Friday, November 30, 2007

House in Progress: Our Brown Boudoir

So we finally screwed up the courage to paint our bedroom dark brown. (And when I say "we" and "paint," I of course mean Nick. Much as I love to choose paint colors, lately the novelty of actually laboring to put them on the walls has lost its allure. So thank you, honey -- you're the best!)

Before, the room was painted a deep, rich red. It was beautiful, but we were just totally sick of it, since we'd also used it at our old house and thus had been living with it for about seven years. We knew we wanted something really different, but with the same drama and coziness. We hemmed and hawed about the actual shade of brown for about a year, with various paint chips taped up on the wall and big brown swatch painted in the corner.

Finally, Nick made an executive decision and choose Benjamin Moore's Chocolate Sundae (over the even darker, cooler Bittersweet Chocolate that I had been angling for). I think he was right -- the color is deep and luscious, but warm.

Although the room faces north, it gets tons of light from a big corner window and a French door, so I wasn't worried about it being too dark. Crisp white trim, bedding, and a large bookshelf, plus mirrored accents around the room help offset the deep color.

I chose a satin finish for the paint, because I wanted the walls to literally glow at night. (We have 70-year-old lath and plaster, so the walls are definitely imperfect -- a fact that the shinier paint does highlight, but I don't mind the flaws.)

This is why we haven't bothered with curtains yet.

This is our view of San Francisco through the French door. I pinch myself every time I see it.

All the "good" furniture in the room belonged to Nick's late mother, who scoured the Napa Valley 25 years ago to find it. It's mostly French. (By the way, I want to make a fabric cozy to cover the TV. I like being able to watch an occasional DVD in bed, but hate actually seeing the TV the rest of the time.)

I like how these manzanita branches pop against the dark walls. The vintage mercury glass vase is from eBay.

The white bedding and lumbar pillows are from IKEA, and I got the lavender Euro shams and coverlet on super-duper discount from Restoration Hardware awhile back, because I think the color was being discontinued.

The circular mosaic mirror was an Alameda flea market find. Nick kind of fought me about hanging it over our heads (seeing as how our house is pretty much right on top of the Hayward Fault). But I think it's made out of paper mâché, and I swear the thing only weighs about three pounds. When the Big One hits, I think we'll have more important things to worry about than a few pounds of paper mâché showering down on us.

I snagged the vintage cork-and-chrome lamps off of craigslist. The circa-1940s mirrored nightstand is from eBay. (Oh, and the book is hilarious.)

Much as I adore these 1930s art deco light fixtures (which I collected pretty seriously for awhile there, and sourced mostly from eBay), I'm craving something simpler, cleaner, and more modern for this room now. Maybe a George Nelson Bubble Lamp?

We got this Asian-style open bookshelf from Pier 1 a few months ago, on sale for something like $200 (solid wood, and no assembly required!). Unfortunately, I think Pier 1 no longer carries it. I need to get white drum shades for the vintage lamps, which I found on eBay. The stuffed corgi was a present from my kids. The magazine collection represents only the last few months' worth of shelter titles that I still need to tackle. It's a sickness, I know.

The porcelain flowers by Roost are from Vivre. The blue cased-glass jar is from eBay.

The bud vase is from West Elm. I stole the foo dogs from my mom, who got them in China.

This is Louie, who's 13 years old and weighs about 18 pounds. Basically, he only moves from this spot to eat and use the litter box.

So that's where the magic happens, people.

P.S. We decided against the wallpaper I asked about here awhile back -- even on one wall, Nick thinks it'll just be too busy. I still like the idea of wallpapering the wall behind our bed, though. We just need to find a different paper. Any ideas?


katiedid said...

Leah! It is wonderful! I love your choice of brown. I have wanted to paint a room brown for the longest time, but I'm with you, never seem to get to the painting myself. I love your mirror and white cabinet. Hey- I have those same foo dogs! I love the color. Your accessory grouping are really pretty too. It is always fun to see others' decorating projects. Thanks!

Laura said...

What a pretty room. Love dark brown paint.

Barb McMahon and Alan Mailloux said...

What a beautiful room, Leah! Amazing job.

And Louie just adds to the charm!

HOBAC said...

Nice job! I agree with you Hubby. What about a headboard in a similar fabric?

Anonymous said...

we painted a few accent walls in our bedroom a dark brown color and love it. It looks really nice in your bedroom and I love how the white really pops out against it. Great Job!

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

What a restful room! I love the brown walls. I always love that nest feeling. And, you are a good woman, leaving the painting to your hubby! :-) Makes them feel so manly when you say you don't want to get paint on your dainty fingers!

Great work, thanks for the tour and all the details! Hey, if you want to sell your 1930's light fixture you just might tempt me. I have a 1930's house that is missing a fixture. :-)

Sam Suttie said...

I think it's abolutely stunning, well done!!! The whole thing from the white display unit to the mirror thingy..just beautiful :) Whats next??

Pam Kueber said...

Hi Leah, have you seen the new mid century papers from Bradbury & Bradbury? Something in that line might work for your bedroom.

Anonymous said...

I just love the room, Leah!! Wallpaper would be OK, too, just a different look. It's very nice as is, though! Enjoy!

Katie said...

Gorgeous room! Oh my, your view is just spectacular!!! So lucky! Oh and I love love love your cork lamps. Great find!

islandgirl said...

Dear Leah,
Jonathan Adler would be very proud. Once in an interview with Sheila Bridges he dared people to give it a try. Ever since then I have wanted to make the plunge -- too chicken until now. Your room looks to modern and magazine ready. I want that same feeling.

Thanks for the courage.

laure said...

yes just beautiful. sigh.

Peggy said...

Love the brown walls! So restful! Also love the mosaic, the mercury glass vase, bedding and the blue ceramics. Just a beautiful room.

Are those deco lamps on top of your white cabinet? They look almost like vases. I like the way you've placed them.

secretleaves said...

This room is absolutely beautiful. I love the rich wall color and white and deep turquoise accents. I too have been wanting to move toward a slightly more modern look. It's just a lovely job you've done here.

blah said...

Your home is very beautiful the windows your bedroom and the small touches on the table tops are lovely :-).

Anonymous said...

This looks great and is exactly what I am planning to do: paint a deep red room a dark chocolate brown. I'm wonding if I need to prime over the red first? Did you do that? Did you run into any challenges? Thanks for your help!

Leah said...


Yes, you *absolutely* need to prime to cover dark or intense paint colors like red.

Have the paint store tint the primer the same color as the paint you'll be using. We used one coat of tinted primer and two coats of paint to cover the red.

Best of luck with your project!


Anonymous said...

Thank you again! I will be sure to use a tinted primer first.

Shawn said...

Love your blog ... found through Kirtsy. I have a large master room with the same deep red on the walls that is about to send me over the edge. Chocolate brown is definitely one of our favorites to choose ... stupid question: did you have to primer over the red first? I think all of your rooms are gorgeous and I love that you aren't spending a gazillion dollars.

Leah said...

Hi Shawn, and welcome!

Yes, we did prime before painting. We always have our primer tinted to a 50-percent value of the paint color that will be covering it -- it reduces the number of paint coats required to cover strong colors from about four to two.


Things That Inspire said...

Great looking bedroom! I like your mirror. I also think that the number and scale of your pillows looks good. I was surprised to read that the purple pillow is a eurosham, which are 27x27. It does not look that big. Perhaps that is because it is tailored, and does not have a flange. It is one of the best configurations of pillows I have seen.

Any plans to get a headboard? We have never had a headboard in 15 years of marriage; just never found one I liked. I am finally having one made, it is mostly upholstered but has a wood frame.

Leah said...

Hey TTI,

I would *love* a tufted headboard covered in white linen, but they are all so expensive ...

Gotta figure out how to make one myself!

Blogger said...

What a beautiful room! I love that mirror! Found you from Bella Sugar or Casa Sugar?

And what gorgeous light fixtures you have, don't get rid of them, they're works of art!!!

mrs.g said...


I just found your site and I love what you did with the bedroom and I especially love the bedding. You mentioned that the bedding came from IKEA, is it a duvet? Would you be so kind to tell me the name, if you remember? As well as the lumbar pillow! Thanks :)

Leah said...

Hi Maycie,

Unfortunately, I think both are no longer available. But IKEA always seems to have some form of basic white bedding, so it won't be too hard to find something similar.

Unknown said...

Hi Leah,

I had meant to tell you that I love the Chocolate Sundae color in your boudoir! I have been thinking of a deep brown in my own space and this was great getting to see what it looked like on your walls.

The rest of your home is inspiring and beautiful. I love the airiness of some parts, the intimate coziness of others. You hit all my aesthetic buttons in just the right way! :)

Take care,


Anonymous said...

Hi! Just stumbled across your blog and I saw a program on tv that used a 'door' as a bed head! They painted it an alternate colour to the room and attached it, on its side, to the wall behind the bed! Maybe you could cover a door in a nice fabric?? Love your reno's, very inspiring.. :)

Perth, Australia


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