Sunday, January 31, 2010

The New Blue Room: In Progress (Help Wanted!)

I thought it was high time for me to reveal my new blue guest bedroom!

Earlier this month, David and I painted this once-green room a very pretty shade of Farrow & Ball-inspired blue.
I originally chose F&B's "Skylight" for the room, but wanted a lighter shade of that colour. Knowing that F&B doesn't do custom blends (and not trusting my paint mixing skills), I got Benjamin Moore to make me up a custom batch of "light" Skylight.  It is a truly gorgeous porcelain blue with a hint of grey.  The photos don't do justice to this graceful blue: 
As you can imagine, painting this built-in bookcase was an almighty nightmare.  First, we painted the entire frame with two coats of Benjamin Moore's "Cloud White".  Then I taped around all 26 back rectangles (groan) and we painted the blue rectangles (two coats!).  In all, painting the bookcase and the rest of the room took us three weekends, with prep and taping and moving things.  I have a terrible back and was laid up for two weeks afterwards, I swear! 

Here's the bookcase pre-painting (filled with cookbooks and clutter!).  The room was a pretty but dated green:  
I think the blue and white is a vast improvement:
Here's a closeup of a quickly-styled shelf (Suzanne Kasler would be proud - she loves a soft blue room):  
I have not filled the shelves yet as we still intend to sand and paint all the ugly brown trimwork in the room.  I'm also planning to move the utilitarian books and clutter and make this a more beautiful display area.

David and I sleep in this room all summer, as it is partly sub-terranean and delightfully cool!  So I want it to be lovely for us as well as guests.

This room still needs a lot of work. I have big plans but a small budget.

Besides painting the brown mouldings, I intend to buy:
1. a beautiful antique night table (this could take a while!)
2. an inexpensive window treatment
3.  new closet door hardware
4.  a new light fixture and table lamp
5.  all new bedding!
6.  a headboard, maybe home made

Here's where I need you.  I am totally helpless when it comes to this window:
As you can see, I left the existing valance structure in place (previous owner), thinking that I might replace the valance with a simple white linen one (the previous one was Velcro'd on, for easy switching), and just leave the blinds.  We like having blinds as they block the light well and David opens the left window sometimes at night, so having separate blinds can be helpful, especially for opening and closing in the middle of the night!  

I would love a single white linen Roman blind.  But the double blind setup is practical and these old ivory metal Hunter Douglas blinds work like a charm.  New blinds never have mechanisms as good as the old ones!  Economically, it doesn't make sense to replace them, although white would be nicer if I wanted to simply replace in-kind. 

I would actually love some softness here but how do you arrange curtains at a window like this?  The ledge is quite deep (6") so curtains will not hang to the floor. I've been thinking of draping muslin neatly across the valance and then down the sides, but don't want a Shabby Chic hippie look!

Any suggestions for this crazy window?

In the lighting department, I think something simple and classic would be best, like this affordable fixture from Hudson Valley:
Oddly, the light fixture in this room is in the corner, to the left of the window, so a slightly narrow tall fixture would fill the space nicely.

I also love this French-inspired chandelier from online retailer Goldenage Chandeliers.  It would lend a welcome French feel to the room, but I think it's a little too glamourous with my humble "oatmeal" berber carpet (that isn't being replaced!).   
Something simpler might be better-suited.

P.S.  And yes, the bed is snug against the wall on one side.  The room is tiny and this works best...I find it very cozy.  If the bed is moved out, there is almost nowhere to walk and it makes the room really cramped.

I'd love your suggestions, especially on my window (light blocking is a must!).  

I can't wait for your comments!


  1. First of all, you two did an amazing job on the bookcase. I can't believe all that you suffered to accomplish it. You know me, I would've slapped the blue on the whole thing and called it good, but your going the extra mile has made a delightful difference. Isn't it crazy how rooms can have such odd features? I've got them all over the place and I'm always at a loss. Here's hoping that someone will have just the perfect solution...I'll be checking back to see what it is!

  2. love the new color!!

    ok a couple of thoughts for the window:

    1) you could totally fake it. put a roman shade -mounted almost to the ceiling- and then have it hung over the existing blinds to hide them. You can still use the 2 separate blinds for function at night but then pull them up behind the shade during the day.

    You could also add curtains that would of course stop at the ledge but I think it would just make it feel more unbalanced.

    And maye you could even consider 2 inside mounted roman shades...

    can't wait to see what you do in here!! those shelves will be so much fun!!
    cousin L

  3. The soft blue looks terrific! I am certainly not an expert but I think I agree with Lauren, mount a roman shade (or whatever treatment you decide on) as far up as possible. Ima go out on a limb here and say bamboo blinds would also look good for a dose of texture and fun.

    Can't wait to see the finals!

  4. Love the new paint color! :)

  5. Hi Terri,

    Yep, I'm with Lauren. Do a beautiful roman shade and mount it at the ceiling and have it come down far enough to cover the ivory metal blinds. Option 2 would be to ditch the blinds and do a lined (blackout if needed) fully functional roman shade. Also, consider spraying the blinds white to freshen them up it they must stay.

    Love the new color and shelves!!! Don't be in a super hurry to fill them up...paint really needs a good month to fully cure, especially if books or anything paper will touch them!

  6. love the new color.
    for the window- you didn't show the entire wall - hard to see where the bed ends - what the wall looks like.
    i would remove the valance and do a large roman blind that goes from one side of the window to the other side and balance the bed underneath it - but would need to see the entire wall to see wahta is going on there. be sure the blind goes really high - you need to faux the window to make it larger and act as a frame to the bed.

  7. I'm with Joni here, but I'll take it one step further and recommend an Austrian shade (lined for room darkening) to add the soft look you want. After working in acustom shop I found that the cotton sateen lining fabric was not only super cheap but crisp looking and beatiful. I'd say make the whole thing out of it.

  8. Thanks for the suggestions so far.

    The room is very small, so the bed sits AGAINST the wall on one side. I did not center it on the window as it leaves so little space on either side of the bed, and no room for a bedside table on one side (near the closet door). I could rotate the bed 90deg. but again, the room is so small.

    The room looks so much larger with the bed against the wall - it is old-fashioned that way, like they did in the old days, and not very elegant but gives some floor space in the room!

  9. Hi Terri, LOVE the new color, it's so beautiful! And I totally feel your pain...I've had three painting projects in the last several months (living room, stairs and kitchen), and I'm always so sore! And cutting in is such a dreaded chore - so great job! As far as the window goes, I have yet to buy any curtains or shades for our house so I'm completely useless in that department. BUT I love both of your fixture choices...I think either would compliment the feel of the room beautifully. xoTrina

  10. Love the paint job on the bookcase- lots of work I know!!

    I'm no help with the window, I fear. The shades sound great- can you do an opaque valance of sorts?

  11. Hi Terri,

    I just love the paint color. It is gorgeous. To me it looks like a really pretty white cotton or linen drape would look best. I know you say the ledge is 6" deep but don't they make brackets that deep or close to it? I agree with you that it needs softening. If that wouldn't work then I would use a roman shade. I'm sure whatever you do will look beautiful. I hope all is well with you, sore muscles and all. Painting, especially small spaces is the worst!


  12. Terri,
    Hi saw your note on my blog...sorry for the omission of details. You could have the cords replaced for white, but hardly worth the expense. I was orignally thinking to tie them up with a cord cleat when not in use and hide them under a roman shade. I really like Joni's thoughts too...

  13. I love the blue! I just painted my spare room in blue as well :)! The bookcase looks gorgeous - I love the whole blue & white combination - so crisp and clean. I'm going for the same look.

    I am a blind person myself - all my windows have blinds - I love the flexibility of light control and the clean look. I like Lauren's idea - and use a nice soft fabric with a whimsical pattern. Good luck!

  14. Hi Terri - The blue paint is beautiful! What a transformation! I read all the comments and like Joni's idea, but read your subsequent comment about the position of the bed. But, what if you did center the bed below the window as Joni suggested and then installed two swing arm lamps on the half wall on either side of the bed for lighting. Then, instead of night tables maybe you could find sort of nice half round shelves with brackets that could also attach to the wall on either side of the bed. They could be just large enough for a clock, phone, etc. but wouldn't take up floor space. I will try to email you a picture of a small bedroom that has these features.

  15. Notice: Do not do drapery from the ceiling to the top of the bump out...that is called a babies room from the 60's, I have a client that did not listen to me about this and it cost her another 2000.00 or so to fix the dining room drapes...for real.
    I would love to see ceiling to floor, wall to wall in front of the bump out, 2 or 3 shades darker than the walls in a faux silk. I know what your that is going to be a budget buster...and it will be later...
    But for now I would do the blinds (from the ceiling to the top of the bump out) that Lauren is talking, split in the middle so your hubby can get to the window in the middle of the night and then work out the cost of full drapery and budget a bit of $ each month until it can be done... now you know you have a blogger friend in the city that has contacts hehe, so let me know if you want any help working out what this would cost and how much discount I could get you... you see friends do not charge friends for design help... (our teachers gave us that rule years ago!) Kept in touch, Carol Ann

  16. I think that Lauren's idea is great! I was thinking two roman shades with black out lining would be good. Then you could open and close as needed. One would be my first choice because it would unify the windows as one piece.

  17. Oh, Terri! What a gorgeous colour! The room looks lovely - When can I move in? :)
    You have achieved a wonderful summer feeling in that room.
    I like the Hudson Valley lamp. It would be perfect for that room.
    xo Poppins

  18. Fabric is what most everyone has to use to compliment a room. Because of the short horizontal space, I would have a barn type sliding apparatus installed and have artwork created. You should have clearance to move it when light is needed and either way - you have beautiful art. Best of luck - love the cubicle display.

  19. Hi Terri!

    Wow!! I love the blueish color that you have used and I love the white as a contrast! I think I would have gone with white as a contrast but hey, I'm a little conservative perhaps...

    I think two blinds is good since you guys sometimes like to have one window a little bit open.

    Beautiful shelves! What a job! And the blue color is amazing :)

    Have a great weekend and a big hug to you!


  20. Firt of all, the paint colour is gorgeous. Very classy.

    I bought that exact Hudson Valley fixture last year from Robinson's (here in Calgary) in an antique bronze finish. I have it hanging in my front hall and I couldn't be happier. It casts a beautiful reflective diamond-like light on the walls because the glass is textured/ribbed. I think you'd be very happy with it.

  21. Looks fantastic! Love all your ideas and the color of the room is wonderful! Can't wait to see more!

  22. The color is absolutely perfect...and I love your choices of light fixtures...the window...holy cow, what can I say...everyone seems to have good suggestions so far...smiles.

  23. I know you said that you couldn't center the bed under the window, but how about put the bed so that the left edge lines up with the left of the window? This may or may not work with the dimensions of your room, it's hard to tell by the pictures. You could then conceal the off center window by hanging floor to ceiling curtains around the bed like a four poster or canopy bed. (I would suggest either beige linen or burlap to keep the costs down). This can be achieved with simple curtain rods on the ceiling (or even plumbing supplies!). You would then partway draw the curtains at the head of the bed to make the bed appear to be centered under the window. For the window, I would suggest a simple wicker or stick blind with a blackout fabric, hung high. Good luck and love the bookcase, very elegant.

  24. Terri!

    Oh my goodness, I was just going through my spam emails and saw your last note to me in there!?? I have no idea why it would have fallen into my spam. I just wanted to stop by and tell you that I love you. Your email touched me deeply and it was so nice to hear your stories. I will write back soon. I just didn't want you to think I never replied. I have to start looking in there I guess.. there were many that weren't spams.
    I hope your week is off to a great srart.

    Your shelf project looks like fun :-) I know you will fill it with beauty. I love the new color of paint.

    Much love & friendship,

  25. I like the idea of some type of canopy on the bed that hides the side of the window so you can't really see where it starts. However, canopies are hard to do without looking stuffy or a little weird, particularly when they are just over the head of the bed.

    There needs to be a focal point that will draw the eye away from the window. How about something simple like the long drapes on either side of the head of the bed with a picture in the middle? You would need to fold the drapery panel in half it has the print on both sides and so it is not so full. You would need somethings to hang it from like decorative hardware, but the most normal looking would be a thin canopy bed with the drapes at the head.

    The cheapest thing you can do is get about 10 yards of netting (about $10) or long white sheers and some white thumbtacks and try different arrangements over the bed until you find something that works. Then replace the thumbtacks with something more permanent. If you like the general shape, then replace the netting with fabric when you get the bedding.

    I would skip buying the nice chest (get an inexpensive closet organizer if you need drawers) and headboard and spend the money on the bedding and pictures. You probably have a blank wall opposite the bed that needs pictures.

    On the bookcase, can you move the bottom shelves down and put baseboard molding at the bottom? Or use a higher baseboard if the shelves won't move? The bookcase is really beautiful the way you did it with the blue.

  26. Wow, you got some fabulous advice here!

    I have a 'faux' roman shade in my bedroom, with both wood blinds and a black out shade underneath - because it just simply wasn't dark enough - and I really like it - the shade softens the look of the room, but did not cost a fortune because it wasn't much fabric. If this room is partially subterranean, you probably don't need the light protection.

    I actually rather like the ledge in the room!


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