Today’s reader Q & A comes from my college roomie, Ali. Some of my first true interior design projects occured when she and I moved into a cramped room in our sorority house. It included my first wall paint job (in the perfect buttery yellow) and styling the room with coordinating lamps, bedding and art. Not to mention finding an appropriate place for the all-so-important mini-fridge and bar.
Since those days that suddenly seem too far away, Ali’s done her fair share of trapsing across the globe. As a musician, artist, and all-around bohemian extraordinaire, her style is quite eclectic. Recently she moved in with her boyfriend in Washington, D.C. and she’s encountered the same problem most of us have when taking the plunge into co-habitation with a significant other: the Great Merge of belongings.
Here’s Ali’s request:
Here’s some info on a couple of current problem areas (there are several more…) of our new place. As we enter Week 3 of unpacking and merging our belongings, we have most of the big furniture situated and are starting to unearth enough space to hang curtains, and soon some photos/art!
We need help with storage and textiles in particular. Justin likes to keep an extra blanket on the bed when we’re not home to keep it from getting swathed in dog hair, and we’re in the market for a new one because I don’t like the color of the current one. Also, the bench cushion is in really rough shape and I’d love to cover it. I know he’d prefer a solid (in corduroy if possible) and I’d love a muted pattern, even though our bedding has stripes. I’d love for it to be a rougher texture – wooly, or woven, or nubby.
We’re trying to stay responsible and not buy new everything, and that’s tricky since my previous style leanings and Justin’s are pretty different. Thankfully nowadays we both agree that we really like the looks that West Elm has going, it’s modern enough for Justin and fits enough with my funky taste (fair isle navajo more patterns yes!) and plethora of instruments. I have given in to cool colors in the bedroom, although that’s not natural for me.
Here’s a video:
As this is a rather large task, I’ve decided to break this up in to a two-parter. Today I’ll focus on the bedroom and in our next post we’ll take a look at the dressing room area.
For the bedroom, let’s break this down in to each area to tackle:
- New throw blanket for their bed
- New nightstands & lamps
- Fabric to recover bedroom bench
- Storage solutions
- Add some much needed Ali flair in terms of styling
Let’s start with the bedding. They’re sticking with the above blue-toned striped duvet cover. Adding another pattern in to this mix will be tough; I’d recommend a solid colored blanket with a woven texture for visual interest and to soften up the hard lines of the current bedding. Seeing as Ali always prefers warmer colors, I’d go with a chocolate brown to really give it an inviting feel and coordinate with the stripes of the duvet cover. As this blanket will be used primarily to prevent their dog Dakota from creating his own version of a blanket on the bed, I’d opt for something machine washable.
My recommendation: the LLBean Vintage Matelasse Coverlet in Chocolate Brown. It meets all of the above criteria and although it’s a little more expensive than something at Target or a comparable big box store (this guy clocks in @ $129 for a queen size), it’s made by a company that prides itself on quality so you know this puppy will last. They also sell matching pillow shams so Ali could turn it into a true bedding set if she wanted, instead of it just being a barrier between Dakota and the bed.
Or for a slightly more modern pattern in a lighter brown, I’d go with the West Elm Lexington Quilt + Shams in Clay would be a nice alternative.
To top off the bed, I would finish it with a throw pillow or two. The West Elm Embroidered Dot Pillow Cover in Dusty Blue is a great option that is simple enough to coordinate with the current bedding, the LL Bean or West Elm coverlets and still gives a bit more of an organic feel to the bed. The handsewn embroidery with its slightly uneven lines helps to soften the rest of the lines of the bedding. The blue accent thread will tie in with the blue of the duvet.
Next up are the night stands. For the left side, once they unpack some more boxes, they’ll have a decent amount of space over there. As they’re hurting for storage, I would go the untraditional route. Do NOT buy another nightstand. I would go more with a cabinet or small dresser that sits at the right height. It will give them more storage space and Ali a larger tabletop for things like her stacks of books, the lamp, etc. And by going with something that is more unique, you won’t have to worry about it matching your pre-existing furniture. My biggest pet peeve is quickly becoming bedroom sets that are too matchy matchy, including my own (what can I say, you live and you learn).
The Single Shutter Doors Holbrook Sideboard from World Market is a perfect example of something totally unique but serves all of the purposes Ali needs. And it would add some much-needed eclectic style to the room.
Then above it, you could always hang a mirror, like this bargain – the Threshold Round Captain’s Mirror from Target (I still can’t believe this is $29.99 – I’m dying to get one for our place) to help reflect light from the nearby window and hang hooks on either side because as Ali puts it “We literally need a place to hang our hats. We have so many hats!” Spoken like a true Renaissance woman.
For styling purposes, I’d go with a ridiculously simple lamp on that side of the bed. The BRÅN base and JÄRA shade from Ikea will do just the trick. And because it’s basically clear glass and a white shade, there are a ton of ways to customize it if Ali so chooses, such as adding color to the glass base or sprucing up the shade.
On the other side of the bed, you could go with a coordinating lamp such as the Target Room Essentials Solid Shade Ceramic Silver lamp as Ali and Justin prefer more of a brushed silver look.
But back to the nightstands, if Ali decides to work with what she’s got, I would recommend a little DIY. The easiest trick to perk up those existing pieces is to swap out the knobs. Anthropologie and even World Market have a TON of options to choose from.
Ali could also bust out a can of paint and really customize them to her linking. She and I were never afraid to get a little dirty (or crazy) back in the day. Obligatory college photo here:
Back to the nightstands again – depending on how crafty Ali wanted to get, I’d recommend something a little like this DIY from Megan over at Craft Habit.
Lastly, Ali definitely wants to get crafty with her bench. She’d like to recover it with a durable fabric. I’d recommend something a little heavier weight, such as upholstery fabric. You could go solid, but I’d take the opportunity to bring in some more organic lines with a subtle pattern, such as the Waverly Strands/Sterling fabric from Joann Fabrics.
So there you have part 1 of Ali & Justin’s GREAT MERGE. Check back next week for Part 2! I’ve also included the full mood board below, including a few pieces of art, the curtains, and the run they already own.
So what do you guys think? Anyone else facing the Great Merge these days? I learned a LOT from when Jefe and I did it– namely that I’m a hoarder and he’s a minimalist. Somehow we’ve managed to meet in the middle. For now 😉