the birdhouse

Last year, I had the opportunity to design a master bedroom and bathroom. Just recently, the work on those rooms was finished.  It was one of those projects that had many delays, several scheduling hiccups and even the occasional catastrophe. At one point during the work on the bathroom, I would jump each time my phone rang because I was sure that there was another problem to solve.

But.

It was also a project that, despite its challenges, turned out even better than I envisioned and taught me some serious lessons as a designer and a business owner. I love it when that happens.

Here is where we began:

The bedroom before was blah but had lots of pros. A great size, with high ceilings and architectural detail, beautiful hardwood floors and a view of the marina.  And though I'm not usually a fan, the plantation shutters looked great, too.  The problems in the room included the absolute lack of color, the wrong furniture in the wrong places, and lots of clutter.  There was also a really odd opening in one of the walls, and although it let in a good amount of light, it let in lots of noise from the ground floor as well.

The bedroom before.

The bedroom before.

The home is about a block from the Marina and literally across the street from the sand, so I think it is safe to say that that it qualifies as a beach house. The client asked me to transform this space, without the usual cliches like pastel colors and shabby chic furniture, into a coastal sanctuary.

The bedroom after.                                                                                                                                                                            photo by Amy Bartlam

The bedroom after.                                                                                                                                                                            photo by Amy Bartlam

The most dramatic change came with the paint (Benjamin Moore Saratoga springs). All of a sudden the high ceilings stand out and the tone of the floors and shutters looks much richer. The rug is SO beautiful, and the size of it makes the room feel spacious and adds lots color and texture.   The bed is adjustable, with the upholstered headboard mounted to the wall so that the bed can articulate.

In the before space, the beam had been painted the same color as the ceiling and pretty much rendered invisible. A few coats of velvety paint (Benjamin Moore stone brown) turned it into a feature of the room and the perfect home for a much needed ceiling fan. A pair of night tables with pullout shelves provide lots of surface space as well as storage for my client's many books. The bubbled glass lamps are clean and simple, and they let the wall color and the light shine through.

The beam and the gorgeous ceiling fan.                                                                                                                                        photo by Amy Bartlam

The beam and the gorgeous ceiling fan.                                                                                                                                        photo by Amy Bartlam

Another of the client's requests for this room was a place to curl up with a good book. She mentioned that she'd never had a chair in her bedroom before, so that seemed a good opportunity to design something. Her armchair (specifically, that amazing fabric) is the piece I love most in the room, and the crackled mercury glass lamp on the dresser next to it is a favorite, too. The only item from the original space -- a lingerie chest -- has found its home beneath a self-portrait. And that weird opening in the wall was filled with etched glass (used elsewhere in the room in the transom window above the bathroom door) that lets the light in and keeps the noise out.

The spectacular armchair and lamp. The re-purposed lingerie chest and new dresser. The etched glass window.                photo by Amy Bartlam

The spectacular armchair and lamp. The re-purposed lingerie chest and new dresser. The etched glass window.                photo by Amy Bartlam

My client has the most incredible art collection. It was great fun to incorporate as many of her pieces as possible into a gallery wall of beach and water scenes.

The gallery wall. The etagere displays pottery, glass and wood pieces.                                                                                      photo by Amy Bartlam

The gallery wall. The etagere displays pottery, glass and wood pieces.                                                                                      photo by Amy Bartlam

 

And then there's the bathroom.

The bathroom before was definitely not a sanctuary.  The floors were vinyl tile, beige and boring. The paint was, too. There was terrible lighting, and a wall (with a door that swung open to hit the shower door) dividing the vanity area from the toilet and fiberglass shower. The vanity was made of fiberglass, too. It was dark, and kind of depressing.

The before blah trifecta: the long hallway covered in vinyl tile, the dark, walled-in WC with the door that bumped the shower sliding door, the molded fiberglass shower stall with a sad plastic hand shower.

The before blah trifecta: the long hallway covered in vinyl tile, the dark, walled-in WC with the door that bumped the shower sliding door, the molded fiberglass shower stall with a sad plastic hand shower.

And now, well, now the bathroom looks really different.

The bathroom after.                                                                                                                                                                           photo by Amy Bartlam

The bathroom after.                                                                                                                                                                           photo by Amy Bartlam

Notice how large this space seems now? That's because the dividing wall is gone. Another reason is that the wood floor was continued from the bedroom so the spaces would feel a bit more unified. The runner is soft under bare feet, and brings the colors of the bedroom into this otherwise neutral space.

I chose a creamy gray (Benjamin Moore gray wisp) for the walls. The original cabinets were painted, some new hardware was added and the plastic vanity top was replaced with a beautiful new sink and sparkly quartz counter surface. The lighting was much improved by the addition of a pair of sconces. There is lots more elbow room around the toilet as well.

And then, the shower.

The bathroom after.                                                                                                                                                                           photo by Amy Bartlam

The bathroom after.                                                                                                                                                                           photo by Amy Bartlam

The incredible cement tiles (Granada Tile) in the shower are the star in this room. I knew it would be beautiful, but I think spectacular is a better word it.

The shower after. Quite a difference.                                                                                                                                              photo by Amy Bartlam

The shower after. Quite a difference.                                                                                                                                              photo by Amy Bartlam

The hand shower after.                                                                                                                                                                     photo by Amy Bartlam

The hand shower after.                                                                                                                                                                     photo by Amy Bartlam

The antique Greek plate on the wall is my client's favorite piece of art, so it served as inspiration for the tile and the rug in this room. I love it with the photograph of the sunset, taken just steps from the front door of this home.

The vanilty after. The inspiration piece for the bathroom design.                                                                                                 photo by Amy Bartlam

The vanilty after. The inspiration piece for the bathroom design.                                                                                                 photo by Amy Bartlam

Looking at these spaces transformed makes me happy.  And what's more, my client is loving living in her new master suite. That makes it worth all of the headaches.