Carolyn’s Bedroom Makeover: The Plan

published May 12, 2015
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(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

Now that you’ve seen the peachy-beige before photos, it’s time to talk about the design direction that our makeover was taking. I’m an image hoarder, so I pulled open all the files that I had saved from the last few years and obsessed over them, looking for ideas. Join me on my journey.

First, I thought a lot about what I wanted out of our bedroom. I recently wrote a post on things to consider before you design, so I sat down and thought about our needs and the type of emotional connection I wanted to have with the room. I wanted an energizing, fresh, bright, and simple room. I wanted a mixture of peaceful and effervescent, with some key visual moments but plenty of open space. (As a note, I’m talking about designing this room alone, even though I share it with my partner. I run everything by him, but suffice it to say that he would be happy to just leave all things decor up to me. Occasionally he’ll really like something or really dislike something, but mostly it gets a reaction of, “It’s fine. Go for it.”)

With those intentions in mind, I went to my image hoard. I keep all my images in Evernote, so I can’t share any Pinterest boards with you, but over the course of two evenings, I went through and made a Photoshop collage of all the spaces that had a vibe, color palette, or design elements that I wanted in our bedroom. Just to give you an idea of how many examples that yielded (three boards like the one below), here you go:

(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

I can’t credit every single one of these rooms in the space of a single blog post, but here are several key rooms to highlight themes that kept emerging.

(Image credit: West Elm)

1. White walls. This one shocked me. It truly did. I am one of the most chromophilic people that you will ever meet. I dress in bright colors, opt for loud patterns, and tend to think of white as an accent color. The most I’ve ever played it safe with paint was in our choice of gray for the living room (which features a teal rug and all kinds of colored art and accents). In truth, the idea of painting walls white scared me (almost the opposite of the type of “normal” Western reaction that I’ve written about here). I know that white isn’t exactly going out on a limb for most people. In fact, my friends teased me when I expressed such hesitation about painting the room white. But there it was. Consistently, I kept being drawn to interiors with white walls.

I did notice, though, that I was really drawn to rooms that were white. I mean, the kind of white that is so white that it’s almost a color in it’s own right. I didn’t want renters’ white, that average color that we’re so accustomed to that we don’t even notice it anymore. I wanted fresh, vivid, and crisp. I wanted contrast. The room above, designed by Emily Henderson, made me feel much more confident in my choice of white. The structure of the room, with the wall bump-out, the window, and the placement of the bed so closely resembled our bedroom, that it showed me that it’s possible to have a white room that’s not boring or cold.

(Image credit: Domaine)

2. Bright accent colors, mostly in red, yellow, and blue. Jenny Komenda has remarked that every room needs some red, and I tend to agree with her. Most of the rooms in our house are in a color palette that would go with the sea—softer greens, blues, and grays—but I always spice them up with more vibrant accents. Red is a common theme for me, as are brighter blues. Yellow is a color that I have long loved (My first apartment was decorated almost entirely in yellow.), but it hasn’t appeared much in our current home. Largely that’s because I’ve been afraid of going too “primary color” with our decor, which is a look that gets associated with a lack of refinement. I’m also wary of the “ketchup and mustard” combination. But there were several interiors out there that reminded me that all color combinations are possible. The above interior from Domaine devastates any claims about red and yellow not working together, and Gabriela Perezutti Hearst’s living room (below) shows that primary colors can still be sophisticated.

(Image credit: The NeoTraditionalist)

3. Lavender. I was also continually smitten by soft purples as I looked through my inspiration images, and I was often surprised at how well it worked with my beloved red. Ultimately, the lavender love got dropped by the wayside as I started shopping and planning (wait for my next post!), but it’s still a trend that I picked up on as I scoured my hoard.

(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

4. Patterned textiles. Laura & Ray’s Art-Filled Austin Home is one of my favorite house tours ever. I go back to it time and again, and as you can see from this image, it perfectly embodies so much of the vibe that I wanted for our bedroom. Foremost among these, I kept noticing patterned textiles popping up. Suzanis, ikat, mudcloth, florals—every kind of pattern appeared in my inspiration images, and while that doesn’t narrow it down very much in terms of shopping, I knew that whatever direction I went with the design, it had to incorporate some patterned textiles.

So with all that in mind, I went to Photoshop with images of pieces that we already had and played around with arrangements, colors, and pieces that I found online while shopping. I had plenty of versions of this, but overall I didn’t go too crazy since I knew we were on a tight budget. I used images of many items we already owned, but if you go this route, it can be fun to make a pie-in-the-sky mockup as well. Here’s what the final version looked like:

(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

As you’ll see, not everything stayed the same after the shopping process, but it gave me a good template for moving ahead.