Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Custom Built-ins Provide Focal Point

One of the problems with the 1970's condo was it had no character.  Nothing.  Nada. Plain walls, lack of architectural features and clamshell molding means a boring house. 

So we wanted to change that - particularly as you walked in the front door.  But the project was so big - with much of the budget already defined - we didn't want to spend a fortune creating a focal point.  (BTW - the wall was so boring, we didn't even take a 'before' photo of it! 😂) 

We forgot to take a before picture of the wall!!
The solution - create a fireplace wall.  Not that it would be easy, because a) there isn't a chimney and b) there isn't gas available.   But it would create some nice ambiance - particularly with our cold Maine winters.  

So the first challenge was finding an electric fireplace.  I know what you're thinking - they're cheap and tacky looking.  But have you seen any recently???  They've come a long way!   My friends found this one from Wayfair.  For under $200!!  Looks pretty great, don't you think.  And it has a heater fan, so it feels a lot like a gas fireplace with blower.

Source:  Wayfair

But we didn't want to just hang it on the wall.  That wouldn't give us the focal point we were after.  So instead we decided to surround it with nickel gap paneling (aka shiplap) and build a bookcase next to it. I laid out the design with painters tape, so we could arrange the shelving height.  We allocated space for a television, their books and favorite decorative items.   We furred the nickel gap out below the mantle, so we could hide the electrical cord and plug behind it. 

Oh - and one quick mention about the flooring.  There is a parking garage below the condo, so they needed something that could handle climate swings and a bit of soundproofing.  They found a cork backed LVT (luxury vinyl tile) that is AMAZING.  It has the look and texture of wood, but is a much more practical solution for this application.

Next, I went hunting for an antique mantle.  This old reclaimed beam I found at Old House Parts Company was perfect!  They have an amazing antique table and this color and grain pattern is an almost perfect match.  Lucky!!

The guys got to work and once it was all painted and everything installed - well, we think it's a pretty fabulous focal point!  The nickel gap paneling provides some nice texture.  And with the new door and moldings, it provides a bit of a wow. 
What a nice change from the boring blank wall that we started with.  Isn't this the perfect place to sit with a good book (or a Netflix movie) on a cold Maine winter night?

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  1. I am loving this condo renovation - partly because I am doing a similar overhaul on a 1960s condo on one of the Maine lakes. Dreadfully boring, no view of lake as you walk in, but an amazing location and view once you enter the living room. I do not really have your budget, but I am getting such good ideas from you - yet again! Thank you! And that electric fireplace is an amazing condo feature! I am trying to decide if I should swap out the old woodstove in my condo with a gas fireplace myself...


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