When we first saw our late-19th-century condo in Hoboken, NJ, Mike and I fell in love with its original architectural elements: wide plank floors, high ceilings, crown molding, plaster medallion, and fireplaces–but the 21st-century touches weren’t exactly a selling point. From peach paint to shiny gold hardware to wrought-iron fixtures, it all had to go. First, because it was less than our style, but, secondly, we just had to make it our own. Having worked in interior-design magazines for over five years, I couldn’t just unpack my things and move in. I had a decorative itch to scratch, and, fortunately, my fiancé Mike had the patience and power tools to help me do it.
Over the next week I’ll be unveiling a room makeover a day, so be sure to check back (or subscribe to my newsletter on the top right of any page)! Each space has a story, but there is no better place to start than the master bedroom.
As the previous owner had it, you could tell it was lovely room . . . she just had massive pieces of furniture covering the best parts. The fat sleigh bed spilled over the windows and blocked the fireplace from full view; a dark velvet bedspread absorbed the life out of the space; and the excess of dressers created a traffic jam at every turn. Leaving little inspiration for layout or decor, we decided to pick a new palette and go from there.
I’ll admit I did not have a crystal-clear vision of how I’d decorate our home, but I knew one thing for certain: I wanted a wallpapered accent wall behind our bed (see the installation). In a large-scale pattern, a paper can in essence become the headboard and a dramatic substitute for conventional wall art. I’ve always loved Ferm Living’s Leaf pattern (it’s even my blog header), and with its olive and dusty blue colors, it makes a gorgeous palette for a room. Taking a cue from the leaf design, we painted the other three walls with Benjamin Moore #HC-143, so when you walk in the room you are greeted with a soothing sea shade; when you turn, the pop of pattern is a nice surprise.
Next project on the list: excavating the fireplace. We figured it had been boarded up for a good reason, but the prospect of a hearth in our bedroom was too good not to investigate—and the black piece of faux marble covering it was too heinous to keep. So we ripped off the covering and out spills the chimney. Long, dramatic, dirty story short (click here for the full debacle), nine hours and a thousand pounds of rubble later, we had a fireplace. As for the shiny cherry mantel, we cut out the overly ornate arch, distressed it with a screwdriver, and painted it with a thick coat of oil-based white. We have yet to attach it to the wall because the brick base is a bit tricky, but this project will undoubtedly be in a future blog.
The Homespun Built-ins
Each floor in this three-story building is slightly different, and when it comes to our bedrooms, our ground-floor neighbors have the most enviable built-ins. Yes, we could have hired a carpenter to replicate them, but for $100 in parts from IKEA, we thought we’d try and build them ourselves (full post here). The shelves nestle perfectly into the alcove, making the blue of the wall feel more like a painted cabinet. And my favorite part of the setup? The bookshelves continue all the way down to my vintage Stickley desk; its open sides allow for extra storage and a peek of color.
It wasn’t until two months ago that we put up window treatments—partly out of laziness and partly out of a secret apathy toward curtains. I thought they would feel fussy, would cover my pretty window molding, and be superfluous when combined with actual blinds. Boy was I wrong. These white-on-white geometric curtains have changed the entire dynamic of the room. Sheer, flowy, and textural, they add just enough privacy but allow for the nicest sunlight. They truly finish the room.
See more more of my room makeovers:
And stay tuned for the living room!