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Reader Question: Michael's Bedroom

by - Wednesday, October 22, 2008

When I asked readers to submit their design questions or dilemmas that they're dealing with, Michael jumped right in. Here's his letter:

I feel like my whole house is one giant design dilemma, but I'll start with the master bedroom for now :) Here are some pics. If I were to start over, I wouldn't be so matchy-matchy, but I invested quite a bit into the furniture, so I'm keeping all of it for now. I know the scale of the lamps is too small, but I haven't found anything I like that is also reasonably priced.

My main problems are what to do with the plant shelf above the closet and the huge empty wall to the left of the dresser. What would you suggest? I tried a slipper chair next to the dresser, but the scale of the dresser completely dwarfed the chair and it looked horrible. Plus, the hallway area empties right at that wall, so the chair really wasn't a good option because it blocked the natural pathway into the room. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

This is quite a challenge Michael, because I think you've already got a great room to start with. I love the furniture and definitely think you can work with it. All you need is a bit of 'layering'.

For the plant shelf, most people would tend to throw some plants up there and try and hide it. I say do the opposite and draw some attention to it :) Picture it painted a dramatic charcoal grey, and a collection of pieces lined along the shelf... white pitchers and vases in varying sizes and shapes; old worn vintage suitcases, interspersed with books; globes in different sizes. See how the pieces just pop against the dramatic colour in this inspiration pic?

You could even line it with a bold graphic wallpaper, just like Mrs.Limestone did with her bookcase. I love how the vintage cameras look against the cream and black! Its a small area so I think you can go a little wild with pattern or colour. Experiment!

Repetition also helps tie a room together, so whatever colour you use in the plant shelf accent, use it elsewhere in a room. For example, grey paint can be complemented by a tall crackle base grey lamp on the side table, a grey-blue-brown paisley pillow added to the bed, or two grey lacquer boxes on the dresser. I like the browns and blues you've used throughout the space and think adding one more colour in a small dose will help make it pop.

For the area beside the dresser, I think you were on the right track with the slipper chair, but the challenge is more one of "scale". A chair on its own is not enough to compete with the grand dresser. Rather, you need to balance it.

I would use a smaller chair, maybe even an x-base footstool, and stack prints above it, like in this inspiration pic. Old map prints or architectural prints would look great and would go with the other artwork in your room. I would stack enough prints so that the top is at least level with the top of the mirror. Again, for repetition and balance, you could add some smaller decor pieces on the right side of the dresser - a vintage mercury glass vase; an 8x10 sepia toned photograph in a more rustic frame; a few old books laid on their side with a small tortoiseshell box on top. Little personal details to draw the eye.

So, those are my completely unprofessional suggestions. Thanks for submitting your dilemma! If any other readers have suggestions, leave a comment below because I'm sure Michael would love to hear them!

On a side note, I've discovered that answering these reader q's is a difficult thing. It's hard to find pictures to convey your exact thoughts or looks you're going for. Hence, I've used 'inspiration pics' that can be adapted to your own space and preference, instead of recommending specific products or sources. Not sure if that's been helpful... guess we'll see!

Have your own question? Drop me a line at :)

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  1. Kristin5:56 PM

    Those are great ideas... I love the idea of doing the color for the plant shelf. Making it look part of the room is so much better than trying to hide it.

    I hope Michael sends updated pics so we can see how great it turned out!

  2. That is so nice of you to answer questions like that.

    Just wanted to let you know tomorrow my house proud segment will air , 2:00pm on the CBC , yikes!

  3. This is awesome, thank you so much :)

    I love your suggestion for charcoal grey as an accent color. A friend of mine suggested tangerine and I thought it would date pretty quickly.

    You've given me some great ideas...I can't wait to bring it all together.


  4. Anonymous5:26 AM

    I agree the bedroom has some great pieces already and love wanderlusters ideas about the personalized pieces on the dresser and the charcoal grey accent colour over the closet. One piece that I would consider replacing would be the brown wood mirror over the dresser. I would replace it with either a matte silver round or rectangular mirror. I think that I see some silver in the bed frame, although it is hard to tell, but in any case a silver mirror would compliment the pretty brown and blue/silver bed coverings and pillows. Good luck and great job.

  5. Wow with eveything you guys have going on and your still answering design dilemmas! SuperWoman. I love the dark gray btw. Monocromatic rooms always pop.

    also here is another inspiration pic:

  6. Anonymous11:54 AM

    I like the suggestion about the white vases or pitchers up on that shelf. That would look really stunning.

    I can't wait to see his After pix!


  7. Absolutely loved reading your advice. Your tips were so helpful to apply to my own home!


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