Blank-Canvas-Bedroom Makeover

from Creative Home
A plain white and cream bedroom gets a new Tuscan look with the help of the Creative Home Design team.

When Monique Marino of San Diego nominated her bedroom for a makeover, she sent the Creative Home offices an artist's canvas with the words "Please call! A blank canvas awaits... ." She wasn't kidding either.

The room was indeed blank, with white walls, cream carpet, no draperies, and an equally bland attached bathroom. But Monique's request ran deeper than cosmetics. As a special thank-you to her husband, Joe Buckley, who had nursed her back to health after a car accident, Monique wanted to transform their unfinished master suite into a welcoming haven.

Enter the Creative Home Design Team: editor and interior designer Wanda Ventling, associate art director Becky Lau Ekstrand, and handyman Adam Ventling, Wanda’s son. “From a design perspective, the room posed several challenges, but they provided an excellent opportunity for showcasing good solutions for common problems,” Wanda says.

The biggest challenges were to minimize the asymmetrical window placement and the plantation shutters’ hard lines, to best utilize the doorless closetlike nook, and to reduce the impact of the enormous California-king bed. Another problem was the lack of a division between the bathroom and bedroom.

Because Monique and Joe’s decorating preference favors old-world influences (architectural candlesticks, wrought iron, grandly scaled pieces, and tapestry fabrics with heavy trims), Wanda chose a Tuscan theme for the bedroom so it would blend with the rest of the home’s palette and aesthetic.

She started by giving the mammoth bed a curvy, Tuscan-inspired iron frame and luxurious bedding, some of which she designed. To break up the large plane, she used a mix of fabrics, including velvet, silk, and matelassé, in various shades of cream and brown.

“Prior to the makeover, our ‘monster bed,’ as we affectionately called it, was the biggest eyesore in the room,” Monique says. “The new setup so minimizes its appearance that it’s hard to believe it’s the same California-king mattress.”

To allow natural light to flow into the room and to unify and soften the prominent lines of the windows and shutters, Wanda opted for tone-on-tone sheer draperies. Their widely spaced pleats give them a relaxed look, and their deep hems are designed to drape casually on the floor for added softness. Thin hardware in antiqued gold, with acorn finials picking up on the details of the room’s accessories, proved to be the perfect visual weight for the fine fabric.

To make better use of the nook, Wanda evicted an armoire and outfitted the space with custom-built shelves that have aged moldings. A woven leather bench nearby holds a stack of pillows.
Across the bathroom doorway from the nook, Wanda created Monique’s longed-for sitting area, removing a dresser and adding two comfortable armchairs and a painted cabinet. A cushy upholstered bench was added at the end of the bed, across from the armchairs.

While the open archway between the bedroom and bath offered a nice architectural feature, it didn’t provide much privacy. Wanda’s solution was to frame the arch with sheer cream-color panels identical to those on the bedroom windows. The panels can be drawn closed to add privacy for the bath, or they can be pulled back and held open with hidden tiebacks.

“I love the romance of the arched doorway to the bathroom,” Wanda says. “The effect of tall, skinny sheers on the delicate rods reminds me of window treatments you might see in an old villa.”

To further connect the bedroom and bath, Wanda opted to use Pergo’s wide-plank-style flooring in warm walnut throughout both spaces.

“The bathroom demanded a waterproof floor, but I didn’t want to break the space visually with a change of flooring material from one room to the next,” Wanda says. “We added softness and luxury to the bed area with a large cocoa-brown rug.” Monique contributed her talent for decorative painting to the project, working with San Diego decorative painter Maximo Salazar to establish a seasoned patina.

“When Wanda explained her vision for the wall treatment — the aged look of sun-worn plaster — I knew exactly what she was after,” Monique says. She and Salazar applied several paint colors with a bagging-and-ragging technique, painted the ceiling a light taupe, and painted the moldings a warm white.

“Having the team over was a fabulous experience,” Monique says. “I learned a lot listening to Wanda and Becky’s ideas and from watching them, and Adam, perform their magic. The suite is everything I dreamed it would be, a perfect combination of livable elegance. I can’t believe it actually happened.”

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