Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Great Wall of the Front Room

There's something about these winter months that draw me inside and inward, I think, wanting stretches of quiet and solitude and time to think. Space to just... be. I apologize if my winter wantings have left you feeling lonely around here as of late. As way of a proper apology, I have a bit of a Front Room update.

Ah, the odd, long Front Room. Remember this picture from the summer? This room has been such a challenge. It stretches almost the entire width of Hedge House and is a surprising room to step into from off the breezy porch. I felt it the first time the door swung aside and let me into this funnily carved-out house. Whatever you're expecting to find inside, it isn't what greets you. It isn't this room. Everyone who visits experiences it, too. I know this from the startled "ohhh!" or "wow" or "huh" sounds that sneak out of first-time visitor's lips before they're in with both feet. This house is a hodge-podge of oddly proportioned and strangely positioned rooms and corners and doors. I adore it.

But back to the Front Room. It is long but shallow, with an enormous fireplace and mirror on one side (the "Great Wall", as I call it), and a gigantic picture window on the opposite end. In between the imposing mirror and its opposite window sits a room with original parquet wood floors and a looming ceiling. It's impossible to arrange furniture in and harder, still, to decorate. It was also difficult to choose a paint color; my go-to colors looked chalky by the windows but almost violet by the mirror. I finally settled on Sherwin-Williams' Neutral Ground for the walls and Westhighland White for the trim. These, too, I adore. 

This past weekend, my Dad stopped by and helped disconnect and remove the 70+ year old Reznor gas heater from the fireplace. (At some point, the fireplace was outfitted for natural gas and a jet was run into the fire box.) It was a sad-looking relic and I was glad to see its grimy self eased out the door. In its absence, I got my first real look at the fireplace box. It appears as though a 1960s/1970s update saw busted tile cemented to the hearth floor, and faux tile paneling slapped on the front facade. This, obviously, needs updating. Soon.

There has been much discussion, too, about the mirror above the fireplace. Some family and the odd visitor insists it must stay. Others look at me quizzically and (try to) casually comment on how they're surprised the mirror wasn't the first thing I removed. A cousin even refers to it as the Elvis Mirror. Truth: I don't like it at all. But, it does bounce a lot of light around the room. I think I'd have to frame it out... give it some side panels to match the original mantle below and some thick, appropriately beautiful crown molding along the top. I just don't know. Where everyone agrees is that the mirror cannot stay as it is. 

So, an ongoing project for sure. (What I wouldn't give for Chip and Joanna Gaines to break down in front of my house one random afternoon this week. But... wouldn't we all? Ha.) Once I address the mirror and the mantle and the firebox, and once I arrange the shelves as I intend to, I think I'll call this wall done. And then it's back to the kitchen. Oh man. Could I ever use Joanna for the kitchen!

But that's a whole different story for an entirely different day... 

Hope you're well, friend, and staying warm today. It's good to be back. -Brin


Anonymous said...

Oh, definitely get rid of the mirror! It's tooooooo big. You will have more fun styling the mantel if the mirror is gone!

Betty said...

I like your ideas on the mirror of framing it. I do agree it can't stay as is:) I'm sure whatever you decide will be gorgeous. With or without Joanna Gaines:)

Lori said...

Hi Brin! I am mid-renos and have been wishing for Chip and Joanna as well. Boy can I relate!

My 2 cents, I would take the mirror down. I find it big and overwhelming and it detracts from the bookcases/fireplace rather then adds to it. I can see a large vintage chalkboard and wreath, or styling of your own.=)

Whatever you choose I am sure will be beautiful. I get the "inward winter feeling" also. I just want to hibernate and reflect. xo

Anonymous said...

Hi Brin. That is one huge mirror. Wow! In my opinion, it is way too big. I would remove it, and maybe replace it with something not so tall. Just one person's opinion. :) Thoroughly enjoying the renovation journey so far.

Dani said...

Hi Brin
In my opinion, the mirror seems too big. Some mirrors in different size and framed could look very nice.
These are some of my favorite mantles from people, also all living in old houses.

From Nora Murphy `s instagram account:

From Tara Lowry`s insta:

from Caroline van Slyke bohofarm:

from Tessa ninenandsisteen:

and just plain, simple and beautiful from Lori from whiteflowerfarmhouse:

I`m sure you will get it beautiful.
xoxo from Switzerland

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I saw a similar mirror over a fireplace on a design show years ago. It wasn't financially wise for them to take it out at the time so they framed it and it was gorgeous. I couldn't believe hoe good it looked.

Kay said...

IMVHO, get rid of the mirror. Too modern for the rest of the area. if you like the look of a mirror there, get a smaller framed one. I personally see a window frame to the left on the mantle, small doves & books in the middle and a topiary to the right. Can't wait to see what you end up doing with Your house. :)

Laura said...

Hi Brin-

I received my Etsy purchase an it was wonderful!

I also gave your blog a shout out on mine (White Spray Paint).

Your home is lovely.


Linda Z said...

Brin, the Front Room is looking so beautiful. I love all the architectural details and how you've accessorized the book shelves. I can see how the mirror might seem too large. I could also picture it with a distressed gold framing, and that might look really amazing. Have you seen the huge mirror Genevieve Gorder has above her fireplace? I think it's gorgeous.

Running with a sharp pencil said...

Such a wonderful old house! I agree about the mirror - somehow it doesn't fit as it is. I would frame it out in an ornate, carved frame - with some heft to balance out the size of the mirror---or I would replace it with some architectural salvage piece such as a Cathedral mirror- I do love mirrors over mantles as they reflect light so beautifully!

Lulu said...


vintage girl at heart said...

Love the new paint and the shelf decor.

meme said...

frame your mirror and it will put everything in balance! I have followed your blog from the first its been quite a journey.I bought some things from you along time ago, two big easter eggs and a bunny plate and a yellow chick plate I still treasure them and i think of you when i see them. I loved the idea of your little barn house but this home is going to be neat aslo,waitig to see what you do with it blessing to you Brin.

Sue said...

Ok, I'm gonna go against you all and say, leave the mirror! BUT, frame it with old barn wood! Hang a plant low in front of it too, maybe? It does make the wall look taller and adds more light.

Sherry said...

i love the mirror. adding a slightly decorative
surround for the mirror would complete the look.
and the arched recessed shelving areas...?
oh my. your heart is being poured into your home.
i love it.

Sherry said...

oh. and as to chip & joanne ::: at least you're in
texas and much closer in proximity to those neato folks.
gosh wouldn't that be grand..? :)

Anonymous said...

I love your idea of framing the mirror and leaving it. You can decorate/accessorize the mantle in fromt of a mirror and make it work. The great wall is looking wonderful. You have a real talent for beauty, so trust your instincts.

Living Life in the Lowcountry said...

Definitely frame that mirror out and keep it!