Guest Room Redo
Mary Ankar knew it was time for a makeover when she realized that her two most cherished furniture pieces, her great-grandmother’s four-poster bed and her grandfather’s writing desk, were merely occupying space in the guest room. Mary and her husband, Tony, also knew that refining what they had, instead of ditching it all, would be far more rewarding―and less expensive.
Assisted by Associate Decorating Editor Anne Turner Carroll, the Ankars beautifully transformed both the room and its contents through a soothing color palette, well-chosen fabrics, tailored fabrications, and imaginative artwork.
Going on Mary’s wish to give the bedroom an “antique-y feel with a modern twist,” Anne Turner’s first task was creating a new backdrop by covering up the bare white walls with a gray-green grass cloth. “Its woven texture does more to add warmth to this space than any paint color ever could,” says Anne Turner. “Whoever said that dark walls make a small room look smaller should think again.” Natural linen Roman shades add even more warmth and texture, and a cowhide rug provides softness.
- Walls: Chevron Sisal (SE1808) by York Wallcoverings, yorkwall.com or 717-846-4456 for retailers
When it came to updating the antique bed, Anne Turner started with solid bed linens. She also found a lively fabric for both the bed skirt and canopy that gives a nod to Mary’s love of contemporary geometric patterns. With its well-tailored appearance, the bed now lives up to the distinction of being one of Mary’s treasured pieces.
For a contemporary look, a panel of a bold geometric fabric bordered with a solid linen was pulled taut on the canopy frame.
- Canopy: La Fiorentina in Grey, 2430-GWF 611 by Groundworks through Lee Jofa, leejofa.com, available through DCOTA Design Services; 954-921-7575
The focal point of the bed is the long pillow that’s actually made from a woven rug that had originally been purchased for the room’s floor. When they chose a cowhide rug instead, the colorful, graphic runner was easily fashioned into a pillow by folding both ends together, stitching the edges, and adding batting. “It provides just enough flair without competing with the room’s overall effect,” Anne Turner adds.
A cowhide rug adds softness to the floor and lends an up-to-date freshness to the room of inherited antiques.
- Rug: Cowhide Rug in Exotic Brindle from Shades of Light; shadesoflight.com or 800-262-6612.
To freshen up the hand-me-down desk, the enterprising duo took a similar approach: Leave it as is, but punch up its appeal with the right enhancing elements.
For art on the desk, Anne Turner took pages out of an old, inexpensive sketchbook and inserted them into ready-made frames. Above the desk, Mary added an affordable abstract painting she found on eBay. A graceful reupholstered chair gives the area a comfortable seat.
- Abstract painting above desk: by Scott Nedrelow; nedrelowart.com.
Antique Chair: Before
This antique chair in need of a makeover looked like a comfy seat for the desk.
Antique Chair: After
Reupholstered in a graphite-toned mohair, this antiques shop find is the perfect desk companion. Keeping the back of the chair tuftless gave it modern styling. To complete the sophisticated upgrade, the faux-gilded finish was removed and replaced with paint that matched the room’s cream trim.
- Chair fabric: Plush Mohair in graphite by Beacon Hill, beaconhilldesign.com, available through Decorative Center Services; 713-961-9292, ext. 1320
To balance the room and provide ample reading light, matching sleek glass cylinder lamps were placed on the desk and opposite nightstand. Anne Turner realized that the white shades the lamps came with didn’t work with the overall color scheme and ambience of the room. So she and Mary picked out a fabric that would inject their signature pop of yellow and had the shades re-covered at a lighting-and-lamp store.
- Lampshades: Sand Strie in Chiffon by Kelly Wearstler through Lee Jofa, leejofa.com, available through DCOTA Design Services; 954-921-7575
To give the room more height and volume, Roman shades were installed just below the crown molding.
- Roman shades: Slubby Linen in Mushroom by Calico Corners; calicocorners.com or 800-213-6366
The Sitting Area
Across from the bed, Anne Turner was faced with a blank wall. She created an attractive setting with an antique settee, a lamp, and an arrangement of framed wallpaper pieces. The pillow and art complement the room’s other yellow accents. It all combines for an inviting place for guests to drop their bags and start to unwind.
Wanting to give the wall across from the bed some pizzazz, Anne Turner came up with a great idea: Instead of buying art, make some! She found a roll of floral-patterned wallpaper, cut it into pieces, and put them in ready-made frames. “Covering the whole wall with this print would have been way too much both visually and cost wise,“ she explains. “But hung in pieces in a geometric arrangement above the settee, it’s just the right amount.”
- Artwork: Berry Flower Wallpaper in Lemon Curd by Stark Wallcovering, starkwallcovering.com, available through Decorative Center Services; 713-961-9292, ext. 1320