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This article was published 20/9/2013 (1214 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Dear Debbie: We have the typical 1970s brick and cement fireplace in our den. It really dates the room. I'm thinking of painting it a cream colour and adding glass tiles to the top of the hearth. What do you think? Sheri
Dear Sheri: Your idea sounds fine. Glass tiles have a shimmery, translucent appearance, which will add an extra dimension to your fireplace. With the glass tiles, you can go very calm and pensive with the watery colours, or add an amazing tapestry of shades for a cheerful atmosphere. Think about how you use the room and that will set you in the right direction. Here's another option to update that 70s look.
I have updated many dens and recreation rooms, and one of my favourite makeovers is shown here. This room was vintage 70s with yellowing panelled walls, a parquet floor and red brick fireplace. The challenge was to lighten up the space, and make it comfortable and welcoming for the young family.
We removed the mantel and applied a faux brick faßade over the entire back wall, to expand the focal area. I put up faux brick panels (available in 4'x8' panels at your building store) on either side of the brick fireplace. I then smeared plaster randomly over the panels and fireplace bricks so that some areas were covered but the brick shapes still showed through. The whole wall was then primed, painted white and then rubbed with a creamy yellow glaze to highlight the textures.
The dark panelling on the other walls was painted white, and the parquet floor stained a rich dark brown. A new pale blue sofa, a few turquoise accessories, and some greenery complete the transformation.
Dear Debbie: We purchased a synthetic wicker outdoor furniture set several years ago when the price was high. It is still in good condition, but I now prefer the darker colours to the original light shade we have. Can I paint? Heather
Dear Heather: I don't advise you to paint it. You have a high-quality set, and the tight weave and material of this furniture is not conducive to a painted finish. However, colours are cyclical, and lighter shades in outdoor furniture are returning. Why not alter the appearance of the chairs with new seat covers. Table linens, flower pots, and outdoor lighting are all powerful design elements that will offer a fresh look without replacing the furniture.
Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to email@example.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit Debbie's new website, www.debbietravis.com.