Saturday, February 19, 2011

Guestroom: A Three Year Epoch

One of the things I unexpectedly love about decorating is that it is a long process. I say “unexpectedly” because typically I am an impatient results seeker, who wants to get the show on the road.... Part of the delay is that I’m sooooo picky...and the other part is that we’re soooo cheap. So by the time we find something we like, and can afford...some time has gone by. And don’t get me wrong, I have my moments where I wish the house was just done already, but it’s actually been fun to take our time collecting pieces, and tackling projects. But as much as I enjoy the journey....I’m also a big fan of the destination. And today’s destination is our guest bedroom! (and in keeping with the “looooong” theme- this post is a doozy. Grab a coffee and settle in....)

When we first bought the house, we referred to this room as the “triplet’s bedroom”. It has yellow and white striped wallpaper, and just seemed like a big nursery to me. You can see our tour of the room in one of our old posts (feel free to skip ahead to the second floor)...

The first step was removing the baby stripes, which thankfully turned out to be much simpler than we thought. (even if we did make a big mess).

Then it was time to paint. After living in apartments, being able to paint walls was a huge point of freedom (our previous landlord was fond of saying we could paint the place any color we wanted as long as it was antique white.) So we went bold. Like Valspar "Poetic Purple" bold.

Fortunately at this point it was not my first rich paint color rodeo, so I had learned from some mistakes we made in our dining room. That was the first room where we did a dramatic color change, and back then I was scared of committing to a deep color. The color-picking paralysis was so bad that after what felt like days in the paint aisle of Home Depot my mom finally picked a color, put it in the cart and promised to pay for a replacement if I hated it. And guess what- I hated it. I was going for a deep navy blue, and somehow ended up with a colonial color that made me feel like I should be saluting something every time I walked in the room.

No one else thought it was bad...but for me it just wasn’t right. And that’s when I learned the secret paint ingredient that makes my heart happy- Black. Yep- I took back the remaining gallon of blue paint and asked what we could do to fix it. The paint tech suggested adding black pigment to darken it. Genius! So we added a few drops, and then a few more, finally taking it to the saturation point (apparently paint can only hold a certain amount of color). And it ended up perfect. (unfortunately...I don't have any good you'll just have to trust me...)

But back to the matter at hand. This time, when purchasing the purple paint, I felt a similar panic feeling, worrying that my Deep Rich Plum would turn out like Big Purple Dinosaur. So I asked the paint guy to add some black to the swatch I picked. Black? He questioned? Yep. Trust me sir. I know my paint, and I know myself. It’s the secret ingredient, and I have to have it. So he did. And I looooooove it.

In photos it looks really dark...which I guess it is, but in person it somehow manages to look lively and fun, and deep and cozy all at the same time. Plus it makes the white trim, and the yellow-toned wood floor look a-maze-ing. (and yes, I know that some of you have seen all this before, but you didn’t get to hear about the crazy that got us here....and that’s what it’s all about, right?)So now that the triplet vibe was no longer in effect, the next step was adding some furniture, and some bed linins, (which turned out to be quite the process). But we eventually (seven months later) made progress, and ended up with a semi-functional room.

And that’s how it sat for at least another year. Sure, I had thoughts and plans about what I wanted to do...but it came together slowly...

A few craigslist purchases here....

A painting project there...

And slowly but surely the room started to take shape. I’ve been hesitant to share photos, or say “finished” because there are still (always) things I want to do and add. But I’m thrilled with where we’ve landed for now, and want to show off the results- even if they were three years in the making.

You can see Dustin's guitar and banjo finaly found a permanent home...And we filled up some of the sad empty spaces with some furniture. We stole the chair from “my room” (the bedroom that serves as my dressing room), and while it’s a teeny bit big for the space, it gets the job done. That corner gets a little dark and really needed the white to liven it up. The suitcases are a fun version of a side table, and again, though they might not be the perfect scale (or that chair is really just too big!) I love how they add a bit of vintage-ness (totally a word) to a pretty modern room.

The thing I’m most excited about though, was finally dressing up the wall with the console table. The best part by far is the horse lamp. We found that in an antique store in our old neighborhood. And while I don’t remember how much it cost, I would pay double that just based on how happy it makes me.

As for the wall...We have about a million and one frames laying around the basement, so it wasn’t a lack of materials that slowed the process. I just had a tough time landing on a collection and layout that I liked. I cut out paper to stick on the wall...I layed all the elements on the floor....I arranged, and rearranged....and finally we landed. Then it sat empty for another month or so while I chose art. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% satisfied with it, but it’s getting there, and the best part of it is every bit of that art was free! (Or at least stuff we already owned- Left over postcards, a map given to me by a friend, old art projects of mine from college, a garage sale plate from our Cincinnati days....)

From the opposite angle you can see that we added a clock about the bed- this was from my grandpa’s house, where it used to hang above their couch. I love imagining the size pocket it would go in! (oh- and we removed the plastic from the lampshade. Because after two years, we’re pretty sure we’re keeping it). And we added a little vintage stool to serve as a bedside table. I’m currently looking for a vintage alarm clock (with the bells) to go on top....

So there you have it.... Sure, it’s been a three year project, but after all this time and effort, it’s one of my favorite rooms in the house. And you’re all welcome to come and visit.


  1. Courtney- that is a labor of love and I absolutely LOVE it! I'm definitely filing the "add black" to my brain files.
    That is one of the coolest "oversized pocket watches I've ever seen.
    And I know exactly what you mean when you said you'd pay double the amt of that horse lamp b/c it makes you happy. been there, done that, but it wasn't a horse lamp, of course.

  2. GORGEOUS room, courtney! i love everything you guys did to it. i have vintage suitcases sitting around and i want to do the same side table thing once we have a house with an extra 6 sq. ft! your art wall is great and that horse lamp - genius. i don't think i should or could ever be a guest in your house though because i would TOTALLY steal that over-sized pocket watch clock. thanks for sharing :)

  3. Court, the room is amazing! Probably my favorite in your house... not only because it's so well designed, but also because of all the great talks we've had in there. I have a picture of Catherine and Julianne sitting inside the side table before there were any other decorations over there. Thanks for sharing your design wisdom as well as your life wisdom. Don't know where I'd be without you.

  4. Fun! I love that dark purple color! I wish I had the balls to do darker colors in my house - I'm just too scared. Picking between colors of beige was too stressful for me (I'm not kidding... I was in turmoil between "cream in my coffee" and "toasted almond"). And way to be patient too! I tend to buy stuff that'll work okay even if it's not exactly what I was looking for just to be DONE. Your patience paid off! :)

  5. So, what time is your show on HGTV? Cause I'll be sure to tune in for some decorating tips!

    I will say I loved the "before" picture a lot but the "after" is definetely filled with personality and flair and a sense of style where the before was just cute and cozy.

    We're are currently renters of a townhouse and there are days I feel I cannot take looking at another white wall. But for now, I'd almost be happy if the white walls were clean white walls...ahem.

    Your guest room looks fabulous, Courtney! It's a testament to hard work and creativity and of course, patience in seeing it all through!

  6. just saw this and thought of you... it's not vintage, but you can pretend :) plus it's cheap!

  7. I'm so glad you ladies like it!

    Em- I saw that clock and almost got's a perfect backup if I can't find a "real" one....

    KO- Thankfully, there is still room to sit under the table...we just also have a chair now! (and that tube that you guys thought had secret baby clothes in it- actually held the map poster!)

    Hannah- don't feel bad. We haven't painted the foyer yet b/c I can't find a taupe I like. We've looked at 100 options, and painted 3 swatches on the wall and still no luck Nuetrals are harder!