Wednesday, October 20, 2010

about a work in progress.

Randi writes: “We made a mistake and put in a blue carpet. I should just replace it. Just too hard to find blues in a comforter and drapes to match it. Our bedroom is very visible ... anyone who is in our home can see it. We do a lot of fund raisers and parties ... would love to have a bedroom that is fun for people to see.”

“We have the tan walls we had when we had the cream carpet. What made me think about you was the room you just did on your blog entry, "About a Beige Bedroom." Made me want to go back to the creams and tan we had when we first moved in. I just haven't done anything since we put in that carpet. My husband hates it and I am so frustrated trying to match the blue. I want a soft, pretty and romantic bedroom and just can't find anything here that really captures me."

One of the reasons I am a big fan of the all-at-once "Installation Day" mentality of redoing a room is because, at major steps in the process, homeowners like Randi often have the dreaded combination of cold feet and buyer’s remorse. It’s especially hard in a space where you’ve been for a while. One big piece changes, and suddenly, you can’t see the picture of the finished puzzle.

Fear not. The carpet can stay. I love porcelain blue (and other hard-to-describe blue-hued) bedrooms. Soooo soothing. But two things are working against you right now: the carpet is the only blue you’ve invited to the party, and it seems the odd color out. And secondly, you’ve got a LOT of warm wood (and wood-adjacent) tones in that room that are fighting the new cool color, not mixing with it.

While some people think you can’t mix warm and cool colors to a harmonious end, I don’t automatically agree. There are degrees of warms and cools, and if you turn down the color temperature on your warm tones (like pouring Cream in your Coffee) you’ll get a step closer to color harmony. But how do you get to the finish line?

Clockwise, from Upper Left: Pottery Barn Velvet Window Panel, "Glacier Blue;"
Tufenkian "Chimbay Lac D'Or Kotana" Rug;
"Tempo" Pillow in Sea Blue, Crate & Barrel;
Crystal Sphere, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams; "
Blue Green Trees" by Libby Smart, Z Gallerie; Quails on Branch Needlepoint Pillow, Pierre Deux; Right- and Left-facing "Quail" Table Lamps, Pierre Deux; Silk Drum Lamp Shade; European Trumeau Mirror, Wisteria; Waterford "Mullingford" Bedding, Macy's; "Frise" Table Lamp, Pierre Deux; Pauline Chaise in Queen Pool, Z Gallerie; Orchid in Glass Vase, Z Gallerie; Painted Wood Spindle Lamp, Pierre Deux; Barbara Barry, "Starry Night" in Vapor, Macy's; Pair of 1960's Venetian Glass Tiffany Blue Lamps, Todd Hase; "Eddie" Accent Chair, Peacock, Z Gallerie; Stag Garden Ornament, Wisteria (discontinued)

Fabrics, carpets, and bedding are your big allies here: Find the ones that mix your blues with creams, ivories (that run the range to golds) and even ruddy and chestnut browns. I love doing it with a wool and silk rug (layered right over that wall-to-wall) and patterned bedding and accent textiles.

I also love finding art that mixes bits from your entire color story. I know, for some, that comes dangerously close to “sofa-matching art,” but I prefer to think of it as finding art you like that celebrates your color palette. Here, a freshened landscape in a slightly more contemporary style gives a bit of kick to the room’s style and marries all the colors of the room. And, like the rest of Randi’s home, is inspired by the nature just outside. If too modern, a more traditional landscape can still do the trick.

Layer on the Blues
Don’t try to get a dead-on match to the carpet with your other textiles (you’ve discovered just how frustrating that can be!). The key to making a hard-to-match color work is to hit all the notes around it… a little deeper here, a little lighter there, a little greener here, a little bluer there, some brighter, some grayer. This collected family of blues will end up looking layered, sophisticated and intentional. It may seem counter-intuitive to add to a color scheme you’re not really loving, but trust me, you can make it an intentional choice when you explore its adjoining range.

Speaking of range, mix your bedding with a range of brands and tones for a very personal look. You’re always on the right track with Barbara Barry bedding (Randi currently has her bedding in a warm ivory “Champagne”), but look at her bluer “Vapor” color. Layer it with Waterford’s “Mullinger” bedding collection.

The only place you need a very close match to the carpet is with wall color… get as close as you can to the carpet color, then head a few clicks up the paint swatch to a slightly lighter version. There’s your wall color.

The runner-up for color matching goes to the drapes… they should bear a close family resemblance to the carpeting and wall color. Here. Pottery Barn’s velvet panels in “Glacier Blue.”

Randi's Armoire
Get Out of the Woods
With your large armoire, wood bed and wood nightstands, plus wood trim and wood blinds… that’s a lot of wood.

Now, if it were me, I’d paint out your baseboards and wood-toned window trim. Some find that sacrilegious, but I think painting the wood trim out in a room like this creates a calmer, more neutral envelope. Here, I’d go with either a barely-there even lighter version of the wall color or an almost-white ivory (satin finish for either choice).

The lines of your furniture have a bit of a French feel, so look to the French Country-side of things for inspiration. A painted wood trumeau-style mirror, a Bergere-style ottoman and perhaps even toiles will counter all that medium brown with a slightly French accent. And what’s more romantic than a little French accent?

Left: Ballard Designs "Camille" Toile Bedding; Right: Ballard Designs "Louisa" Bergere Ottoman

And bring in painted finishes to counter the wood while keeping your traditional starting point… and painted wood is a nice bridge between all the stained finishes, and the non-wood rest of the room. Those mid-steps are what knit a room together.

Get Gender Equality
In a Master Bedroom shared by a man and a woman, I like to make sure both parties feel welcome. Here, that means some floral references that steer clear of frilly, and some architectural references that have softer, curving forms.

Finishing Touches
A room is made of details, and nowhere are details more noticed than a room where you begin and end each day. A challenge with a headboard like yours, and with a ceiling height you are blessed with, is what to hang over the bed. I like this architectural fragment from Restoration Hardware. Its grayed-out wood finish will sink dreamily back into the gray-blue wall color, while referencing both the headboard and the ceiling's pitch.

Top: Randi's current wall covering, Master Bathroom
Bottom: "Coral on Blue 1" and "Coral on Blue 3," Z Gallerie

Bounce the Blues
I’m a huge fan of bouncing one room’s colors into an adjoining space for continuity, and there’s no better place to do it here than the adjoining Master Bath. The floral wallcovering in the cafĂ© au-lait color will work a bit better with the Master Bedroom by introducing just a bit of the blues. I’d do it with these blue coral prints from Z Gallerie, whose forms speak to the wallcovering's pattern, and whose color sends a subtle shout-out to the blues next door. I also love the white frames.

A Bird Note:
Sometimes you find out a homeowner’s preference mid-way through a project… I collected some images then heard from Randi, “Please, no birds in the fabrics!” Sorry Randi! I left those Quail Lamps and the needlepoint pillow in to round out the nature story, but also offered you some non-bird choices you might prefer a bit better.

Okay, your turn... while keeping all the major furnishings, how would you take on Randi's mid-point project blues?


  1. Wow!, This is terrific. I feel like just attended a design seminar. Some really good advice here. I find it very hard to fix a bedroom for both sexes. It's a challenge to cater to both sensibilities I think. You addressed it here with color and some good alternatives.
    Great post. Thanks.

  2. What a great blog! I got a lot of inspiring ideas from this and can't wait to get going on my own new house. I consider myself a color aficionado yet still learned something new. Love the mood board, alternative ideas and great writing and will definitely be checking back here for new ideas. Love it.

  3. Thanks so much Amy! Happy to give some tips on that new space if you find yourself stumped!