The Learner Observer

Hey friends!

So in the spirit of starting new things for the new year, I’m making living room plans since I now have a mantle and faux fireplace to decorate (which is super fun!). I’ll share the ins and outs of the actual fireplace soon as well, but I wanted to give you a glimpse of what’s in store for the area around it – and ask you to help me choose the best option, too!

Here is what the living room looks like now:



I don’t hate the gallery wall around the TV, but I don’t love it as much as I used to and I’d love to change this up and lighten up the walls in here. Yes, I still want white walls in the living room and Alex is officially on board. It might have something to do with the first image I sent him when I started planning out changes, which was this:


OB-living room black wall

Pardon the fuzziness, but you can get the gist of it. I thought having one black wall could be cool and would help to hide the TV a little more. It does hide the TV, and I LOVE a black wall, but I’m not sure it’s the right look for our space.

Then I tried this:

OB-living room white wall

Much cleaner, and though the TV sticks out, the black in the faux fireplace sort of helps to balance the big black box look. The reality of finding gorgeous shelves like this to fit in our very limited space, however, dawned on me quickly and I started planning the room with a simpler shelf.

OB-living room plain white bookshelves

I also added a colour to the wall – Polar Bear by Behr. It’s a nice warm white, which will be needed in this room since the couch and chairs are both warm colours. I love that I would have the option to add lighting to these shelves since this area would now be lamp-free and I don’t always like to use the overhead lighting in the living room. I like the look of these shelves, but I’m still wondering if I’d be happier with something open in the back. Enter floating shelves…


OB-living room white wall floating

Much simpler, cleaner, and will give me the opportunity to use the space on the floor beside the fireplace for things like a basket of blankets or magazine rack! 

Now I began to think about the contrast of a dark shelf on this wall, so I tried it out with the IKEA Laiva unit:

OB-living room white walls, dark bookshelf

Not a terrible option! This bookshelf is priced extremely well but it lacks in height – it’s only 65″ tall. I can always place tall things on the top shelf to make up for that, I suppose, and I do love that it has both the open and dark backing and that the sides are completely open as well. Naturally I went back to the floating shelves to see how they would work…

OB-living room white wall black floating

I can get the height I want and the openness, too, but are they too simple? 

Here’s a look at my 4 main options side by side – bookshelves vs floating shelves:

bookshelf choices

floating shelves choices

I think I know where I’m going with this, but I want to get your thoughts! It’s always nice to have someone else’s point of view and you guys always offer fantastic advice, so hit me with your best shot! What do you love? Hate? Is my paint choice way off? Would I be better off going darker or keeping it all pure white for a super clean look? Am I crazy for getting rid of the gallery wall? Do I ask too many questions?

And if you haven’t entered to win a New Year’s toast print (which I think would be darling above or in a bar cart), then get to it, already!

Until next time!




  1. Reply

    Laurie@ Vin'yet Etc.

    January 5, 2015

    I like the open shelving… but I LOVE a combo, I’ll post a picture to your FB page. :) I’m so visual that to explain it here, you’ll think I’m crazy. ;)

    • Reply


      January 6, 2015

      Ohhhh that sounds fantastic. Thanks so much, Laurie. And thanks for weighing in, too!!

  2. Reply

    Raven Corwin, aka Meggie

    January 5, 2015

    Well, Thalita, you asked, so I have to put in my 2 cents :) Lovely fireplace, and we’ll need the story of how you acquired it at some point.

    The problem is always the telly, isn’t it? I have found some creative ways to camouflage computers, but the TV is a whole new issue. Personally, I do not like a TV above a gorgeous focal point like a fireplace. To me, that technology really intrudes.

    But, if you absolutely have to have it above, create a screen of printed or textured fabric, or a piece of artwork that can be closed when you’re not using the TV.

    You might install a wood piece across the top between 2 bookcases to hide the guts of a pull down shade- matchsticks, roman, or old-fashioned rollers covered in printed paper or fabric which would look like a wallpaper panel. maybe even “frame it out” with some fabric/paper trim. Or you could make a cabinet just deep enough for the telly with doors that, when closed, have a piece of art on them.

    Now, for those side areas… If you leave the telly open above the FP, going all white along the sides creates 2 voids in the center. You might doing a feature colour on that wall to soften that contrast. If you really want white cabinets/shelves, break it up with a dark wood for part of them- like low cabinets in white on bottom with tall open back wood hutch tops (keep solid surfaces low so you don’t “stuff” up the space) with a slightly wider top so you could be the telly on one side. As you know, open furniture opens your space.

    I’ll send you some pins to show you what I mean. You know how I love sending you pins! hehe

    • Reply


      January 6, 2015

      I love all of your ideas, and I love how thoughtful you are for taking the time to write all of that out AND send me a bunch of pins. You are seriously amazing!

  3. Reply


    January 5, 2015

    White! White! White WALLS! And I like the floating shelves but yes, they might look too simple. Could you try adding 5 shelves on either side? I think they would look more like built ins this way…maybe?

    I think the dark is going to make you room look small. I think you could pull it off it you had pure white furniture and a none black rug, but now I’ve just spent a whole lotta money…LOL!

    I can’t wait to see what you pick! Fun adventure! BTW< I really like your gallery wall as is =)

    • Reply


      January 6, 2015

      I love that you love white. Because I love white. So freaking much. And sometimes I think I’m the only one! I also love the idea of 5 shelves! Truth be told, I like the gallery wall, but I’m dying for some more surfaces to style/some more storage in this teeny tiny house! Thanks for the input, though – huge help!

  4. Reply

    Ashley Urke | Domestic Fashionista

    January 11, 2015

    Thalita, it looks so beautiful! I love the deep black interior. And it is so fun that we were doing fireplace renovations at the same time! I too am very excited to redecorate my new mantel after the holidays! A mantel…finally! So exciting! And your gallery wall is on point. So lovely!

    • Reply


      January 12, 2015

      Thanks so much, Ashley! I totally thought of you as I was working on this bad boy! It feels so luxurious having a mantel, doesn’t it? haha
      Thanks for the gallery wall love! It’s staying for quite a while, until I actually get around to shelves beside the fireplace because… well, as much as I love the gallery wall, storage is a must now that we lost the dresser/entertainment unit!

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