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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Advice Column ~ Tranquil, Modern Bedroom

Many of you know that I do an interior design column. Since I have limited room in the column, I write an abbreviated version there and expand here. The sky is the limit here! Here's the picture the writer sent....

Here is her email....

Dear Paula Grace,

I enjoy your column and wonder if you can give me a tip on how to jump start my stalled master bedroom makeover. I want a peaceful, tranquil, more modern room that is bathed in light during the day and cozy at night.

Unlike the client you mentioned that wanted to get away from white, I am drawn to it. But now I have a lot of white and ivory including a beautiful new bed and new silk curtains. All three large windows have ivory solar panels which satisfied my desire for a clean and contemporary look (and lots of light) but the shades do not provide privacy at night or insulation when it is cold outside. Hence, the silk curtains. But I only have silk curtains on one large window leaving the two neighboring windows looking exceptionally bare.

How would you suggest I even out the look of the windows and maybe begin to introduce color? I am attaching a photo so you can have a better idea of what the room looks like today.

Any advice you can give is much appreciated!


Vikki P.

My response.....

Dear Vikki,

Thank you for writing in. First of all, your bedroom is lovely. Stylish furniture; plenty of natural light and sumptuous silk drapes. You have the foundation of a magnificent room. I’m glad we had a chance to email regarding colors as it is important to add a color(s) that you enjoy. Green and brown are excellent choices ~ natures hues are always soothing. Since you would like peaceful, tranquil and more modern, I would add a soft green and a chocolate brown. The dark hue is neutral thus has staying power and will ground the design nicely ~ and a direct connection with the earth; the soft green is for the tranquility. I would not add any more color than that. Mix textures and use a combination of pattern. Use motifs you would see in nature plus a subtle plaid and stripe to compliment the curves. Here are some examples from Robert Allen / Beacon Hill.

RA: Statosky-Java, BH: Blanket Stitch-Citrine, BH: Fossil Dig-Citrine, BH: Wikipedia-Canary Green, BH: Summer Sonata-Peridot, BH: Woods Creek-Peridot, RA:Velvet Pipes-Terrain

For the specific window issue, I would suggest roman shades to be used in conjunction with your solar panels for the windows flanking your bed. Hang them at the same height as your drapes for a uniform line. The Beacon Hill: Woods Creek – Peridot would be an excellent choice. It is a soft pattern and incorporates the ivory hue connecting them with your ivory silk drapes. The shades may be lined and interlined for the privacy and coziness you seek. An important fact about fabric roman shades ~ they must be well-made or you may run into functional problems. They are notorious for being difficult to pull up straight and it sounds like you’ll be doing that to let in the natural light and have them down at night. If they are well made, you won’t have issues, if not ~ well….. Try The Shade Store. Robert Allen has a partnership with them so you may be able to use a fabric such as the Beacon Hill: Woods Creek – Peridot. If not, use the Robert Allen linen on The Shade Store site and add a band of the same fabric to the bottom of your silk drapes. You may use all of the other fabrics for throw pillows and upholstery noted as they relate nicely to the linen hue.

An alternative to the fabric roman shades is a roman woven shade. I have never run into problems with well-made wovens and since they have developed into sophisticated patterns, they could be easily used with the lush drapes. Select one that matches your ivory drapes and that has a close and consistent weave. An example from Horizons is below. This alone will not bring in color but it will bring in texture. If you would like color on the woven, simply have them banded in the green. If you decide to band them, add a band of the same fabric to the bottom of your existing drapes to further connect the window treatments.

Horizons: Holland Mesh-Timid White

Caveat ~ if you use Beacon Hill: Woods Creek – Peridot for roman shades, do not place a band of it on the drapes. There is a relationship with the drape’s ivory hue and the motif on the shade fabric. Adding a band on the drapes may be too much of a good thing.

On your bed, start with a clean lined ivory duvet. The Diva (love the name) from Wildcat Territory is a nice choice. Since you have a fabric headboard, the shams are optional. Place an assortment of throw pillows on your bed. Use the shade fabric as one pillow and then mix the patterns, textures, and pillow style. I like to ground the pillows with dark in the back row, then lighter in the front. I suggest one large bolster in the Robert Allen: Velvet Pipes - Terrain above as the back row. This will pop off your ivory bedding or headboard. Three 18” self-welt pillows (middle one being the window fabric) in front of the large bolster. One or two 16” self- welt pillow and two small bolsters in front of that. This may sound like a lot of pillows but here is where we have an opportunity to add lush fabrics, beautiful pattern, texture and color not mention an air of femininity given the master bedroom is for a lovely lady. Since the pillows are clean lined (no ornate trims), they will be contemporary yet lush. Add a faux fur throw to the mix and hello luxurious!

A bench at the end of the bed with in Robert Allen: Statosky – Java would be wonderful. This would connect the pillows at the head of the bed with the end of the bed. Nothing over powering ~ just a simple bench such as this one from Hickory Chair.
Hickory Chair: Farra Cocktail Ottoman

Ground the entire bed / bench area ~ the focal point of the room ~ with an area rug. The area rug that is shown in your picture is too small in scale ~ it is disproportionate to the bed. A 6’ x 9’ or 9’ round rug such as this one would be better. The rug should be placed such that it is underneath the end of your bed and the bench (see illustrations). I would recommend a chocolate rug with a tone on tone motif inspired by nature or a plain, soft, luscious rug as exampled below from Surya.


Surya: Natura NAT-7041 or Manhattan MAN-6663

Add some sparkle to the room by replacing your night stands lamps with something like these from Arteriors Home ~ clean and elegant.

Arterior Home:Clear Silveria Bottle NeckGlass Lamp 44471-371

Arteriors Home: Zola Melon Lamp, Hotel Silver 44438-146

If you have a seating area in your master, as many do, I suggest a chaise or chair with an ottoman to lounge in. The fabric ~ Beacon Hill: Fossil Dig – Citrine. It is soft with subtle color and wonderful pattern and texture. Since I don’t see this area, I cannot recommend a specific one ~ but you get the idea.

Note~ The specific furnishings named can be implemented literally or can be used as a catalyst to fill the room with similar choices.

I hope this helps!

Paula Grace ~

Wow, that was fun!


  1. Fascinating! Two tips that struck me as very important ... the illustrations for best area rug size and rug placement ... and the instruction to hang the Roman shades on the small windows at the same height as the drapes on the large window.
    Balance and integrity.

  2. Thank you very much. An aside ~ the rug placement is my preference. Since there is carpet in the bedroom, she already has something warm under foot when she gets out of bed so the rug placement in this post is for anchoring the focal point. Should she have had hard woods, the rug would be larger and able to flank the bed such that she puts her feet down on the rug when getting out of bed. No cold feet here :)

  3. Wow. I can't thank you enough -- I can truly visualize this room. You are like my own personal Candice Olson. I kept thinking your post could not get better -- seriously, faux fur throw -- and then I saw the lamps, too. I definitely like the linen roman shades and appreciate the tip on how high to hang them. The green and chocolate are just right for me. My favorite surprise is the bench and fabric suggestion for that as well. Stay tuned for the "after" photo (which may take a while, of course).

  4. I'm so glad you like it :) The 'after' photos are welcomed any time! Rome wasn't built in a day ~

  5. Gorgeous ideas! I love those fabrics and the rugs. The lamps are beautiful too!

  6. i am so glad upon you that you started to write the methods of interior design from abbriviated from to vast form,i like the topic that you have posted about the Interlined Curtains very much....


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