Project in Progress - My House!

For Christmas, my husband gave me one of my favorite types of presents - a project!! I love home projects and this year, he's agreed to a "freshen up" of the bookshelves/media area our family room.  As background, some of you may remember my post about the purchase of a fabulous piece of artwork from Ashley Terrell, a Mobile artist, if not click here.  My initial plan was to use the artwork in a clever way to disguise our very outdated vintage TV.  Well, I think all the talk about the pathetic vintage TV finally got to my husband and he suggested we upgrade to a flat screen with all the bells and whistle.  Also, he did not want to cover up all this new technology once it's in place (the compromises we have to make, ladies).

So, my new piece of artwork will be moving to my entryway, and the intaglios (currently in that spot) to the dining room.  This is an entirely separate post, so, more on these moves later.  

For now, here's the plan for the family room (very excited about this)!
The new TV will stay in the spot above the fireplace.  However, the wall will be pushed back (no need for the gigantic hole any longer), to accommodate a mantel (big smile here).  Here's the mantel in it's raw form. . . .

Little history on this mantel - This was the mantel in my home growing up.  It was cut in the 1920's and used as a foundation board in the original cotton gin for the city of Laurel, Mississippi.  My Dad managed to get it when the gin was torn down in the 60's.  He kept it and used it when we built our home in 1975 as our mantel.  It hung out there until 1999 when my parents house was struck by lighting and burned for a complete loss.  

 After my parents rebuilt, this piece was salvaged and has remained in my Dad's barn.  When I learned we were going to be doing this project, I asked if I could have it.  And he said yes!!

At the present moment, it looks a little sad, but I promise it is really going to look fantastic once it's refinished and in place.  

In addition to the mantel, I'm going to be painting the insets of the bookshelves a dark color.  This will help to balance the very large black TV over the fireplace (which I am not allowed to cover up - Oh, right, I already mention that).  My hope is the dark color of the insets will draw your eye and the entire focus will not be on the mega screen.  Also, since I have several dark wood casement pieces on the other end of the room, this color will add some much needed weight to this side of the room.

Sort of like this . . . 

Still debating how far I want to go with the dark color.  Would love your thoughts!!  
Should I only paint the backs?
Or the backs and sides?

  Or the backs, sides and shelves? 

Or paint the entire wall of bookshelves?

See what happens when you look at interior design details all the time - I really love the look of all of them, so it's hard to make a decision.  Sort of like the dessert cart!  

Also debating the perfect color for the job - really want a gray tone, but I have lots of warm tones in my house, so I have to pick a gray with warm undertones - it can be tricky . . . 

Really liking these . . . 
BM - Kingsport Gray (a brownish gray)

BM Herbal Escape 1487 (a greenish gray)

P&L Silver Mink

SW Sticks & Stones 7503

In addition to the new mantel and dark insets, I am going to be installing library lights over each of the four bookshelves.  I've always thought the arches were too deep and didn't make sense.  But with the addition of the lights (along with some restyling of the shelves), I think I will finally like the look of them.  

Here are some images of bookshelves with library lights . . .
I've narrowed the field to these . . .

Would love your thoughts on my project and your favorite picks for paint and lighting.  And to confuse me even more, if you have other paint colors you love, please share!! M. 


  1. This looks like a goodie! I cannot wait to see it as it comes along, you are starting with a beautiful room already so I know the result is going to be fabulous!

  2. Oh, Mandi, what a fun project! That mantel piece with the family history is priceless. I would say you would only need to paint the backs of the shelves and not the sides because the visual difference is negligible. I love your gray choices, and think any of them would work. Another paint option might be BM's Ashley Gray. I have it in my bedroom and think it's a warm, taupe-y gray. As far as lighting goes, I like choices 1, 4 and 5. Good luck & have fun!

  3. Hey, me again. I just thought I might share a source on another light (like you need another option). I've used this one on a mood board before. I love the look of it:

    I'll shut up now. Can you tell I'm excited about your project?

  4. Exciting! When I first started reading your post I thought, just paint the backs. But I really love the look of the dark bookshelves with the library lights, very chic. I don't think you can go wrong with any of the lighting options, but oh my goodness I love the second option.

    Good luck!

  5. Can't wait to see it complete. Will look totally different! I used SW Porpoise on all of my woodwork in the living room.... and Anonymous (one shade lighter) on my bedroom walls. Such pretty colors!

    I would probably just paint the backs....

  6. What a great way to start the new year...with a project, plan, vision and excitement for conclusion. I'd paint outside bookcases any of these great colors above and add a pale blue (for a feeling of weightlessness) inside bookcases.

    I'm excited for you should be really fun. Take lots of notes, as you go, as this helps solve any hiccups, mark your start and finish times everytime you begin and stop during ghe process. Then if asked to do this for someone you are filled with a great resource on the project...yourself!

  7. Thanks for all these comments! You've given me much food for thought. M.

  8. This is going to look wonderful! I'd paint only the insides of the bookcases grey, then play with black things and white things (I'm waving my hands around to illustrate) as part of the display, to include the tv screen in the fun.

    Your mantel is PERFECT - what a lovely piece of history to have and use.

  9. Super exciting! I love medium-sized projects like these -- more than a refresh, but not an entire room re-do. Those library lights are going to look so good on the arches.

    Have you considered BM's Silver Fox for a gray? It's a nice warm gray. I'd do at least the backs and sides -- maybe not the shelves.

    Excited to see how it all comes together!

  10. I used Herbal Escape by BM and love it. It is a green gray but is true to it's swatch. It even looks better in a large space. Can't wait to see the finished project! Happy New Year!

  11. I think painting just the back of the shelves will make it more beautiful. :) But painting the back and the sides of the shelves is also considerable.

  12. This looks amazing! I hope you enjoy doing it :) It's going to be great

  13. I cannot wait for you to share this project with us! First off, I totally digging the history and rustic charm of your new mantel! That is such an awesome piece to have in your home! Shelves... I'd love to see you go dark. I'm picture your space with just the back painted. Loving the BM - Kingsport Gray and you should also check our RH's Slate Paint Collection - gorgeous!! We've used Stone and Graphite in our house and they're my favorite colors to date. I'm thinking the Slate color would be fantastic for the back of your shelves! Love the direction in lighting choices, esp 2 & 5! GOOD LUCK!

    ps- Hope you had a great holiday!


Thank you for thoughts on my post! M.