Gewgaw? Or nah?


AmandafireplaceafterGew·gaw [gyoo-gaw]–noun: something gaudy and useless; trinket; bauble. (

Every now and again, we’re faced with a wrenching dilemma: Do we retain the gaudy, ornate, distracting look of woodwork installed by a previous owner of our home?

Or do we paint over it, tone it down, bring it up to this decade’s sensibility?

The new owners of this 1940s Sherman Oaks home were faced with this quandary when they encountered this immense fireplace (left). While I might have struggled over painting stained wood, these owners did not. “It’s just plywood,” one said. Not long after the paint job, they sold the house.

How about you? Have you ever struggled with the decision to paint over previously unpainted wood trim or ornamentation in your home? Did these homeowners do the right thing?

3 Comments on Gewgaw? Or nah?

  1. lil_gaucha

    It looks phenomenal in that second photo. Definitely the right decision, but I’d be inclined to consult with several interior designers and even fiddle with some photos of it in photoshop before I’d actually do it. I guess it’d be hard to make it look any worse.

  2. laladreamhome

    They did a good job with it and it’s a huge huge improvement. But I might not have had the guts to do it myself.


    I guess it all depends on ones style. The new look does look very nice, but if this fireplace was a castle in Switzerland, I would be much more inclined to keep the style and tradition. Even our little craftsman bungalow, although not a craftsman showpiece, still calls me to keep its style and maintain its original beauty.