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Mountain Fixer Upper: Family Room Fireplace Design Process



A mountain house must have as many fireplaces as possible to keep your body parts as warm as possible…and we are up to four (living, family, master interior and master exterior). I wish that designing a fireplace were as easy as throwing in a box and tiling around it, but making sure that they work for code, work with the materials already in the space and yet are custom and not builder-grade takes a lot of time. Let’s walk you through the whole process.

Emily Henderson Lake House Before Family Room 1 New 2

This is the space we are calling the family room. It’s off the kitchen and dining and will have huge scenic doors out to the lower deck. This space will be mostly dedicated to rec, meaning Brian’s yet to be purchased pinball machine, but will have a TV for movie nights if the grownups are in the living room and we want to not parent. The copy on the above photos was before you guys suggested to get rid of the stairs altogether—YAY, so those are now totally gone.

Emily Henderson Lake House Before Family Room 3 1 New 2

As you can see, it’s a pass-through room in a way, but also where most of the kids’ toys will hang out. Here is where we are in the house:

Emily Henderson Mountian Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace First Level Floor Plan

Below you can see what the space looked like when we first bought the house and where we landed with the layout, better symmetry and flow of the room to the outdoor spaces.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Floor Plan Original Current Zoomed In 01

We seriously debated putting the fireplace in here as it is mostly a family room, but then as we were up there this winter, before the demo, we realized that fireplaces are magical and change the ambience and mood of a room in an instant and this room is cozy and likely where the whole family would hang out and play games. This one would be gas-burning (so it’s easy to turn on and off with a switch) and it will have a screen for protection. It can’t be opened and has a protective glass front, but we’ll obviously not leave it on if just the kids are playing.

We chose the ‘Heat & Glo’ 6000CLX, which you can see here:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Model Heat N Glo 6000 Clx

She arrived and is currently being installed, but before we could tell them where to put it, we had to actually design it.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Construction Progress

First things first: the height of the box. This had to be determined by whether we wanted a hearth underneath (for code). The width of the box would also be dictated by the materials that we chose to surround it in. Plus, we had two windows flanking it, so…what should happen underneath those?

I tasked Julie from the design team to start pulling together some inspirations. We wanted to keep it clean and minimal but with some warmer elements and it still had to speak to the living room fireplace (which we still might change).

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Inspiration 2
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While the above would be too cold for us (there’s NO WAY Brian would go for something on the opposite spectrum of “rustic”), it did give us the idea to try for a plaster finish in white. It would still work in the house in terms of design vibe and be SO pretty.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Inspiration 5
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The above and below photos are pretty similar to where we landed. We love the combination of plaster, black box and firewood under some built-in benches/ledges. I want to note that most of the fire boxes in the inspirations here sit high enough off the ground that we didn’t need a stone hearth intruding or jutting into our beautiful wood floors.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Inspiration 6
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There was also some talks about going with a gray plaster which has a bit more movement and visual texture, like this one below.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Inspiration 8
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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Inspiration 11
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Regardless of color, we did decide on the plaster, so Julie started creating some renderings of design options…let’s walk through them.

Mountain Fixer Upper Family Fireplace Design Process1

1. We knew we were going to put a TV above the box and liked the idea of having benches below so that the fireplace didn’t feel lonely. It needed more to ground it in the space, but it didn’t feel finished and the TV really got all of the attention.

2. Then there was the possibility to continue the center piece all the way to the ceiling line but that made it feel very top heavy and would place the TV further into the room, making it hard to watch from the sofa.

3. We played around with the idea of vertical storage for pretty logs off to one side. This asymmetrical layout works but you could only have the option of storing wood and nothing else, so that felt pretty limiting.

4. By adding two vertical structures on the sides, the TV felt more balanced, but it was still too heavy for the space.

Mountain Fixer Upper Family Fireplace Design Process Final 02

5. We liked the open look of the “floating” bench but that felt too modern for the overall style of the house. And those log holders are pretty much perfect but again, they would leave us without the storage functionality we would really need for this space (we need somewhere to store games, toys, etc).

6. Moving away from the overall shape of the fireplace and onto what material it would be helped make the final decisions. The benches now would work style wise but it felt unfinished and still too heavy in the middle section in this option.

7.  Lowering the middle of the surround helped to move the TV further back onto the wall and it felt way more balanced. Just need some storage…

8. The glass cabinets flanking the benches added the necessary storage and balance to the overall space (and we could store logs under the benches which is good for practicality and also just feels really…mountain-y).

So that’s where we landed…#8. It has a great focal point of the fireplace, balanced out by the bookshelves full of storage and the TV is at a great height but isn’t the only thing to look at.

Emily Henderson Family Room Fireplace Design 011

The depth of the bench is 18″, making it deeper than your average bench but not daybed depth (I love a daybed depth, but it would encroach too far into the room). We have a leather pad on top to add more warmth and of course a few pillows, in a fabric that is still TBD.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Render 02

The black color of the cabinets helps to tie in the interior black brick panels of the fireplace. We didn’t want your eye drawn to a big-black-hole-of-a-fireplace in the middle of the room, especially since we get to use The Frame TV by Samsung in the space (again my design prayers have been answered with this TV).

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Render 03

The opening under the benches are 12-inches high by 53-inches long and the depth, again, is 18 inches. It can either store our birch logs (purely for decoration, of course), although now I am pretty terrified of a bug infestation after all the comments from the previous fireplace post, or we have the option for a couple of baskets underneath to hold all the kids’ toys.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Render 04

Since the living room fireplace got a revamp with the ‘German schmear’, we wanted the family room fireplace to look cohesive in the house and the white plaster here helps keep it clean stylistically but gives it the texture it desperately needed.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Render 05 Shadow

The texture of the plaster in the renders isn’t the exact look we are going for. We would do something a bit smoother without looking too much like a new build.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Render 07

The cabinets have a lot of open shelves for all those pieces that we would want to style out for shoots but also has a lower cabinet for games, toys, and extra blankets for those chilly family movie nights.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Render 08

In the lower part of the cabinet, there is an 8-inch deep drawer and then two shelves that are 30-inches wide and 15-inches deep.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Render 091

There you have it, we are about ready to send off the plans to Jeff our GC so if you have any suggestions, leave your ideas in the comments below.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Animation Full


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Get a gas fireplace with fake logs!!! Yes I know it’s heresy. We have a woood burning fireplace at our weekend cottage and every weekend while we’re running around like maniacs packing up, my husband has to shovel out the still smoldering embers…I converted all my fireplaces in full time house to gas with fake logs and it’s soooo much cleaner and easier!


She is! She mentions that the fireplace is gas-burning at the beginning. The log storage was just for show which I looooove!


Ah I see after re-reading! Totally do not understand why anyone would choose to have logs in their house just for show!!! I’m sure it will look pretty but to me that’s like having books in your house that you’d never read! I was at s friends house the other day who is lovely but not super stylish… she used a decorator and her house is amaze balls but she has all these VERY arty design books on her book shelves that so obviously were picked by her decorator…it seemed so incongruous to me! Kind of like stacks of logs… Read more »


Ditto on the logs for show. Couldn’t see it in my own house, but as Kelly said, you do you. You have great design skills. Since this might be the kid TV viewing room, does that especially make the TV location too high? Can you do your projector somewhere?


I think it looks gorgeous! Well done!!


I think it looks a lot better when the fireplace box goes up to the ceiling. This maybe looks like you’re trying to squeeze in a little bit of everything and your losing the minimalist look that’s in all your inspiration pics. Could the tv go?


I disagree. I love that you’re taking this minimalist inspo design, and tweaking it for this house. I love the look, and appreciate how it suits your family’s lifestyle in this home. I also totally disagree with the comment below about the black shelves not working – they balance everything out IMO, and the darkness ties it all together. Good job on another incredible design!

THE TV is the FRAME, don’t worry. it will be minimamlist. I MIGHT agree about the black shelves, but It also pulls in the kitchen island …

mary ann

yahoo — I LOVE Samsung’s ‘the frame’!!! (who wouldn’t?)… hope you’ll do a nice long post – with lots o’ details – once it’s up and running. ‘the frame’ would be ideal on my folks’ floor-to-wood-ceiling [limestone] fireplace. it’s the only logical place for viewing in their LR, but a plain TV would look cheesy… so, they’ve gone without for 65+ yrs. At 93, Mom is FINALLY wanting to spend time in her beautiful living room (she’s been ‘saving it’…), and it’ll need a TV. I’m certain she’ll love the frame’s ‘disappearing act’ — just need to convince her it’s… Read more »


The Frame has a wall mount kit you can order, thats the mount so that it sits flush to the wall and looks more like a piece of art rather than a TV.


The Frame TV will look great – but I would agree with having the fireplace go all the way up – 18″ depth fireplace with a TV above it ends up encroaching on the bottom part of the screen when you are sitting down and staring up. We have a gas fireplace that sticks out that much, unfortunately, and we could never put a TV above it without not being able to see the bottom. If they had built the wall out above it as well, we may have been able to swing it.


I agree with Katie. It’s too busy Emily. Somethings gotta go. I love the idea of plaster and then going all the way up. It’s got too much going on and I say this with love and honesty but the final version is a bit busy and uninspiring ????

Vicki S Williams

I think the black shelves look great!

Desire F

Agree! I like when it goes all the way up!


So I love the fireplace and the bench.I just think those shelves seem too heavy for the room. Maybe if they were also white and disappeared a bit. They make the room seem crowded and at least I don’t feel the tie in. Maybe something lighter or not as boxy?? Anyways just my not official designer opinion. Laura


I agree with Laura about the black shelves. And with whoever said what they said about the bug issue with logs. Plus, whenever we get a cord of wood delivered to burn in the fireplace, it is not evenly cut birch logs. it’s whatever will burn that is cut to approximately the length of what we need in our fireplace.
Would you burn those perfectly cut to length and uniform diameter logs chosen from MANY?

HA. yes, we would A. get birch logs and B. they would likely be used for the living room fireplace and C. we might forego them altogether and put bins for toys underneath – something I forgot to mention int the post. The thing is that Brian Henderson LOVES the logs!!! its like the one thing that he REALLY wants, strangely …


Can you tie in logs some other way??


Do logs seem off altogether if they are being placed next to a gas fireplace unit? Should displayed logs (decorative or for actual use) be next to the actual wood burning fireplace? From the inspiration images, the logs next to the wood burning fireplaces feel the most effective. Plus, if this is the log storage for the stone fireplace, are you really wanting to walk logs across the house?


Agree about the shelves. I think white and blonde wood would tie in better with the windows and soften the edges of the room. In the rendering, the shelves seem a little like hulking towers.


This is going to be stunning and honestly, could be the coziest room in the house when it’s all said and done!


It’s all simply GORGEOUS.
But you will regret regret regret any wood storage like those in your renderings. Wood is dirty, dusty, and bits fall off ALL the time. Critters live in wood piles too. Ours is always a mess so we keep a small stack near the door. Never decorate with firewood. Those picture perfect photos will never happen in real life. My 2 cents.

even bald birch???


I had a giant stack of rustic wood in a built in shelving unit in my previous house for years and it was great! It wasn’t messy because nobody touched them. Once in awhile I would run the vacuum hose over the fronts and in the crevices to keep them from getting dusty, which worked like a charm. Bald birch…’ll be fine.


If the wood has been kiln dried, or purchased at a home decor store I think you’re going to be pretty safe regarding the bugs! Now if it was plucked out of the woods and still damp it would be a much different story! I love the design here so much and think it’ll pull a lot of the house together without being overbearing!


I have similar wood storage and LOVE it! We use it for our wood burning fireplace but I love it for aesthetics just as much! And it’s not messy at all. The only time it flakes is when you are putting the wood in and even then it’s not that big of a deal… just vacuum real quick! I think it will be a real highlight!

Sherrie S

wood is wood. had birch in Nebraska. Yep – a mess.

stacey pray

We have not attractive logs in our mountain house and after 2 years I can attest to no bug infestation. I like the round birch log look, but LOVE the idea of kid storage more. Also, make Brian happy. If the logs get to be too much – burn them and switch out to the baskets (win win).


I think kiln dried wood is fine. I don’t think you bring in critters and not as dirty.


Why do you have space for logs if it’s a gas fireplace? It looks a little busy, I agree with the previous comment that suggested changing the color of the cabinets on the ends.


Yes, this. It feels really inauthentic to me to have wood storage for…decorative wood? That you won’t/can’t use? Store something else under there. How about books. Turned spine OUT.

it is KINDA gimmicky, .What I forgot to tell you guys because I was rushing was that we would likely do that for a magazine shoot but if we need the storage we can do bins for the kids. Brian loves the wood, i love the look of the wood,. but we’ll see!


Bless you Yasmara!
Spines IN is the most ridiculous….


Loving the family room! In the last couple renderings I thought you almost forgot to tell us about the landscape art flanking the TV. Nope, that’s going to be the gorgeous view. What we the plans for the windows to help with light control while watching TV? I’m partial to light filtering shades, which I think you used in your hillside home too.


What a great use case for the frame TV! I would strongly suggest you have the tv at eye height when someone is sitting on the sofa by whatever means necessary for comfort and to reduce neck strain.


Agree with this. I get the aesthetic reasons for putting the TV (especially the beautiful Frame TV) above the fireplace, but man, is it one of my biggest pet peeves. I find it so uncomfortable to have to look so high up at the tv. What about going the projector route again (w/ some good black out shades)? Also, is doing a faux log stack in lieu of the real, possibly bug infested, not actually needed, stack instead tacky? Maybe it could cover up additional tv-related accessories (apple tv, gaming system, etc.) when you don’t need it. Otherwise, I love… Read more »


There is a TV mount that you can use that allows you to pull your TV down over a hearth at eye level. We have this one


Agree about the TV height. My MIL had a TV over her fireplace and even though the room was massive and the TV was massive, and we were thus sitting far away from it but still could see it clearly, it felt awkward. People say “eye strain” but I’d call it visual strain since even if my neck and eyes were fine, it hurt my brain to have it up there. We also never used the fireplace at my MIL’s, not even once, not even in the winter, not even when it was cold and dark. IMO, fireplaces are overrated,… Read more »


Agree with this 100%. I was really surprised to see a TV above the fireplace in a rendering from EHD. It’s like sitting in the front row of a movie theater. Not fun.

Vicki S Williams

Yes that is my thought totally. TV looks good up there but not a comfortable viewing height at all!

Régine from The 256 Project

I love it. I am not a fan of TVs on top of fireplaces (and would prefer that the fireplace column go all the way to the ceiling) but having a TV that looks like art when it’s not on should help. I especially love the window cutouts.


Why aren’t the cabinets the same depth as the bench? or at least the closed storage part with a little counter on top? Your kids are a little older than mine is so maybe it’s less of an issue but all I see are the corners of the bench that could hurt tiny heads. If everything is the same depth it’s no longer an issue. I also think it would be visually cleaner.


Why can’t you do a floating bench? Ours has metal braces holding it up that are attached to the studs. Our gorgeous concrete hearth/bench really does appear to be “floating” since it’s only ~16 inches off the ground you don’t even see the braces. I really think a floating bench would make for a cleaner look here.


I am not a designer, but to me the room feels squat and cluttered and I don’t like the proportions. I can’t stop seeing a face either- window eyes, tv nose, fireplace mouth. Ha! I would take the fireplace to the ceiling to give it height and I would eliminate or shorten the shelving and do them in wood-white or natural. The fireplace should be the focal point and to me the tall, dark shelves compete and distract. Tv? I don’t know. Maybe ditch it and project onto the fireplace wall??


Ha! I see a face too (kinda like a polar bear) but I definitely experience pareidolia (seeing faces in everything) so it doesn’t bother me too much.
I agree about removing the dark shelves, though, and letting the walls breathe a little more.


So incredibly gorgeous! Just not sure why you would have wood storage next to a gas fireplace? Also I’d be worried about bugs/termites too…..


I absolutely love the design, as usual! My one question is about the logs under the benches– since this fireplace is going to be gas, would these simply be decorative or would the logs be used in the living room fireplace?


If you are going to install a gas fireplace why dedicate any space to wood storage- you wont be using it at all! I do love the look for photos, but for life… it will collect dust bugs and spill out bits of bark constantly. And some guests will be confused and try to get wood into the gas fireplace. I suggest storage benches for blankets games or other items you want to hide.


I commented above too (but it’s not showing up yet?) and I completely 100% agree. Designers of the world, stop with the for-show-only wood storage. It’s a gas fireplace.


If you have a wood burning fireplace or stove elsewhere in the house- design in some beautiful PRACTICAL wood storage there. Real wood that you burn is messy and would not be fun to fit under those benches at floor level. Waist height large opening in wall or open storage or something along those lines would be easiest. Im sure you can figure out a creative way to make it look good too!


I also find the ‘wood storage even though it’s a gas fireplace’ look hilarious (SORRY BRIAN) – you will certainly end up with someone putting a log in the gas fire at some point. And the fact that the fireplace box isn’t recessed into the wall / doesn’t go to the ceiling makes it look modern rather than rustic (since it’s clearly gas). I live in a super old house with tons of wood-burning fireplaces and a wood burning stove (hello, New England), and dealing with wood way more than I’d like I can tell you even beautiful birch decorative… Read more »


Nix the end cabinets and extend benches to the ends with storage below for toys, etc… baskets (texture/coziness) or built in storage(oak). The logs seem pretentious with a gas fireplace. Increase the window size…so you feel like you’re sitting in a tree house.


I agree with other comments that it looks busy, and that storing decorative wood near a gas fireplace is a bit of a folly…. I think Jeanie has hit the nail on the head. Convert the “wood” storage to functional storage, and extend those benches out. The whole look will be a lot cleaner and simple. I think you’re forgetting about the visual impact the windows will have, and that those will balance out the TV/fireplace.


Yes! I’m with Jeanie on this one. The black cabinets feel too heavy for me. Bigger windows could be really cool. And the built-in oak storage I can really picture.


Yes, yes, yes. At the very least mix the black (bleh), and the unnecessary wood. We will all know it’s for show and totally pointless. If one of your other three fireplaces uses real wood, crest storage for it near that fireplace.


Oohh love the treehouse-feel idea!
Hmmm actually I agree with you guys – I also think maybe the glass and the black frames seem too non-mountainy? Especially for a family play area – I like the idea of letting the fireplace/benches/windows shine and paring back all the other elements (especially once you fill the shelves with things)… simple and rustic?

LOVING this house tho! Thanks for taking us on the journey!


This is beautiful! Anissa of HouseSeven Design has wood stored like that and has mentioned in her insta stories that people are constantly asking her if its an issue and she says its not! I say, make it beautiful and if you have to switch it out later- you put pretty baskets in and call it a day!


But that’s because Anissa actually uses her wood for, ya know, fires. Not to mention this house is a vacay house. I cant think of anything more horrifying than going to a vacation house to relax only to find some kind of infestation in the family/playroom at kid height.


Love the design, but I think that the sqaut fireplace is a dead giveaway that you’re using a direct vent insert. Real fireplaces need flues, and since you’re going for a rustic look, I think the structure of the fireplace should look as “real” as possible, especially since you’re considering storing real wood to enhance the “real rustic fireplace” feel.


I agree! I was trying to figure out why the fireplace shape didn’t feel quite right, and this is totally why. I would extend the chute all the way up, get rid of the black side cabinets, and use the space under the benches for storage.


Agree. Definitely on the “all the way up” train.


While I love the look of open log “storage:”, I think logs seem really out of place and try-hard in a room where there isn’t a log-burning fireplace. Baskets for toys and books and games seem a better fit for this room.

Catherine S

Just wish the windows were a bit bigger. Looks odd


I love the aesthetic of the wood under the bench but it doesn’t make sense given your heat and glow insert.


I also am not a huge fan of the fireplace not extending all the way to the ceiling. With the Frame TV it seems like seeing the TV from the sofa will not be a huge issue given how it hugs the wall. My brother has a very similar layout to what you’ve got going there (fireplace box surrounded by built-ins) but the box juts SO far out into the room that mounting the TV on top makes it hard to see the bottom of the screen from the sofa. I also think it feels more like an afterthought –… Read more »


love it overall. is there an adjustment to make to the cabinets to make them less top heavy? Bringing the door cabinet up to the height of the fireplace box and adjusting the top shelves accordingly? Or what about just shelves instead of the cubbies on top? Something about all those boxes is a bit much. and i agree with all the others that all that storage for wood when you have an obviously closed gas log fireplace seems really fake design-y to me, but I understand that the white logs are pretty to look at. I wouldn’t like the… Read more »


Team real logs for visual warmth even though you have the convenience of a gas fireplace. Thanks for sharing a picture of my living room as inspiration!


#8 was my favorite before you even mentioned that you went that direction! Love the logs, the glass storage and the overall symmetry!


I love this! And the TV over the fireplace looks great! Maybe it’s too high if the people on the couch will be, say, 3 feet from the screen. But if they will be further back, there shouldn’t be an issue with neck strain. We have a high-mounted TV and one of the things I prefer is that people can walk in front of the TV and no one misses a second of the action. I suppose the picture quality suffers a tiny bit by not being directly, horizontally, in your line of sight – but as someone who watches… Read more »


Log storage near a gas fireplace looks silly. I guarantee you Charlie will constantly be pulling out those logs to build his own fantasy structure and it will be a battle to get him to refrain. Also, I thought you liked the NO TV aspect of life at the cabin. I would encourage you to go that route. TV/movies are always the easiest default but taking out the option will inspire you to play board games, cards, and simply conversing with friends/family. If I ever had a get-away, I’d want it to be very different than what I am accustomed… Read more »


I really think you should use the faux Martha’s fireplace as a jumping off point. Make the bench appear floating by anchoring it to the cabinets. Also the fireplace seems like it needs to go to the ceiling in my brain. I’m also not sure about the black cabinets either, it feels so busy and chaotic and squatty with the fireplace ending where it does

Cris S.

I actually like the mock up of the room. But then, I read the entire article so I understand what you are going for.

This probably sounds snarkier than I mean (though clearly some people don’t read). But it’s because my builder installed a gas fireplace without coming to me with any questions or details and he’s already on my last nerve for 15 other reasons, so I’m really just envious that you seem more in control of the renovation process than we are. And don’t seem to be affected by how expensive the whole damn process is.


Split logs look so much more authentic then round birch logs in my opinion. I’m sure you can get treated wood to make sure there is no bugs in the wood. I disagree with commenters who think the logs are tacky with a gas fireplace. It adds and warmth and texture that I love.


I know its just a rendering and it’ll look incredible in person when its done, but right now I’m just feeling a little meh. I really appreciate the dark cabinets and think they’ll add depth and warmth but the plaster benches just aren’t doing it for me. I like the benches, but I wish they tied in more to the cabinetry and not the fireplace. Its just feels like something I’ve already seen a lot. I’m team #nologs. I’m also questioning not taking the fireplace to the ceiling. The big plaster box with a tv over it (even the most… Read more »


This looks fantastic! So excited.

My own preference would be to NOT do the cabinets on either end and extend the line of the bench all the way across the wall. Cabinets below should be enough storage for games, and you could consider some floating shelves above although you don’t need them. Simplify.

Julie S

Looks awesome! I really like the color and texture choices on the rendering. My only thought is to put the drawers of the built ins at the bottom, not the top, slot. It’s the worst having to get down to crane your neck to see the back of a bottom shelf – that’s the slot I’d most love to have a drawer instead.


When the time comes for that pinball machine, my father-in-law has an amazing selection and can customize the look, sound, lights, and artwork to anything you want. He truly has the most passion for his pieces.

His instagram is gameroom_gallery


I love it! My one negative comment/question is: does anybody really ever sit in those built-in benches? I feel like I’ve been seeing built in benches everywhere a lot lately. And you’ve even got another built-in reading nook/bench in the bunk room. They don’t look comfortable to me? I’d rather read in an comfy armchair.


we have a floating smooth concrete hearth/bench in our living room and yes it gets used often! I plan on making a cushion to go on top of it but haven’t gotten to it yet and even so, it’s a nice extra seating space, especially when we are entertaining several guests. It also gets plenty of daytime use as a surface for my toddler’s calico critters (:


To be honest, when you are hanging out with small kids, and you don’t ALWAYS want to sit on the floor, having spaces like this to sit down is really nice. You aren’t lounging there, you’re probably perching there and playing/interacting with the kids who are playing.
My kids would jump off of those benches OR use them to get onto the top of the fireplace because I apparently only give birth to monkeys who love to climb.

emily jane

I for one, freaking LOVE it! I very, very much like the black cabinets flanking the fireplace and benches (and understood the storage underneath them was/is FLEXIBLE). I’m never-ever a fan of a tv over a fireplace buuuut, the Frame tv changes EVERYTHING. Also, I heartily disagree with the notion that this room looks ‘busy’ -to me it simply looks like REAL people could live here and do Real Life activities in the space! Your ability -and willingness!- to extend your designs beyond the parameters of social media -to OBVIOUSLY include human beings- is for me one of your defining… Read more »

alex m

I completely agree. I love this design, especially the black cabinets with the black framing and TV.

Emily Jane didn’t add this, but I personally really like the wood storage. If you buy birch designed for decor then you shouldn’t have bugs (other than the bugs we all get in any home, anyway) The idea that the kids might pull them out to play with sounds about right, but not like a bad thing to me. REAL lincoln logs!!


This is a total miss, proportions are waaaayyyyyyy off. There is no function here: tv is way too high, windows are way too small, wood storage is way too ridiculous, bookshelves are too small for real storage, fireplace is a big snooze. What a mess.


Wow, I completely disagree.


Yikes! That could have been phrased in a better, kinder way. Try again, you can do it! Ending with “what a mess” won’t work in your rewrite.

katie b.

Desiree, you cracked me up with this! Hope you’re an editor in real life – you’ve got a gift.


How is this fireplace vented? I assume there is not a new chimney associated with it (which would add $$$) . I ask because I would love to put a good looking gas fireplace in my master bedroom, but finding a nice model with proper venting was a challenge. A neighbor installed one and when lit, I can definitely smell gas. Which not only is unpleasant but seems dangerous.


I love the white look – one of my all time favorite fireplaces is from the Faux Martha, which you used as one of your inspiration pics. I personally still like the look of the fireplace going all the way to the ceiling, but I get what you are saying about the TV jutting out too far into the room. However, I do think that decorating with wood logs when you have a gas fireplace is a bit cheesy. I love the benches, but I’d do something different under. Even if it’s just cabinets with doors to hide any unsightly… Read more »

Penny G

Trying to like it but it feels disjointed and cluttered. Like there’s just one too many things happening. And too many different sized squares that don’t relate to each other. No flow. Not like the inspiration images. As I look at it, just removing or changing one element seems to make the whole thing feel better. Whether its the size of the windows, the firebox which feels out of sync with everything else, or the cabinets on the ends…something needs to change.


I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the design, but why do you need log storage for a gas fireplace??


Perfection. Really really lovely.


I’m curious how people live in real life with the Frame. Do you come home and turn it on to art mode as soon as you enter? Or do you leave it on constantly in art mode around the clock to always avoid the “black box” look? Does it not glow at night if it’s left on in art mode? As much as I love the idea of the Frame, I’m so perplexed at how it is to live with every day. Or is it mostly for people who want to hide their tv for instagram or when hosting a… Read more »

Rachel Alexander

I think the design is very pretty, and if it is what you want, just go with it. I also think that some commenters are not factoring in that you can balance out the black and heavy elements on the fireplace wall with the rest of the furnishings for the room and you will make it look fantastic. I am curious why the only option you considered for the fireplace wall were the benches under the windows? I like the concept, but if the room is for kids and family, I would swap out the benches and put closed cabinentry… Read more »


Love it, and thanks for the walk through the design process. My only question is about the angle of the TV; does the mount allow it to pull away from the wall while you’re watching it? If not, you’ll just want to be sure the ledge of the fireplace isn’t blocking the bottom of the screen when you’re viewing from below (like from a couch). I’m sure you’ve already thought of this, mentioning just in case. 🙂

Christina Lake

Hire Jersey Ice Cream Co. for the plaster!!! They are hiring out for that now! 🙂


I really like the overall look, but I agree with other commenters that the small box fireplace looks unnatural and too modern for a mountain house. Your concern about the TV being too far into the room with a full column makes sense. What if you did a half-width column to the ceiling? I think you mentioned the width of the fireplace is 18″ so what if the fireplace extended to the ceiling but only at 9″ deep? It would essentially create a 9″ wide mantel and could be a solution to both concerns (TV and mountainy-authenticness). Love these posts!


This is exactly what I was going to suggest as well!


I really like everything here (although I too am #teamnowood), but the fireplace not going all the way up looks a little out of proportion to me, and I’m also worried about being able to view the bottom of that TV from couch height. That 18″ mantle seems really deep. I like how in the last inspiration image (the remodelista one) the fireplace bumps out in 2 levels. In your case you could have the fire box as you have it now, but maybe halfway back (9″?) a vertical going to the ceiling, that the TV would sit on.


Will you do a post on fake fire logs? Bad fake logs are something atrocious. I would love to see options that don’t veer into the glass or cannon ball realm of fireplace fodder.

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