Tuesday, August 31, 2010

...about a beige bedroom.

Agnes asks, “I have done every room in my house but when it came to my bedroom I failed... I have no idea what to do. I bought this dresser that I absolutely love (the shelf above the dresser is being removed), had a headboard custom made, bought this mirror… but I don't know how to put it together. I definitely would like to buy new bedding (I hate matching bedding). I'm stuck with the color of the headboard. I love the color by itself I just don't know what other colors to use along with it. And last but not the least important, window treatment. I have these dark chocolate drapes because I have a lot of light coming in the room in the morning. It really doesn't matter if they stay or go. I also got a pair of pale beige lamps that I'm planning to keep. How can I pull it all together?”

Oh, and like so many, Agnes is a renter and her landlord says paint is off limits. Doh!

Agnes, you’ve certainly not failed! You’re on the right track: your big pieces are in place and they’ve got long lives ahead of them (the best way to select your biggest pieces). Your transitional furniture choices can go more modern or traditional, depending on how you push the rest of the room. I am a BIG fan of upholstered headboards, especially in a small room, and yours is a great neutral. Ditto, your classic bedside lamps.
Just a few changes, and a few finishing touches, and you’ll have a room you won’t want to leave.

While some might think the tan headboard and cream lamps are just timid first choices, I think they are THE perfect starting point for an elegant tone-on-tone bedroom that looks WAY more expensive than it will be to pull together. I LOVE monochromatic bedrooms. They’re calming, easy on the eye, and just a nice place to start and end the day. So I love the idea of taking those neutrals and running.

Clockwise from upper left: "Patch" Cowhide Rug, DWR; Metal Rod and Cylinder Finial Drapery Hardware, West Elm; Eileen Fisher Home for Garnet Hill; Cowhide Rug, DWR; Mosaic Abstract Canvas, Ballard Designs; Linen Drapery Panel (Swatch), The Shade Store and West Elm; Lexington Quilt and Shams in Pearl and Palomino, West Elm.
The key to a successful monochromatic scheme is texture. Shiny and matte, rough and smooth… texture gives your eye something to do, without wearing it out. Here, it means silks, linens, cottons and (if not offensive to your personal sensibilities) a hide rug, even over carpet.
Eileen Fisher Home for Garnet Hill

But don’t think that a monochromatic approach equates to matchy-matchy. By mixing the tones (and fabrics) of comforter, sheets and Euro square, you’ll end up with something interesting but still dreamy, like the Eileen Fisher for Garnet Hill bed ensemble.
The second way to make a limited palette work is to run the color range from dark to light, which you already have going. Just fill in the in-betweens, with ivories, creams, tans, and (gasp!) even beige, all the way up to the deep camel-y tan of your headboard.

And the final step to a gradated monochromatic scheme is to have at least two key pieces that encompass a hefty part of your limited range. Here, that would be the capiz-inspired canvas from Ballard Designs, and the Patch Cowhide rug from DWR (or a simple hide, which, on its own, has a beautiful range of ivories, creams and tans… but again, only if your own personal sensibilities support a hide or leather item).

"Patch" Cowhide Rug from DWR

The biggest change I’d make would be to switch out those drapes (and the dark hardware). Their contrast to the walls is just putting the brakes on that wall when your eye wants to wander. In most of my bedrooms, I love to match the color of the drapes to the headboard (or the bedskirt, if you don’t have an upholstered headboard.) It gives the room a strong color base, and that’s what I’d do here. And I know you need light control, but window treatments don’t have to be dark to block light. They just need to be heavy weight, or have blackout lining. And change the hardware to brushed nickel, to repeat the metals on your lamps and dresser (and even the TV!).

I generally don’t love a mirror the end of a bed, and some feng shui practitioners advise against it (the potential to be startled by your image upon waking is behind the principle.) so I’d place the mirror between the windows, if it works, size-wise.

Mosaic Abstract by Mona E. for Ballard Designs

It looks like you have room for something at the end of the bed, or on that wall… but if not, use the wall at the end of the bed for something you want to look at from bed… a large piece of calm but interesting art, like the piece from Ballard Designs, which also mimics your grid-tufting on the headboard.
Finally, when you do away with the over-dresser shelving, consider taking your TV off the wall, and having it stand on its own on the dresser. You’re giving a LOT of presence to the TV where it is, and it’s keeping you from using that wall for far prettier pursuits!
Okay... your turn! How would you take Agnes' starting points, and finish this room up without picking up a paintbrush, or changing out her main pieces?

1 comment:

  1. I was always of the "beige is bland" mindset until I saw this blog. Now I'm considering decorating my bedroom in beige tones! I live in my bedroom and it's a small space... the light color will give it a spacious feel and the textures will give it interest. Thanks Patrick!