Before and After: “A Mundane Gray Box” Bedroom Becomes a Blue Beauty for $950

published Sep 6, 2023
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Wallpaper can certainly liven up a room, and in fact, it can do so without going on the walls at all. Try it on a dresser, a headboard, or the ceiling if you’re already content with the color on your walls. 

Interior Designer Tristan Gary’s (@tristangarydesigns) bold, blue, beautiful bedroom redo employs the latter technique, but it wasn’t always such a beautiful space. It used to be “adorned in uninspiring builder gray,” she says. The carpeting was gray, the walls were gray, and her bedding was gray, and it all began to feel a little “monotonously gray” she says — like “a mundane gray box.” (Are you sensing a theme here?)

Wood floors add warmth.

In order to un-gray the space, Tristan and her husband, Seth, first ripped up the old carpeting, which also meant removing the carpet pad, tack strips, and “stubborn staples,” Tristan recalls. They removed the existing baseboards but held onto them to reinstall after laying down their new oak plank flooring. 

“Although we had observed our skilled crews do it countless times, we took on the task ourselves, following their example,” Tristan says. “We rented a pneumatic flooring nailer to ensure it was done right.” She adds that the floors add a richness and warmth to the space, “infusing the space with a comforting earthiness.”

Two DIY wall treatments — plus one on the ceiling — bring a bespoke feel.

After the floors, Tristan and Seth worked on the walls. They added wainscoting to the lower half of the walls (painted a deep navy, Sherwin-Williams’ Sea Mariner and grasscloth wallpaper from Thibaut to the upper half. Tristan and Seth’s advice when it comes to installing wallpaper is that sometimes, you just have to dive in and try it. “While we had experimented with smaller wallpaper projects before, this was significantly more intricate and demanding,” Tristan says. “We spent so much time worrying about the process — how to hang it, where to start, making the right cuts, and more. But eventually, we reached a point where we simply decided, ‘let’s just do this!’”

The navy wallpaper is moody and textural, but the true showstopper in the space is the wallpaper on the ceiling, also a Thibaut selection. “To accentuate the ceiling and frame our grasscloth paper, we introduced millwork details,” Tristan says. (It’s painted the same color as the wainscoting.) She says she likes that the ceiling molding creates a frame around the artsy squiggly wallpaper.

Playful fabrics add even more pattern.

To make this space a true “embodiment of maximalist design,” as Tristan puts it, she also opted for lots of pattern when it came to the other textiles in the room. “The abundant layers of textiles scared me at first, but oh my goodness, they bring me sheer joy!” she says. 

She chose Thibaut’s Mendoza Suzani fabric in white for the curtains, and the same pattern in blue for the large pillows (sewed by a seamstress) and bench (the same one from before, enhanced with fresh foam and fabric). Tristan’s takeaway when it comes to pattern play?

“Patterns, particularly pattern repeats, hold significant importance,” she says. “With our drapes, we faced an issue due to how we divided the fabric between the four panels without considering the pattern repeat. Consequently, we lost a fourth panel and had to adjust to using three panels.”

One other tiny curtain setback was that they originally chose not to line the curtains with blackout fabric, which they soon learned was a must for their bedroom.

A DIY bed (and other finishing touches)

Even though there were setbacks, there were also big wins in the space, and the handmade bed is one of them. “Despite searching extensively for a suitable bed, we couldn’t find one that met our aesthetic needs, so we made the bold decision to create it ourselves, which turned out to be an incredibly fulfilling experience,” Tristan says. It’s made “from a pile of scrap wood … some foam and batting from the local fabric store, and the most luxurious navy blue mohair fabric from Thibaut you’ll ever see,” Tristan writes on Instagram

Other luxe details in the space include the new lighting by Alora and the sleek black metal armchair. 

“The “after” transformation is absolutely exhilarating!” Tristan says. ”The rich colors and textures cocoon you in a grounding embrace.” 

Inspired? Submit your own project here.