A few weeks ago, I executed a major refresh in our master bedroom. This project was painfully overdue, and I could not be more pleased with the results. The dramatic transformation proved to be more than a visual improvement. The end result provided a mental and emotional boost for me, and today I want to share four major steps of the process with you.
Our master bedroom is spacious, with high ceilings and wood floors. This room receives a lot of natural light, thanks to windows on three of the four walls, but because of the deep green wall color and the dark wood floors, most of that light was absorbed giving the space a dark and heavy feel. Personally, green is not my color, and this hue in particular seemed to cast a queezy glow that I never loved.
Here are a few before shots:
You can see that how the bed is light and airy, but everything else gets lost in a sea of dark, shadowy gloom (a bit of a dramatic overstatement perhaps, but you get the idea). My goal with the refresh was to create a visually cohesive space that would feel calming and comfortable while reflecting my personal sense of style.
Below is a very satisfying side-by-side before and after. I still cannot get over the difference!
I have been preparing for this project for almost a year, collecting items as I saw them, stashing them away until the timing made sense to execute everything. As a result, when the painting was done, I was ready to swoop in and pull all of the elements together.
There were four basic decisions I made that provided a helpful framework for this refresh project. Let’s walk through them together.
NEUTRALIZE THE WALLS.
My first decision was easy. I wanted to quiet the space by painting the walls White Dove by Benjamin Moore. The walls at Hurley House are painted White Dove, and I know by experience the magical properties this particular shade of white paint can bring to a space.
White Dove manages to be clean, but not stark. It can look candlelit and dreamy in lamp light and beautifully awake and alive in natural light. I wanted a peaceful color palette that would usher in calm while also allowing other elements in the space to shine, and White Dove delivered.
Once the walls were painted, the space immediately felt better to me. The light streaming in from the windows was reflected in our space instead of being absorbed by it, and at night, in the wash of lamp light, the walls seem to glow from within. I cannot recommend this paint color highly enough. It creates a beautiful backdrop.
IMPROVE THE WINDOW SITUATION.
The second decision I made was to drastically alter the visual aesthetic of our window dressings. First, I removed the existing white wood blinds and replaced them with faux wood pull-down shades. I like the texture of these shades and the way they filter the sunlight when closed and allow natural light to stream in when raised a bit. They also provide a contrast to all of the white elements and coordinate nicely with our floors.
Next, we removed the bulky, dark curtain hardware and replaced it with slimmer, streamlined brushed gold rods. Replacing the hardware was a step in the right direction, but the real MVP of the window transformation is a trick I learned from The Nester. Hang your curtains high and wide. Don’t use the frame of your window as a guide for where to hang your curtains. Use the scale of your room as a guide, and go as high and wide as possible to get the most visually appealing result. Just look at the difference!
Once the hardware was installed (high and wide!) I added an off-white linen-style curtain panel paired with Pottery Barn’s universal blackout liners. The universal blackout liners are amazing and versatile because they allow you to transform any curtain panel into a blackout shade. They are designed to work with any style of drape, and since we need all the light-blocking help we can get from the morning sun, this was an easy sell for me. With the shades installed, the hardware installed, and the drapes hung (high and wide!), the room was beginning to look fantastic.
PAY ATTENTION TO PROPORTION.
Our master bedroom has high ceilings, which are beautiful, but in order to make the room look proportional, it requires larger scale objects. Before the refresh, our lamps were too small for the space, and everything felt very low when compared to the height of the ceilings. My solution was to create visual symmetry by flanking the bed with two identical larger-scaled lamps on top of matching bedside tables.
I also added three framed pieces of artwork above our bed, continuing to lift the visual line to match the ceiling height. The result was an arrangement that felt in line with the height of the ceilings and the space our room provides. When proportions are right, you can just feel it.
MAKE THE SPACE YOUR OWN.
With the walls painted, the windows transformed, the lighting and art more in line with the scale of the room, the only thing left was to add personal touches to the space. Since we kept most of our existing furniture, there was already a layer of familiarity to the space. But we did bring in two new slipper chairs for my side of the room and a new larger arm chair and side table for Timm’s side.
I think it is important to infuse a space with objects of personal delight. Perhaps it is art or books or handbags. Whatever it is that makes you smile, create a place for you to see the items you enjoy every day.
I incorporated some sentimental items on Timm’s dresser and table. I included books, his favorite hat, a photo of his grandparents, our wedding vows, and a bear made from scraps of his grandparents’ clothing.
On my side, I found places for my acrylic jewelry organizers, a vase of faux peonies, and my favorite gold frame. This little corner has quickly become my favorite place, and I spend a lot of time in my pink chair.
My antique vanity table houses my makeup, a favorite watercolor by Elizabeth, a lamp, and a candle which I light most evenings. This is where I sit and get dressed every day, and it is full of sentimental items.
Above my vanity I created a place to display several pieces of clothing on the wall. I love having some of my clothing on display in my room, but there was not enough space for a wardrobe rack. Seeing my clothes makes me smile, and while I know this option isn’t for everyone, it really personalizes the space for me. When you stand in the door of the room, most of our my personal items are not in the line of sight. But when I am in my room, they are in my line of sight, and it makes me smile.
It took ten years for me to finally make changes in our master bedroom, and after living in the new space for a few weeks, I can tell you I am ready to begin taking more action in other place inside our home. The result is so life-giving, and the process is worth every bit of effort and time.
When I walk into my room, I now feel a sense of calm and gratitude. Every corner is full of delight, and my room welcomes me and reflects my taste and style. It feels like home, and there is not a better feeling in the world.