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. says

    I don’t know whether to sigh because it’s so dreamy and cozy or squeal because it’s so gorgeous! Love this series girl! Nicely done!!

    • Kathleen says

      I love seeing all of your posts in my email box especially these I can wait to scroll down and see the after PRESTO CHANGO – that you did! You are such a talent and have great eye !

      I always loved the blue/brown combo It was the first colors I chose when I moved into a space where I could decorate and paint – (did a bathroom in the brown and blue – dont want to tell you how old I am but still have the blue towels with brown monograms – !!

      PS – Ashamed to say that I just figured out that I need to click on the link in the email to get to the site to add a comment!!! ;-)


  2. says

    i am so in love with what you have done here! it is beautiful and i think you are spot on with the “little bit o’ black” to sharpen some of the fuzzy edges. gorgeous! :)

  3. Rachel Carey says

    I can see a panelled ceiling instead of the drop’s, or possibly a tin drop?

    The room really came to life Layla, great job!

  4. Elisabeth says

    There is not ONE design that you have done that I haven’t LOVED!!! You make me want a house with a hundred different rooms just in incorporate all your ideas!

  5. Beverly says

    Wow – what a transformation! Love the colors and how they go together. Great job once again, Layla! Let me know when you start doing house calls!

  6. says

    Wow! I nearly had a heart attack when I first saw this presto because I thought it was my living room! It looks sooooo good!


  7. says

    I love this! You are so awesome…to give some inspiration that is well needed. The room looks so bright and airy! Love Love Love what you suggested for the fireplace… Keep it coming :)

  8. says

    I love this! You are so awesome…to give some inspiration that is well needed. The room looks so bright and airy! Love Love Love what you suggested for the fireplace… Keep it coming :) so super sorry for the duplicate comment, I just realized my website link is wrong…oops Have a great day!

  9. says

    I just painted some walls a warm putty colour! It look quite similar to the one you chose for the presto. I love your ideas for that fireplace. I would have never have thought of that idea, but it immediately takes the fireplace from 70s rustic to Pottery Barn!

  10. says

    I love this. Totally. I want to do this on our lower level, minus the fireplace. My husband said no, because wood floors on a basement or garden level are not the best choice because of seasonal temperature changes and potential warping.

      • Julie says

        We did the wood-look vinyl planks in our basement, and I LOVE it. We actually enter/exit our house from our basement b/c the door goes right out onto the driveway. We live in New England, so we’ve got plenty of moisture year-round. I did have to put a rug in front of the door to soak up all the snow we are tracking in this year, but I haven’t had any problems with moisture/warping, etc. and it’s been in for over a year. And even if I do end up having some problems, I kept an extra box of the planks just in case! Anyway, I highly recommend it!

    • Teresa says

      Paula, I live near St Paul, MN. We used ikea laminate flooring in our lower level and have not had any problems. However, the floor is coooooold in the winter. Rugs are a must! :)

  11. says

    Love what a little Pottery Barn (or a room full) can do to a room. I have been pining for that rug for my bedroom for a while now. It’s pretty and budget friendly too.

  12. says

    My sympathies, Heidi! My first thought was how is Layla going to do anything with THAT? And you have; it is a gorgeous transformation. Very peaceful and cozy. Looks like the perfect place to relax, snuggle or read a book. Beautiful!

    • heidig says

      Thanks for the sympathies. I’m glad someone understands my room issues. But they’re now solved!

  13. Ella's Mum says

    I look forward to your blog everyday. We currently renting but will be buying within the next year or two and I can’t wait to put some of your ideas and color combos in practice. BTW…fan of the blue walls here.

  14. says

    Absolutely beautiful, as always! I honestly don’t know how you do it; it’s a real gift.

    I had lunch with Rhoda the other day as part of the Alabama Bloggers group; we were sitting with a woman and Rhoda and I mentioned you and this woman said, “I don’t know her.” And my mouth sagged open. To me, you are world-famous! :) Anyway, when Rhoda said the words “The Lettered Cottage,” the woman said, “Oh yes, I think I’ve heard of THAT,” but I was still dumbfounded.

    You have always been and remain one of my faves. Love this Presto!

  15. says

    Wow this is AWESOME!!! Pottery Barn should pay you for advertising! Loved the linky party too it was fun! So neat seeing what everyone had to share! Thanks for all you do! Cookie

  16. [email protected] says

    Layla, you are amazing – the room is so awesome, I want one just like it! Bet Heidi is in love with it!

  17. Tanya says

    This room looks amazing! Well done.

    I was just wondering if you have any plans to do another ebook? I regularly re-read mine and live in hope for another :)

  18. says

    Hi girl! I had to tell you how much I’m loving this series. I could stare at your designs all day! I’m seriously tempted to make you give me ideas for my living room. It needs the “Layla touch”. I hope all is well with you and Kevin!


  19. says

    Love! I’m going with #1 – I’m a little surprised that I’m shying away from colored walls, but #1 is just gorgeous! Way to go Layla :)

  20. Debbie says

    Wow! What a change! Having grown up with robin’s egg blue walls and super glossy white wood (it is still that way even today), I thought I would love the blue the best. But both are quite comfortable looking to me. Thanks for the wonderful series! It is quite inspiring!

  21. says

    Love the sand and sea tones you used and I agree with the comment above…to wrap wood around and above the wall of stone is a fantastic idea. Brightens the room and gives a completely updated and fresh look!
    Great job!

  22. Lisa says

    Awesome!!! Where is a good place to find widow shades like the ones you have “presto”d? :) …the natural woven ones…?

  23. Sarah says

    This is just lovely as are all your designs. I especially admire your presto changos. Do you use any special techniques in Photoshop? I would love to learn how to do them. Ever think of doing a tutorial on those? Please, oh please, pretty please! Having this skill could prevent a lot of design arguments since my hubby can’t visualize what I describe and I have too many design dilemmas for you to solve!

  24. says

    Another Rock Star presto!! Seriously, you should do these for Pottery Barn. You know how they have the free store design service. Well they should hire you to do online one’s for their website:) I’m going to call them and tell them :) enlighten them sounds better… in a very sweet and kind way!!

  25. Meredith says

    Hi Layla and Kevin,
    I really love this series and all of your work. I am wondering if you would share any suggestions for finding woven blinds like those pictured. I am also wondering where you shop for new floors. The new wood makes all the difference in this rendering.
    Thanks! I’m following with interest.

    • Layla says

      Hey Meredith!

      We got our roll-up wood blinds at Bed, Bath and Beyonce..but I don’t think they carry them anymore. I would check eBay and do a Google search. Those are my favorite go-to places!
      As for the new wood floors…I would shop locally if possible. Builders supply or liquidation warehouses are a great resource! eBay is another great option.

  26. says

    Hi Layla,

    I love your blog. I don’t often comment. Today I thought, “why not?” I really enjoy your blog because you have a great sense of design and your heart is very lovely as well. I can tell that you love to create a beautiful space, and you do it well!

  27. 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!

  28. 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! :)

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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!

  32. 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!

  33. 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!

  34. Melinda says

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

  35. 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.!

  36. 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.

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

  39. 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!

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