A couple of weeks ago we shared the first part of the Guest Room Renovation, in that post we covered the nuts and bolts of the room – the paint, the new floors and the details. In that post talked about all of the basics that need to be done in order to get to the really fun part...the decorating!
Our idea for the guest room design was to keep it simple, relaxing, and comfortable.
Paul and I love color, but we kept the walls neutral because we plan to sell this house at some point in the no too distant future. So, the color would need to come from the things we put in the room.
We also wanted to incorporate a concept which we call Responsible Decorating. Repurposing and re-using things we already own as well as incorporating used and vintage items rather than buying a lot of new things.
There were a few things we wanted in this room and a few we didn’t.
Although we wanted to incorporate color, we didn’t want it to be crazy, jarring, over-the-top color (remember – simple, relaxing, and comfortable?).
It’s also a small room and we didn’t want it to feel overstuffed, and the room has big windows and we wanted it to feel light and airy. In addition to color, we wanted to incorporate plants, and soft surfaces. We also wanted to re-use as much as possible instead of buying new things.
We refer to our design aesthetic is ‘collected’ – a mix of styles and time periods all working together because they have one simple thing in common – we love them.
Finds from the Nest
Our house is in Pennsylvania but since the store is close to an hour away in New Jersey we’ve always kept an apartment in Bordentown, NJ. It was convenient to have someplace to stay that was close to the store.
I fondly referred to the apartment as The Nest. It was on the second floor of a pre-Revolutionary War era home that was turned into 4 apartments in the 1930’s. It has tons of character…and not one straight wall. It was not only our a residence in NJ but also our office, and I loved working there during the day and watching the sunlight coming through the leaves of the big oak tree outside in the late afternoon.
But this year we decided to streamline our personal and business lives and that included paring down to only one residence, so in January we moved out of The Nest.
During the move we sold a few things but there were quite a few pieces of furniture that we wanted to incorporate into the house in PA.
The bed was a given, it’s kind of necessity in a guest room, after all. We also had a vintage console table in the foyer of The Nest and Paul and I both knew that it would be perfect in the guest room. It’s a fantastic color, one of Paul’s absolute favorites – Florence Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan.
In the apartment we had a large mirror leaning on a bedroom wall that we thought would be perfect for the guest room…practical when guests were getting dressed but also to make the room feel a little bigger.
The last transplant from The Nest was an upholstered bench. This was something that we purchased new several years ago and since we couldn’t really fit a chair into the guest room, this bench would be perfect at the foot of the bed.
Finds from Around the House
With the big furniture pieces in place, the room began to take shape! We looked around the house to see what else we could re-purpose. Paul and I have a huge collection of houseplants and we have a stockpile of plant stands and pedestals so we grabbed one of our favorite plaster pedestals.
Next it was on to the lighting. We’ve had a pair of clear glass lamps in the dining room that we only recently replaced with a smaller pair so we transplanted the glass lamps from the dining room to the guest room. These lamps are perfect, they're the right size and since they’re clear, they don't add any visual clutter to the room.
The shades weren’t quite right, though. They were OK, but they were a tan and gray floral which wasn’t exactly the look we were going for. I remembered that we had a pair of brand new turquoise shades in the basement. We had purchased them from a thrift store simply because they were still wrapped in the original packaging and they were only a couple of dollars. Over the years we’ve tried them out on other lamps and they were never quite right, but in the guest room, they were perfect.
We also included a contemporary metal and stone side table. This is a piece we recently picked up secondhand at a consignment shop thinking that we’d either sell it in the store or use it in the guestroom. It was the right size and we liked that it was round and wouldn’t add any harsh angles to the room.
The walls needed some art and we wanted more color. We have no shortage of art in our house and only needed to look at our bedroom walls two find two pieces that would be just right. One was a print that we picked up on a visit to MoMA a few years ago.
The other is a vintage print that was practically hidden behind the armoire in our bedroom. It’s a Paris Street scene with subtle color. I don’t know anything about the artist but I have a weakness for the work of Paris street artists so I imagine that’s what this is.
This piece of art is a colorful original block print from the 1970’s that we picked up unframed for $10 a few years ago. The colors are fantastic and it's titled There’s an Owl in My Bed, which I thought was perfect for a bedroom. We had it framed in a wood tone similar to the top of the console table as a nice foil for all the color in the piece.
The last piece of art may be recognizable to a lot of IKEA shoppers. This is a large canvas print of Gustav Klimt’s Water Serpents. Paul and his daughter Georgia are fans of Klimt, we purchased this because we liked it although we no specific place to hang it. It’s been moved all around the house and it's hung in just about every room but since we didn’t have a headboard for the bed and it has such great colors, that we decided to try it over the bed.
We're designing a low upholstered headboard which will be covered using Annie Sloan's fabric, but for now, this canvas print is just right.
Bedding, Textiles, and Accessories
The bed skirt is from The Nest, although I think I might want to eventually change it out for something more colorful – maybe a blue or green. The white matelassé is one that we purchased for the master bedroom but was a little too short for that deeper mattress, but it works here.
The turquoise throw is from a line of textiles we sold a few years ago in our shop. It’s made by a local family-owned company called Family Heirloom Weavers who create new designs and authentic reproduction textiles on vintage weaving looms.
The purple pillow was made by a friend and moved with us from The Nest. The throw pillows on the bed are the only items that were purchased new specifically for this room. We selected them for obvious reasons – they’re colorful, they have texture, and they're interesting to look at!
So far, we’ve kept the accessories at a minimum. A collection of colorful vintage (from different eras) vases and vessels, a soft magazine basket from our local consignment shop, a pair of Orange Ceramic vases by Global Views which was purchased from a model home buyout, and some of my favorite art books on the table.
Our favorite pedestal is now home to a philodendron in a handmade pottery vessel in a rich cobalt blue.
In our house, nothing is ever completely finished. Everything evolves and we’re always swapping out accessories, art, and plants. As of this writing we’re looking for another small table for the other side of the bed and a few more accessories. We'll be adding more plants and more art and we’ll share updates but for now...this is our guest room.
I wonder who our first guest will be?
Thanks for reading!
We're Paul and Johanna and we write about our life in the furniture business. The things we love, the places we go, and the treasures we find along the way.