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This Victorian house has great bones, including spacious rooms with high ceilings, and big windows that let in lots of light. The decorating, however, was not so good. The master bedroom was a design lesson gone very wrong -- out of date and unattractive, and the adjoining bath was just as ugly. The nursery also was a bit of a jumble and lacked any character.
Helen is a brilliant woman whose days are filled to overflowing with a busy medical practice and her husband and young family. Decorating was not on the agenda, but she really did bemoan the sorry state of her home. Having Debbie Travis as a next door neighbour was a stroke of luck. Debbie had a very good idea of what Helen's home needed to turn it into a welcoming, nurturing space.
The master bedroom and adjoining bath were completely gutted and we used a neutral palette of whites and stone colours, plus reflective surfaces to heighten the serene mood. The rich mahogany four poster bed is a magnificent focal piece that our carpenters built from scratch. A fabric canopy is always romantic and softens the wood. The pale hues and textures of the grass cloth wallpaper, silk canopy and bed linens are light and airy.
In the bathroom Debbie wanted to experiment with a new look that is reminiscent of summers at the shore. The river stone tiles are expensive and tricky to install, but they make a profound statement, both tactile and soothing. The darkly stained butcher block counter and stainless sinks are beautiful accents, basic materials that add their own detail and contrast to the room.
Nurseries are always fun to decorate as our imaginations can tap into childhood fantasies and storybook creations. For Helen's baby girl, we went traditional pink, and used an ingenious paint finish to produce the soft, pretty appearance of linen panels on the walls. Self-adhesive appliques painted bright yellow were stuck to the painted panels to form large daisies. The furniture for a nursery is so important and it's not easy to find designs that last for more than a few years of your child's growing time. Both the crib and changing table from Stokke are amazing. Visit their website to read about these practical and charming furniture designs.
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A 4-poster bed makes a glorious and romantic addition to any bedroom. The four posts were cut from select poplar and tapered top and bottom. A frame was built to hold the box spring and the posts clicked into place using sliding keys (bed brackets). Top rails were cut from 2-inch pine, and we used Velcro strips to attach the silk canopy. All the wood was stained a dark rich mahogany with a gloss sheen before the bed was assembled.
Mirrored Bedside Tables
Inexpensive tables were transformed into stylish pieces with mirror and silver leaf. Take the table to the glass cutters so that they can do their own measurements for top, sides and drawer fronts. Also have them drill a hole for the knob in the mirrored pieces that face the drawer fronts. To apply the silver leaf around the edges (anywhere there is no mirror), apply size and let dry till tacky -- this special glue turns clear when dry. Gently place silver leaf down and smooth with a soft brush. Let dry and then brush away the excess.
These new carpet tiles from Interface Flor (see resources) have self adhesive patches on the back so you can put down the tiles in your own design and replace them easily without damaging the existing floor. We used pale blue and cream tiles to make a wide striped carpet.
Mirrored surfaces so popular in the 1930s are in again. They not only add dimension and light, but also a bit of glamour. The new cupboard doors have mirrored panels built in, and rather than continuing the wallpaper over and old duct that protruded from the wall, we refaced it with mirrored glass.
A calm mood is set up with neutral colours and soft, pleasing textures. We did not remove the old wallpaper, and to ensure that its dark colour and pattern didn't shine through we applied a good quality, oil-based primer first, and then hung the grass cloth using extra-strong wallpaper adhesive.
The accent on reflective surfaces that we started in the bedroom continues here with a large mirror and matching stainless steel sinks.
Tiles & Counter
Ocean Stone's deluxe river stone tiles from Kuda Imports (see resources) make the ultimate serene spa bath setting. The butcher block counter was stained a dark mahogany (the same as the bed) to contrast the creamy stone whites.
Once the faux linen panels were painted, we arranged the crib and other furniture in the room so that we could see where best to put the applique daisy designs. These self-adhesive appliques are easily installed; they come primed and ready for paint.
Make your own whimsical shelves from MDF or wood planks. Two identical bunny shapes were cut from 1-inch pine using a scroll saw. The edges were sanded round. The top shelf measures 42" x 7", the bottom shelf 42" x 5". Screw the bunny shapes 3 inches away from the edges of the top and bottom shelves with 1 1/4" screws. Cut a support strip 34" x 2 1/2" and screw underneath top shelf between the bunnies. Prime and paint the unit. Mount by screwing the support into studs in the wall with 2 1/2" screws.
Babies grow quickly, and this versatile crib is designed by Stokke (see resources) to keep the pace; it converts to a tot's cot and then separates into two chairs.
Faux Linen Panels
There are a few steps to this finish but the results are well worth the effort. First, base coat and let dry overnight. Next tape off 4-inch bands at the corners of the wall, and tape off the panels. The pink coloured glaze is one part paint, two parts glazing liquid. To make the lines in the glaze you need a tool that you can make by cutting teeth about 1/8 inch apart along the rubber edge of a squeegee. Roll a wide band of pink glaze onto the wall and pull the toothed squeegee through the wet glaze in a horizontal direction. Keep a steady hand -- it helps to hold a level against the wall and use this as your guide. Go over the section until it looks right and then add more glaze and continue. Once all the horizontal lines are drawn, let dry overnight. Repeat the glazing process, but this time pull the squeegee down vertically, creating the look of weave. As an added touch of authenticity, Jim drew some stitches on a sheet of Mylar, cut out the pattern and then stenciled on stitching lines around the panels.