I recently received an incredible email from a kind reader who needs help with her somewhat boring bedroom.
[my comments are like this]
I love your blog and really enjoyed the posts about painted vs. stained brown furniture.
I’m wondering about, and I don’t think you touched upon this, whether or not to paint brown wood furniture in my boxy, somewhat boring bedroom.
However, Laurel, there’s a bitter irony here because in my “boring bedroom,” there was an incident that was the most dramatic and traumatic of my life.
My 41-year-old husband and I were recently lying in bed, watching television, when suddenly, I noticed that he wasn’t breathing! He was unresponsive. I grabbed my phone and called 911.
Then, I had to pull him onto the floor; not an easy feat because he’s a big guy. And I did CPR on him until the paramedics showed up. Quickly, they shocked his heart back into rhythm. He was still unconscious, and they rushed him to the hospital, where he was on a ventilator and sedated for several days. Thankfully, he eventually woke up without any cognitive impairments. That’s a miracle, to say the least! Then, he had triple bypass surgery. And, now, he is recovering very well at home.
I, on the other hand, am still traumatized.
[Of course, you’re traumatized! I can’t even imagine, except the same thing happened to my brother who was alone, and he died at age 38.]
For a while, I couldn’t even go into our bedroom. I’m finally getting better. But, I still have flashbacks from when he became unresponsive, especially when I look at the rug where he was lying lifeless.
So, I am using this trauma as a reason to re-decorate our boring bedroom.
I’ve wanted to do it for years anyway. And since I saved my husband’s life, he’s not arguing. Well, at least not yet.
So, here’s the deal.
When we bought our first house, my husband and I made what I now realize was a huge mistake. Please don’t be cross with me.
[I won’t be cross with you no matter what you did. Believe me. I’ve made more mistakes than I care to admit.]
Okay, we purchased a huge, matching bedroom set with way more pieces than we would ever need, even though we lived in a tiny house at the time. I don’t know what we were thinking! We now live in a bigger house, and it’s still too many pieces.
We have since downsized the set a little and moved some pieces to other parts of the house. However, we still have the bed, two night tables, and a dresser in our room. They are all dark brown wood which feels a little outdated. Or, maybe too traditional/formal to me. I guess my taste has changed.
However, as my husband repeatedly points out, “there’s nothing wrong with them.”
I hate to say it, but he’s right. All the pieces are of good quality and are still in pretty decent shape except for some minor scuff marks that would be expected after so many years.
Anyway, to freshen up the boring bedroom, I’ve been toying whether to paint the bed, the night tables, the dresser.
Or some combination of these pieces, either white or gray, something lighter.
Of course, I know I shouldn’t paint all the pieces because then they’d all be matching again! haha
Another idea might be to strip the wood and refinish it. But, that seems risky and probably more trouble than it’s worth.
[I agree wholeheartedly with that]
I have even looked at slipcovers for headboards, but ours is slightly curved, and I’m afraid of spending a few hundred dollars on something that won’t look quite right.
Also, I’m planning to paint the walls.
But, feel I need to get this furniture thing figured out first, so I don’t end up having to paint the walls twice.
I’m definitely getting a new rug, hopefully from Serena and Lily, if they ever go on sale.
[They will. lol – When, I don’t know.]
So, I want to figure out a way to give the rest of the bedroom that airy, relaxed vibe, hopefully without purchasing new furniture.
I don’t know if this would be a good topic for a blog post. But if so, what are your thoughts about painting the bed or other bedroom furniture?
I don’t see that done very often, so I’m wondering if that’s a big no-no. Or are we better off buying something new? If that’s the case, wish me luck convincing my husband!
I know you are super busy, and you may not respond to this or write a blog about it, and that’s okay. I understand. I’m just wondering if there are other fools out there like me who bought the whole matching set and are now stuck with a whole bunch of brown in the bedroom!
[Well, they keep making ’em, so folks are buyin’ ’em] ;]
Thanks so much for your wonderful wisdom,
Okay, let’s all take a deep breath. Wow, just wow.
Of course, Rachel’s story touched me deeply. Since it’s so personal, I asked if I may share it on the blog, and she gave me the go-ahead.
She also sent me some more information about the “boring bedroom.”
- She knows it’s spare and bare and not working.
- The rug was gifted but not her style.
- And, she doesn’t like the recliner chair. Rachel said: “The big recliner chair is an abomination to look at, but ridiculously comfortable and came in very handy when my husband first came home from the hospital because he had to sleep propped up in it for several weeks.”
Okay, here’s my take. I’m trying to organize my thoughts. But, it’s like a puzzle.
- First of all (and Rachel also pointed this out), but the room is on the dark side. (please check out north-facing rooms) Plus, the wall color is drab and not helping at all.
- I would probably not paint this furniture. It’s a tremendous amount of work. I could see some painted nightstands, but you can get some nice nightstands for not much money.
- I love the linens. The little pillows are temporary. And, since you hardly see the bed, I certainly wouldn’t bother putting any money or time into it. Plus, it would be disruptive.
The thing that’s bugging me the most after the wall color is the chest with the TV all by its lonesome across from the bed.
The next thing is that if they keep the furniture, I think the rug looks very good with it. That’s because the pattern and colors create a nice balance with the dark furniture. But, then I think the walls should be a far deeper color. Maybe one of these deep, rich blues.
Rachel is looking at the Serena & Lily Seaview rug.
It’s nice, but I don’t think it’s going to work well with the furniture. I think one of the patterned rugs would be better.
I love the Gresham wool rug from Serena & Lily.
Please note that these rugs usually have a light side and a dark side. I’m not sure if this one is hand-knotted or not. But, I think it has enough heft to balance the dark furniture.
So, if we do this richly textured rug, I would keep the bed and nightstands as is.
Then, this is my preference, but I think some lamps with just a tad more tradition and larger would be great. Below are a few ideas.
If keeping the current rug, some blue and white Chinoiserie lamps would be fantastic. There are some cool Chinoiserie lamps in this recent post.
And, this is another good post with lots of inexpensive lamps.
As for the wall color.
If doing the blue rug, I would do a beautiful white. Maybe Simply White or Cotton Balls. Both of these are in the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection.
Or, as I said earlier, there could be a dark, moody blue paint.
Grant K Gibson
However, so that this doesn’t get too confusing, let’s keep with the blue rug idea.
I would change two pieces of furniture in this room:
The chest of drawers and the recliner.
The Addison Recliner from Williams-Sonoma Home is my ultimate favorite recliner. You’d never it was a recliner, right? And the lines and proportions are perfect. It comes in many fabrics, and there’s a leather version, as well.
If the walls are painted a fairly dark blue. Then, the TV and the chest will disappear.
Otherwise, I would do a cabinet to house the TV and provide clothing storage, as well.
I love the Louis XVI armoire from Ballard Designs. Something would need to be done about clothing storage. Maybe some attractive bins from the container store.
On either side of this new piece of furniture will need to be something to balance the wall. One thing would be some sconces, perhaps.
There’s some good inspiration in this post about long unbroken walls.
However, speaking of walls, this is where we tie into Sunday’s post that focused on wainscoting.
Please note that the post also links to dozens of other posts that feature applied wall mouldings.
Still, here’s where the real fireworks come in.
And, one of the best examples I’ve ever seen is from my friend and colleague Alisa Bovino, who many of you know from her blog A Glass of Bovino and her fabulous Instagram account, as well.
Below, I created a before and after showing one wall of her master bedroom, which she created a couple of years ago.
please pin to Pinterest
Well, I found out today that Alisa is redoing her bedroom again! I can’t wait to see what she does.
But, can you believe the transformation?
As for Rachel and what she might do with her walls, that would take me some time to design. However, I do have some examples of ideas from other rooms below.
This is Alisa’s gorgeous living room that we saw earlier in this post. I adore everything here and what she did with the walls. It’s perfect!
Another gorgeous room with beautiful mouldings is by Canadian interior designer, Vanessa Francis who I was delighted to meet a few years ago at KBIS.
I did this art wall idea in an earlier post with free templates. So, something like this around the bed could work. In addition, there are lots of ideas for art walls here.
Here is another post about bedroom decorating ideas from last year.
Luxe Magazine – Farrow and Ball – Stiffkey Blue
Above is a beautiful blue wall idea.
I think some curtains would be terrific on the windows. Maybe white linen, with or without a trim.
I don’t know if this would work in the alcove. But, that is a great place to add something different. It could also be done with paint. I would also consider painting the doors either dark blue or black.
I adore both of these bathrooms and maybe a paper could be used as an accent somewhere.
I hope y’all got some good inspiration to fix a boxy, boring bedroom.
In this example, Rachel put her focus on the furniture and whether it should be painted or not. Yes, that’s important, but when a room is boxy and the ceilings aren’t high, the most helpful thing, I think, is to work on the bones of the room.
In any case, best wishes to Rachel and her husband for continued healing from their ordeal.
PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES!
We just moved on to our new house and everything needs to be flipped. I’m looking for ideas for designing our new bedroom and I saw you’re article. I just love how you assembled everything. The furniture and decorations are just perfect. I am a DIY person and love to get things done by myself. However, when my husband hires a concrete contractor here in Livermore and get our driveway done, I realized that it’s always best if you hire some professional to get the job done. So I’m planning to hire a professional to do my bedroom inside. I’ll just let them know about the designs I want. Thanks for these lovely ideas!
Hmmmm….strange. It says “50 comments” above the “leave a reply” section, but I’m unable to see them regardless of what I click on.
So my comments are in flying on the line by themselves! Hello! I feel so naked!
Rachel, you poor thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rehearsed that very scenario in my head with my own husband. You are brave to have jumped into action mode. Healing hugs to you.
I really want to see the final results of Rachel’s room. Any chance you’d do a bunch of “before” and “after” pics from past posts, Laurel?
Rachel, Laurel is right, the walls are a great place to focus your energies for spicing up your bedroom! You’re really not that far away from fabulous.
Thank you, Laurel, for showing that pictures can be hung behind side table lamps. Can’t tell you how many clients I’ve talked with about layering being good for the soul!
That is Raphael by Sandberg.
Rachel, If you don’t like the furniture — especially the more visible chest and side tables, I think you should change them out if you can afford it. You’ve been through a lot, and most of us are in our bedrooms hours per day. From the rug you chose, it looks like you want a lighter airier feel. Furnishings last a long time and wouldn’t it be nice to walk into your bedroom and just love it? You can sell your current pieces at a consignment store.
Such great ideas! I love the blue wall idea- I actually got my bathroom cabinets redone by a local cabinet refinisher in the exact same Farrow and Ball color- it is such a lovely, high-quality color!
I’m late on this one, so apologies to Rachel and Laurel. And I must say how much I admire your courage and prompt action to save your husband, Rachel, you’re a star!
Now to the decorating, where I’m going to disagree a bit with Laurel. I’m going to sound dogmatic, too, but these are only suggestions! Like many, I think the emptiness of the room is a large part of the problem. I don’t think the furniture needs to be changed, but …
I don’t think the current large rug works, because these reds are always a problem with wood floors that aren’t themselves very dark. So here I’d go with Laurel’s darkish blue rug. I’d also go with the idea of some mouldings to improve the proportions of the room, but only on the lower half of the walls. Then paint all the lower half (including the skirting boards, which will deal with the problem of the absence of board to the right of the window) and the cornice in a mid blue similar to Alysa Bovino’s makeover colour. This colour should go all over the alcove. Then the upper walls a much paler version of the same blue, or cream if you prefer.
Improve the furniture: remove the low chest under the window, it’s the wrong colour. Then you can put up curtains, plain cream linen for pale blue walls, pale blue linen for cream ones. Change the handles on the drawers: they look too modern, and you can go for gold here.
Change the TV for a wall-fixed model, either one that has a screen that can double as artwork, or make a box surround for the TV, with double doors that can be artwork (see Patina Farm’s chinoiserie screen for instance). Another possibility is a tapestry to cover the TV, one which can roll up.
More artwork on the bed wall, to the right of the big window, to the left of the TV.
On the wall to the right of the alcove, there seems to be room for a piece of furniture, maybe a bookcase which could be painted to match the lower walls. A mirror above to reflect some light, perhaps. And accessories, the blue and white ginger jars and suchlike would go well here, and beefier lamps and more of them. With all that, I think you could even get away with the current recliner, perhaps in a different corner, next to the bookcase and with a standing lamp, for instance. Just throw a blue throw over it.
There! This is too long, but thanks for letting me/us have fun re-imagining your room.
PS I have a huge file of ideas for hiding TV’s (just in case, shock horror, we ever get one), so if you want ideas I can send some to Laurel to pass on if need be. All my best for the improvements!
I wanted to start by saying thank you for sharing your design knowledge the way you have. I am so lost when it comes to design and have felt so much more comfortable putting our new house together since I found your blog. You have such and amazing eye and you are so good at describing how you make decisions on design. I wanted to ask you, have you had any of your readers report issues after ordering from OKL? I ordered matching lamps from them for my den and one showed up crushed. I took pictures of the box and the damaged lamp inside. They don’t seem to care. They said they would not replace it and I could only have a refund. Uh, I need two that match though! Is this a common problem? I’m so disappointed because I don’t have it in my budget to be out this much on lighting. I have tried to argue the point that I need them to match and they are brushing me off.
I love the deep blue palettes you’ve suggested, especially the rich dynamic blue in the bedroom vignette by Grant K Gibson – the layering is so comforting (black iron bed (?), reading lamps mounted on the wall, the rich Carmel color mohair or velvet upholstered headboard, the framed art in various sizes kept consistent w landscape scenes and simple frames with lots of white matte borders). It created an inviting oasis and a beautiful focal point upon entering the room. The other difference is the use of a round table adorned with a fresh bouquet of white flowers, “coffee table books”, etc that add to the ambiance.
“My 41 year old husband” is a lot different than “my husband of 41 years.” You all are youngsters. So, enjoy your bedroom! I hope you’ll decide to start from scratch and select the furniture and rug and other items that truly speak to your design style.
The current bedding gives a beach vibe, to me.
I like the ideas from others’ comments, particularly moving the chair (or buying a new one) to be closer to the window and add drapes as suggested in the post. The dresser is too small for the room/wall. It looks perfunctory. You deserve grand.
The light well window or dressing area is a great opportunity to put a fun wallpaper- any of the ones above would be smashing.
I don’t know if the hope chest must stay in the room, but it fits well under the window.
Budget, personal design “fingerprint”/style, a space plan based on how you want to use the space (sitting and reading, a writing desk, adding a decorative gold/brass etagere next to a longer mirrored breakfront with two tall lamps would be pretty to look at opposite the bed.
Someone else suggested placing the rug so more of it is seen – totally agree with that. Again, have this one appraised and sell it. Use the cash to buy a new bed that you love. Nix the “cold dark hotel room style” nightstands.
I hope you enjoy the journey and share your After pics.
Oh my…what a story Rachel has! She certainly deserves a new bedroom. I hope she goes for all of your suggestions. Especially the moldings and draperies. Just those 2 things would make a big difference.
Also, I wanted to mention that I haven’t been receiving my emails from you when you put out a new post. I’m going to subscribe again. I hope that fixes my problem.
So many helpful ideas. We unfortunately have a fair share of these boxy rooms in our home, so thank you for the inspiration here and throughout your blog!
Those blue bedroom doors are lovely. But now I have a silly question. For those of you who have painted your bedroom doors a deeper color (blue, black, etc.), are the doors typically painted that color on BOTH sides? That makes sense to me, but then I started wondering about how that transitions to a hall space that has a different color on the walls and trim. Or maybe doors leading to common areas simply are not painted in stronger colors? The post and photos just got me thinking about it, and I am curious if anyone has thoughts on that. If so, thanks for sharing!
So this is interesting and I get where she is coming from! A couple of things stand out to me. First, the dresser looks so lonesome by itself in the center of that well. And it appears to not be particularly functional being on its own and so far away from the closet and presumably the rest of the clothes. My first instinct would be to honestly assess whether a dresser is needed at all, and if so, could a different size be put inside the closet area or maybe a closet system put in to maximize closet storage. That would drive me crazy to have my dresser so far away from all the other clothes. Love the idea of white walls with the lighter blue rug. Or seagrass is pretty inexpensive and that would be beautiful. I would personally paint the side tables. I did mine recently with chalk paint and it was not hard at all. You can learn to do anything on YouTube and they are a billion times better. I would also move the arm chair next to the window for reading. with a pretty piece of art work next to the window, some curtains, and a floor lamp, that would make a nice nook. Then on the long wall opposite the bed, do a cabinet with the tv inside and maybe some bookcases on either side. Long walls are hard, though. You’ve gotten some good advice here – have fun!
Great post, Laurel! I like Rachel’s furniture. It might be fun for her to bring home a ton of different knobs and pulls in different finishes and play “dress up” to see what hardware looks best. I love her rug, but I understand it still brings up bad memories for her. While she’s thinking about replacing it, perhaps she could try pulling it away from the headboard wall a bit. I suspect that making the edges equidistant from the headboard and dresser walls would be interesting, but she’d have to try it to see. Finally, if there were some art or other decorations on the TV wall, she wouldn’t need an armoire. Armoires aren’t that efficient for storage now that TVs are thin, and it can be hard to find an armoire big enough for a 65 inch TV. Finally, if she doesn’t want a white bedroom but also doesn’t want something too dark, a pale blue with some green in it, like Benjamin Moore’s Ballet Slipper or F and B’s Borrowed Light would be lovely.
Laurel LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog. Please would you consider writing a post on wall moldings. As you know they are everywhere you scroll it seems.
Example: If wall moldings are in the foyer, do you continue through out the home? Or can wall moldings be isolated to one room?
Love the dark blue rug and the dark blue walls – I’ve used the very dark SW Naval and I love it so much! Could the creamy colored armoire be used to house the TV? It’s a tall piece that would make a presence along the dark navy walls
Rachel’s a rock star! My husband had a grand mal seizure and what did I do? Stand there and scream! The back story is I have been a nurse in ER and ICU all my life. Useless.
IF I were her, I would burn the rug and all the furniture and start over.
I have to say, that Addison recliner has the skinniest arms, does not look comfortable at all.
Wow! Laurel, great ideas and so many good ones from the comments too. For me, dark blue walls would feel too dark, so I would go for the white walls. Since the rug brings flashbacks of horror, I would definitely say goodbye to it. It could easily be consigned and someone who would love it will buy it. So, definitely a new rug.
I would put a sitting area by the window, and soften the look by taking down the brown shades. One could put up curtains and a light-filtering shade to vary the amount of light coming into the room. Another commenter suggested the TV that looks like artwork when turned off, mounted on the wall. Great idea and an art wall could be built around that. It might be helpful to “space clear” this room—lots of info on how to do it but it’s basically creating an intention to bring love, life and joy back into the room. Hand clapping, bell ringing, candle lighting, and smudging are all techniques that give a sense of ritual, give closure to old thoughts, and open space for née energy.
As a fan of dark blue, I’m always intrigued with bedrooms that are dark blue. And Laurel is correct, it would help make the TV less prominent. BUT— my north-facing bedroom has been a mid-tone value for 10+ years and I am SO TIRED OF THE DIM LIGHT– even with a bright hanging fixture on the ceiling and two bedside lamps. Be aware that with darker walls, it’s really hard to get bright enough light to read in bed (that’s important to me) and to find what you are looking for inside dresser drawers. I’m going to repaint soon with a lighter wall color. We’ve done Benjamin Moore’s Lily White (very pale, almost white greyed blue) on the ceiling in another room with white trim, and I think I’ll repeat that– not obviously blue, it just feels expansive like the sky.
I also like CRIS’s idea about the FrameTV so that the TV isn’t a black hole– hang it on the wall with art. Art on all the walls would add some life to the room.
I would go lighter on the rug and darker on the walls, not dark on both although I can see the advantages. For one thing, another dark rug is going to have the same connotations as the red/blue one. Medium toned blue, cream and white makes sense to me.
No armoire. TVs will be getting bigger and thinner. Most are already too big for armoires; hence the proliferation of them on Craigslist. Although watching tv in bed is a no, no from some perspectives, once you have a long recovery requiring bed rest, you will throw that axiom out the window. A long chest or even just a long bench (dark blue?) under a wall mounted tv which is itself surrounded by a collage of artwork is the way I would go, especially in a room devoid of art. Yes to wall of art on the bed wall of the room too.
Can the chest move to the far side of the bed as an end table? That would break up the matchy/matchy. Too high maybe. Bedside reading lamps should be hung on wall. This gives tons of space for reading materials/styling, etc.
New white recliner, yes!
Keep the bed, add art on a balanced tv wall, consider bedside tables which can be purchased in a custom color from Etsy for a reasonable price. I would find wider, although not higher, bedside tables.
This room is crying for artwork. It helps to anchor the furniture ..and extends it. Gives you color and a chance to unify with that beautiful rug. A painting can give you a guide for what fabric to buy for drapes and pillows, and can even give you a clue as what color your walls should be painted. I wouldn’t paint the furniture, wouldn’t buy a new rug, wouldn’t even get rid of chair. Spend all that time and effort on artwork!
Once again Laurel is so right! I’m sure that when she paints the room and layers in drapery, artwork, rug, lamps and possibly mouldings the furniture will fade to the back. Right now it bothers her because it’s basically the only thing to look at! All those changes will work wonders and then she can have time to reconsider the furniture. Love all of your suggestions, and this room will not be boring or boxy after this makeover!
Our bedroom is north facing and a darker blue – I like it though sometimes I wonder if I would like a lighter blue better (which is what I’d ordered but the painter didn’t go to Benjamin Moore like I’d requested at got Brittania Blue from Sherwin Williams instead of Brittany Blue from BM and at that point I just wanted the house finished). To answer someone about the ceiling – it is painted the same color, but diluted 75% and then white trim.
You could swap out either the night stands or the dresser for something you find at either an antique or consignment store or on FB Marketplace or Craigslist. As another commenter said, you can with a little patience, find vintage armoires, gorgeous dressers or matched antique nightstands to break up the matched vibe with no painting necessary. Glass of Bovino did a great post on how she finds things – I used her suggestions to ‘save’ a bunch of secretary desk hutches – they run $80 to $200 in the Chicagoland area – that were kind of what I was looking for (thinking I’d paint them in a chinoiserie theme). This changed the algorithm so that one day a beautiful black and gold with an orange interior and a million little drawers chinoiserie tall secretary desk popped up at the top the moment it was posted – for only $400 (I’ve found exact matches on Chairish for thousands). And now it’s in my entryway. So, sell what you don’t love there and buy something you do for a lot less than new.
Which leads me to my last point – its easy to use the Dolly app or another similar vendor to move this stuff for you so that your husband doesn’t have to do any of the heavy lifting.
Wait – one more point. Your husband may be more willing to spend money on electronics instead of furniture. Suggest that you buy a Frame TV from Samsung to hang on the wall – looks like art when not watching. Mount it on the wall and surround with some other art and it blends right in! I was a “no tv in the bedroom” person until we had one in the bedroom. And I love it 🙂
Oh my! I LOVE the Gresham rug you picked out! I so wanted to paint my bedroom a dark moody blue but my dear husband thought it was dark & depressing. Also, my bedroom has a double window that faces the east. For a few hours the wall samples (large like you suggest) looked blue and then they looked black which probably didn’t help my case with hubby.
Hubs thinks it’s dark and depressing? Actually, IMO, a dark bedroom is sexy as hell. Cheryl, tell him that and he might have a change of heart. (oops! Absolutely no pun intended!)
Our west-facing bedroom is a deep, dark blue with creamy molding and dark furniture. It is dark, no doubt, even with two 16-foot windows but that’s ok, we’re only in this room when it’s early or late. The dark furniture against the blue walls is really dramatic, I emphasize the drama with a duvet that is burgundy, gold and brown, super pretty and not at all too masculine. The warm colors work so well against the prominence of the cool, dark blue.
To me, Rachel’s room is just empty, devoid of personality except in the lovely lovely bed linens. (Where are they from??? The link is to dozens of places not the specific place.)
Rachel’s own style appears to be more fresh and clean than “traditional”. So maybe plantation shutters on the window? Or maybe big pattern statement curtains — Marimekko? — that are surprisingly NOT too strong in an otherwise simple room. Definitely lighting, definitely plants and things to soften the room without cluttering it up., No no no to the chinoiserie stuff that Laurel loves, it looks cheap and tawdry and way too predictable and Home Goods-y.
Love the deep blue paint for the walls & the other ideas too. The bed looked pretty as is but I would even add some pictures on the walls – when I move & get furniture in that is one of the first things I do – it warms everything up to me.
Brilliant post! I might be the only (older) male replying at this moment, but as someone who has had chats with my partner that go something like, “I was listening last night and at some point, I couldn’t hear you breathing”….I relate. How wonderful to hear that these folks can put this difficult episode in the rearview mirror. Moving forward, for Rachel, an offering of a range of so many great ideas and perhaps surprisingly to her, not too expensive to implement. Painting the walls a lovely dark blue will not only lessen the impact of the monolithic TV/dresser combination but will greatly enhance the serenity of the room. Too dark? Having taken the plunge to color-saturated walls we found that they make a beautiful twilight-like backdrop and the addition of an attractive and modern light-colored recliner can “uplift” (sorry) the mood of the room yet keep it relaxing. Also, seeing the lamps as jewellery and choosing larger, more decorative examples makes a significant difference and helped us go from “bland to brilliant”. Their bedroom room has good bones and can be transformed without removing or altering the wood furniture or carpet (which is actually pretty rich looking). However, if the carpet remains an issue, Laurel’s choice is gorgeous. I think I want it! Spring is a time of renewal and possibilty. What a terrific time to make a few changes that will give Rachel and her husband an opportunity to enjoy their new serene and relaxing bedroom.
See “lotus” and “little lotus”: http://galbraithandpaul.com/wallpaper/patterns/
Thanks so much, Maureen! Sorry, your comment didn’t appear right away, but all comments with links have to get moderated first, which is why.
If keeping the nightstands and/or dresser is a must, then swapping the pulls out for brass might help. I recently sprayed some chrome pulls brass and the richness plays so much better with dark wood. It’s also easier to paint knobs than an entire piece of furniture!
I agree that selling or donating the rug or at least moving the rug to another room would be best. You don’t need to trigger the trauma. I think a mid-tone dusty blue wall with the added moldings would look gorgeous (if you can find a blue to work with the north light) and would help dark furniture to blend in with the walls better. If you go with white, a warmer white with a touch of peach or pink would look good in north light. A change of color makes a big difference in a space. Art is needed on the walls.
I am very crafty and have tried DIY on almost everything and I would not paint furniture ever again. It is super difficult! However, if you are crafty you can make your own headboard and custom matching bed skirt and that looks super high end. I did it for both of my boys twin beds in Schumacher Betwixt fabric and it’s very nice! I followed the blog Driven By Decor for the steps (however, I bought a cheap headboard and wrapped the fabric around it, instead of making it myself). Also, I want to suggest that you can sell some of the furniture on Craigslist. That’s what I do when I have a piece of furniture that is nice and good quality but just doesn’t fit my taste anymore. You deserve to get the room you really want! My husband use to be very reserved about me suddenly wanting to change an entire room, but now he sees my results and he loves what I have done to our home. Follow your dream and I’m sure your husband will love it too. (sorry to sound cheesy lol)
I guess everyone knows by now that blue “oak leaves” wallpaper is my favorite. Bedrooms are for sleeping, reading books in bed or snuggling with your cat, that’s it!! Only need a bed, nightstand, chest of drawers, that’s it!! Anything else is just taking up space. NO TVs!!
NO TVs mounted on the ceiling unless you are living in a nursing home.
I relate. A few years back, my husbands’s best friend was diagnosed with ALS. Then my husband had a massive stroke. Since then my miserly husband has opened his wallet. Sometimes facing our own mortality is what we need. I’m glad your husband is ok. Mine is also. Not his friend.
I love the idea of dark blue walls; but, what color do you paint the ceiling? If you leave it white, I would think that moody feeling would be lost. If you paint the ceiling dark, then it might feel like a cave, especially with the low ceiling height. What would you do?
Just read Susan’s post and that reminded that Laurel didn’t give her usual advice about color (but I’m pretty sure Rachel reads Laurel and knows). Mentioning it because my bedroom faces north and it is a soothing pretty bluish greenish gray (maybe “Gray Mirage”). My friend liked the color so much she painted her hobby room the same color and it looks like bright granny smith apple green in her house LOL.
I think all this room needs is more “stuff” (wall decor, plants,etc. and maybe some color therapy). Everyone has had great ideas and everyone has been so nice. I love this kind of post Laurel. I thought my bedroom was OK but now I’m eyeballing it again:))
I so enjoyed this post! Rachel is a real hero! Laurel had some great ideas as usual! I would just like to give my vote for Bennie Moore’s Gentleman’s grey. I used it on my front & back exterior doors I liked it so much, but it’s definitely NOT grey! I renamed it Gentlewoman’s navy. I’m not sure how I’d like it in the whole room, maybe just a wall.
Because of the image of your husband on the floor I think you should start with a new rug (I love the blue one) and I agree with the dark color on the walls–it will make the room feel completely different. Another thing I might try is putting the bed on the wall with the window–not sure if it will fit but again it will make the room seem very different. I hope that decorating your bedroom will remove the trauma you feel.
Hi, Who makes the wallpaper in the bathroom… I love it!
I too love the idea of moldings and bigger lamps. I wonder if having a comfortable chair in the corner on the tv wall would make sense. The bed wall seems crowded with the chair while the opposite wall is nearly empty. Some greenery and artwork would make a huge difference. The furniture itself is classic.
Hi Laurel and Rachel,
I agree with Laurel in keeping the furniture as is and I am a often fan of painting furniture, but usually when it is in bad shape and in need of renewal. It would be a ton of work to do. I think changing your wall colour to a deep blue including painting your crown moulding the same blue (to add illusion of height) would look awesome. I like your carpet. I think it’s beautiful but changing the chair and putting in a larger and longer chest of drawers with the tv mounted above it, instead of on it would look better. Your bed linens are really nice but you could use more decor – artworks on the wall, curtains, and I love Laurel’s idea of adding moulding in the form of wainscoting. Good luck.
I can empathize greatly with Rachel as I watched my husband go into cardiac arrest, too, but, thank God, he was on the exam table at his cardiologist’s office and was successfully revived. After recuperating from several hospitalizations, he decided life was short and he wanted me to have whatever would make me happy so I have gotten new window treatments in three rooms and almost my whole house repainted. New furniture is in our near future along with new pictures. Redecorating can do wonders for your outlook and mental health…so go for it Rachel!!! Laurel’advice is top notch and I have used it many times in my home along with our son’s beach house, especially her paint colors. Good luck and love and enjoy your new bedroom!!!
I’m a long time admirer of your blog, and am truly grateful for your whit, humor and incredible design expertise. This post is especially timely, as I’ve been struggling with a drab and dreary north facing room which I spend 90% of my time post hip surgery recovery AND I’m also dealing with trauma. I’m trying to figure out how to make my home feel better/differently because of it. I’ve learned creating a safe and calming environment is so important as part of the healing process. I’m super sensitive to it now. Anyway, I’m not familiar with Clare paint, as I prefer Benjamin Moore, but decided to order samples for fun because I heard the packaging and marketing were well done. Anyway, one of the colors was called Headspace, and as soon as I saw it, and stuck it on the wall…my brain instantly calmed down. It made me smile and relax all at the same time. Another color was Timeless, and I had the same reaction. I knew color was powerful, as I’m also a visual designer and artist along with my day job in IT, but oh my! I’ve been trying to match these colors to BM to see what they might be closest to and I’m guessing they already exist in your paint palettes. Anyway, I love color, and am finding putting calming colors on the walls is helping me (I also have some of your dark blue recommendations) get through all of this, in addition to introducing flora and fauna prints, natural elements, and practicing meditation since I can’t really move around yet. Another biggie is sunlight and or replicating sunlight. Maybe this will help your readers in some way as I experiment on myself. Thank you for creating such a wonderful online space to visit every day. You make me smile and are such an amazing person!
Hi Laurel, gorgeous ideas. Agree that in the “blue option”, existing rug and furniture with some adds on draperies/art/alcove accent would be great. In the “white wall option”, love the rug you suggest – it is beautiful along with the armoire idea. I would consider painting the nightstands in this one and adding new hardware to them. It really isn’t that big of a deal, then add new larger lamps. Great post – a lot to think about!
Your ideas are fabulous. And, yes, why can I only find annoying 84″ drapes around town?
We recently moved, Did a pretty massive reno over five weeks during covid lockdown (we live in Ontario Canada). Sourcing was a nightmare. I am still unpacking and reeling from the experience. Anyway, we painted our master bedroom Van Deusen Blue and it is breathtaking. Seriously. The dark furniture disappeared and we are sleeping better than ever.
My brain is on fire from your blog today. It’s extremely beautiful! Thank you!
Love the wallpaper shown in the alcove photo! The blue tree design is gorgeous! What is this design and who makes it?
I once read that a room’s furniture and decor should resemble a cityscape with high and low pieces keeping the eye moving about the room. As the room stands now, everything is low and on the horizontal. A plant/tree (even if it has to be a good faux because of north-facing window) would add life and height. So would some thoughtful artwork as well as drapes at the window with a texture like velvet or linen. My best wishes to both Rachel and her husband.
I love this kind of puzzle! I know what the reader means when she says she’s obsessed with the furniture and how boring it is. But Laurel is right that there are so many other things to do in the room that will make it new. I rent my apartment, so I wouldn’t be able to put moulding on the walls, but I think if I had my own home, the option to bring a 3-dimensional feel to the walls might be just the thing. Then I’d go with a light wall color, try different white color samples and choose the one that works best with the light, and then a light rug, You could bring pattern to the window and bed, getting a lively patterned fabric. Or you could keep the draperies and bedding solid/neutral, maybe bring in your favorite color with the textiles. You could bring color in to the art on the walls, nestled beautifully in the mouldings. If you keep the bed and nightstands, and if you really only need one dresser, not two, then one dark one is not so bad. Or since it’s only one piece (here I’m helping you word it for your husband!) get something that you really like. Same with the chair. I have a dark navy north facing living room with a light Persian-style rug and it’s very lovely but dark isn’t for everyone. I think Laurel’s initial idea about going light in that room with 3-dimensional detail on the walls is a simple way to improve the feel of it — and the feel of the room is what you’re trying to change! Thank you for asking for suggestions, and best of luck to you both!
Rachel, you can get armoires on Facebook marketplace for a song. In my area, even the fanciest go for $150; many are outright free. I agree that color, window treatments, and art will make your existing furniture fade into the background.
Loving Laurel’s blue ideas, very soothing and crisp for a bedroom and would go with your existing linens. Your bed is quite nice and the bedside tables and chest of drawers are OK but maybe a bit boring. One way to lift them could be to swap out the handles for something more exciting that ties in with the look you want to achieve in the room. Anthropologie and Etsy can be good for handles. Whatever you do, enjoy your new room, and I hope the creativity of redecorating your room will help you to heal.
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