A dated and dreary family room gets a much-needed update with refreshed furnishings and pretty pastel colors.

Family room before makeover

The color scheme, deep rose carpet, tricky room arrangement, and half-hearted fireplace mantel weren’t doing this space any favors.

Family room makeover

The carpet was the first thing to go. A fresh neutral underfoot gave us a lot more license to devise a new palette for the room. Since the sofa had to stay—it’s a favorite place to sleep for Elaine’s grandson—we opted for a rose coral and sage green scheme with touches of aqua and yellow.

Fireplace before makeover

The fireplace dominates the room from every angle but the yellow wood mantel looked feeble floating in the center of it.

Fireplace after makeover

We gave the mantel more presence with the addition of brackets underneath and a painted wood grain look in hues that more closely match the bricks. We also provided the fireplace screen with a new finish in hammered pewter to match hardware changes we made elsewhere.

Fireplace mantel makeover

It’s easy to create a wood grain finish like this with these simple instructions.

Gather your materials:

Latex paints in two tones that coordinate with your fireplace. We used Sherwin-Williams Cobble Brown SW6089 and Turkish coffee SW6076

Valspar Translucent Glaze: Mocha

Plastic container with lid

Stir sticks

Paint tray

Painter’s tape

Household paintbrush with natural bristles

Mini roller frame with roller cover

Mini roller paint tray

Absorbent paper towels

Finish sealer

First, tape off all brick and trim areas that will not be painted.
Paint the mantel and brackets with two coats of the lighter base color (ours is Cobble Brown), letting dry between coats.
Mix Mocha glaze plus your darker paint (in our case, Turkish Coffee) to the desired color. Pour a small amount of glaze into the paint tray and dip the natural bristle brush into the paint. To create the wood grain, brush the glaze in one direction across the mantel and brackets; let dry. To seal the wood grain layer, apply one or two coats of finish sealer, letting dry between coats.

Flowers on fireplace mantel

Styling the mantel with a few objects, flowers, and a curvilinear mirror relieves the previous impression of the fireplace as just one more massive rectangle in the room.

Industrial cart coffee table

To balance the visual weight of the ceiling-height brick fireplace, we needed a coffee table that would hold its own. This vintage industrial cart fills the bill and adds character besides.

Pillows on sofa

Duralee fabrics encapsulate our color scheme in lively botanical and plaid patterns. Elaine sewed the pillows with one fabric on each side so that she can change the configuration of patterns and sizes on a whim.

Family room before makeover 2

The window behind the sofa was underdressed with a skinny little valence that added nothing to the decor. Artwork and a quilt on either side further diminished the impact of the window.

Window treatment

With full curtain panels in a vivacious print of leaves, tendrils, and flowers, the window gains prominence and dispenses with the need for additional decoration on the wall.

Curtain fabric detail

The nubby weave brings a textural element to the window treatment.

Vintage secretary

Initially placed between two doorways, this family heirloom secretary moved away from the flow of the room and into a corner where there is room for it to function when needed.

Sofa table before makeover

Although the sofa table was a sturdy and useful piece, the finish and leaded glass inserts weren’t going to work in the updated room.

Sofa table after makeover

Revived with Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Cream and successive coats of clear and dark wax, the sofa table takes on a farmhouse vibe that works with the country styling of the sofa. We replaced the glass inserts with plywood panels cut to size and covered with natural burlap. A pebbled glass lamp with burlap shade (both from Target) provides illumination.

Bookshelves before makeover

Before the refresh, a gallery of rectangular frames filled the mantel and surrounding built-in shelves. Since the shelves (and fireplace) were designed as a series of rectangles, too, the angular effect was rather overwhelming.

Built-in shelving

A reduction in the number of family photos along with the addition of books, objects with color or thematic cohesion, lighter frames, and textural storage pieces makes for a more attractive arrangement on the wall of built-in shelves.

Cupboard painting detail

Cupboard doors beneath the shelving got a facelift as well. New glass and nickel hardware from Amerock sparkles subtly while sage green paint picks out the molding detail.

Family room before makeover 3

A small loveseat and chest of drawers side table added weight to the side of the room without contributing any decorative punch.

Chair and nesting side tables

Swapping out the loveseat for a light-on-its-feet slipper chair in moss green and the chest for a set of wood and iron nesting tables reduces the visual weight in the space. It also allows room for the vintage cabinet under the window to shine.


The cabinet stores bar supplies such as liquor, mixes, napkins, glassware, and bar tools for entertaining. A vintage silver tray on top keeps a few favorite libations at hand for a quick nip at happy hour.


The small chest of drawers was great for storage but wasn’t ideal as a side table.


A coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Cream, followed by clear and dark wax applications gives the chest a new look. Spraying the hardware with hammered pewter paint completes the update.


Thanks to Duralee and Amerock for participating in our project.

Fabrics from Duralee:

Curtain panels and pillows in Caribbean #42156-339

Pillows in Springtime #32353-137


Hardware from Amerock:

Amerock BP55268CG10 Traditional Classics Crystal Knob, Satin Nickel, 1-Inch Diameter

Amerock BP3417G10 Non Self-Closing Inset Face Mount Hinge, Satin Nickel, 3/8-Inch, 2-Pack
Levolor B77930867 Sapphire Venetian Curtain Rod Set, 36-to-72-Inch Width, 1-Inch Diameter, Antique Silver


Similar slipper chair:

DHI Marlow Gabrielle Slipper Chair, Moss


Green nesting boxes on shelf:

Jewel Green Fabric Boxes from Quilted Koala


Tray on coffee table:

Jacquelyn Rope-Handled Tray


Throw on sofa:

Ofelia blanket from IKEA


Vase on coffee table:

Ensidig vase from IKEA


© Caruth Studio

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