At Long Last: The Front Bedroom

It’s finished, and I’m in love. It’s never taken us this long to finish a room before. 16 months! It’s not like it took us 16 straight months (though it sort of feels like it did). We had life and a flood and a whole host of other things working against us in there. We added to the project (the wardrobe), and ran into problems (the curved turret woodwork). But I’m writing this post sitting on the chaise in the room, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out.

We used to call this room the “Green Bedroom,” because when we bought the house, it looked like this, complete with blue strawberry wallpaper on the walls:


I love that it wasn’t square. I loved the turret. We had no idea why this one section of baseboard was painted white. (Of course, we found out later!) It’s a cool room.


The carpet came out first (during a whole-house carpet removal party with a dozen amazing friends!)!


The original, HILARIOUSLY optimistic plan was to take the wallpaper down, paint the walls, add some curtains, and have a non-ugly (but nothing special yet) bedroom on the second floor for the summer (instead of the oven of a bedroom on the third floor).


Clearly, that should have taken a month or so. But renovations never go to plan (this is the room that inspired this manifesto). I’ll link back to all the fun, exciting, terrifying, and horrific things that happened along the way, in case you missed them the first go around. Long term (and this is still the plan), this will be our “temporary” Master Bedroom for the next 5-6 (20?) years, until the real Master Bedroom and Bath are done. After that, this will be the loveliest guest room EVER. Come and visit.

Are you ready? Because I am ALL CAPS EXCITED to show you!



You know how when you watch shows on HGTV, and you KNOW exactly what some people are always going to do in their rooms because they are super predictable and everything looks the same? I was talking with my friend Stephen, and discussing what that predictability is for me. What do we call that? “Design trademark?” “Crutch?” “Predictability?” Not that I’m comparing myself to people on TV, but some people always use subway tile, some always use only shades of white or beige…..and I don’t want to think that I am predictable, but I kind of am. Stephen and I decided that I always use pattern-on-pattern-on-pattern. And chandeliers. There are some crazy patterns in here – and I realize that some people will HATE this, since it’s not super zen-calm. But I love it SO MUCH. It follows pretty much my only design rule: If it makes you smile, it’s what you should do.



The bed? My mom (who is always on the lookout for things for me), called and said, “There’s a big four-poster bed at a garage sale down the street (from my parents house in Ohio). Do you want it? They’re getting ready to close up so I need to know now.” I told her, “I have no idea. I don’t know what it looks like, and that’s an awfully big thing to purchase sight unseen.” She told me it was $50, and in great shape. So we told her to pick it up – even if we didn’t like it, we could probably sell it and get the money back. Honestly, if I was picking out a dream bed – this isn’t what I would pick. But the price was perfect, and it’s such a great scale for the room. It’s pretty great.  We bought the mattress at the local high school’s band program mattress fundraiser (did you know that was a thing? Because it totally is.). The bedside tables were a local Craigslist find – the marble on top is in perfect shape. I think this is the first pair of matching bedside tables I’ve ever had. I feel almost like a grown-up.



I originally mapped out about 12 things to hang on this wall. Because sometimes, I think about doing awful things and making poor decisions. Thankfully, I held back.


The room doesn’t feel “beachy,” but the artwork totally is. My family has a small place in Ocean City, Maryland, and it’s really like my second home, and is also one of Doug’s favorite places since he’s been going there for 15+ years with me! It’s funny, I didn’t mean to “theme” the artwork – I just pulled things I loved, and realized they were all from Ocean City. The center is a photograph I took (put on canvas) of the Ferris Wheel and Merry Go Round on the pier. Upper right is a photograph – printed on wood planks by Ocean City Company Plak That – of a Victorian-era Couple on the Ocean City Boardwalk. I LOVE THIS. I love thinking about what my vacation spot looked like at the same time that my house was being built. It’s one of my favorite things I own. The upper left is a sunset view of the Ocean City Pier (also from Plak That) that I got from our favorite surf shop, Malibus. Both of these pieces have a flea-market frame that I gilded around it – to take the modern just a touch on the Victorian side. Bottom left, is a canvas of a picture that I took of an old sign, warning “No Velocipedes on the Boardwalk.” Totally not a rule today – at least before 10 a.m.

(What’s a Velocipede? Find out here. Vocabulary building is fun!)


Here’s a fun tip – if you don’t want to pay a fortune for a giant, chunky frame, you can buy 3″ wall moulding online and build a lightweight frame that fits snugly around the canvas. And we used the hanging hardware on the canvas to hold the whole thing on the wall!


On of the things that slowed us down on this room was finding the AMAZING notes left behind under the wallpaper from the Beidlers. This is why we decided to re-wallpaper with paintable wallpaper, so all of this could be preserved. I photographed a small section and had it put on canvas, and hung it fairly close to where it is on the wall. This is the writing that told us that there was an archway here when the house was apartments, leading onto a room over the stairwell. I love that it’s out in the open now.


The turret looks pretty good, considering the hellacious awfulness that it took to get there!


The little red chair was an auction find, and the marble table an antique store pick (painted red), and the pillow I made. The ottoman we’ve had for ages, and I just recovered it. There is literally ONE piece of newly-bought furniture in this room. Everything else is something we owned, or something we scored second-hand.


Here’s what’s not done: the floors. When the house had water coming into it for so long, a lot of damage happened. This section of floors is THE WORST, and really needs to have some boards replaced – there are rotted holes near the baseboard. This is not feasible right now – and will involve a massive shake-up with the entire second floor. That will come later. The floors did look pretty gross initially, but I worked on them some with some polishes, and with the rug, it actually turned out okay! You can still see the water line pretty easily in the next picture.


See that center board? That’s what I was able to do with some oils and polishes. SO much better.



The desk-vanity was so fun to build, and it looks so great.



Kudos to blog reader Beth, who smartly suggested I use a bench for the vanity rather than a chair, to be able to see the sewing machine drawers. It was a brilliant suggestion, which led to the only newly-purchased piece of furniture in this joint!


The Art Deco wallpaper samples look great! Thanks again to my friend Betty for the lovely gift that inspired this! And isn’t the lamp fun? We initially restored it as a piece to sell, but I fell in love with it and couldn’t part with it.


I SWEAR I wasn’t trying for a nautical theme when I stumbled on this guy. But he’s ADORABLE. Doug said, “You’re putting a squid on the desk?” And I said, “Um, he’s filled with ink. WHERE ON EARTH ELSE WOULD HE GO besides a desk?” Doug named him Vernon.


The curtains, I made. I was trying to go for a classic Victorian styling, while using modern fabrics. Once I had them up, I was worried that they felt a bit stuffy. But I still love them. And OH MY WORD did this room take a lot of yardage for fabric. Seriously. 10′ ceilings and windows that aren’t much lower. SIX windows that aren’t much lower! But the light is fantastic.


Curtain tie-backs. I also made these from ribbon and a beaded fringe.



The stained glass is a piece my mom bought for me several Christmases ago. It used to hang in the window of my office in our old house. The colors were insanely perfect for this room.


Let’s have a moment for all of the people who thought I was a certifiable crazy person for thinking about painting bedroom walls black. I hope your fears have been firmly placed to rest! I was scared, too, but I knew it was going to end up okay. And it’s absolutely in the top 5 things I love about this space.


I bought a large rug for this room last year, large primarily because I wanted to cover up most of the awful floor (that now doesn’t look so awful). The colors are so vibrant, and I love them. I pulled the blue out of this rug for the interior of the wardrobe.



She loves it so much. Seriously – there is a rug and windows that pour sunshine in. She absolutely loves this room.



The wardrobe looks better than I ever dreamed it could. It was worth the extra months to build this, and to get such a perfect piece in the room!


The dresser that we found at Madison Street Salvage looks so nice here. The mirror and the center light fixture also came from Madison Street Salvage here in town.


Obligatory “Amy in the Mirror” shot.


A few Victorian Vanity odds and ends. And let’s not discuss how excited I was to find Kleenex boxes that matched the room so well. Or, let’s discuss it. I’M NOT EVEN A LITTLE ASHAMED. And check out that cigarette burn. This dresser has some stories.


I’m really proud of how we built the wardrobe in with new baseboards, but still saved the original – intact – behind this whole unit. The new blends in pretty well with the original.


Handles! I wasn’t sure if I wanted them vertical or horizontal, but I love how they play off the pendant light, being horizontal.


Antique picture frames as doors…



The lighting is my favorite.



Never fear – there are still some crystals in here, despite having none hanging from the ceiling! My mom found the bedside lamps at an antique store for $8 each, and we restored them, complete with matching crystals and new glass shades.

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Farmer’s Market flowers make everything prettier.


The chaise! When we lived at Jackson Street, the dining room was Burgundy, with Black and White curtains. And I loved it. And this chaise showed up from the gods on a Facebook Ad. And I bought it for the window nook in the dining room. Things that terrify your spouse: hearing, “Hey, I just bought a couch off a Facebook ad.” I didn’t know where it would go in this house, until the walls told me they wanted to be black. And then, I knew. I have already been living in this spot since the room has been together. It’s actually very period appropriate to have a chaise (or “fainting couch”) in a bedroom. You all can rest easier, knowing that I now have a designated place to swoon.

“Swooning was simply one method of a woman showing her delicate nature in the form of an extreme emotional reaction to a particular event.” 

Oh, the Victorian era. You are such a delight.



Here’s how I feel about pillows: they are so fantastic when I’m reading in bed, but other than that, they’re pretty much useless. But I always have way too many – not because I think they look overly stylish, but because I can’t ever figure out which fabric to sew, and I want all of the fabrics, so I choose them all. And then, there are too many pillows. The long skinny gray and white ones have the same fabric as the curtain valances on the backside. Pattern on Pattern on Pattern….. (Also I’m way too excited about the polka-dot sheet set.)


One thing you can’t see easily, that I’m so happy we decided to do, was put hardware back on the windows. There are a few windows in the house that have hardware, but most of the windows have evidence of hardware, but they’ve been stripped or lost or stolen along the way. It was nice to put something back on.


This was not the easiest room to finish. Maybe that’s why we’re so proud of it. It makes us both smile, and we love it. I could seriously hang out in here forever. And I probably will.



What’s next? Well, marching band season, the Franklin Heritage Home Tour, and planning the downstairs bathroom. We’re going to focus the next couple of months on getting the basement workshop set up (post flood), and hopefully start on the bathroom soon after that! I’m really excited about the bathroom, but we have to get the basement in order, first.


  1. Wow! What a great looking room! I have been following this room’s saga and you guys need to take a bow ! You did a great job and kept your positive can-do attitude throughout all the glitches! It is LOVELY!!

  2. Amy, this room is wonderful. I don’t think I would ever leave it. And I got a kudos. How exciting!! I’m glad I could help you out a little bit, since this blog has been such an inspiration to me since I found it. Old houses are so much work and money, but they are so worth it!

  3. It’s always exciting to see your post come through on the computer. The room is so lovely! You two did a terrific job.

  4. Looks awesome! I know how satisfying it is to finally finish a room, and you will enjoy every hour and detail now as you use it. Great job on the millwork, and the wardrobe. I appreciate your effort at making it both fit the room and look like a built-in, yet leave the original millwork in case someone wants to open it up again. I only wish more homeowners would be so considerate of future owners.

    I will admit I thought the black was going to be a bit much at first, but it came out great. You have so much light wall coverings in the large frieze and ceiling, and once you have furniture and window treatments up, there’s more non-wall area visible than plain wall anyway. Not to mention so many tall windows; one of my favorite features of pre-reliable electric lighting era homes.

    Keep up the good work! I can’t wait to see the next project. It keeps me entertained when I’m too busy to make much progress on our own house.

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