color matters: a bedroom transformation

here's a space that is nearly square with one exposed brick wall and high ceilings.  in it's former life, this loft bedroom was monochromatic and random.  it had no focus, no definition, no sense of place.  and here's how i transformed the room into a chic place to spend time asleep and awake:

the space desperately needed some color!  color not only to enliven, but also to define such large featureless walls (a common problem in loft-style apartments).  the only two elements definitely staying were the bedframe and the painting of fell's point, baltimore by the owner's grandmother.

view from the bedroom doorway. where to look?  before.

the first and most striking change made was the wall color.  the three non-brick walls were painted a deep blue-green (benjamin moore's newburg green HC-158). the chunky grey metal bedframe, with its low profile, was previously lost against the old stone colored wall.  now a yellow-green stripe (benjamin moore's anjou pear AF-425), painted exactly the width of the bedframe, immediately draws your eye to the bed.

there's now no confusion as to the room's purpose with the attention on the bed.

 the owner knew from the start that he wanted west elm's martini side tables for nightstands.  their shiny white texture is repeated in the dressed-up-industrial swing arm lamps and contrasted with the plush texture of the shag wool rug, also from west elm.  the painting by his grandmother was given a new life reframed with a square and flat espresso finish frame. centered above the bed and in closer proximity vertically, it now ties together the room's new colors and also holds pride of place as part of that wall's focal point.

to the bed's left, the brick window wall previously blended in with the adjacent wall color.  and the space looked and felt vague in its style.

spacious, but undefined.  before.

here the shaggy soft texture of the light rug breaks up the sea of maple flooring and contrasts with the gridded rigidity of the bedframe, the metal window casings and the orderly bricks.

now we're somewhere!
the owner had removed a couple narrow ikea billy bookcases from his hallway in an effort to de-clutter his entry, and now he needed a home for the contents of those shelves, including his extensive collection of cookbooks.  we considered a basic white 16-cube ikea expedit unit in white, but it seemed too common and too cheap-looking to properly fit in with the rest of his apartment's sophisticated aesthetic. enter a pair of the wooden ikea linnarp bookcases stained in red.  the bright punch of color and graphic arrangement of the shelves serves to fill and define the wall to the left of the windows and its contents add interest.

here's that bookcase wall looking drab.

big and blank.  before.

and now in all its colorful glory!

ample shelving, visual intrigue, with room to spare.

another aspect of the room that was previously lacking was lighting.  besides the bedside lamps, there was only the garish overhead light that only served to depress.  adding discreet white grundtal cabinet-mounted lights from ikea that link together to operate on one step switch (visible under the shelves) creates functional and atmospheric lighting over the bookcases.

the right color palette was the key to bringing this bedroom to life, and a variety of textures and finishes add depth to the visual experience.  such a big space can handle the saturated colors of the walls and bookcases because they're offset with the neutrals of the rug and bedding.  the finished space is no longer forgotten and is instead a space the owner enjoys any time of day or night. 


  1. Love what you did with the room, Annie. Thanks again. Looking back on how it was before is remarkable. The new fabulousness has erased all memories of its former drab life!

  2. Impressive transformation. As someone who has seen the before and the after in person, I'm still floored. When are you flying out to San Francisco to revitalize my boring bedroom?

  3. Great colors! I love the red book shelves.

  4. Thank you so much for this post. We are planning our living room to include the Linnarp bookcases and this was incredibly helpful, especially as we also need an overhead lighting solution. This really helps us see the possibilities.



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