do get around to it.

First off, here’s how the den’s looking right now. I have a really hard time taking pictures of this room, by the way. I’ll have to figure out how to do better when it doesn’t look like crap. Anyway, this is the view from the door that leads to the center hall:


We used to have a big green TV cabinet in here, but that moved out right around when we got the Karlstad. The little dresser was in my garage for months.

Here’s the view looking back towards that same doorway:


And here’s the corner you can’t see in those pictures, opposite the bay window and next to the arched opening to the library:


That campaign chest isn’t staying. I think it’s moving up to the bathroom.

Okay, so! Plans/ideas/things we’re still trying to figure out:

1. That fireplace. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?


As you can see, this is where we keep our collection of brass animals that don’t have anywhere else to live. We might actually need to pare down this collection a bit. Though it pains me to say so.

Our plan until pretty recently was to just paint the ridiculously ostentatious fireplace dark gray or something and hope that it would kind of fade into the background. But, I mean, LOOK at that thing! It’s not going to fade.

I came to realize that I pretty much hate the fireplace. It’s totally out of proportion in this room, particularly given the 8 foot ceilings. It looks especially silly now that we’ve moved that small dresser in there next to it. So. I think we’re going to attempt to…..take it down and put in a new fireplace surround. Gulp. This sounds kind of hard. But maybe fun? Not sure yet if we’ll look for an existing one (on Craigslist?) or build one. It might depend on what shows up on Craigslist. I’m still collecting ideas, but I’m thinking something very simple and streamlined. Dave likes the idea of one with dentil molding to mirror the molding in the the front of the house. I kind of like the idea of something more Craftsman-y.

2. The Walls: Awhile back, when I talked about our new rug, I also talked about wallpaper. I want to do wallpaper either just on the wall with the fireplace, or in the whole room. I’d always envisioned it just on the fireplace wall, but then Emily Henderson was talking a few days ago about how a lot of times that makes it look like you just can’t afford to wallpaper the whole room, and…now I’m not sure. But I fear some of our top wallpaper choices might be a little too….exciting for the whole room. Of the ones I linked to back in that other post, I still really like:



And this:



And then the other day, Wallpaper Direct posted this on their instagram:



Dave really loves paisley, but this paisley is special, because if you look really closely, there are things like houses and bikes in the design. So quirky and fun! Although neither of us loves how the design repeats and looks all stripey like that.

Those are actually the big things we need to think about. But a few smaller things:

3. What to do with that dresser that the TV’s on: Assuming it stays. It’s a nice little mid-century piece, but it’s just laminate and nothing super special; it need some kind of fun paint job and probably to be converted somehow to make it more media cabinet friendly.

4. The corner where the campaign chest is: And also the wall on the other side of the arch. I’m actually thinking of more Billy shelves here like we have in the library. But  maybe some other kind of shelves instead? or??????

5. Should the rug be going the other way?!

6. Coffee table situation: I don’t think an actual coffee table is what we want in here. I’m thinking a couple of storage ottomans that we can move around as needed and that can hold Abe’s toys (you know, those ones that are currently in a pile in front of the TV stand) would work best. Maybe we will make them. Maybe they will be blue velvet.

7. Sofa table? I think we need something back there to bring the sofa off the wall slightly and to give us a space for putting glasses and remotes and whatever.

8. Wall behind sofa: I mean, and all the walls. But I’m thinking maybe a family picture gallery wall back there. We already have the picture ledges with some photos on them; maybe leave those and add more hanging on the walls around them?

So there’s where we are. This post took me weeks to write, by the way. I mean to get around to writing. I couldn’t figure out how to start it until I realized how much I want a room like the Brady’s family room. Then everything just fell into place!


Making Plans for the Poor, Neglected Den — 20 Comments

  1. i like that first wallpaper so much! it’s so fun and would look great paired with a black fireplace i think! and yes, i think the rug should go the other way, so it leads you towards the focal point. at least that is how it feels from pics, but maybe it’s different in person.

    • Yeah, I’m thinking the rug should probably turn….it made more sense the way it is with the other sofas, but now everything is different!

  2. I’m talking about my fireplace too and that I don’t like the mantel all that much. I like your better than mine. It’s at least not builder standard 😉 If you do get a new fireplace mantel, I would hang the TV above it. I really do love your den though.

  3. I get you on the Brady Bunch inspiration; their family room was the inspiration for ours, too. And we have the same Karlstad, so it can totally be the center of a Bradyesque room. 🙂 It’s not so much the plaid sofa and paneling as it is a feeling, I think. We wanted warm, cozy, casual, not-fussy. (Though a rock wall like theirs would have been groovy.) I really like your mostly black-and-white wallpaper. Could totally see that working with your rug and sofa, but probably on only one wall. Looking forward to seeing what you do with all this.

    • Definitely a feeling. In fact, the more I look at the plaid sofa, the more I focus on how weird it is that there’s no back on the one part. That doesn’t seem comfy for tv watching at all.

  4. I don’t know, while the mantel is clearly oversized, it’s also different and sorta screams “decorate me for ALL the holidays.” I’d keep it and paint it the dark charcoal/slate, which incidentally would coordinate perfectly with the print in either of the two animal papers (I love both of them)… If you don’t use the fireplace I’d put the tv in front, and if you do use it, working out a better use of that corner it’s in would function fine.

    • I’m surprised that so many people are defending the fireplace :). It’s definitely different, and I do appreciate that whoever picked it out liked to take risks….but it’s really not US, you know? The problem with putting the TV where the fireplace is (we DON’T use it right now, but only because we’ve put off getting the chimney cleaned/inspected. We WANT to use it) is that then the people sitting on the side of the sectional that’s perpendicular to that wall won’t be able to see the TV easily. That corner’s really the only place that’s practical for it.

  5. Oh I can’t wait to see this one Gretchen as this space has an awesome feeling to it!!! The options are endless and I so get the Brady Bunch inspiration! Keep us posted!! Happy week! Nicole xo

  6. Well I won’t defend that fireplace. I’ll punch it in the gut for you! Maybe having seen it in person helps- it’s an abomination and it needs ta go. It’s WAY too big in there (especially too tall!) and the texture of it is weird (like it belongs in Florida?), and it’s really not you or your house in the slightest. Mine was not for me either, and every single day I am glad I changed it. You’ll make something wonderful there instead, and I can’t wait to see.

    I have to vote for the black and white paper. It has a Jack Russell in a party hat, waiting to eat a cupcake. COME ON.

    • ha–thanks! you’re welcome to come over and help us smash it when the time comes :). And you’re the only person I can get on board with that second wallpaper, it seems. But, yeah. I think it’s the one I could see in the whole room instead of one wall. SO MANY Jack Russells with cupcakes!

  7. I really like your fireplace, it looks like stone in the photo, & I love the first wallpaper choice! I think your wall color is throwing you off, paint the room and see if you feel differently.

    • It’s not stone; it’s….plaster, I guess? you can see the white underneath the paint (I mean, I can in person….I don’t know if it shows up in the pictures), where there are chips in a few places. I do appreciate that whoever put it in tried something different, but it’s just so not my style (and so huge!).

  8. I enjoyed reading this post so much. I think a new fireplace surround would be amazing! I also read that Emily Henderson post about wallpaper accent walls… and now I’m worried, because I just bought wallpaper for one wall of the new nursery, and I’m afraid it will look unfinished to me. That Em Hendo wields so much power of us. But I love the direction you’re thinking about going. The Bradys would be so proud.

  9. I love the fact that Dave loves paisley. I love it, too.

    I think a new fireplace surround will really make a huge difference to get more toward your style.

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