What Happens When An Interior Design Pro Has “Designer Block?”

Even for a jaded interior design pro, life can be quite ironic, at times.


I mean, for YEARS, I would’ve given my flat files for the chance to do up my bedroom with Serena and Lily gorgeous merch!

And it’s not that I’m not grateful or excited about this opportunity that for once fell right into my inbox.


If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I mentioned it recently in a note that goes out with the blog post link to subscribers; here’s what happened.


Shortly before I went on the cruise, I was contacted by Serena and Lily as they very much want to partner with me!

Holy Crap!!!

I told them everything on my wish list for my bedroom facelift. And while they aren’t totally giving me everything to redo it, they’ve very generously offered numerous products.

So, what’s going on that has this interior design pro flipping out and dipping her face in concealer stick to mask the black circles around her eyes?


Fine. Yes. I’m being overly dramatic.

They’re brownish-purple circles.


What’s going on????????


First of all, I hate, hate, hate I’m not fond of decorating for myself.


Well, Laurel ya ol’ interior design pro, don’t you know what you want? Because if you don’t, who does?


This is why I love you guys so much. You ask the BEST questions!

Yes! I DO know what I want– more or less.

I’d like to live in Nancy Keyes’ garage. I understand that her husband is a fabulous cook. Of course, I won’t intrude.

Too much. :]

But short of that, I guess I better focus on reality.

I’m living in an old building with floors that really should’ve been redone before I moved in, a bathroom that’s ripped to shreds (due to a flood) and a kitchen that has damage too.

Plus, discovered in this post, there isn’t one perfect right angle in the place.

There are sucky closets.

Hardwood floors that are a little too orange, but with that glorious mahogany inlaid ribbon banding.

And then, there’s my bedroom.

(the one with the makeshift drapery rod and fugly radiator that’s six inches too wide for the window.)

There’s also something about Serena and Lily. You guys know that I love them. I have for at least 10 years and I own several of their products.


However, I need to be honest; they have changed in the last couple of years. And it’s not that it’s bad; it’s not, it’s just different.


The look over-all has become more homogeneous. Now, I’m not to say whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I’ll leave that to them.

It’s that the look has become decidedly COASTAL. Lots of blue, natural fibers– that driftwood vibe. You know, the more bourgeois word–BEACHY.

And make no mistake. I LOVE beachy.

Love it at the beach or at a lake house or even for a mountain retreat.

However, while the ocean is about 30 miles away, I live in the shadow of New York City, surrounded not by sand and water but an urban setting consisting of red brick buildings built circa 1927.

Plus, the last thing is that I do not want to turn my bedroom into a Serena and Lily showroom. It is my firm belief that it’s not a good idea to do with any single brand.

So, if you haven’t already, please go back to this post so that you can see where we were last April.


Let’s begin with the bedroom givens. (the things that need to stay)


The orange=y oak floors which don’t bother me that much.

Okay, if I could have anything I want, I would absolutely love a white floor.

Could I do that here?

Sure, but it would be a crime because these are the original nearly 100 year-old oak floors. And the building is Tudor in style. No, a white Nordic-style floor would be a big stretch here.

Do you agree?

I mean, we saw what happened when neighbors went bonkers three floors above me.


Serena and Lily Bedroom Decor

The other given is the Harbour Cane Bed which I’ve had over five years and still love just as much as when I got it. Right now, it works with the orange-y floor because of the dirty purple walls and goldish rug that also has some of the bed color.

I love this little rug, but technically speaking, it’s too small. It’s a 6 x 9 and should be an 8 x 10.

Or if it were 5 x 8, it would be the perfect size for layering. This rug came from the last house.

Now, we’ve come to the point where this ol’ interior design pro starts to spin her wheels.

I’m telling you this for two reasons:


  • One, embarrassing as it is, it’s the truth. (why would I make up something like that!)
  • Two, I bet it happens to some of you as well.


Decorating is NOT easy! Oh, sometimes it is easier, but I’ve struggled with rooms for clients too. And it’s always the one with some “givens” that are mucking up the works.

The other thing is that the folks at S&L are all business and want me to stop pussy-footing around and just DO IT!

While it’s causing a little loss of sleep, I really need that kick in the arse sometimes.


They’ve given me a deadline which is for the post to come out May 4th.


You know… the proverbial BIG BEDROOM REVEAL, along with a video of me (pretending to) STYLE my room.


Oh, this should be good.


Maybe I’ll have a pajama party with plenty of BCP! (banana cream pie)

I promise that I’m going to stop typing garbage in a second. But, just need to get out the last problem for me.

I’m now officially a “little old lady.”

Oh stop with the “oh, but you look so great and you’re in such great shape!” crapola.

Yes, compared to my 95-yr-old mother, I’m in phenomenal shape.

Look, you know what I’m driving at! I need some brawny-type-bicep help. You would think that this is easy to find but it’s not; at least not for me.


Can you hire a hunky “husband?”


Okay. Who remembers the show from the sixties “Occasional Wife.”


Well, I need an occasional husband.


One, who’s looking out for my best interests, but goes home to his place every night and only comes over as needed. Maybe the male version of Barbara Eden?

He also needs to be able to run errands and deal with delivery people who don’t speak English which is all of them.

I think that would be exceedingly helpful, especially if he doesn’t mind emptying the dishwasher.

This is reminding me of my fantasy from 2.5 years ago.


I NEED that general manager, preferably in a thong (A Speedo is acceptable) to round up the other dudes. (this last statement will not sound as perverted if you read the fantasy post linked above.)



Gee willikers! Did you forget to take your meds today or something?


No, thanks for asking; I took my meds, but when I’m tired and stressed, I tend to talk too much.

Sorry. But I think that everything I’m talking about is relevant. Okay, maybe not the thong, but it does help to relax my tired shoulders thinking about it. :]

Okay, enough of these distractions! Time to focus on the problem-child-bedroom!


You see, my contact at Serena and Lily wants me to give her a list stat of what I want, (like yesterday), however, I am doing no such thing until I have a plan because it’s a massive mistake to embark on any room without one.


Let’s begin with the floor plan.


Without drawing anything out, I could keep my basic layout, OR I could move the bed in front of the window that looks into my neighbor’s john.

But let’s leave that one on the table for now.


Because what I like to do FIRST is look for inspiration.


While this room by the amazing Mark D Sikes has a little bit too much furniture, it is exactly the feeling that I’d like to have in my bedroom redo. And this look is very consistent with Serena and Lily’s aesthetic.

I did track down the rug. It’s actually one of Mark’s designs for Merida Studio, formerly Merida Meridian. Good move to change the name.

They are a to the trade company that I worked with quite a bit about 10-12 years ago but then they changed their policy and hugely reduced their designer discount, so I took my business elsewhere. However, they do have lovely products. In fact, they are on page 137 in Laurel’s Rolodex.

Diamant rug by Mark D Sikes - interior design pro
I do like this quite a lot. It’s 100% wool. Very handsome and looks to be durable.

Mark D Sikes "resting" on his designs for Merida StudioHere’s Mark giggling because he’s supposedly relaxing on top of his beautiful rugs for Merida. Believe me. This boy does not relax. You know his I-phone, has to be just under his book that the stylist is using as a prop. I love Mark; admire him immensely!!!


The Blue Boy Thomas GainsboroughNo question about it. Mark Sikes is our blue boy of the 21st century and he does it to perfection!

Mark_D_Sikes_Pacific_Palisades_pale bedroom -interior design pro
I also love this bedroom by Mark.


However, S & L would like to give me a rug!


But before we explore that, just to mess with my head and because I’ve seen so many cool dark rooms, I’ve gone back and forth with whether I should do a cool, rich chocolate brown or something along those lines.

But when I walk through my place and come to the bedroom, it just doesn’t make sense.

It’s so good to make decisions. Please remind me to shut the door on that one if I should waiver. Okay? It would be another thing if this was a two-bedroom place.

Still, I swoon every time I see William McLure’s awesome former bedroom.


He gets to have white floors, because he always seems to live in a converted loft. In that case it makes a lot of sense.

A lot of William’s and Mark’s rooms have a similar look.

Mark also has a black bedroom

But again, I want to stick with pale. It’s what I keep going back to.

And just a few hours ago, I came full circle into really thinking about the Chinoiserie wallpaper.

There are two choices. One is to paper only inside the wall boxes or take the freaking things down and just paper the walls. I know that some of you have strong opinions about that one! The latter might be better because we already have three windows and two doors in a 13′ x 13′ room. In other words, it’s already quite choppy. We need to smooth things out some.

I do adore this paper from Fromental Studio

New Abaca Rug Serena and Lily
The new Abaca rug from S & L is a winner and it looks nearly identical to the one Mark uses.


Overstock 1 Herat Oriental Afghan Hand knotted Oushak wool rug 7-11 x 9-11 1,464 - chic living room
I will tell you though, if I could have whatever I want, that I’d do a beautiful faded Oushak-style hand-knotted rug something like this one from Overstock. I believe that this one is sold, but they have lots of beautiful rugs and they are all deeply discounted right now. Some fabulous deals.

***Speaking of discounts*** and Serena and Lily. They are offering 20% off of ALL of their gorgeous upholstery which they only do 2 or 3 times a year. It’s for another two weeks, so if you’re considering it, I’d order your fabric samples. (use code: COMFY)

And for fun, I made a little widget. I wouldn’t do all of these things in one room, but just some ideas. I’m feeling a lot better and hopefully, you’ll see some of my design processes that I’ve used over the years.

To recap it begins with:

  • the givens
  • an idea to explore
  • some inspiration
  • a jumping off point
  • And sometimes I’m lead in a direction I hadn’t ever considered.





PS: I realize that this post may spark a lot of opinions and that is fine; I value your opinions as that is how we all learn and grow. However, every once in a while someone feels it their place to veer into the bashing territory. Again, it’s the exception. All I ask is that we be kind to each other. Thank you so much!

And please don’t forget to check out the hot sales! There are lots of beautiful new furnishings on the main page and the clothes are totally updated!


107 Responses

  1. Hello Laurel! Your posts always make me laugh out loud! I feel you soooo much on this post. I had my own design business and I live in Southwest, Florida. So, I am near the beach with most of our population requiring design services being snowbirds with vacation homes! You guessed it! EVERYTHING is coastal. I got totally board of designing the same stuff all the time. I closed my design firm and started teaching interior design at the local college. I still do this, but just started an Event Design business to satisfy the beast that design is within my soul. Hahaha! Event Design is so different and reminds me of performance art. Months of planning for a one-day event, and then it is all gone. For some reason, I have found this type of design really satisfying. It is almost like a ghost and when it is over, you wondered if it really happened. And I also find that clients are so thankful to give them beautiful memories. I wonder if I will ever go back to my educational background of formal design? For now, this works. I will say that all the weddings are usually on the beach, so I haven’t escaped being stuck with the “coastal look” requests! LOL.

    1. Hi Denise,

      I believe that’s the Chinoiserie wallpaper you’re talking about? The one in this post is from Fromental. It is part of their lower-priced studio series.

      1. I love the tall tree paintings too, the pair flanking the doorway in bedroom by Mark. Do tell us about them, please?

        1. Hi Kelly,

          Oh, I get it now. I have to go to the post to see what people are talking about sometimes. I don’t know specifically about those paintings.

          They are grisaille. (pronounced – Griz Eye, if you don’t already know that.) I’ve done a couple of posts about grisaille that are pretty old now. href=”https://laurelberninteriors.com/?s=grisaille” rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>You can find them here.

          In this case, I don’t know if they are new or old, but they are wonderful. I love grisaille!

  2. Thank you so much for this honest post! I, too am a designer and am struggling with this same issue at the moment and I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one. Under a tight deadline to have my home shot for a publication I have fallen into a state of deep design paralysis. However, through this I’m learning to let go of perfection and my own self inflicted pressure of what others expect my home to look like. Perfection is boring and the quest for it drains our creativity. No matter what, your room is going to be stunning so, enjoy the process (and I will try to do the same). I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  3. I have a bit of a problem looking back at old posts and trying to imagine the dimensions of your room, but the tv has to find a wall. Why not do the Chinoiserie in a folding screen to go over your tv when not in use?

    Then paint the molding the same as the wall color?

    If I look at your first inspiration photo, I can see the palest of pinks on the wall and molding. Is that even a thing?

    1. Hi Ramona,

      I think I’m going with a paper with a pale, pale, warm, pinkish ground. I’ve been seeing that too. On a sunny afternoon at this time of year, the room gets very bright.

  4. Laurel,
    I love your blog because I can always relate to you and also you make me smile with your back and forth with yourself! I have been a decorator for 29 years and am design obsessed and still struggle to design and afford to design my own home. I think there is some kind of designer block for one’s self, sometimes because people expect so much from us. Anyway, whenever I feel overwhelmed or frustrated because I can’t make a decision or find what I want, I put it aside for a while and it helps. Design should always be fun and inspirational I do believe! Your bedroom will be beautiful I’m certain!

  5. Your widget doesn’t look too coastal FWIW – you’re in there

    The settee and rug and pillows are great

    I also love S&L clear glass table lamps – maybe one of their lamps w/ a custom pleated shade (in a wash out pink you seem to like) — just to give it a nudge of custom here and there.

    For handyman – do you know Taskrabbit? I use it like crazy – to swap out lights, install things (TV, curtain rods), paint – etc. Great handyman for hire site. All over USA I think.

    Other ideas:

    1. Maybe line your pretty glass cabinets w/ a serena and lily fabric (like english cabinets)

    2 Do a ‘half canopy’ around the back and headboard of bed -(like McClure)- to get that lux vibe – then do simple soft roman shades on windows so it’s not too much draping.

    Good luck. Can’t wait to see. It will be pretty.

  6. Laurel-
    I just looked at the link to photos of your room. Have you considered hanging curtains all around the room on the window walls and hanging your screen on the wall above your bed? Think canopy bed everywhere but around the bed. Or the wall covering only on the bed wall and fabric everywhere else. Your welcome.

    1. Hi Dana,

      Sorry, I’m not comprehending the curtain idea. And the screen above my bed won’t work. I mean, where the bed is now, I would only see it when I’m vacuuming. lol

      However, if the bed goes to the opposite wall, I just freed up the corner next to the ugly radiator. So, that is a possibility for the screen. But, I’m 95% sure that I’m doing the Chinoiserie wallpaper. If I were a pure maximalist, that would be awesome. But it might be too much for me.

  7. Laurel- I’ve got it..you come to Dallas for a consult re my family room/kitchen area and I’ll come to NY (my son lives there)and help you with décor decisions for your bedroom. Then we’ll celebrate at the Polo Club afterward. Since the bed stays and your current rug is too small, may I suggest the larger white/cream wool rug sans pattern that will still expose the wood floor 2-3 feet around the perimeter and layer a lighter weight rug on top. This could be wool or even a beachy Dash and Albert type cotton. I LOVE a dark bedroom but that can be accomplished with curtains. I love the look of bamboo blinds layered with curtains. I am personally so tired of seeing “beachy” decor as Texas is a big state and the beach is so far we often forget we aren’t landlocked. And the fact that I’m an Anglophile. (Love the wallcovering- how could you ever tire of that?) LOVE your blog and seriously let me know about the trade. We could be the next big thing in reality shows.

    1. Haha! Well, you’re one day too late. Just booked in the wee hours for a conference I’m attending in Austin next month. And my connecting flight goes through Dallas. So, I’ll be there, but only for about an hour. lol

      It’s a fun idea, however.

      1. Laurel

        I would love to pick your brain for an hour! There’s actually a lot of decent places to eat at DFW and I’m 15 minutes away. I can bring photos and we can design my room semi virtually! With margaritas! 🙂

        1. Hi Dana,

          Well, I’m going on an intense business conference and what’s left of my brain to pick will probably be very little. lol

          And it’s a 55 minute layover and you know they always want you boarding the plane at least a half-hour before take-off.

          Plus. I’m not doing any individual consulting or design work any longer. Something has to give.

          Sorry, I can’t do more, but I fully realized last summer that I must take some time out or the consequences could be not-so-great. I went out this evening and had a really nice time.

  8. Right now I’m loving doing rooms with intricate moulding all one color, but flat walls and high gloss trim. Still picks out all the detail but keeps the space from looking chopped up.

  9. Laurel, first and foremost, remember that you have exquisite taste. Whatever you end up choosing will be beautiful! Enjoy this opportunity to showcase your talent, and, if you decide that you don’t like something after you’ve lived with it for a while, you can change it.
    We have similar architecture and taste. I also go between wanting a light or dark bedroom, but I think that because your bedroom is on the same floor as the rest of your home, I’d stick with a lighter one. I don’t think that the room would have to look coastal, even if it were all S&L .I love the abaca rug and would layer it with an Oushak when you find the perfect one. I love your bedside tables and would paint them. If you wait until you’ve chosen your other pieces first, the table colour can tie everything else together nicely. S&L has beautiful chairs that would suit your bedroom if there is space. The chinoiserie wallpaper would be gorgeous in any way you choose to use it.
    I’m so excited for you!

    1. Hi Sandy,

      Thank you so much! Well, I just got a rug. After thinking and looking and thinking and looking and the end of a sale looming on Overstock, I took the plunge.

      One thing that helps, is very clear images. The rug is pale and very tone on tone but not one of those where you can barely make out the pattern.

      And yes, I’m planning on painting my night tables. I’ve had these for 19 years which kind of blows my mind to bits! I found them in a little consignment shop for 50 bucks each.

      My biggest problem believe it or not is procuring a contractor. And not just anyone, but someone who gets my vision. Otherwise, it’s miserable.

  10. I have to say, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of so much advice! Especiallly when you are an experienced and talented designer who has already looked at every option, and you just graciously say thank you, kudos to you! Ps. I can’t wait to see the room!

    1. Haha well I guess I can’t say, “you bitches! who the hell do you think you are!”


      but many of the ideas are very good; some of the good ones will work and some won’t for reasons perhaps not clear to the reader.

      Some are a matter of taste. The other thing too, is what one sees in a photo is not what one sees in real life. Photos hi-light every flaw!

      Still, it’s a good exercise to think about what’s possible; even if it’s not a good idea.

      I’ve done that with my clients. I’ll get all excited about an idea and then realize the next day that it’s not such a good idea. Talk is cheap. Mistakes are expensive. Better to take one’s time…

      and THINK. IMO, there is no such thing as overthinking when it comes to design. Oh sure, if one is ruminating over one thing for six months.

      I thought about my bedroom last year and then put it on the shelf as I’ve pursued other things and couldn’t deal with it then.

  11. Dear Laurel,
    Even though I am laughing as I read your conundrum, I am laughing. You are so smart and such a design savvy Lady, but yes, it is scary to commit your own time and money to you….but hey who deserves it more…..
    for my two cents, as I know you will do a dream room, you could be like Alexa Hampton who did her whole apartment over in 2015 (as her Hubs bought the adjoining apartment for the fam, for Christmas present, no less!) and showed it to a T in AD. She did the master in basic creams, white beiges, as those were the colors in the master bedroom before Hubs bought the extra apartment, so she decided to just work with what she had…..do designers really save money that way……and did it in the same beiges……fast forward a few months and she tells Hubs…..
    “This master bedroom is just not making it for me…..so I am changing it. Don’t worry it will be great; trust me!”
    And she redid it in deep plums, purples, bronzes, etc….gorgeous and it is so her…you can find the whole story on the internet,but it wasn’t something she was shouting from the roof tops….so designers are human. So do the room beachy with the S&L Company, then change it in a few months…..it could happen….that way everyone will be happy. You did your due diligence for S&L and then you can do your due diligence for yourself…..voila, problem solved….I know it will be amazing just like you!

  12. I haven’t read all the comments but please don’t put the bed in front of the window – it’s bad feng shui.

    Our bedroom is dark brown and we love it. You will fall asleep much easier and sleep much better in a dark room (dark drapes on the window would be good).


    1. Hi Barb,

      okay. can we put some crystals up somewhere to counteract that?

      But, my room is currently pretty dark room and I used to have a white room and when the lights are out, they look the same. :]

      I’m ready for a change and while I love the idea of a deep rich color, it’s not right for the rest of the place.

      1. It’s OK for the bed to face the window, but it shouldn’t be in front of or blocking it. Some people aren’t affected by bad feng shui – I am, so I follow the ‘rules’. It would probably be bad design to put it in front of the window anyway.

        Regarding color, I was just relating how much we love our bedroom – it’s so relaxing we can’t wait to get into bed. And, our friends who’ve seen the room go home and paint their bedroom the same color. I used to love all white bedrooms (love crisp 100% cotton sheets) but these brown walls converted me. I think a dark blue bedroom with fluorescent stars painted on the ceiling would be very calming as well.

        That said…we were in a b&b in the Irish countryside a few years ago, in an all white room, and it was so dark at night I couldn’t find the bathroom! I had to turn on the light, which is worst thing you can do in the middle of the night.

        1. Well, there are three windows, so maybe it’ll be okay? I’m sold on the Chinoiserie mural paper and love the blushy color. It’s a different company than I put in the post.

  13. “I will try to think less.” When I read that, I spit out my coffee! Only 2 comments: I love the wallpaper and I think it might be your key to avoid the S and L Showroom look. And in my old house, I put a bed in front of the window and the room suddenly became “right.” I used an airy iron headboard so the light could still come in. Maybe try moving the furniture around first? Put it on those little padded furniture movers and you can move it yourself. Well, this was more than 2 comments. Yikes!

  14. Nothing like a deadline to get us to focus on what we want to live with from that mountain of looks we love. I often think I need several houses done differently to satisfy all my desires. I have lived 40 years in the same house and it seems I am always changing something. My home is my playground. I’m sure your bedroom will be gorgeous and probably different than any of your readers would do it…uniquely you,as it should be!

    1. I very much like that answer Tricia! What I’m hoping to hear too, might be, “well, I didn’t think that was going to work, but it does!”

      Well, that’s the goal. And as Tim Gunn says… “make it work!”

  15. This post made me laugh out loud ( or was it the wine?). I appreciate your designer’s block, as I am experiencing it myself. I’ve been reading, thinking, cutting out pictures and planning for a year now, and no progress. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have figured out that as much as I love the “beachy” look, it would so not work in my Colorado, rustic-traditional home. Yea!! Ruled something out. So, my thoughts…I think you’re lucky to have a deadline. I’m making one for myself. What’s the worse that could happen if you make a little mistake? And you are a fabulous designer–and teacher–and any mistake would be little. Go for it.

  16. Yikes! My first thought, before I read it, was “maybe Nancy Keyes…they seem to share vision 😉”

    As to the rest, I know it’ll be beautiful.

    It’s not schadenfreude, but it’s nice to see that you have some of the problems as your readers…things you’re stuck with, things you want to keep, and how to make it all work while working on the rest of the place as well.

    Again, I know it’ll be beautiful. Best to you on the fabulous opportunity.

  17. Love you!!! Ok, choose between the bed or the nightstands. They don’t really work together. Paper the inner panels, use a very large drape to eliminate window showing neighbors, thus creating a fabric panel which will reduce choppiness. No dark blue for rich color, choose emerald or teal green instead. White rug as an alternative to desired floor. That was fun, thanks!!

  18. Eagerly anticipating the results of your bedroom refresh. I know it will be fabulous! I’m wondering about the best size and position of an area rug in a bedroom. How much larger than the bed should it be and how much tucked under the bed/ how much exposed? Thanks!

    1. Hi Linda,

      That depends on how big the room is, more than anything else. Ideally, the rug should come up fairly close to the night-stand and there should go out at least as far, but generally, a minimum of 3 feet, if there’s room.

      I don’t usually like furniture sitting half on and half off of rugs. So, I try to avoid that if at all possible. Since my room is square, an ideal size would be 10 x 10, but that’s very difficult to find in a non-custom rug.

  19. You have no idea how much better I feel about my own indecisiveness and slow motion decorating after reading this post. I’m Andrea of the big red sofa posts a few months ago, and I’m still working on it. Even small rooms can necessitate big decisions.
    I vote for the beautiful chinoiserie wall paper and the pale Oushak rug for your bedroom. The pale blush color is equally as restful and calming. You’ll be finished and enjoying the serenity of your new room long before I am, I’m sure of it.

    1. Hi Andrea,

      Only because they are holding a gun to my head. Like I’ve maintained, the dial on my innate nature is set to lazy. Fortunately, there are some powerful motivators that get the blog written.

      Accountability is very important too. At least for me it is!

  20. Hi Laurel;
    You’re an inspiration, as always. I too am supposedly updating our master bedroom and am stumped at every turn. I want a duvet this time, but cannot for the life of me find one that I like, never mind love–and at a price I will pay. Am figuring that when my next bedroom client comes along (did that come out right?), some nice choices will present themselves. It will be fun to watch you work on yours!

  21. Wow! My eyes were darting back and forth reading your ramblings! SO FUNNY! Seriously though, your bedroom will be beautiful. Love you!

  22. So glad you resolved your direction and in the end and made it clear it was a process experience for all of us–I was so stressed out for you as I was reading this! Can’t wait to see the end result. Your apartment has adorable bones so I know it will be fabulous!

    1. Hi Jenn,

      Pretty much. My next step is to line up a contractor. Wish me luck. It’s difficult to book small jobs, but hopefully, they will appreciate the ensuing publicity.

  23. This retired interior designer totally understands the problem of decorating your own home. We end up with some rooms that we love and others that just don’t cut it. My family room was the uncut one in my house. (By the way, I LOVE your place!) I finally got it to the point that it’s now one of my favorite rooms by simplifying. I agree that your bedroom should be light. I would prefer the moulding taken down rather than wallpapering inside the framework. I would skip the wallpaper or only put it on the wall behind the bed with the other walls painted the same color as the background of the paper. Leave the bed on the same wall. (I personally don’t like beds in front of windows, but recognize there are thousands that do.) I’m super crazy about the Mark D. Sikes room. Maybe a bench at the end of the bed if there’s room instead of all the seating. And I love long drapery in bedrooms rather than roman shades. Home Goods has oodles of oushak-ish rugs in 8×10 and 9×12 in the $200-500 price range. Can’t wait to see what you end up doing!

    1. Hi Donna,

      When I start listing pros and cons for the bed, there’s a tremendous pro which is that it will open up the room immensely. And there is ample room for a bench.

  24. Last time I was in Rochester, NY (2007) I was driving up and down the streets out by the lake and saw a storefront with the business sign “Husbands for Rent.” Interesting.

    1. Oh wow Susie. What’s really freaky is the last time I was in Rochester was in 2007. We went two years in a row in December when my son played in conference All-State. He’s an awesome trombone player! Went to college for it and teaches now.

    1. You could mount Zuber over offending window. I’d install romans that match wall color keep walls solid, think romantic off that Zuber screen. Get an old Persian rug they’re a fraction the price of new. Think Ralph Lauren. More suited to your space. I think the deep wall color you have works with the screen paint moldings to match. Think deep warm tones and texture like warm bronzes. I know it’s way off what you wanted just my opinion I try to work with the architecture not fight it

      1. Interesting ideas, but covering up the window with the screen won’t work. It’s a BIG window. However, I am very much thinking that I will move the bed in front of the window which will free up the entire one wall that has no openings. The door will need to open out into the hall, however. Not sure what they were thinking! It makes no sense to have it open up into the room and lose nearly three feet of wall space. The problem is the mouldings on the wall.

        I may keep them, but they will not be as noticeable when I’m done.

        I do love what you are talking about, but it’s not really right for this place.

  25. Laurel, first of all I think you SO deserve this opportunity to fix up your bedroom. Now, as a long-time reader and hopefully sorta friend by now, I gotta tell you to get yourself either a chill pill or a big glass of wine. The reason you are having problems with decisions is because you KNOW every product out there! Every option! Every alternative! If you didn’t KNOW so much, this would be EASY as pie for you to do. Am I right? That said, I know you love MDS. He’s your boy. So copycopycopy. The pics you posted of his work today are from, you got it, California coastal homes. He’s got his work cut out for him. You however, have to remind yourself you are a Right Coaster, and while you can be light and airy, you need a room grounded in the history you live in. So lets not forget that shall we. Go back and look at ALL his Right Coast projects and see his sensibilities in that context. Then, see where he has some crossover with the S and L aesthetic in those sensibilities. If I sound crazy, blame yourself girl because everything I know I learned from YOU!

    Also, I want to remind you to think about what’s going on in your apt. and how that threads through to your bedroom. I say, purple BE GONE! HISS! Back with thee!!!

    1. Hi Karen,

      Actually, I think the bedrooms I posted could easily work on the east coast. They are sooooooo beautiful. Both Mark and William are design geniuses and we are lucky to have them!

  26. Dear Laurel, thank you so much for showing that these choices can be hard ones to make! I love your taste, and your instincts are great, but it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who gets overwhelmed.

    I was helping my mum shop for curtain fabrics today and said the words “what gives you joy when you look at it?” Whenever I get muddled, that’s what I come back to, thanks in part to what I’ve learned from you! Though I have navy half-walls with white uppers in my cottage bedroom, so I want to play devil on your shoulder and whisper: “navy is heavenly!”

    And if someone were offering me a rug gratis, I would get the biggest and most neutral available, then top it off with something else later. Nothing would get your goat like a rug that’s too small…

    Love your work, if it’s not too painful then I’d love more insights into your personal redecorating, much love from England xxx

    1. Hi Bea,

      Yes, navy is awesome, but alas, it won’t work for this room. There will be more at a later date. And believe me, I’m going to have to sing for my supper if you get my drift. ;]

      1. Well that’s lucky, because I, and your readers, and clearly the folks at S&L, just love hearing you sing 😉

        Oh, I’m getting so so so excited to see more Chinoiserie now…

  27. Hi!
    You’ll be fine….GREAT ideas here! I JUST WANT TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE YOUR “VOICE” ON THE BLOG AND HOW MUCH I LOVE YOUR WORK AND HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU! Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! You are always my go-to on most everything!

  28. Wow! If you’re going to install Fromental and have moulding removed from your walls and any custom upholstery done by May, you better get on it, Girl! I agree with you about Serena and Lily. I received their catalog yesterday and commented how much blue there was and how coastal everything feels. Of course I know blue is one of your go to’s, but not mine (green).

  29. I really like your choices in the widgets. You may think you’re confused or stalled, but I think you’re on track for a gorgeous room. I agree that beachy coastal is not what you want in your building, but I think you can turn some of it into more of a British colonial. Definitely drop the wall molding boxes and wallpaper with that gorgeous print you’ve had your eye on. My first thought for the windows was to do one continuous rod around that side of the room (which I would do if you weren’t wallpapering), but with the wall paper and that window ac unit, Roman shades would probably be better. Maybe a plain linen (blend, since linen tends to grow and stretch) to coordinate with your bed linens, with a simple band of trim to match the background of your wallpaper. As for lighting, I think their Atwell chandelier is a more “classic” choice than the beachy Malibu. As for keeping your rug to layer, only if it still looks good with the wallpaper. You probably don’t have time for floor refinishing given your deadline, but long term, I would consider refinishing the whole apartment (assuming it is everywhere), and nixing the orange. You can always have them bleached to a light color. Maybe you can find a floor specialty company to sponsor that.

    1. Hi Susie,

      The Atwell is lovely, but at 33″ in diameter is massively large for my 13 x 13 bedroom. If we follow the maxim of adding two perpendicular sides, we end up with a max size of 26″. My current chandelier is 18″. I don’t see the Malibu as being too beachy for a soft bedroom. I see it as being somewhat exotic. And I’m looking at everything as a whole, not individual elements. I think an eclectic mix is a good thing.

  30. Hi Laurel,
    The wallpaper is gorgeous. For me that’d be my starting point. Then a white/creamy white wool rug to cover a lot of the orange floor but allow that glorious mahogany inlaid ribbon banding. I don’t care what you do from there, I’d be darn happy with this! It’ll turn out fabulous and you’ll be thrilled, but it’s a struggle when one is the type of person to think, think and think again about each choice. Can’t wait to see your new principal bedroom. Cathy

  31. Hi Laurel
    The key word is adore which you said regarding the lovely wallpaper (birds and butterflies) from Fromental Studio. You said you have come full circle. I have found usually my first choice is the right one but I end up over thinking it and get off track. Your bed looks like it will match perfectly and I would definitely take the boxes down. Hope this helps. Bonnie

  32. I love that you’re sharing your creative process (yes, I know how ooooh-la-la that sounds). I really do, because I think it’s helpful and a reminder that at the end of the day it should be about what makes us get a fat case of the warm and fuzzies when we walk into our own rooms!

    I also appreciate that you addressed how much you loved William McClure’s room as well, but that you keep coming back to the light. Bet that will make some peeps feel better. I’ve found that I’m doing a better job at realizing what sort of spaces I want to live in and surround myself with daily, vs the spaces I admire/like to visit. It’s the answer to my Design ADD.

    Can’t wait to see what your results are because my bedroom is in bad shape and I’m going to copy you. 🙂 😉 🙂 😉

    1. LOL – you make me laugh Sarah, and I need that! And yes, one of the points of this post is to show other people who are struggling that we all do at times; even with stuff we do really well. But I’ve always learned far more from the struggle than I do from the things that come easily. xoxo

  33. Laurel,
    You have a lot of great ideas and while it may seem they aren’t coming together, from my perspective, I think they are! I totally get the givens problem as I never start from scratch in my home either. but that’s the joy of years of collecting that we try to accomplish in a newly filled design.
    Your side tables, mirror and bed are spectacular. The floors aren’t awful and certainly you can layer the Merida Studios rug with and S&L or if that wont work the S&L Tofino 9×12 would really look gorgeous and give you color, texture and that light feeling. While diamonds have possibly been over done in area rugs recently, it’s classic and in such a large rug it will read more like the Merida. They are so close, maybe it will be the one you fall in love with and check the “they want to give me a rug” box.
    Regarding the walls, take down all the wall boxes,consider Pearlized Natural S&L glasscloth wallpaper behind the bed, finish the room in the Fromental wallpaper and then consider remounting some or all the wall boxes. yes, its tedious but you can really choose rather than feel its a given that you aren’t 100% sure which way to deal with it.
    I think you will figure out the rest of the elements. Love the idea of wood of some kind Romans. I think you’ve got great simple bed linens chosen.
    As far as a slipper chair or chaise, what if you find the style and upholstery with the light Oushak type textile? I know, not easy to find, but not too hard to upholster that style seating.
    I have bench at the foot of my bed done in a similar way and it’s GORGEOUS! I wouldn’t lay on it “starkers” but it’s the stunner in the room. You can totally do that with your accent piece and find the right textile to compliment the space and wallpapers.

    That’s about it…hope something triggers an, “of course, why didn’t I think of that sooner” moment and that it all comes together in an amazing way!!!

    I STILL love my chinoiserie vase/lamps.
    Can’t wait to see your next bedroom post!

  34. From one designer to another, I get it. Whenever you’re close to a decision for your own home you find something that’s even more beautiful. And you’re not sure what even more spectacular product or idea will cross your desktop tomorrow. I’d say treat this as though it were for a client, but I’m sure you’ve tried that. So why not become a client? Find a designer friend and exchange design services for each other. Ask him/her to do a design plan for you and offer the same for them. Then accept the fact that tomorrow you might come across what would have been perfect for your room and vow to use it on a future client project.

  35. If you moved your bed, you won’t see the neighbor’s window while you’re lying in it…you’d see the beautiful wallpaper on the full wall! I think you’d love the bed in front of the windows…

    1. Yes, but I also won’t be able to see out the the middle window and that is where I see the sunset, stars and planes flying. They curve around and it’s very pretty. And also it would mean some other furniture changes.

  36. Laurel, I love you! Yeah, that’s where we all find ourselves when money gets freed up for a redo. Always with caveats. I can’t believe I’m giving a famous decorator advice. Me with the kicked to curb junk mixed with IKEA, Pottery Barn and Target. With a piece or two of pricey stuff.

    Seriously, I’d take advantage and sketch out two redos. One where you step out of yourself and pretend this is s professional job. Showcase the Serena and Lily stuff to the best advantage because that’s what they want you to do. Work it. Show what you can do with all those goodies in your arsenal. Live with it for a year or so.

    Then as you do this, think about what you want as a “forever” room. Yeah, the term is fake and homey cuz nothing is forever but the way you snd I hang onto the stuff we love, it might as well be in this regard. Move yourself out of the equation and put together a show stopper of a bedroom that works with your apartment and makes us all gasp as to what S&L can do. Store your stuff in a storage locker for a year if need to do do. By then you can decide how to customize the room to how you will truly live it, keeping and discarding both new pieces and what you are now hanging on to (some stuff pathetically, I guarantee you). Like leftovers in the fridge, sometimes you need time to give you that perspective of whether something is truly a keeper

    Just a heads up: I finally moved our bed in a tiny bedroom to go in front of s window. The bigger of two windows in that room and I so love the natural light. A brown bronze metal headboard and an abundance of sheer curtains makes it work. It changed the entire room for the better and gives us so much more space. Clearly should have been done earlier. Like half a century earlier but we couldn’t swallow a bed in front of the window. Even was able to upgrade to a queen sized bed. So, yeah, that can be a game changer move. And you can always move it back if it doesn’t work.

    Good luck and can’t wait to see it. Am struggling with staging my Westchester House for sale. I’m a neighbor of yours

  37. Dear Laurel,

    Can you not use that amazing screen behind your desk as inspiration for the bedroom? Pull color from that and paint the walls. I think you are biting off the whole mess of negatives in one sitting. Make one decision and then go on to the next. I am not a designer but I totally get what you are saying. A friend of mine once told me “don’t borrow trouble”. I know that once you do one major thing, other ideas will come from that. One layer at a time.

  38. I really appreciate you sharing your process and the widgets have a similar feel, very ethereal. So, maybe you’ve already answered your own concerns here and know the direction you want to go.
    Follow your widgets…

  39. Do you only sleep in your bedroom? Do you blog there? The wallpaper is exquisite. I looked at their site, i like the Miramar chair, it’s very squishy and bedroomy. Or the Picadilly chair. If I was being super picky I’d say I wish their chaises had detailing on the backrest. This is a good problem to have.

  40. Laurel,
    I think you’re overthinking the process.I like everything in your widget, except the Malibu chandelier. Not knowing how these sponsored posts work; I would start with the most expensive item first and work from there. You can jettison your rug and pick theirs.
    Good luck, looking forward to seeing the completed room.
    P.S. Love the Malibu chandy, just not for NY.
    Plus, you could do a give away if you end up with product you don’t like.


  41. What a great opportunity. I do not envy your decisions, but for me, I would take that straw rug, ( have your lighter floor, make it wall to wall) put that light “Oriental” on top of it, and for me, the full on chinoiserie paper. An idea would be to change the fabric on the bed. Those are the big pieces. Have a ball with the rest. Have fun!

  42. Dear Laurel,
    Whatever you do, paint out those white moldings. They create chaos in your room. Go lighter on the walls, not darker, but don’t go neutral. You’ll regret it. Put your black TV on or in a black cabinet or table.

    Everybody and his brother has Chinoiserie panels in frames or on one wall. Either do the entire room in Gracie or think of something fresh—like Maura Endres did.

    Nothing looks dummer than “beachy” in a 1927 urban building. Stick with your instincts.


  43. My heart goes out to you as I’m in medeas res in the redo of my bedroom as well. Just a bit more down the line than you. I painted it Skylight, threw away the old shades and curtains. Put down my old newly cleaned deco Chinoisie pink Belgian rug w/ new pad that’s 9×12 so goes almost to the borders of the old dark wood floor. Hung a delightful vintage round beehive brass and caprice shell lamp that had been my dads from the ceiling. I had it re-done from swag to sleek cord. Can you tell I’m on a budget? Basically now, there’s just my lovely hand made walnut and mahogany 38 yr old bed, also Chinoise-style, and a beautiful carved cabinet that I hide my jewelry inI finally got a guy (for money) to hang up on the wall! Where can I send you pics? I’m not on any social media. Just want to encourage you to go with your gut and use what you have before getting the Serena & Lilly goodies, although it sounds like the pressure is on, and it’s business. You’re a pro, so trust you’ll come out fine! Thanks for the inspiration you’ve shared that has helped me get this far. I’ve lived in this Santa Monica rent controlled apartment since 1985, and my bedroom was last painted in 1997! Feels so good to renew and refresh as well as simplify now that I’m like you, an older broad, and I’m a few years older than you too!! Bravo 👏

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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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