Thursday, January 9, 2014

Learning From My Design Mistakes

Let's go back in time, y'all! Before I show you the new paint color in the bedroom, I want to show you how it used to look. You know, for context. I know throwbacks are supposed to be on Thursday, but whatever. I hope you'll learn from my mistakes (and perhaps save hundreds of dollars on paint).

2007: I moved in and painted the room a very saturated periwinkle color. Why? Because it was my favorite crayon color when I was little. Seriously, that's the reason I chose it. Since the wall color was so strong, I made everything else black and white, and I loved it. It was chic and simple, feminine but not too precious, and unique but not in-your-face crazy. I still miss that version of the room.

2009: The awesome periwinkle paint was turning pink on one wall due to sun exposure. I was starting to not like it, but I wasn't sure why. Then one day I took a picture off the wall and saw that the exposed wall was pink, and the wall under the picture was still periwinkle. LIGHT BULB MOMENT!

I shouldn't have drastically changed the room, but a) I needed to repaint, and b) I wanted a warmer color in the bedroom, and c) gray was really trendy. So I painted the walls a warm gray color. That should've  been good, except I made a terrible mistake: I DIDN'T PRIME. I trusted that Behr's paint + primer product would cover all traces of the previous paint, and I was wrong. The periwinkle showed through the gray paint, making the walls a weird icky purplish-gray. I hated it. But painting had been expensive, and I thought the new color might grow on me. It didn't.

Soon after I painted the bedroom, I fell in love with an abstract book print fabric, and I thought it might help me salvage the room. I reupholstered the headboard with it and covered some pillows with coordinating novelty prints. That was my second stupid move: I imagined that the bright fabrics would look fun and happy. But against the somber gray walls, they just looked incoherent and juvenile. I gave up. For the next few years, I worked on other rooms and ignored the bedroom.

2013/2014: It's finally time to fix this room. I tried living with some very bright colors, and I learned that they aren't for me. Even though I still like the fabrics, I hated living with them. They didn't work because I didn't have enough guts to carry the color through the entire room, so the color on the bed looked random and accidental. And those colors didn't work well in a room that should have been more restful.

Rosa Beltran recently wrote a piece about "Design Multiple Personality Disorder" that resonated with me. She said, "I find that in a business where I'm constantly exposed to and immersing myself in so many different design styles and directions, I'm often drawn to things that are entirely different from the aesthetic I've created in my own home." I know what she means. Over the years I've been drawn to a lot of different looks, and sometimes I wonder which one is really "me." Sometimes I see beautiful pictures of a home completely unlike my own, and I want to change everything.

But I've learned that what I like in a picture, at the store, or on a swatch isn't necessarily what I want to actually have in my home. The first bedroom look worked better for me because it was more coherent, with the same colors and motifs used throughout the room. With that in mind, I designed a new resale-friendly bedroom look. As I worked, I tried to remember that less is more, calmer colors are my friends, black and white play nicely together, and always use primer before painting. Even if it tries to kill you, as it did me. Tune in tomorrow to find out why.


  1. I really like the headboard fabric! I heard some design advice one time about how if you always decorate with pieces/things you love, the room will always come together. I don't know if I believe that, but I'm sticking with it. :)

    1. *waves* I'm really glad you're reading. Hi!

      Even though the bright book print didn't work for me in that room, I still like the fabric. If I was better at sewing I'd turn it into a library tote bag. Gah, that would be cute! I definitely believe that if you love it, it has a place in your life somewhere. Just not on my headboard. :)


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