Since moving in July, the kitchen and living room have seen complete makeovers, and now it’s time to turn our attention to the master bedroom. During the building works for downstairs, when walls were knocked down, chimney breasts removed and the kitchen replaced, this was our sanctuary away from all the dust and destruction in many ways. I don’t know if sanctuary is really the right word, because at times it felt far from peace and quiet… but for some weeks, without a working kitchen and heating, it was the only liveable room in the house.
We had everything in that room – two beds, the sofa, three chest of drawers, boxes and boxes, and all our worldly goods. Barely an inch of the floor could be seen and you had to climb over a sea of stuff to get to the bed. We tacked curtains to the window with nails and cooked meals from a small microwave in a strew of clutter for six weeks. It was horrible, but sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.
Fast forward to now and we have our bedroom back as a bedroom. Shortly after we had finished the kitchen and living room and could move everything out of the bedroom, we carpeted the floors upstairs in a lovely, deep, dark grey. We had a little breather while we re-gathered our energy from the renovations and for a time didn’t do any DIY. A few months later and the curtains were still tacked up with nails and that bright blue ‘feature wall’ in the bedroom (see below) was still staring me in the face. There were boxes still to be unpacked and the lack of any wardrobe in the house meant there was constantly clothes everywhere. Refreshed with creativity, and keen to crack on and get back to it, I let my mind turn to wall colours, room layouts and decoration.
The bedroom before was uninspiring and lacking in any personality (except perhaps that wall…). It was a really bad lesson in the ‘feature wall’ – never pair a bold, bright colour with an expanse of white, it can just make a room look cold and chilly. The bold colour only used on the chimney breast also gave the illusion of it pushing even more into the space and making the room look smaller than it actually was.
The house had been used as a rental for years so needed a bit of TLC. We replaced the old, draughty windows with noise reduction ones from Hugo Carter, a big but essential purchase for us as the sound from the adjacent road was unbearable. The difference is incredible and the more traditional sash style suits the property much better. They feel more solid and contemporary silver hardware give a smart look.
I probably sound like a I’m a grumpy old woman, complaining about everything in this room, but there are lots of positives too! It’s a south-facing room so really lovely and bright. The two, big windows flood the space with light and it has relatively tall ceilings. It’s also a really decent size and a bit of a blank canvas (now I sound like an estate agent!).
The design process
I spent hours scouring Pinterest in search of inspiration and honed in on a light grey and pink colour scheme – a combination that is having a bit of a moment right now, especially when you add plants into the mix. I had used so much grey downstairs in the kitchen and living room, and was looking for a slightly fresher take on neutrals. I’m used to sticking to my comfort zone of white walls and pale grey, but decided to try something a little different and dabble in a bit of colour. I’m really not one for colour at all so this is about as far as I can go… I picked out Farrow & Ball’s Peignoir – a lovely, soft, grey-pink that isn’t too girly but still feminine. It’s one of their new colours from last year and is inspired by delicate chiffon gowns.
The next port of call was West Elm – you can book an appointment at their store and get a free design consultation with one of their home stylists. They’ll bounce off ideas, create room layouts, suggest products and generally leave you coming away a bit more inspired!
I met with Kinga at the Tottenham Court Road store. It was really helpful to walk through some of the products with her and see what could work together. A few days after our appointment she came back with a floor plan and two possible schemes with collages and moodboards, far quicker than I ever could. It was great to get a fresh perspective on the room and get some ideas that hadn’t even crossed my mind. West Elm are really good at curating vignettes in a room – a cosy corner with an armchair and plant stand, a console table to display art and objects – as well as creating coherent schemes as a whole with mix-and-match items. I was drawn to them because I thought their take on Scandinavian modernism and mid-century inspired furniture would suit this calm, relaxed, grown-up retreat of a bedroom I wished to create.
I thought I’d show you a few ‘during’ shots. I painted three coats of Peignoir on the walls and freshened up the ceiling with white. I’m painting the woodwork in Farrow & Ball’s Ammonite, a very subtle light grey.
I always like using Farrow & Ball paint, ever since using Blackened downstairs. I love the dense, matt, chalky look and feel of the paint. I’m so happy with the colour, I was worried it would be a little mauve but it isn’t at all. It changes in different lights, when it’s bright and sunny, the walls are a light pink, then when it gets darker, they take on a greyer tone.
I think the light pink and dark grey of the flooring really complement each other. Dark stained wood furniture for the bed and dressing table will pop out and give a bit of warmth and texture. I’ll be keeping it all light and contemporary with minimal, white bedside tables and light grey pendant lights either side of the bed. I’ll add some softness with a speckled rug with fringed edges and hand dyed Ikat cushions to match the pale greys in the room. I want it to be a really calm, relaxed room to escape to.
So this is where we are now, what a difference a lick of paint makes! I would love to get rid of that ugly air vent but for now we’ll keep it. Just getting rid of that bright blue makes all the difference, the space already feels lighter and more welcoming. When Olivier walked in and saw it, he said ‘wow, it looks like a proper room!’. And it is evolving into a proper room step by step, one that we can soon really enjoy spending time in – I’ll be back in a few weeks when all the furniture is in place and the finishing touches made, to show you the finished result!
Until then, if these soft, feminine hues appeal to you, why not check out my ‘Blush Pink Bedroom’ Pinterest board for more inspiration, below:
Thank you to my collaborators West Elm and Farrow & Ball for supporting this project and making it possible