"Tweaking" color

After receiving some excellent feedback from you all on my friend's fireplace make-over, I felt compelled to play around with some of your suggestions in photoshop.

I always like to think about how every challenge has multiple solutions, and try out several before-hand, when possible. Honestly, I think we've got so many materials and tones going here, it's a challenge to unify them all. Sometimes, it takes a few tries before you hit on the right fix. This is no exception. As Annie from bossy color would say, that first solution just wasn't "bossy" enough! This is a great example of try, try again.
 So, as it stands, the fireplace looks like this. Certainly better than before, but not -quite- there yet.

1st solution: Here, we have "painted" out the top arch to match the cream walls. This removes more of that top-heaviness.

2nd solution: Taking the above treatment one step further, here is the fireplace, completely painted out to match the cream colored walls

 3rd solution: alternatively, the walls could be darkened to match the lighter, custom-mixed mantel top
color. But this is delving into additionally-painted walls, something my friends wanted to avoid.

But what the heck, while we're delving into more daring solutions...I stumbled upon this treatment quite by accident, but thought it was worth including just to see what the room would look like if a darker brown were brought in to match the bookshelves. Feels more "den-like" this way.

4th solution: Here, we have painted out the top arch then darkened the mantel to a deep brown. With or without the darker seating area, still feels a bit too heavy to me. Friends, I say, rip it out like reader Washington Cube suggested!

Bringing in a bigger piece of art to replace the clock will also help- perhaps another lovely quilt with blues and some browns to tie everything together?

So, what do you think, now that you've had a chance to see your brainstorming suggestions put to the test? Let's discuss!