Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Where Light Goes To Die

Our family room is where light goes to die. A proverbial black hole.

Very little natural light comes into the room. Whenever a ray of sunshine appears, it naturally races towards the corner and dies. It's a very gloomy room.

Once upon a time, the fireplace wall was the north exterior wall of the house.

In time an addition was added, and since the floors were uneven, an attempt was made to make the original and new look more cohesive by adding book cases across the long wall.

Today I was given my marching orders. Make something of this mess. Turn it into a room you're not afraid to go into. The only constraint is the wall color stays.

This afternoon was spent clearing the room, emptying shelves. From chaos comes order sayeth Nietzsche.

I've been looking forward to and dreading this day for a long time. I need to add light, so I can see a new coat of paint in the book cases and crown moulding's future. I'm hoping the nice lady at the paint store saves me from myself. If not, it's just paint.

All ideas gleefully accepted.



Shelley said...

What a poetic title! I'm dead keen to see how you sort this room. I never really appreciated having lots of light until moving to England where one learns to be grateful for daylight, never mind sunshine. The temperature here in the North doesn't really vary that much as a rule, but the daylight hours certainly do. People go to all sorts of extremes to insure access to nature light. I'm still not that fussed about it, but can see why it is important to people.

Blue said...

Would liming the wood help do you think? Perhaps, if using low sheen oil-based paint match the color of the stone of the base of the hearth - limestone? I like the whites in the Farrow and Ball range of paints and I want to stress I am in no way connected with them. I used their Cornforth White in my bedroom and it is beautiful.

Martha said...

If painting the bookshelves is an option in a nice white -- THAT would certainly make the room seem bigger -- with, perhaps, an accent color on the back of the shelves (but if you don't want to go to all that taping -- white would certainly work as well).

Lovely room I might add with all those shelves!

house things said...

Is there a way get a skylight, or is this a first level with a room above?

Here's my advice. Hire a lighting consultant first. Then, hire a paint color consultant. I don't know if I'd paint that beautiful woodwork.

James said...

I agree with house things is there anyway to keep the lovely wood bookcases.

News Readin' Wife said...

I have no pearls of lighting or decor to offer up, Toad. All I can say is godspeed - this is no small task.

Tommy said...

$0.02 from an architect/designer who appreciates your blog: Change out your directional can lights to standard downlights that will throw light in all directions. Paint all the baseboard, wood on windows, window casing, cabinets, shelving, and crown mould [basically anything stained wood except the floor] Benjamin Moore China White in semi-gloss finish. Lightly sand it all first and two coats minimum on all of it. Have mirrors cut to size for the backs of the bookshelves flanking the fireplace to reflect the any natural light. Use the mantle clock on the mantle and hang the smaller art piece over it. Lose all the dark toss pillows and buy new in taupe/linen color that have no busy pattern and are nearly the color of the area rug. Keep all AV components with visible wires down below 30" above the floor. Shop for four identical and adjustable [tall] large floor lamps to anchor the corners of the room. Check out Pottery Barn's Chelsea floor lamp with a wide off-white shade. If it's in the budget to replace a few pieces, I'd replace the cocktail table and round side table to rid the room of more brown stained wood. Lighter painted furniture or glass and metal tables feel lighter, fresh, and open. Spread out your porcelain collection, hide away the CDs and DVDs you don't use daily, and paint that white HVAC wall diffuser to match the yellow sheetrock walls! Good luck!

Toad said...

Thank you all. Instead of the paint store I am rereading all your suggestions over and over.

Taylor said...


Lose all the Audio Visual stuff and buy a flat screan TV. DVD player etc need to go in the cabinets...Any Home Theater expert worth there weight in salt can sell you a universal remote that will use radio waves instead of IR.

Patsy said...

I love the wall color!

I would definitely paint the cabinetry all white. Can we slipcover the sofa? Maybe in a nice lighter color cotton duck?

Do you need window coverings for privacy? I might get rid of the shades and trim out that side window.

Oh, how exciting!

Mom on the Run said...

I see your family room has met my den. They are twin brothers, except you actually have windows. I concur on the down lighting, I had the same directional lights (4) added 4 more and have them straight down and it makes a huge difference. Now I just need to buy lamps. I left my built in bookcases brown, but have painted all the trim and wainscoting in the room Duron Shell White.

Mrs. Blandings said...

Men always love wood. Paint it.

David said...

I concur with the majority and say paint all the wood. I like the idea of mirroring the back of the shelves a lot, but if you don't want to do that then paint the back the wall color. I did that in a previous house and was very pleased with it.

Now, off you go to the paint store.

Anonymous said...

I was going to say, "Call Mrs. Blandings, she will save you from your instinct to paint, paint, paint." Now I see her comment and find I agree with "house things." Tackle the lighting first.


Gail, in northern California said...

Be careful with clean but cold as ice.

Just a reminder: you have two dogs.

Such good advice from all your friends. My head would be spinning but my first investment would be those downlights and floor lamps.

Toad said...

My bride almost never reads this blog. Today I printed all the comments and we sat on the sofa and what iffed. It was a day well spent.

Progress reports soon.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Tommy is good...not much to say after that than; "paint the wood". Can't wait for updates. I love how you call your wife your bride!!

Beth Dunn said...

not a decorator-sadly. But, I like the idea of painting the wood. I'm a huge fan of dark wood-but not if the room doesn't have natural light. xoxo


Anonymous said...

You didn't specify a budget, and it's not clear what's outside those windows.

But I'd suggest opening the room up to the outdoors with two or three sets of french doors.

The bookcases may not be necessary, and in any event they could be moved elsewhere.