family room makeover | painted fireplace surround

by | Sep 27, 2021 | Decorating, Family Room, My House, Room Makeovers | 56 comments

I finally made some more progress on the basement family room makeover in the latter part of last week.  Jeff helped me hang the deer head and I finished painting the fireplace surround and mantle.  It didn’t look bad before, but it just didn’t look like “me.”  The shiny black granite tile specifically felt a little too modern for my aesthetic.  So, I used the same technique I used when painting the granite tile around the fireplace upstairs.  (You can find that tutorial HERE.)

And, it works so much better for the decorating direction I’m heading.

basement family room makeover | painted fireplace surround | miss mustard seed

Here is how it looked before…

basement family room makeover | painted fireplace surround before | miss mustard seed

The walls are painted in Oval Room Blue, Modern Emulsion finish by Farrow & Ball from Dreamy Whites.  I used a STIX primer tinted to Oval Room Blue to prime the fireplace surround and the tile.  Once that fully dried over three weeks or so (I’m being facetious because I was just procrastinating), I painted a cost of Nicrotex textured paint over the tile.   This is a product used for creating a “grippy” texture on climbing walls and we used it when we built a climbing wall for the boys during the lockdown.  As I was brushing it on the plywood climbing wall, I realized that it would be great for making the flat granite tile look more like stone or slate.  It worked like a charm on the upstairs fireplace, so I repeated that trick here.

So, I brushed two coats of Nicrotex over the primed granite…

basement family room makeover | painted fireplace surround | miss mustard seed

The color of the Nicrotex was terrible against Oval Room Blue, but that was okay because I knew I was going to paint it.  I mixed up a batch of MMS Milk Paint – two parts Trophy (a warm gray) and 1 part Artissimo (a dark navy blue) to create a dark blue/gray.  Not only would it make the painted tile look more like slate, but it would provide a nice transition color between the blue trim and black firebox.

basement family room makeover | painted fireplace surround | miss mustard seed

I carefully brushed it on, leaving some of the grout lines unpainted, so they would look more like real tiles and less like painted tiles.

basement family room makeover | painted fireplace surround | miss mustard seed

The paint is still drying a bit when this picture was taken (hence the darker spots), but I love how it turned out.  For just using paint that I already had, I’m really pleased with the results.  Now, I need to fix where the paint chipped around the fire screen.  Last year, the fan wasn’t working properly to vent the heat, so heat was building up, causing the paint to bubble and flake off.  I’ll share the process of sanding it and repainting it in a high heat paint.  That’ll be the finishing touch to make this fireplace look sharp.

basement family room makeover | painted fireplace surround | miss mustard seed

And, let’s talk about the deer head.  For those who hate taxidermy, just close the browser and look at things that inspire you.  I really do get it.  Taxidermy sort of creeps me out, but I envisioned a deer head in this room and I happened to find one at Gold Rush Days for $50.  I liked this one because it was $50 (not $300 like the others) and it had cute ears, nice antlers, and a sweet face.  I also like that it’s vintage (from the 1940s or 50s.)  The only issue was it had some areas missing around his nose.  I was able to “make a new nose” out of a piece of vintage leather the dealer gave me for that purpose.  I would’ve made a tutorial for that, but I didn’t even enjoy doing the job and I doubt my audience is interested in DIY taxidermy repair!  I couldn’t even believe I was doing it!  But, it was a $250 cost savings and therefore worth it to me.

basement family room makeover | vintage deer head | miss mustard seed

I was going to have a deer-naming contest, but I mentioned that to Jeff and the boys and they came up with a name.  Karlsen.  Karlsen the deer head.  It started out as Carlson, but then they decided he should be Scandinavian, so it became Karlsen.  That was not the name I was expecting, but it made us all laugh and it stuck.

basement family room makeover | vintage deer head | miss mustard seed

Karlsen will definitely get some festive decorations for Christmas and maybe other holidays, too.

basement family room makeover | vintage deer head | miss mustard seed

My Opa had a deer head in his den and it always scared me when I was a little girl.  When the house was full of family,  I would have to sleep on the sofa bed in the den, which meant the deer was looking straight down at me.  To make it worse, my Opa hung a wasp nest he found on the antlers, so I would have nightmares about a deer and an army of wasps chasing me!  But, as I got older, it became a staple in Opa’s house, which was our “home base” as a military family, and Karlsen is a little reminder of that.

basement family room makeover | miss mustard seed

The mantle is filled with old leather books I’ve collected over the years.  Some are from Etsy or antique stores and others are from yard sales.  I included a 1905 relay race trophy from my Opa’s attic, an antique wooden duck caller that belonged to him, and some natural elements like shells and turkey feathers.

basement family room makeover | miss mustard seed

It all creates that “gentleman’s library” look I’m going for in this space.  Whether you’re a Karlsen fan or not, he fits with that aesthetic nicely.

Next up, I’ll fix the fireplace screen, finish painting, and finish the chair rail!

56 Comments

  1. celestial

    I love Karlsen! He looks like a great antique, just like so many other pieces in your home. Don’t let anyone talk you out of him; he is recycled, he is almost an antique, you rescued him for a dumpster death, and he fits your esthetic.

    Long time anti-hunting mom here but my son turned out to be a most avid deer hunter, scoring a deer a year. He saved antlers but only when he got his trophy buck on his grandfather’s farm did he have the head proudly mounted. I picked the piece up from the taxidermist and it rode buckled up in my backseat, antlers brushing the car ceiling and causing many startled looks from passing cars. Dilbert now hangs in the screen house in the summer and is the non-human patriarch of the house. He watches the world now knowing Karlsen is doing the same in Rochester.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Aw, I love that. Thank you for sharing.

      I would never want to go hunting myself, but I know many wonderful people who love hunting (men, women, and teenagers.) I also know families who rely on hunting meat to stock the freezer each year. When it’s purely for sport or for the value of one specific part of an animal (the hide, tusks, antlers, etc.), then I am against that. When the entire animal is used and respected, then I appreciate that. Also, after hitting two deer with my car, I understand that hunting helps to control the population and reduce the risk of accidents, which can hurt both deer and people.

      Reply
      • Lisa P

        This room looks great! It is so much fun to see how it develops as you take each new step! I LOVE the painted granite as a solution to a material that doesn’t suit your aesthetic.
        I just got your book Feels Like Home in my mailbox today. Can’t wait to start reading this evening (slowly to make it last)!

        Reply
    • Cindy

      I’m the same. My son hunted each year with his grandpa. His first deer, after about 4 years of hunting, was a 12 pt buck which we had taxidermied for him. Although Pablo proudly hangs on our wall, my son couldn’t kill another.

      Reply
    • Rita

      It looks fabulous. My youngest is waiting to get his deer mount back that he got last year. His first deer. Taxidermy is not cheap so you got a deal. The boat you found recently would look great in this gentleman’s library den.

      Reply
  2. linda oglesby

    Your fireplace looks beautiful. The colors are fantastic. I truly love you have your mantel decorated; it is right up my alley. I am currently trying to decorate a new bookcase and have tried so many things. Right now I have my small collection of old cameras, dozens of books, plus some loved pottery sitting in the bookcase. I love “tweaking” it, but I need to move on. I also have a smaller bookcase in a hallway that was given to me. It was too dark inside, so I used pages from an old worn-out dictionary attached to poster board on the back wall. Much better. The loved items that were in this case are now in the new bookcase. Now this one will house my gnomes, which are a family joke. The family knows I don’t like gnomes, but somehow they keep popping up at our house. Now all these creatures can be in one spot. Kids and grandkids, you gotta love them. Thanks for the inspiration, Marian.

    Reply
  3. Alexandra

    Love how you pivoted your decorating style to accommodate the males in your household. It’s looking so much more comfy for the Minnesota winters. Gorgeous colors can’t wait to see the finished curtains.

    Reply
  4. Donna Burke

    I love love love it all! This is my version of your style that is in most of my house. A more masculine look, but suits my house and I love a collected cozy style. Giving Karlson a home makes me happy. Deer hunting thins them, much like good forestry prevents wild fires. He is beautiful and will love on in a strange way. Love that! ♥ I’m glad that you made those decisions KNOWING that a segment of your viewers would not appreciate it. That is a hard thing to do. Can’t wait to see Karlson at Christmas cozy and loved. ♥

    Reply
    • Donna Burke

      live on ♥ (not love on)

      Reply
  5. Karen Caraccilo

    Yikes! I did close my browser (deer head) 😳 surprised to see it in your space. But if it brings you joy 👍 love the color and fireplace!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      My husband was surprised when I bought it home!

      Reply
  6. MaryAnn

    Karlsen is such a unique addition to your family room. I like it! Great vignette with the books, trophy, feathers, and shells!

    Reply
  7. Stacey

    I work in a historic adobe. The sons were hunters (from necessity) and we have a couple of taxidermy pieces made by the sisters. The whole family was interested in science, geology and biology, so it seems like this hobby was a natural extension for them. Not my personal cup of tea, but I appreciate it and enjoy sharing the pieces with our visitors.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I love that it’s something your kids did together and it not only fed the family, but was a learning experience.

      Reply
  8. Teresa C

    It all looks FANTASTIC!! Came together nicely and the “trick” for using the “gripper” was genius!

    Reply
  9. Cathy R

    My Dad had a sporting goods store when I was little and deer heads lined the whole perimeter of the store. But it was the rubber worms he sold for fishing I remember playing with!! I like ‘Karl’ ( Karlsen is too formal) a lot better than the skulls you see everywhere and thank goodness you didn’t buy into wall words. I’m so done with that, not that I ever got on that wagon in the first place. Your taste is impeccable and id love to do my house in a southwest version if that’s even possible😆

    Reply
  10. Deb

    So very glad to see a deer head in your decor! My husband in earlier years was an avid hunter, and the bargaining chip for buying our current house was that he could have his deer heads on one wall. I loved the home so I guess fair is fair! I must say they are not easy to decorate with!

    Reply
  11. Jenni

    Looks fabulous, Marian! Love the paint color (and had a hunch it was F&B when I saw it–how do they do that?!), the styling, everything. brava!

    Reply
  12. Eliz

    I would add a fedora (or two) to the antlers.

    Reply
  13. JC

    Great transformation! The name of the deer fits right in your space. I love when transformations are relatively free, but make a big impact. Enjoy!

    Reply
  14. Lynnett Ratchford

    Oh, the room is coming along beautifully! My Uncle Bob had a deer head hanging by the front door of his family’s large Victorian home in Wisconsin. The town was having a Christmas decorating contest for homeowners, but he didn’t get the memo in time being a busy father, lay pastor and teacher. He stuck a red light bulb on the deer’s nose and won a prize!

    Would you consider conditioning the leather books with Miss Mustard Seed’s Hemp Oil?

    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  15. Cassandra E

    The blue looks amazing. I’m really liking this. I love that your family gave the deer a nationality. That is funny. I’m one of the folks who am not thrilled with deer heads. I especially am uncomfortable with hunting trophies being used to make a space feel masculine. I think there’s a lot to unpack there.
    But, it’s your space, your family, your aesthetic and I only share that for perspective and do not expect others to share my perspective.
    I do appreciate that you grew up with taxidermy and this guy conjures up warm fuzzies and memories. I also do see the need for hunting for a variety of reasons. I can appreciate that the head represents not just your own family history, but the history of a way of life, and a reminder of how close to nature we were before grocery stores. And for me, that’s what makes a home cozy; the nods to history.
    I liked writing this out, because it helped me not be so reactionary, and see a bigger picture.
    And, you may think I’m a weirdo, because I collect the antlers and bones of deer I find on the property where I live. I don’t bring them in the house, but I do have a few here and there.
    And mostly, just really loving your blue color choice and decisions in painting. It can be agonizing, those details to paint or not to paint. It’s really coming together.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I really appreciate your thoughtful comment and I have some of the same thoughts and interest in nature. I didn’t pick the deer head so much because I thought of a hunting trophy as masculine, but because I think it references the natural elements often found in the libraries of old English homes. I’m thinking of how many people collected taxidermy, eggs, nests, shells, feathers, pressed flowers, etc. in order to display them, draw them, study them, etc.

      Reply
  16. Judith A Karlson

    Hello Marion…as you can see I also am a ‘Karlson’ but with an ‘o’ instead of an ‘e’. Upon arriving in the US from Sweden in the mid- 1800’s, my Grandfather Carlson exclaimed that there were too many Carlsons with a ‘C’ and promptly changed it to a ‘K’. Your Karlsen and I could be fast friends!

    Reply
  17. Sandy

    Karlsen looks so happy in his new home. You did a good job on his nose! Glad you let you family name him. How fun!

    Reply
  18. Susan C

    I do know a few families that hunt for the deer meat. It fills the freezer. Some donate the meat to the needy. A family friend used to make venison chili, which my son loved.

    Reply
  19. lynne

    i was absolutely amazed by the difference in painting the fireplace surround… not that the black tile was terrible; it’s just that the redo is GREAT!!!! i could get used to that deer head too…. which is saying a lot about me, as i love to watch the deer in our backyard…..

    Reply
  20. Patrizia Boszko

    I am envious that you paint w/o tape or drop cloths…wish I could!

    Reply
  21. Laura

    I love it so much!!! The deer head just goes so well….everything really is perfect! I can’t wait to see the drapes when they are finished and up. Curious, does Jeff love it? I am betting he does. He got to keep the cabinets the way he wanted and it all looks fabulous! You nailed the gentleman’s club look that you were going for.

    Reply
  22. judith

    I love everything about it! The color is beautiful, and Karlsen is perfect there. I have a deer head, skulls, antlers, a snakeskin, a wasp nest, and a cat skeleton, so this is right up my alley.

    Reply
  23. Terry A.

    Karlsen is a great name for a Minnesota deer head! This room is really turning out wonderfully.

    Reply
  24. Patty

    Ugh, sorry, not something I want to pull up and look at in any way, especially as I sit here taking a work break and eating my (vegetable) dinner. People hunt, I get it, but looking at a sad, shaggy animal carcass will never bring me joy.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I really do understand and that’s okay. I eat mostly vegetarian and was a strict vegetarian for years. I get it!

      Reply
  25. Beth Forenz

    You room looks gorgeous! I love the color. I think I have the same shiny black tile around my fireplace. So clever how you painted over it! I think Karlsen is the perfect addition to the space. He gives off a masculine vibe.

    Reply
  26. Cindy A Redman

    This is just gorgeous! I LOVE the colors and Karlsen and the books are so completely perfect. I am totally inspired by all of it! Jus wow!

    Reply
  27. mary

    Karlsen is a keeper! Love him

    Reply
  28. Addie

    I love it all. When we buy antiques we really don’t know their past. Everyone is assuming Karlsen was shot. Maybe he was accidentally road kill and someone wanted to honor him. Or maybe he was found dead and died of old age. Since he is from the 1940’s or 50’s, if he was shot he probably was put to good use in a freezer.
    Any way you look at it, he would be dead by now!!! So look how he has a whole new life being a blog star and a really cool item for young boys to show to their friends!!! His little smirk says he is hiding some info on his past!!!…..love him!!!!

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I agree! Funny story… I actually hit a beautiful 17 point buck with my car about 18 years ago and some avid hunters saw the incident, rushed home to get their truck, came back, and asked if they could have my deer. They wanted to process it quickly so the meat could be saved. A few weeks later, one of my friends was coincidentally in a taxidermy shop and saw my deer head mounted. It was labeled as being killed by a car on the date and road where I hit it and the road rash on the antlers was the same as the pictures we took of it. My husband and his friend posed with it when they came to “help me” and a police officer took a polaroid picture for them! Of course, I was a sobbing mess because it was scary and I was so sad that I killed the deer. I couldn’t believe they wanted to pose with it! I was glad that it wasn’t wasted, though.

      All of that to say, deer that are hit by cars can be mounted as well!

      Reply
      • Addie

        See…it does happen!!! Good thing the taxidermy didn’t add a place card…..
        “killed by a car, driven by Marian Parsons”!!! ….lololo

        Reply
      • Kris

        Great story, Marian. I live in Michigan and November 15th is an unofficial holiday around here–the deer season opener date. My dad had a deer mount in our family room and when we were hosting family from out of town, that’s where I slept, so I can sympathize with your story at your Opa’s home. Most of the hunters I know do it for the meat (and the fun), so if they want a memoir from their hunt, then so be it. That being said, I don’t want one staring at me in my living room, but you have found a perfect place for Karlsen to live. My husband hit a deer with his truck several years ago, and we butchered the meat, so it didn’t go to waste. I can’t wait to see what fun things you do with him at Christmas!

        Reply
  29. Fran Harris

    It must be my computer because everything looks like a dull army green to me. I hope it looks better in person.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, that’s definitely the coloring on your computer monitor! The walls are a rich blue!

      Reply
  30. Denise

    Oh it is beautiful…what an eye you have for those details. Your Opa story made me smile. We have the deer head in a bedroom, a hornet nest on the sun porch 😂 and 7 grandchildren that have had lots of questions. It’s all part of Neasy and Pa’s house!

    Reply
  31. Carol

    I think it has a Ralph Lauren look. A brown plaid shawl would look lovely on an antique wooden chair in this space. Maybe hunting boots next to the fireplace. Oh I just love your gentleman’s library. So cozy!

    Reply
  32. MaryLisa

    The fireplace is awesome! The color and decor are perfect! The deer has found a great home to hang in…

    Reply
  33. Pamela

    Love the look. The deer head is everything.

    Reply
  34. Cheri

    Karlsen looks great with his new nose job! He fits the room perfectly, like he really belongs in the room!

    Reply
  35. Alli for Short

    As someone that was both afraid of the deer head mounted on a family members wall, anddd has had a repair on my own nose, your room is lovely! I think too many of us are afraid to cover things with paint for fear someone else will think it was a bad idea. But they have been painting natural stone for thousands of years, so, very well done.

    And note to self: one of these days I will subscribe!

    Keep inspiring us all!

    xo

    Reply
  36. Cynthia Johnson

    Karlsen has become a member of your family .. and while I don’t care for taxidermy when I saw your mantle my first thought was it was perfect for what you were seeking, and I saw all colors of the seasons being used there~ it already looks just like fall minus a pumpkin or two, a branch or three, a… The colors are magnificent Mariam. You are a marvel~ it is so much fun for me to watch you create your rooms.. from inspiration to completion, and beyond.

    Happy Fall to you and your boys in Minnesota 💕

    Reply
  37. Sharon

    Thank you for showing us all how to display taxidermy without it having to be “kitschy” or “north woods cabin” style. I am blessed to have a husband who loves critters, hunts a few of them and enjoys feeding our family organic, grass (etc.) fed meat. I am hopeful of having a living room with a high enough ceiling and square footage to display “Mardy”, our moose taxidermy, who is currently relegated to our unfinished basement. And yes – kitschy isn’t all bad; Mardy brings many smiles when wearing a Santa hat during the holidays.

    Reply
  38. Donna

    I love the room and the window. Can you please tell me the type of blinds?

    Reply
  39. Martha

    I love this room & the deer hanging above the mantle. My grandmother had a set of beautiful deer heads in her billiards room & they were given to family members after her passing. To make a long story short, I was able to rescue one of the mounts from my brother, who was about to send the poor boy off to the thrift store! Boomer proudly hangs above my antique secretary & adds so much to my English country room. He is now approximately 130 years old, & looks every minute of it, but I’m so happy to have him as a remembrance of my grandmother.

    Reply
  40. Jennifer

    I love the look of the library and I think Karlsen adds to it, especially because it reminds you of your grandparents house. I have been around hunting all my life. My parents are from Pennsylvania and hunting is taken very seriously, even closing school. Most people from their area needed the meat. Eventually, it became more of a time for my dad to spend a week at home with his brothers all gathering at their family home. As the mom of boys who are grown up I’m sure their mom was joyous having them all there for the week!
    I’m especially tucking away this information about the gritty paint-that may come in handy some day!

    Reply
  41. Melody

    Love the family history that permeates your home. When we bought my husbands grandparents place six years ago, a huge set of moose antlers were hanging above the rock fireplace. It was Grandma’s prized moose from a hunt many years before. We moved the antlers across the room so that a painting could be hung over the mantle. A few weeks later something expensive inexplicably shattered and we all decided it was Grandma’s ghost letting us know she was not happy we moved those antlers!

    Reply
  42. Carolyn Mustin

    Looks amazing. With all those beautiful antique books on the mantle, you should put a pair of glasses on the deer! It would add a bit of whimsy!

    Reply
  43. VICKI

    I love Karlsen and I love that you named him! You definitely nailed masculine den with the mantel decor! It is perfect!

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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