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Wednesday, April 20

Updating an 80's Family Room

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I've blogged about Emily's home before {click here for her amazing kitchen transformation}. Little by little, I've been working with her to update it. At a glance, you can tell that whoever built her home spared no expense. The house is large & there is SO much wood trim everywhere. Actually, too much stained wood - at least by today's standards. The natural lighting in the house is a little dim to begin with, so all that stained wood just seems to weigh it down. Bit by bit, we've been dealing with the wood & brightening up the house. 

. . . Which brings us to the family room. The first thing I noticed when I walked in to this room was the fireplace brick. It had orangey tones with {*gulp*} black mortar. Oh dear. Since Emily's hubby was a little nervous about painting the brick, we decided to at least tone down the black mortar. 
Emily & I tackled the problem by mixing about 1 1/2 parts water with 1 part Sherwin Williams Dauphin Grey paint. {We tested a white paint first, but it looked too white.} Working on a section at a time, we applied the paint/water mixture to the grout using sponge brushes & old toothbrushes. The paint was runny, & sometimes it ran down the bricks. No problem! We just wiped it off with a wet rag & if it stayed on the bricks a bit - that was good! It took the orangey edge off them. 
The difference is subtle - just the way the homeowners wanted it! But can you see in the photo above how the mortar on the hearth has been whitewashed, but the areas above the hearth are the original black? It just looks so much better now! PS - we learned not to panic if the paint looked too light to begin with - it soaks in & becomes more subtle after a few minutes.

Here are the other plans we've been working on . . . 
The room looks so much better now. We found these cute striped pillows at Crate & Barrel - and I believe the blue medallion pillows were from Home Goods. The huge 9x11 area rug was an incredible deal at Home Goods as well. 
Another trick with a low-lit room - mirrors! These wall hangings add a decorative element & reflect a little light as well. 
Painting & re-styling the bookcases made a remarkable difference in the mood of the room. 
Emily & her family have worked hard to do a lot of the labor themselves & they are enjoying their family room refresh.


  1. Subtle changes can make a world of difference. Looks awesome!!!


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