IT’S DONE. Reveal day is here and a week ago I honestly did not think this was getting pulled off but we did it. When I joined the One Room Challenge as a guest participant, I naively signed up for our entire primary bedroom and en suite instead of one of the many other options in our home, and without any planning or shopping done beforehand. We hadn’t even attempted to properly decorate any rooms yet except the kids’ before this One Room Challenge effort, and our primary bedroom was the one that I had the clearest ideas for.
Sources are listed are the end of the post!
Affiliate links are added for your shopping convenience.
So this challenge effort involved decorating our primary bedroom, ensuite bathroom and water closet, and walk-in closet. Technically FOUR ROOMS, that made sense to decorate in concert because they comprise one connected living area and flow into one another.
The en suite underwent a reno and update by the previous homeowners, and drywall damage and neglected shower maintenance left us with some cosmetic re-finishing to be done and a leaky shower to repair.
I dove in with the full support of my husband at the last minute, who together with me greatly underestimated how much time this would take. With only ideas in my mind, major furniture pieces already acquired over time, and no actual design choices finalized, I began to design a space and procure materials and décor.
A few DIYs and a heaping dose of French Chinoiserie later, we have a suite that we’re happy to
finally be done painting retreat to and wake up to every morning.
I’ll review the original vision and design plan, then break down the reveal for each area of the en suite.
The space has some tricky elements that needed to be considered: the necessity of a dehumidifier in the Summer months that typically floats around the bathroom and gets underfoot, an unbalanced focal wall behind the bed, with a window on the right side and a mini split wall unit on the left.
The bathroom area is our main pool access/staging area for getting the family suited up, and the water closet serves as a pool relief area with an exterior door with a clad metal door that’s not magnetic, making finding window coverings a defeating, ongoing saga.
Also, this entire challenge was sourced via my computer. I did not set in a single store due to my comfort levels with COVID and not completing my second dose of the vaccine until near the end of the challenge.
The Original Moodboard & Design Plan
The Goal: To created a unified primary suite; to suss out my design aesthetic and create a retreat befitting 30-somethings, filled with things we love.
The Starting Point: I scored a stunning thrifted coromandel folding screen right before COVID lockdowns started last year, and began formulating a design plan in my mind around that piece as a focal point. We began with gray walls, curtains, and most furniture. Our bed was replaced after we moved here when our trusty IKEA Malm finally succumbed to injury in our cross-country move, and I had a pair of cherry blossom chairs I bought when we furnished our first apartment. Our artwork had been previously thrifted or collected over the years of our marriage.
The Aesthetic: The plan was mostly undefined: Chinoiserie and then what?? The room evolved into an eclectic Chinoiserie retreat, with a meaningful gallery wall around the bed and an arts & crafts textile in a sumptuous velvet that oozes glamour but not in what I consider a typical Chinoiserie color palette with high contrast elements. It was mostly about creating I did not want the room to feel too glamorous to be comfortable, and harmonious in a restful palette, instead of the more stimulating graphic nature that often characterizes Chinoiserie. I have so much to write about today, so I searched for you and if you’re looking for an overview of what embodies Chinoiserie, you can check out this post by Laurel Bern.
The Palette: Also undefined at the outset, and complicated to figure out because I wanted colored trim in the bath/closet, but floor to ceiling color in the bedroom itself. I knew I wanted to try Farrow & Ball paints for the first time, since about 97% of rooms whose color I’m drawn to in photographs are painted in F&B. Colors I considered included teal, peach terracotta, navy, white, black, or green. It took 3 weeks to narrow down my choices to greens, and decide to incorporate a bright green door to our closet and water closet. The North facing exposure in the bedroom called for a warmer color that would provide a better backdrop for our Greige cane bed and suit our traditional furniture. Southern exposure in the bathroom skews colors warm so the picking colors that looked good in the two areas even though they were connected was a challenge.
The Primary Bedroom Reveal
13’x19′, Northeastern exposure
Walls: French Gray, Modern Emulsion | Trim: French Gray, Modern Eggshell | Ceiling: Vert de Terre over French Gray, 1 coat each Modern Emulsion
The previous homeowners had almost the entire house painted in a very neutral, cool gray that could best be described as a colorless shadow. I grew to really hate gray after living outside of Seattle for 7 years, and I didn’t realize that a major problem of it for me was the last of contrast and shadows in our living environment. No morning sun streaming in. The gray walls in our house remind me of that feeling. There was no beauty in nuanced colors when shadows were cast during the day in our bedroom. Never mind that the paint marked from everything that made contact with it, and completely clashed with our French-inspired cane bed.
After sampling 7 different greens from Farrow & Ball, French gray was the winner for the bedroom’s wall color. A close second was a happy accident that I unearthed in week 3. I originally fell in love with my French Gray swatch, Vert de Terre was unexpectedly close and nigh indistinguishable at points during the day, and I realized I had painted the first coat accidentally in French Gray with a second coat in Vert de Terre. The result was a very pretty, nuanced shifty blue green unique in its own right. At the last minute, I decided to go ahead and buy a gallon of Vert de Terre, and put that happy accident on our ceiling.
The Gallery Wall
This was figured out Tuesday-Thursday this past week, no joke. Originally I had the large charcoal still life from my intro to drawing class behind the lamp on my side of the bed to balance the window, but it was mostly hidden. A large mirror intended to echo the size of the window was ineffective. So I realized I needed more to create a path for the eye to follow to compete with the window. This set up was greatly inspired by a previously pinned vignette by Pierce & Ward. I’ve tried gallery walls in the past but haven’t had enough art that I care about until recently to be able to put one together. This little one is a mix of art that is highly personal to us, featuring sentimental pieces, my own drawing, and one from our firstborn.
The artwork above the bed is an art print of Boathouse Row gifted to me years ago at my bachelorette party (true story) by the artist Laura Matthew, was DIY mounted on linen at the last minute using the frame that supported the floor mirror we converted to hang on the wall (read on for those details). Since it’s such a long piece, I didn’t think it would fit above the bed with the curtains extending behind the bed, when I looked into custom framing options but the stand from the mirror is the perfect width – so now I have a width to start with for getting it framed professionally. A must, since this DIY effort is Puckertown, USA.
When I bought our matelassé coverlet bed set, it came with two euro shams I ordered inserts for from Target before I discovered my favorite down alternative inserts. The skimpiness of the two pillows never looked right, and I was thankfully able to order a third matching sham. New, properly filled inserts make a world of difference in comfort and appearance. But I knew I needed a pattern to bring some life to the off-white expanse of the king bed, even with the texture of the quilted coverlet.
I didn’t do much digging for a showpiece textile until the 11th hour because I knew I needed something that would set the tone I wanted in here – and the tone wasn’t defined until so late in the challenge that I needed to see everything come together before making a decision. With the whole picture in place, I knew I wanted a pattern with a lot of movement that was glamorous and coordinated with the chinoiserie elements, but didn’t scream chinoiserie. Lee Jofa Tetbury was exactly what the space needed, and the sheen of the velvet brought in the glamour that I wanted. I tried to source a pillow instead of buying yardage to save a bit since designer fabric is such a splurge, but after coming up dry went ahead and ordered a yard. Since the pattern is such a large scale, I went with a larger than typical insert – I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s the size of a standard king pillow.
The Coromandel Screen Seating Area & Elliptical Hiding Zone
This is a large bedroom, but 4′ of its length is swallowed up behind this dreamy Coromandel screen I thrifted for a song last year. It beautifully conceals our full-sized elliptical machine (you can see more before styling pics and tips for setting up a folding screen vignette here), and with clever chair positioning to hide its back wheel base, no one is the wiser unless you’re looking for it since the entrance to the bedroom is shadowy.
I created this vignette last Spring, but updated it with a new ottoman and artwork from a little artist that lives with me. The pillows are vintage seersucker that I sewed and a throw pillow from our bedding set. Yolanda (too fabulous to be referred to as “the ottoman”) makes this an area that’s actually comfortable to use now – the chairs are a bit deep to sit without a foot rest.
In the evening, the chairs are a perfect place to keep our decorative bed pillows off the ground until we make the bed in the morning.
The Window Seat Chest
This was actually our toy chest in the playroom until we realized its total lack of organization wasn’t helpful at all. It fits perfectly under this window with the curtains open, and stores extra blankets. Win win!
The Bathroom Vanity Area
10’x10′, Southern Exposure
Walls: Slipper Satin, Modern Emulsion | Trim: French Gray, Modern Eggshell | Ceiling: Breakfast Room Green, Modern Eggshell
The vanity/shower room is kind of the eye of the storm in the en suite, a break in the excitement until you choose your own adventure in the connecting rooms, replete with abundant pattern and striking vignettes. Before, it was contemporary with simple oval mirrors that didn’t maximize light, satin alabaster shades (a personal pet peeve of mine) and brushed nickel faucets that I was sure were goners. The café curtains I sewed that my husband referred to as “pants for windows” served their purpose, but I wanted a roman shade.
The vanity mirrors are the focal point, rounded out with simple picture groupings and a nod to chinoiserie in the shades, tole sconces, and a display of two fans. The trim from the bedroom is carried into the vanity room to transition into the connected area seamlessly, with Slipper Satin on the walls to brighten it up and allow the mixed metals and mirrors do their thing. New Gustavian ring pulls and hand forged brass robe hooks helped to transform what started as contemporary transitional finishes. My husband cut down a bamboo roll-up shade and I converted it to a roman. I’ll have to post a tutorial on that. Note: some of these shots were taken before the installation of the tole sconces
Bright Green Accent Decision Change: Ceiling vs. Pocket Doors
Another last minute change here – I planned on making the louvered pocket doors into the adjoining areas a bright green – and dedicated a post to rooms using bright green as an accent color. I ordered Breakfast Room Green in Modern Eggshell in anticipation of painting the doors, but at the last minute, in a decision solidified in a kismet rediscovery of an old flagged photo in my McAlpine book, we decided to take the ceiling green instead. The pocket doors are closed 99% percent of the time, and the whole idea of bringing the bright green was waking up to its cheeriness. It’s also a perfect match for some of the leaves in the coromandel folding screen in the bedroom.
The sheen of the eggshell on the ceiling is all the more pronounced with the low sheen on the walls and the Southern light streaming in, and bouncing off all the mirrors. If it had been my plan initially, I would have chosen Modern Emulsion, but the unexpectedly shiny ceiling is tying in with the glamour of the suite and I’m keeping it for now.
So, the backstory on the shower is my husband heard water trickling underneath the shower while I was using it when he was in the basement. There’s a screw for our radiant heat possibly puncturing the shower pan (I previously stated it was confirmed to be – after refreshing my memory with my husband, this was just a guess from a contractor helping us to look into it). It turns out, the shower definitely needs re-sealing, and re-grouting in one corner at least, and that might be it and we’ve had no reason for sharing the kids’ shower upstairs for over a year. We have supplies on hand, but ran out of time and haven’t done the work yet to hopefully bring our shower dreams back to reality.
The Floor Mirror Converted into a Wall Mirror
It wasn’t until dressing for my first family get-together after a year of solitude with our nuclear family a few weeks ago that I remembered the closest thing we have to a full length mirror is in our sort-of library. And I have to lay a towel down on the embroidered foot stool to see an ensemble from hair down to shoes. So I knew I wanted to incorporate a full-length mirror in the en suite. I don’t feel comfortable with a free-standing floor mirror with small kids in the house, and our wall space options were limited. It finally occurred to me I might be able to squeeze one in on the wall between our shower and water closet door, if we could mount it overlapping the door trim. Several hours of internet searching turned up a popular mirror that would tie in perfectly with the new vanity mirrors – a floor mirror.
(the before was shot mid-clean out of the closet, sorry!) We were able to remove the standing frame, and with L braces underneath and a wire hanger behind the top, we were able to mount it as I envisioned as a floating mirror. A sketch I drew hangs above it.
A bonus I hadn’t considered: we now have a hidden section in the shower behind the mirror where we can hang swim suits and towels to dry.
The only other place I could have hung a full length mirror would be in the closet – but that’s where the zebra goes. Also, the cabinet we converted to house the dehumidifier. But first, we turn left from the vanity wall and head into the water closet.
A last minute arrival of pieces I imagined early on in the challenge are hanging on either side of the French pocket doors leading to the bedroom. They are almost exactly what I pictured and became available in auction on eBay in week 7, but I missed the deadline to bid (painting AGAIN) but contacted the seller hoping the auction fell through. As luck would have it, they were still available and able to be shipped just in the nick of time for the reveal – they arrived Thursday afternoon corded and functional, but the visual weight of the cord and chain is too much. I plan to rewire them and paint the cord to match the wall or figure out how to hardwire them, we’ll have to see how that goes with the pocket doors behind them.
The Water Closet
4’x6′, Southern Exposure
Walls: (my own design!) Signature Monogram Wallpaper | Trim: French Gray, Modern Eggshell | Door: Slipper Satin, Modern Eggshell | Ceiling: Slipper Satin
This little room was the first to be completed, and took just as long to wallpaper as it took to paint the huge bedroom since there were just two panels of wallpaper that hung straight without cuts for door frames or outlets.
It started as a sad little voyeuristic room, with a thrifted Monet print leaning against the wall, toilet paper sitting atop the tank, and a series of broken off Command hook mounting plates (both our own and from the previous owners) that had swallowed up their adhesive strips when we tried to remove them. Why was it voyeuristic, you ask? There is a large window on the door leading out to the pool, with a history of ineffective window covering attempts that have left the window partially covered at the best of times. Thankfully our backyard is private, and COVID gave us the perfect excuse to ignore its sad state for another year with no guests to entertain. Also, there were window grilles that were poorly attached and promptly pulled down by our 1 year old shortly after moving in that we never got around to properly installing.
Our pool towels will now hang dry on a vintage French accordion rack I found in a lovely Etsy shop with a very responsive seller (thanks, Caroline!) instead of strewn about our shower.
The wallpaper is the star of the show here and the in closet, and is my own design that I created as a fabric several years ago. This was my first time hanging wallpaper, and it was a baptism by fire of sorts with all of the cutting around trim and outlets. It took about 4 times as long as I expected between pasting the paper (I wanted the most durable option possible since this is a high traffic, high moisture area) and accommodating all the extra cuts. But man, does it make the room.
The Converted Bamboo Roman Shade
Our house is 60 years old, and is not even CLOSE to air-tight, and with the original windows in the adjoining bedroom I didn’t feel comfortable with drilling into this newer door and potentially compromising its insulating properties. Enter this system I rigged up, with metal command hooks, a metal rod re-used from the vanity area window pants, and a bamboo roll-up shade I converted to a roman and lined to allow it to fit behind the door handle.
A couple of caveats with this solution: its operation of the pull cord is reversed so you have to reach behind it to start the cord release, and I grasp the top of the bamboo rail so as not to put undue force on the Command hooks to re-create the plastic plate graveyard we started with. I plan to add twill tape to protect the edges of the bamboo and cover the top hardware, but samples I ordered weren’t a good match so I’m still working on it. #perfectionistproblems
Linen Backed Monet Art Print
I was never crazy about the scripted “Monet” emblazoned across the print of “Parisians Enjoying The Park Monceau” in the bathroom, so I trimmed down the print with an X-Acto and backed it with linen. I’ll post a tutorial and tips soon.
9’x10′, No natural light
Walls: Signature Monogram Wallpaper & French Gray, Modern Emulsion | Trim: French Gray, Modern Eggshell | Ceiling: Same white as before (for now)
I’ve always loved the idea of closets and powder rooms as little “jewel boxes” you can decorate flamboyantly since they are unto themselves and wanted to exercise that opportunity here. But first, I had to do some major purging and re-organization to even start to make the closet functional, let alone pretty.
Lest you think me a total slob, though the evidence is seemingly undeniable here, I feel compelled to share a personal health related note that I hesitate to share here. But with the recent global pandemic I feel many may relate to: the consequences of poor physical health, and how they manifest in our homes and mental health. When we moved back to PA, I was in between surgeries for extensive papillary thyroid cancer and raising two small children. I had “cleaned out” our closet at least twice a year since moving in, but until the push of this challenge and my health and strength finally just recently improving, I have not been able to see the forest through the trees. Revisiting these before photos in a large closet that should have been able to easily comfortable organize our clothing with or without a glamorous makeover is a stark reminder of how far things have come and improved, and I am all the more struck by the personal benefit of completing this One Room Challenge. That being said, here are the horrific before shots:
The clothes were inexplicably hung on the wrong side of the closet when staged to sell, and we didn’t question it even though their overhang over the drawers drove me crazy.
Speaking of seeing the forest through the trees, there’s that zebra I mentioned earlier that lives in the closet – a thrifted reproduction piece I just had to buy upon first sight with a fascinating back story and its own satirical song. This isn’t just any zebra. This zebra was the first in in England, and was known in her day as “the Queen’s Ass.” I kid you not.
You may notice that this an African savannah mammal set in a woodland. The painting is by renowned horse artist George Stubbs and depicts the zebra gifted to Queen Charlotte for her wedding in 1762 that became a great public attraction, found only after Stubb’s death in his art studio. And she lives in my closet now.
Shelves, Knobs & Wallpaper
When I pictured undertaking decoration the en suite, the one feature I was certain of up front was wallpaper on the zebra closet wall and the water closet so the vanity area would be flanked by the print in both directions. Two straight panels in here after papering the water closet was by comparison a dream HAHA.
The closet was in good shape for storage potential, but I wanted to add shelves and make the closet more glamorous. Badgely Mischka crystal knobs and a super soft rug bring the jewel box effect into a quite literal interpretation that my children refer to as Sparkle Town.
We ordered additional custom cut melamine shelves from an Etsy vendor that was able to meet a really quick turnaround for me – thank you so much David!
Now I have a place to display all the shoes I wear practically never, since the Birkenstocks and new balance sneakers by the back door are my everyday footwear. But they sure are pretty!
The Cane Cabinet & Its Secret
We have muggy summers here in PA, and that moisture creeps into this old house. Our bedroom AC is separate from the rest of the HVAC in the house, and we need a dehumidifier. It has in summers past just been pushed as necessary from in front of the right vanity sink into the closet. Now, it has a home in this cabinet, which I used a mallet to knock the shelf out of and switched the handles on. It arrived damaged, but considering its impending demo and future as a moisture redistribution center we kept it and worked with it. I decided not to paint it since I like the warmth of the wood with all the white cabinets, and I may fix the cane at a later date. I want to see how it holds up to the moisture first.
Here are links to pieces in each room. (list in progress – please let me know if there’s anything you’d like info on that I’ve missed!)
Primary Bedroom Sources
Vanity Room Sources
Water Closet Sources
- Toilet Paper Holder
- Roll Up Bamboo Shade (DIY Converted to Roman)
- Bronze Metal Command Hooks
- Vintage French Accordion Coat Rack
- Flowers in Vase
- Door Mat
Thanks for following along with our journey!