Just had a surprise visit from one of my aunts. She gave me a couple of great ideas for the house. I think we'll do that simple mantel, painted white. To keep it from looking so small on the long wall, we'll connect it to a bank of shallow bookcases built under the windows on either side. I think this will add a lot of weight to that side of the room. We also decided to leave the computer on the small oak table off the kitchen, instead of making our own desk. In place of my small computer chair, I can use a comfy petite wingback ($20 at a yard sale!). My aunt is a master at mixing things up. I'll include a photo of the rough idea. I'll have to wax the table, move the computer components into the corner, swap the lamp for a bigger one, and hang some low art for balance on the wall behind.
Hope I'm not overwhelming you with all this thinking-out-loud. So many of you have asked how I decorate on a budget, perhaps a peek behind the scenes will be helpful.