A Master Bedroom Design Process, and What Inspires Me

Hi Guys,

How are you doing?

I’m fine, but last week was a doozy, for sure. As you know, my place went on the market late Tuesday evening. Then, a couple came to see it the next day. Yes, the day before Thanksgiving! Cale was here and was a big help getting things just so.

Then, it was turkey day; only we made a chicken. How many of you said, “screw it, I’m not making a big bird for two or three people. Let’s just do a chicken instead.” You know it was really good!


But, then my new Best of Etsy Home Furnishings Guide came out.


And, not by itself, either. I’m really proud of it. It’s only $29.00. But, if you order anything else, you’ll get it for FREE, and you’ll also get the Rules and Tips for free unless that’s what you’re ordering. Haha.

Then, two people were supposed to come on Saturday to look at the apartment. Well, one of them didn’t show up, but the other one did.

And, guess what?

I bet you had it figured out by the time I said “guess.” lol.


YES!!! I have a most enthusiastic buyer for my Bronxville apartment!!!


Of course, I can’t say more about it than that. But, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer person, and she LOVES the apartment.

Gosh, I have to say I do too! In fact, the new lighting in the kitchen, while a tad bright for me, is making the dishes and glasses look so sparkly when I open up the cabinet. It’s stuff like that.


When are you moving, Laurel?


I knew you’d be asking me that. haha

I am pretty sure it’s going to be December 16th. It’s a Wednesday, which is really more like my “weekend.” Verizon is coming on the 17th to hook me up.


I thought you were going to do some renovations before you moved in.


Well, that was fantasy. Sure, it would be great. But, to do that, even cleaning, I have to have someone let them in and someone to supervise. It’s fine. I’m bringing as little with me as possible.

I figure I have about 12 hours left of getting rid of stuff. That doesn’t include packing what I’m keeping.


Okay, enough about all of that. I haven’t said anything about the bedroom design of my new place in Boston.


And, truthfully, before I can do any real designing, the first thing I need to address is the staircase. So, you better believe, I am going to jump on that one very quickly. It’s not a quick fix. Once I have someone to do it and know it can be done, then it’s a matter of getting the permits, etc. I can get serious about the rest of my decorating plans.


stairs with turn bedroom level


So, let’s take a look at the floor plan of the lower level again to begin to address the bedroom design.

But, here’s the thing. I can’t get too heavy into the design because the space might need to change from its current configuration. Also, and this is very important for laypeople and less experienced designers.

Never and I mean NEVER work off someone else’s measurements or drawings unless you have specifically paid an expert interior surveyor to do so on your behalf.

And, yes, there is such a profession. Every time I had to do carpeting for a staircase or something was out of my reach; I used to use this guy every time. Or, it was just super-tricky to measure accurately.


The other thing is that these drawings are really schematics meant to approximate what’s there.


They are not architectural working drawings. So, once you have the correct measurements, I recommend that you create your own scale drawing to work from.

I have always done my drawings by hand. But, as you can see from Sunday’s post, I’ve also gotten into using picmonkey for space planning. Again, that is also a schematic. It is an approximation used for conceptual purposes only. In fact, your contract if you are a designer should say that your drawings are for conceptual purposes only. Working drawings are not usually done on graph paper. However, for a furniture layout, graph paper is fine.


Okay. Let’s look at the photos I took of the bedroom.


bedroom entrance

In this area behind the door is where the spiral staircase lives. If I can run a staircase along the back of the living room, The staircase will cut through the ceiling, so there would be a sloped ceiling for about 4 feet or so and about as wide as where the heating unit is.


master bedroom - gardenLooking towards the garden from the wall we just looked at.


master bedroom design - bay window - door to garden - curved wall
A straight-on shot.

Like the living room, the lower level also experiences direct south-facing sunlight for at least a few hours every day. It’s funny, while I love the sunlight, if it were shining brightly all day long, I’d have a huge headache.


Let’s go over a couple of things first.


There is nothing wrong with this room as it is. But, it’s not my taste, is all.

And, while I’m pretty sure I’m eventually going to do a deep, rich lustrous finish for the floors upstairs, down here, no. I want them to be light.


via veranda mag-tea table styling-Furlow-Gatewood-living-roomThe most inspired me is Furlow Gatewood’s pale, pale, pale checkerboard floor with 2-foot squares.


via Katie Considers - Furlow Gatewood hardwood floor finish - white floor - antique-armchair-robert-kime-fabric-gingham-upholstery
I want it pale and chalky—final answer. I will probably not do the black squares, but I do love that too.

Well, is that in keeping with the Victorian era, Laurel?


Ummm… well, it’s not going to be a museum. If it were going to be a museum, then this room would have to be the kitchen with a smokey, greasy cast iron stove, a washtub, and a wood floor with no finish on it whatsoever.



There is nothing in this room that’s original, for yes, this WAS originally the kitchen.


And, I’m bloody lucky. It is pretty rare, but this unit has a nine-foot ceiling on the lower level. I haven’t measured it yet, but I can see that it’s nine feet, or close to it because the door has to be 80,” and the ceiling looks like a good two feet above the door.

In a lot of ways, this post is the opposite of Sunday’s post. While that post dealt with the architecture of the room–first. This post is dealing with the styling of the room first.

Both are valid, jumping-off points.

While I’d love to tackle the architectural aspects of the lower level, I’m going to save that for another day.

So, how do I want this room to feel?

I want to go further back in time. I want it to feel Swedish Gustavian or French Louis XVI.


Versailles - Le Petit Trianon
Another inspiration is this checkerboard floor at Versailles – Le Petit Trianon.

Except, I want larger squares. And I want less contrast.


More like this. Super pale.

master bedroom design - bay window - door to garden - curved wall - lightenedFirst, I lightened the image as much as I could without losing the detail of the window and door to create my dream bedroom design.

Well, the window and door casings, that is.

The grille-work is not my thing. Yes, I know that it’s common in Boston to have this curly-cue type of ironwork. However, this one looks cheap to me. And, it’s just too much when it’s not artificially lightened.

What do I want?

neo-classical transom and French doorSomething more like this that I spent over an hour creating. Haha, There is wood around the glass, but it’s white, so it blends in with the background here.


circle transom

I modeled this after the Urban Grace transom that I’ve been salivating over for the last 12 years or so. You can see it in one of my favorite posts about transom windows.


Security grilles, burglar bars, prison cells– whatever you want to call them are very common in Boston.


Sarah D on Flickr transom window over iron door Charleston, SC

Sarah D on Flickr transom window over iron door Charleston, SC

How cool is that?


Master-Bedroom-Interior-Design-White-Lake-Francesca Owings - cool -transom windowsMaster-Bedroom Design-White-Lake-Francesca Owings


I also love this neo-classical design and think it would look fantastic with the checkerboard floor. I’d love the grille-work to look like white painted iron that’s slightly rusty and oxidized blue-ish. Am I making that up?

However, I need to look into security solutions. The apartment has an alarm system.

The other thing I’d like to do is mouldings. I’d love to have a crown moulding and done in such a way as to make the ceiling appear even taller.


And, I’d love some applied wall mouldings and wainscoting, as well.

And, a taller baseboard would be much more elegant. The other thing I need to look into is different heater covers. Remember these beautiful baseboard heat covers?


We’ll be talking about heating and cooling more in future posts. Here’s a recent post where we began the discussion.


Okay. I have to admit; I’m already having anticipatory grief for leaving my apartment.


I think because except for Peaches who died six years ago– TODAY and Joe, my darling plant who’s half-dead and still growing, it’s mostly been just me.

However, all of that aside, one of the things I’m feeling awful about is parting with my exquisite Mural Sources Chinoiserie Wallpaper.


They are calling themselves “The Mural Source” now. I like that better.


Coincidentally, a couple of days ago, I came across this beauty on Instagram.


Maysong spring - Madredallas on instagram

I was pretty sure it was from the Mural Source, and yep, I am right. It’s called Maysong, Spring, and comes in three colorways.


Maysong Spring - Paul Montgomery - The Mural SourcePaul Montgomery, who owns and creates the designs, is a genius with color.

So, I thought that maybe I would love this in my new bedroom?

However, I’m not sure if it’s right for the bedroom design or not. I would need to get a sample.

In the meantime, I got on Picmonkey and began playing with various elements using the pale version of my bedroom. Gosh, it’s really mine, now!


Gerald Bland - Jan Van Os paintings copy

For my mood board, I ended up using this giga-gorgeous piece of art I found at Gerald Bland, Inc, painted by Jan Van Os. There’s a companion piece, as well.


via Geral Bland - jan-van-osHere they are.  Actually, they are huge. I would say at least eight feet tall.

Before I show you my rendering that I did on Picmonkey, the idea here is not necessarily to put down every last piece of furniture, but this is also a schematic to capture the design’s essence. So, no, I’m not going to have a buffet and probably not those white chairs, but my bedding will be white, mostly, I think.

BTW, did you see the sale at Boll & Branch? Please check out the Hot Sales pages when you have a chance.

Okay, drum roll~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

my backbay bedroom design


Can I tell you that I don’t care what you say, I think I’m in love.


We’ve decided to get married as soon as possible. This is it! Can you see the pretty garden that I’m going to have next spring and summer outside the window and door?

Oh man, I’m going to have to learn about gardening!

You can’t really see it, but there is wainscoting behind the buffet.

That door looks painted. I don’t know how that happens sometimes. Picmonkey is so much fun. Please check out this post for my best tips on how to use it.


Okay, I think that’s it for this edition. I have vowed to spend at least six hours in the next two days, getting rid of stuff. It’s really not that bad, thanks to Done & Done and their fabulous organizing talents!


Again, please check out the incredible Cyber Monday (really Cyber week) sales. Although some may be ending before the end of the week.




43 Responses

  1. Lovely. I’ve always wanted a transom. That checkered floor is looking fabulous and I can’t wait to see its transformation. Happy Holidays Laurel.

  2. Love it! I love everything and can’t wait to see what you do with it, especially having just looked at your lovely NY apartment. I have been thinking about painting the wood floors in my house. It seems wasteful to replace them but I think we are wearing them out being here 24-7. Love the checkerboard with pale colors!

  3. Laurel…
    Sometimes I’m a bit wooden in the head but I count myself a LOYAL reader…..is this a metaphor or did you just sneak us some news?

    “We’ve decided to get married as soon as possible“

    Huge virtual hugs ( since we can’t do real ones anyway). Keep on keeping on..I look forward to every post and go back to read the others when I have a conundrum and know you’ve addressed it and the 333 secrets tips publication is worth a gazillion dollars.

    1. Oh, it’s just me being my silly-seff. Rooms can be the perfect partner. They keep me warm at night, you can dress them up however you like; leave them when you need a change of scenery. They never complain, and never need a haircut, a shave, and some under-arm deodorant. lol

  4. So pretty and feminine! I also love Marie Antoinette’s checkerboard floors, it’s on my wish list as well for sometime in this life… but the wood floor looks new, would it not be a waste (of money) to replace them? Or, you mean to paint them? For the wall, I’d go with the painting because it raises the ceiling, tall paintings always do, and it’s a nice pair, it actually would be nice to fit both of them in somehow. The curly cue grilles are indeed ridiculous, but there are lots of iron work companies that can do nice, classic iron grilles, like the pretty one from Charleston (they certainly know how to do iron work down there!). Funny you mentioned that the BR used to be the kitchen with a big, heavy iron stove. Our downstairs neighbors, same level as you, still have the big, heavy iron stove in their BR! It’s the original, it was never removed! They also have the original butler’s pantry cabinets in their kitchen, they looks amazing!

    1. Hi Sylvia,

      Oh, how rare is that! The stove, that is. I definitely want to enhance the space with mouldings and do some tricks to visually raise the ceiling.

      Yes, the floor would be stained or painted and stenciled. Then, it gets three coats of clear matte poly. I have other ideas for that room that I didn’t go over. But again, the first piece of the puzzle is the stairs.

  5. I went on that garden tour 20 years ago. It was a hoot. Every single garden (20’ by 20’ feet mostly) included the same plants in different configurations. Every one had lattice work and a tiny water feature. And most everyone that went on the tour paid the fee because they only wanted to peer into the lowest windows to see the fabulous, spotless designer kitchens that no one ever used. Too silly.

  6. I know you said you wouldn’t do the buffet (though it would be nice for a midnight orgy), but I can see something similar there, like a desk. It would be lovely to have a pretty writing desk looking out to the garden. And I am sooo glad you are getting rid of the god-awful fan and replacing it with a proper light fixture. Love your schematic and colors!

  7. I LOVE your schematic! Many congratulations on your new endeavor! I can’t wait to see what you do with it all!

  8. Love your design plan! I love the Maysong mural, also! Yes, your bedroom makeover in Bronxville is gorgeous and I’m sure was a massive selling point. Good luck with the move!

  9. Swedish Gustavian is my absolute favorite style. I can’t wait to see the finished rooms! I hope you are looking at Trumeau mirrors and Mora clocks. The leopard bench has me concerned, though! I know it’s good to mix things up, but…

  10. Laurel, This is a stunning schematic. I am excited to watch your beautiful apartment transformation. I hope you are meeting some new friends and associates in Boston. The pandemic is making transitions challenging. Welcome to the Hub:)

  11. I love it, but I would go with the hyacinth color way on the mural. It has plenty of green and the same vivid blue on the bird. That is just my personal taste though. One suggestion beside the color way: a medium sized mirror above the console if you do the mural. I like the mural better than the painting.

    Also, sign up for plant catalogs asap because the very best stuff often sells out long before they can even ship it to you. A bower outside your bedroom door.I am super jealous.

    I think looking at the mural all through the Boston winter will be wonderful for you.

  12. THAT is your bedroom, with the lovely curved wall that looks out onto that little courtyard garden?! OMG, it’s to die for! Lucky you! I don’t believe I have seen pictures of it before, Laurel, unless I’ve somehow missed them.

    1. Thanks so much, Lisa. I did post once or twice before. I think it was when I was talking about the “killer spiral staircase.” I guess I shouldn’t joke about that one. And for anyone who didn’t catch it, earlier, there is a normal staircase, right outside my front door which goes to the lower level and my bedroom. I’m excited to be living on two floors again. I’ve always loved the word “duplex.” lol And, it’ll be so nice when I have a guest(s) because of the separation.

  13. Your picmonkey mood board is absolutely swoon worthy! I can see why you’re in love :] I am so excited to be going on this journey with you, Laurel. I’m praying that your apartment sale goes smoothly, and I’m not one bit surprised that you have someone interested right away!

  14. Laurel, you will really enjoy the annual Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill garden tour in May. Here’s a link to the Beacon Hill Garden Club which sponsors the tour. There is a link to sign up for the mailing list for tickets. I moved from that neighborhood in 1983 and the still send me notifications. It’s a huge event. https://www.beaconhillgardenclub.org/

  15. Hi Laurel,
    So excited about your courtyard/garden. So many new fun things to learn incorporating design and living things together! Keep us posted!


  16. I love Furlow Gatewood. I love Swedish Gustavian. Can I visit you when it’s all done? May be coming to Hyannis mid-September if pandemic is over.

  17. Lovely plans, Laurel! Perfect with the painted white floor. Hope you get to use either the paintings or the murals. They are both so beautiful! Maybe you could do the mural downstairs and the painting upstairs? I’ve been so hung up on Gerald Bland, since you first introduced his work, that I’m always hoping, with my fingers crossed, that you will do a design inspired board using his deep colored art, those white slip covered sofas, the green pillows and the little dark blue pillow… etc. etc. etc.

  18. Please Laurel tell me what kelvin rating did you use in the kitchen recessed lighting. I have a person installing recessed lighting in my kitchen at this very moment. Thanks

  19. Hi Laurel,
    I was originally concerned about furniture placement when you have curved walls. But your design looks so lovely. With you at the helm I shouldn’t have been worried.

  20. Hurray! Moving is hard but I’m sure you will love Boston and your beautiful new place. We can help you with the garden. Post some pictures and dimensions. Tell us what you like and we’ll pick plants and even give care instructions. The dead of winter is a great garden planning time.

  21. Laurel
    I LOVE all of it! Don’t worry about the gardening. There are plenty of gardeners on this blog who will help you out. Congratulations!

  22. It’s getting very real! I can’t wait to see what you do. I love the idea of pale checkerboard floors 💗 So delighted for you Laurel.

  23. I totally feel you. I’m in Eastchester, and the time is just right for us to sell our home. Currently selling a lot of our things, and suddenly feeling sentimental about our home.
    Love the muted blend of the light floors that you are going for. How will you “blend” the stairs going from the downstairs to the upstairs?

  24. Hi Laurel, I’ve been following your amazing blog for less than a year now, but it’s been an incredible visual ‘boost’ to get me through the pandemic – thank you! I love your ideas and your humour, and the vision you always have of turning the worst into the best.
    Thrilled to bits you have secured your beautiful new home – it seems to have the bare bones of everything you love, and yet still leave you room to improve with your inspirational transformation. (So pleased those curly grills are going btw!)
    I look forward very much to the before-and-after pics…
    I have recently bought an early 18th Century town house in England, with a spectacular garden, but the house itself, whilst retaining almost every one of it original features, has been neglected for many decades and I am slowly stripping out the ‘interventions’ and starting the Cure. So you have utterly inspired me – for which enormous thanks!
    And very god luck with selling your apartment – given the listing, I’m not remotely surprised it has gone so quickly!

  25. Happy looks so good on you. Yes, you NEED the mural. And the paintings. I’ve always wanted a round room—-like T. Jefferson. You will enjoy it so much. Good for you, Laurel.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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