A Difficult Chimney

If you moved into a home with this monstrosity of a chimney as the centre point for your living room, what would you do to improve it? (Suggestions are welcome!)

red brick chimney inside the house

Yes, you’re seeing it right, the tiles on the hearth are in fact purple and green! They, thankfully, happen to be slightly duller in my living room than in this picture. As well, you’ll notice the lovely teak-coloured wood shelf in the strange cubby-hole/indent beside the fireplace. Ahh! So much ugly!!

An off centred fireplace, I can handle, but what to do with the weird cubby-hole has had me stumped for years. Drywall over it? Built-in shelves?

So here’s my thing, the house was built in 1968 and it therefore has 1970-ish characteristics which I don’t have a problem embracing and working with. Upon purchasing the home, the ceiling and shelf of the cubby-hole lit up illuminating whatever item was present on the shelf. I promptly removed that function, cut the cords and have eradicated that bit of wonder from the 1970’s.

I happen to like the warm red and brown tones of natural brick, that part of the 1970’s can stay and I’ve used them elsewhere in the room. The rooms’  walls still need a coat of paint and I’m working on curtains. What’s harder to deal with, is the weird structural indent beside the fireplace!!

I guess I should look at it as what would be the fun of home decorating, if your home didn’t come with a few challenges?!

For the past few years I’ve surveyed almost everyone who’s walked into my house as to what they would do with the weird cubby hole. I invite your opinions, now that (through the blog) I’ve invited you too, into my living room! I’ve had suggestions of drywall, built in shelves, remove the shelf and put a mirror in the back and so on. Then in the summer, a friend suggested birch wood pillars with artwork on them. I have a number of soapstone carvings that could take their place on top of 3, 4, or 5 foot tall birch stumps. I liked the idea of using lighter colours to bring something forward, rather then to lose items in the depths of the cavern.

In September I happened upon a sale at Pottery Barn (yay!) What a fun store – second only to my ultimate favourite: Crate & Barrel! Just my luck they were selling off candles and candle holders.

variety of pillar candle holders (+1 foot tall)

I found these, and despite their ceramic composition making them rather heavy, I was ensured that shipping to Ottawa would only be $35! What a deal! So after mulling over which would look best in my weird chimney cubby-hole, I bought them all. I like to switch things up in different seasons and with these different options I can.


For now, I had an early advent calendar delivered in the form of Santa, so this the look my chimney is sporting.

I maintain that this look is a temporary fix until I really decide what to do with the indented cubby-hole, or rather, hopefully everything else I plan to do in the room will draw focus away from the weird indent itself. We’ll just have to see as I continue to improve the room… stay tuned for updates!

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