Covering Up Fireplaces and a Living Room Update

Covering Up Fireplaces and a Living Room Update

Fireplaces, like bay windows or claw foot tubs, are often more charming in theory than in practice. Sure, my fireplace is pretty. But I live in a climate where burning an indoor fire is unnecessary, and my fireplace doesn't function. It takes up 1/4 of the longest room in my living room. It's a beautiful waste of space.

If you live in a cold climate and you actually use your fireplace, that’s fantastic! Lucky you.  You can go ahead and orient your furniture toward the fireplace.

But for the rest of us, I'm here to say, don't feel bad for resenting this architectural feature. IMO you have two options -- embrace the fireplace and make it decorative, or pretend it doesn't exist and cover it up with furniture. I recently took the latter approach, and I've never been happier watching TV where my fireplace used to hog the space.

For a while I was into the decorative option and filled the fireplace with logs, which I still think can look cool, like the below from Remodelista:


You could also do a pretty fireplace screen, like this one below via SfGirlByBay


For Jarrard's apartment, we put furniture in front of the fireplace, but we filled it with art and candles since you can still see it from around the room:


But as I detailed in my living room tour back in October, I decide to cover up my fireplace with my TV, and it has totally been the right call for my particular space. It's a long, narrow room that you walk through, so there are only two working walls where furniture can go. It felt like the obvious call to have the TV face the couch on opposite walls, exactly where the fireplace is.

Covering up the fireplace wasn't even that sad, since mine is red brick and not that pretty (although the built-in shelves above it are). Back in October, I put my TV on my old coffee table assuming it would be temporary, and then I lived like this for another ten months:


I hid all the cords to take that photo, but in reality it bothered me to see the extension cord running behind the coffee table. (There’s no outlet on that whole wall so I run an extension cord under the rug).

Also, the whole living room is bright and filled with white, so this area felt like a dark hole that stuck out in a bad way. And it felt like I could pick up extra storage with a closed cabinet under the TV instead of a open one. 

So here’s where I ended up: 

Cabinet: IKEA, lamp: vintage Martz lamp ( similar ), small white vase:  CB2 , black vase: vintage, Japan poster:  Design Museum Danmark , blue pot: Anthropologie

Cabinet: IKEA, lamp: vintage Martz lamp (similar), small white vase: CB2, black vase: vintage, Japan poster: Design Museum Danmark, blue pot: Anthropologie

For the cabinet, I pieced together Ikea’s BESTA series to create what I wanted, since I didn't see anything else that was wide enough and low enough to fit my specifications. Also, I have a strong aversion to any furniture (usually nightstands or tv stands) with cutouts of any kind, like this or this, because they just mean more dusting don't look classic. I wanted solid doors and clean lines.

The piece I eventually constructed included the 70" Besta TV Unit frame, three corresponding white doors, three sets of hinges, white Nannarp legs on the ends and two Besta support legs for the middle. Initially I tried it without the supports, but the unit started sagging within 24 hours, and much to my delight you can't see the supports when you're sitting on the couch. 

I think the total unit came to about $300 including tax and shipping, which was extremely reasonable. I also came really close to finding a Besta frame on Craigslist, which would have made it even cheaper.

Note, I struggled a bunch installing the hinges and doors on the unit until I found this YouTube video which helped me understand how the hinges work. The Ikea instructions did not do a great job showing how you can adjust the positioning of the doors, but it's actually really easy.

My new tv stand is wider than the previous coffee table, so I have more surface space to work with. I replaced the black standing lamp with a vintage Martz lamp that I found on Etsy (similar here), and just a few of my favorite ceramic vases:


When you're placing items on a credenza, side table, or tv stand, you want to think about varying heights and shapes. Emily Henderson has good tips on it here. I like stacking books to help change up the height, so I put a handful of art books under a new pot from Anthropologie (the greenish-blue color is so good IRL).


The poster is a beloved acquisition from the Danish Design Museum in Copenhagen celebrating the "Learning from Japan" exhibit the museum held a few years back. I actually lost the poster in Norway, and a very good friend was kind enough to re-purchase when he was in Copenhagen and ship it to me, since sadly you can't buy it online. I love the graphic print and the pop of blue.

I'm not sure if I'll continue to lean the art against the wall behind the TV. In an ideal world, I'd figure out how to mount them to the wall, but I'm happy with how it is for now. Normally, I love a gallery wall around a tv so the big black square blends in with art on the surrounding wall, like the photo below from Cup of Jo. But sadly my shelves prevent this from being an option:


Finally, I was worried that the addition of a huge white thing in the room would make the room feel overall too white. So I made a few swaps and new additions to accessories around the rest of the room to punch up the color and contrast.

I added a black and white cotton throw blanket and large navy pillow, both from Rejuvenation, to add color and texture to the couch. Sadly the throw is now sold out, but Rejuvenation has great relatively affordable pillow options, and the quality is awesome. The blue checked pillow is from Target, now sold out, but this chambray one is similar, or this smaller black and white version that I own too.


Do you have fireplace layout woes? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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