Tuesday, October 31, 2017

My Media Room

Sometimes you have to live with a pet before you give it a name. Don't you think? You have to give them the time to show their personality, see how they are going to behave, and really get it right. And then there are those times, you just know right off the bat what you're going to name them and for the rest of their life you think "I couldn't have picked a more perfect name." I think that rooms are the same way.

Sometimes, I can walk into a space and know exactly how I would design it down to the very last detail. That's what happened with my living room and dining room. I knew from the moment that I saw the apartment where the carpets would go, how the furniture would be arranged, even the color palette. And then there are rooms that puzzle me. Rooms that I need to live with for a while, addressing the flow and the character of the space, questioning how I live in the rest of the space and how that room could best be used full time. 

That's precisely what my second bedroom was: a real puzzle! For most people it's not hard, a second bedroom means a guest room. Throw a bed and some lovely bedding in there and you're done. But that's not what I needed. I don't entertain company that needs a place to stay. Any of my friends visiting from out of town are more likely to get a hotel simply out of the need for privacy and comfort, so then what does this 100-square-foot room become?

Here it is standard issue. Blah carpet, plastic mini-blinds, a basic box. What do you do? An office? Well, I tried that. A desk, some bookshelves, and even a few tables and the dog crate all sort of squished up against the walls, not at all inviting, and the door was constantly closed to the room. It was ugly, not inspiring for me to work in, and more than that, it wasn't a space I wanted anyone to see. I essentially had a sign on the door that read: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

When I stopped using it as an office space, it became a catch all for anything and everything; chairs I had bought with the intention of reupholstering but never did, boxes I thought I could use again, 5 rolls of 24" wide bubble wrap I got on sale and had no place to store at the Cross Bottle studio, you name it - it was in there. The only reason I was in the room for longer than 5-minutes was to get the dogs from their crate, where they sleep.

I would walk in with laser-like focus, refusing to look around the room. Door knob, crate handle, and door knob again. I finally had enough, and I began to treat myself as I would a client. I sat down and created a list of things I'd like the room to be: beautiful, welcoming, useful, clean, comfortable, an extension of the living and dining room. Then I wrote down what I needed the room to have: a television, the dog crate, a place for an infrequent guest to sleep, chair(s), more light, art. 

Before I knew it, I had a quick rough drawing of what I thought would work:

Rough, and scattered with notes, but I could see this working. Of course, it's easy to draw anything you want on paper, at some point you have to establish a realistic budget, and possibly start to narrow the expectations. What could I spend on this? The answer: not a lot. I wanted everything to have a beautiful, pulled together feeling, but I couldn't afford to spend what I spent on my living room to get it. So, I rolled up my sleeves and I pulled everything out of the room, and started a massive sell off of things: chairs, desks, books, blue and white Chinoiserie ginger jars ... everything had to go. I pulled up the carpet that came standard issue with the apartment, and put down the same wood-look plank vinyl that went in the living and dining room. Then I ordered an 8x8 seagrass rug, and built the custom daybed/sofa that would extend from wall to wall, just about 10 feet. Having the 10" memory foam mattress made wasn't easy (or cheap) - but soon I had enough of the room finished to drop this little teaser on instagram:

Here you can see the daybed/sofa with pillows and the wall sconces behind. This was prior to any of the finished cushion covers or the back cushions being measured, made, and installed. I chose to use a larger foam for the mattress because I wanted this to be a comfortable and convenient bed for my very infrequent overnight guests. Since it's been finished, I've actually napped here more than once, and this weekend - the room gets it's first visitor! 

Once the back cushions were installed, and art was hung, I put out this picture:

Now you got to see more of the pieces of the room. The coloring was VERY similar to the living room, as were most of the materials. I had chosen velvet, linen, and cashmere on throw pillows, but made the decision to go with inexpensive pre-washed bull denim on the daybed/sofa. While it still wasn't an altogether inexpensive piece to build/construct, doing it with this fabric made it less of a drain on the budget.

Even with this picture though, the room was not finished. It needed window treatments, and I still had to fashion some sort of beautiful cover for the dog crate. For a room that's only 10x10, it presented a lot of hurdles. But, now I'm done! (For now, anyway.) And I think I've got some pretty nice photos of the space to show you. So, without further ado, let's take a look around my very small, but very cozy media/guest/reading room.

Another look at the before ... 


As you can see from the before photos of the room, it has two windows. This one, which the daybed backs into, is finished in a beautiful off-white linen roman shade, and bamboo roman shade behind for texture. This is actually the same linen used in my living room and dining room for the curtains.

Seat cushions for the William Sonoma wicker chairs ($125 for the pair on Facebook Marketplace) are going to be upgraded to an HD foam so that they'll be more comfortable for television watching and then covered in a print, which I also plan to use for pleated shades for the wall sconces. Eventually.

A second shot of the room without the messy pillow styling and book on the daybed (although, to be honest, it often looks less like this, and more like the first pic. Books everywhere, pillows on the floor and a blanket all willy-nilly.

The ottoman is Thomasville ($95 on Craigslist) and I added turned feet with brass casters that I found on eBay for a more tailored, sophisticated look.

The massive brass candlesticks were found at an antique store in Sanborn, NY.  I kept the art here in the same black and white or sepia tone that you'll find in the living and dining room, and the wall color is the same SW Dover White throughout. Some of the art was purchased in Jacksonville, Florida. Other pieces were purchased from the private collection of the art broker I used for the fine art in the dining room. African violets planted in terracotta pots sit in blue and white bowls.

I used inexpensive bull denim (about $12/yard) for the daybed cover and pillows, and had everything professionally sewn by my incredible work room. If you're in the Western New York area and you need anything completed, please reach out to me and I'll share her information with you.

A lot of people have asked me on Instagram how I am keeping the white fabric clean with the dogs. (I love this photo of Louna, she looks like she wants to know, too!) Because I live in an apartment, I have to leash up the dogs every single time we go for a walk. It gives me the opportunity to wipe off their little paws a little easier when we get in. (I know a lot of you are lucky enough to open up the back door and let them free!) I also swear by Oxiclean White Revive. It's an ABSOLUTE MUST if you have white slips, sheets, or cotton/linen upholstery.

The table beneath the tv has a custom cover in rich chocolate linen, banded with a double row of braided jute tape, but it also does double duty. The dog crate is under there! When Arlo and Louna aren't curled up in their crate asleep, this custom cover keeps the room looking neat, tidy and beautiful.

One of my favorite things about this room is all of the texture. Though there isn't much pattern going on, there is a TON of textural variety.

The little plaster table was an antique store find ($35), and I'm so happy that I picked it up when I did. I think that it looks lovely here.



A better view of that crate cover. The television is hung on the wall, but of course in an apartment, I'm not going to go through the expense of having those cords ran down through a chase in the wall. So, the accessories do an ok job of hiding necessary cords for now, until I find an alternative. This window is done with curtains in the linen, along with a roman shade and the bamboo blinds. A grasscloth tray sits on the ottoman, glass coasters stacked for drinks.

Pillows on the daybed are a mix of the white denim that the rest of the daybed is covered in, chocolate mohair, and camel colored velvet. The throws are herringbone, tan and white cotton. I bought 8 matching blankets for movie nights when everyone needs a little cozy curl up. 

Moving out of the space and into the living room, you can see how this room relates to the rest of the living and entertaining spaces. Just off of the living room through a small hallway, this media room has a nice flow, in and out of the adjacent rooms. (In case you're wondering, the door here is now ALWAYS open.)

Thanks for coming along on the tour, I hope you like what I've done with the place. We'll sneak out quietly. Louna is in the middle of her favorite show on Hulu, "Fixer Upper". I think she want's to go live on the Gaines' farm in Waco, Texas. That, or she thinks I should get some shiplap. 


  1. Wonderful. You need to have your own DIY TV show.

  2. Wow, that is an impressive transformation! I love the brilliant concept of the full length custom daybed in the space. You've inspired me to start purging - I want to live in a space that looks like yours!! Thanks for sharing ....

  3. What I like the most out of all of your spaces is the uniqueness which translates to a beautiful room. Also a definite NO to shiplap Louna. Anyway, both dogs are living the good life of design. :-)

  4. Uhg, this is AWFUL - in that it makes me feel AWFUL about most of the rooms in my house! Kudos on a fantastic job! I can't believe you MADE that bed. The TV in my small living room sits on an entertainment unit on castors that is about the size of the one under your TV. Because of all the windows, I can't have the TV on the wall, so it must sit on the table, but I could make a pretty skirt like you did to dress it up - thanks for the idea :) Inexpensive white cord covers, either the kind that velcro down the back or the gathered fabric kind, work really well to help make cords "disappear" (I've bought them from Amazon). Oh - and no shiplap, PLEASE!

  5. I forget to ask about the sconces - are they new, or secondhand finds?

  6. Having moved into a house where I don't look at anything, what beautiful inspiration to open my eyes again! I love all of it! Thank you for the spark. jd

  7. Incredible transformation. This room rises to the high standards you set in the rest of your place.
    I love the way you hang art. You have completely changed my ideas about it.

  8. Such a beautiful makeover! Love how you layered bamboo and roman shades...

  9. This is simply gorgeous. I can't tell you enough how inspiring you are to me. To see your before photos turned into masterpieces has greatly inspired me to get off my butt and turn my own rooms into something stylish and beautiful. Thank you so much.