It has been a while since we had a complete room overhaul to show you, but now we can reveal our new guest bedroom. No longer is it a storage locker or general dumping ground. Now we can have people to stay over and not make them climb over mountains of stuff to get to the bed (it was not at it's worst in this photo. It did get to the point where we couldn't even walk into the room).
But before I reveal all, let us start at the beginning.
This is the room as we viewed it before we bought the house. Like most of the rooms in our house, it had artex textured plasterwork all over the walls and ceiling. It is a small room at only 12 feet square with a window on one wall, a door on another and a chimney breast on the third wall.
Our first task was to chisel all the artex off the walls and take up the carpet. We did find the original wall colour underneath which was a rather bold deep coral colour. The walls would need to be replastered though as they were still quite rough.
You can just see the faint hint of a stepped panel painted in a slightly deeper colour on all the walls. The floors would have been painted around the edge with a large rug in the middle back in 1935.
My plan was to create a very cubist and geometric art deco scheme, pure modernist. It is hard to find references of original art deco interiors, but I used the excellent book: The Invention of Chic: Therese Bonney and Paris Moderne as my main inspiration.
After much deliberation and staring at 100 colour charts,
we chose the secondary shades of purple, green and orange with black thrown in. I must admit that I struggled with this scheme. I don’t know why. Maybe I was over thinking it or over researching it. Maybe it was because my research led me in one direction, but my budget and what was available didn’t always fit or follow the same direction. We did have to furnish this room from scratch so here was my opportunity to buy authentic art deco furniture. But the budget and small room size collaborated to limit what we could do. I settled on a dark lilac colour for the walls (Crown Paint’s High Society) because I knew it would set off honey coloured furniture best, having definitely decided that I wanted a paler wood furniture in this room rather than dark.
By this time I had found, quite by accident, an authentic art deco rug that happened to be green, black and orange with bands of gray. It was obviously meant to be. It has issues and could one day do with restoration (hence the reasonable price tag), but it is fine for now. I definitely wanted to stay away from curves with this scheme and this rug was perfect as it is all lines and rectangles.
As the rug only covers about half the room, we did need to carpet the floor. The wood flooring was just not good enough to leave alone even if we painted it. I wanted velvet carpet which has a very tight, low pile. I decided to go for a concrete grey colour. It had to be grey, not silver, but Dior grey and stay looking grey regardless of the light. I took home about 8 samples of grey carpet. It was amazing how the light changed them. Some ended up looking positively beige, green or lavender in different lights when I got them home and yet they had seemed perfect in the shop. After much deliberation, I chose “Silver Birch” Prestige by Westex purchased through Dickinsons of Hexham. A couple of weeks later, they came to install it. My heart was slightly in my mouth. I had been so specific about the colour. The carpet fitter decided to employ carpeter's humour by telling me I had chosed an lovely shade of blue carpet as he was unloading the roll from his van. I don't think he quite realised what a sensitive subject it was given the number of hours I obsessed over the minute differences between shades of grey. Luckily it was perfect, in every way. The colour was spot on and the carpet is just gorgeous. Well worth it and it will last forever. As this room is lightly used, I should never need to replace the carpet even if the walls change.
I really struggle with woodwork colours. As per tradition, everything in our house was white when we moved in. We went for metallic gold in our living room and the same dark gray as the walls for the woodwork in our bedroom. In the end, black seemed the best choice for the woodwork and from there, we decided to paint the ceiling black with a black coving effect.
I employed one of Chips', the designer at The Stencil Library, techniques for painting woodwork. If you live in an older house and the edges of the woodwork are a bit ropey because they might have 100 layers of paint or the walls might have been replastered (like us), using low tack tape, mask off between1-2 centimetres onto the walls.
This is above the skirting board and around door and window frames. It is a bit of a job with a spirit level and tape, but it is worth it. Paint the woodwork and carefully up to the tape.
When the paint is dry, remove the tape. This gives you a nice neat line and disguises all the rough areas that meet the wall. It really does smarten everything up.
We found original art deco furniture on ebay that was very square with ebonised black bands. It included a large wardrobe, linen cupboard and dressing table. The size and style fit the room perfectly and matched the bed which had come from another shop on ebay.
We chose a geometric border stencil and had it made at double the size. It is DE296 from our Art Deco stencil range. It was chosen because of its echoes of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan revival/textile block houses from the early 1920’s in LA, specifically Ennis House, Millard House and Hollyhock House
and the artist and designer Sonia Delaunay's geometric fabric pattern prints,
both influences on the look I was aiming for. If you like her style, see the Sonia Delaunay exhibition at the Tate on until August 9th.
On a side note, these FLW houses were referenced in the apartment design of Harrison Ford’s character in Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”, one of my favourite films.
The stencilling was to be done in black with touches of orange and green.
Now all the building blocks were in place. I didn't want to write too long a post and can be a bit of a tease, so to see how it all comes together, look for part two.
All photos by Stephen Egglestone except the paint charts (Helen Morris), the Delaunay scarf (photographer unknown), Millard house (photographer unknown), and the photo from Blade Runner.