A Fireplace Pick My Presto

Hey there- and welcome to another installment of “Pick My Presto”!

I had fun with a photo of a lower level family room sent in by a gal named Heidi this week. Her email read…

Hi Layla,
Here’s my “Pick My Presto” disaster. My husband and I purchased this 1972 raised ranch back in 2003. Since then, we have renovated the entire home (my sweetie is a carpenter) with the exception of the downstairs family room and the kitchen. My dilemma: I’m fresh out of ideas. I mean really – just look at that monstrous fireplace! It’s definitely the focal point of the room whether I want it to be or not. We’ve done nothing down here except pull down the “hunting motif” wallpaper (as the former owner referred to it) and paint. My design likes are simple – I like my rooms to be comfortable and welcoming. Open a Pottery Barn catalog and pick anything in there and I’ll love it!  You are more than welcome to have at it. No prior warning needed but I hope one day in the near future I’ll find my disaster of a room on one of your Pick My Presto posts!

Move your cursor on and off of the photo below to see what I had fun dreaming up for her…

(Note: My drawings are for inspirational purposes only, and the ideas shown in them are just that. Spontaneous, totally flexible, just-for-fun, ideas. And since this is a just-for-fun-photo-consultation, and not an actual-and-perfectly-to-scale-virtual-consultation, I have no idea if any of the furniture or accessories I used in the drawings would actually fit in the room. Boom.)

Based on her design likes, I immediately envisioned muted, earthy tones. Maybe a warm putty color on the walls? Maybe dusty shades of blue, brown and cream sprinkled throughout the room in the form of furniture, art and accessories? And by adding a few pops of black around the room, Heidi won’t run the risk of crossing the line between “mild” and “mushy”. There’s nothing like a bit o’ black to snap a little refinement and edge into a neutral-heavy room. To capture that “comfortable & welcoming” feel she’s after, I would also suggest adding lots of texture on texture on texture. Like the fabulous Atlanta Bartlett recently said, “Texture adds depth and soul. Contrast helps each piece look special; they’re a foil for each other and help bring out each other’s best qualities.”

As for the fireplace, I thought since Heidi mentioned her hubby was extra-handy, he could maybe build some kind of frame to cover the majority of it, and then clad the frame with painted wood panelling. If they like the warm tones in the drawing above, they could paint it a dusty cream color. If they crave a cooler, more crisp look, they could always pick a different hue for the room, and paint the fireplace surround a truer shade of white. Move your cursor on and off of the photo below to see what that might look like…

I loved the idea of scrubbing and polishing up those neat, old stones so they’re a little bit lighter in color too.

Here’s an inspiration board that pretty much sums up the look shown above:

(All of the items shown are from Pottery Barn)

Last but not least, if you weren’t able to view the inspiration drawings above in action, here are some still images for ya…

Heidi’s Design Dilemma

Inspiration Drawing #1

Inspiration Drawing #2

Thank you for the opportunity to pick your presto this week Heidi- and thank you to everyone who has submitted photos for me to play with so far. I look forward to randomly selecting another one soon!

Wanna submit a photo for our Pick My Presto series?

Send an email to PickMyPresto [at] aol [dot] com titled, “PICK MY PRESTO- Living Room. (Replace the words Living Room with whatever type of room you’re actually submitting.) In the body of the email, include your name, your blog name (if you have one) your design likes & dislikes, and one photo of the space in question. (No links please.) It should be clear, and measure at least 400 pixels high x 600 pixels wide. (In other words: at least 4″high x 6″ wide) The bigger the better! Make sure it’s a photo you’re comfortable with us showing and writing about on our blog. Then, whenever I’m feelin’ the urge, I’ll randomly select someone’s email and have a little fun creating some traditional or cottage style presto change-o inspiration. Oh, and since I love surprises, I probably won’t email you to let you know I’ve “picked your presto” unless I have a specific question for ya about your space.


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  1. Heather says

    I love these Prestos! Beautiful job yet again. Great idea to clad the fireplace to tone it down and completely change the feel of the room!

  2. says

    wow – love the look that you created! Your prestos are always so gorgeous, but what I’m even more blown away by are your mad photoshop skills! People, these prestos are NOT easy to create and take a long time to tweak (at least for me!) So thank you very much for sharing your lovely ideas and posting these for all of us! And I would second the thought of a photoshop ebook! I’d pay good money to learn some tips from a pro like you! :)

  3. says

    The room looks gorgeous! You are the champ at presto makeovers. :)

    Also, congrats on your projects and photography in FMS. Your work looks right at home in that beautiful magazine.

  4. says

    very clever, you smart girl. I find myself looking at your spaces, guessing what you might do before I roll the cursor over them, and this one is just to smart. I can’t get past the clever part. It instantly lightens the space! I LOVE this solution. What a Smarty McDesigner pants you are 😉 seriously impressed!

  5. says

    Wow- what a transformation! I love the second one. I think the blues look really smart and cozy with all the other earth tones in the room. I can’t wait to see what she does with it!

  6. heidig says

    Oh. My. Goodness! Layla, I am totally loving this re-do! I started reading the entry and just about died. I couldn’t believe you picked my hideous room. My husband and I have been back and forth between option #1 and option #2 and either one works for us. As I said, he’s a carpenter and he can do exactly what you created. We love it and we’re honored that you picked us (although I’m slightly embarrassed that my hideous room is out there for everyone to see). Thank you so much for the inspiration. I’ll be sending you the “after” pictures when the job is complete! Woohooooo! I’m so excited!

  7. says

    I’m so envious of your “eye” for decorating and color. We built our home over 5 yrs ago and it was a lot to take on for someone who doesn’t have your eye…that would be me! Oh, I’ve added a few things here and there, even consulted a professional for curtains, but don’t know there it will ever look just like I want.
    Great work!

  8. Melinda says

    Very cool ideas! Hope she sends you pictures of her finished product to post. Either room inspiration would look great.

  9. says

    Love what you did in both photos. Only thing I would add would be a cushion on the left side of the hearth to soften up all that rock and provide a comfy place to sit next to the fire. I would choose a pattern that incorporated both the blues and browns. Hope she takes your advice.!

  10. Geri Greco says

    Layla, only you could do a room so beautifully tranquil and inviting.
    Only you could do such an amazing job with color,texture and accessories that we
    Don’t even notice the ceiling is the original one, no beadboard redo,or new sheet rock.
    The room was so dreamy ,it makes you not even know the ceiling is there.
    I love your abra ca dab ra moments.

  11. Kathy :) says

    I know she will love it….I sure do !! Nicely done Layla.

    All the best,
    Kathy :)

  12. says

    Beautiful job! Very clever to clad part of that stone :) I researched for months before choosing our basement “wood” flooring, it’s Armstrong’s Lockhaven floating vinyl floor (we got the “handscraped” finish) and it is the nicest floor in a house of real wood floors, so easy to install, we love it and no moisture issues!

  13. says

    Pick My Presto series is the bomb! I am so impressed with how you transformed the fireplace. When we rehab houses, we often come across odd fireplaces. I am now actually looking forward to getting my hands on a fireplace to revamp. You rock.

  14. Kim in MD says

    I LOVE your Pick My Presto series! You are an amazing designer…I love everything you do!

  15. says

    you’re the best! i like the blue walls – that one looks great. they both do, but i just prefer the blue walls. i hope she does this!