I was going to call this post Welcome to a tour of the first completed room in the new house and then I realised that it was just as much, and perhaps more relevant, about adding character to a boring boxy room. This room, at the back of the house, is about 10ft square with a small hallway created when the bathroom next door was enlarged by taking a chunk out of this room, and was grey all over. Grey walls, grey carpet, grey lampshade.
The French doors were uPVC and leaky so there was condensation between the glazing meaning you couldn’t see out. There was no picture rail, no fireplace. It was just a square. The room had been chosen by the 21yo as it leads to a small roof terrace and it needed, in short order, clothes storage, a double bed and a desk.
There was no natural alcove to site a wardrobe in and the French doors take up most of one wall. So we had to create a space. This is what I did.
As you can see there was really only one place for the bed. There is also a wide step under the French doors which, the window replacement company told us, would probably involve a world of pain to remove as it would be to do with levels and drainage from the roof terrace, which is basically the top of the single storey extension below – currently a shower room and utility. We decided to leave it and ordered a set of replacement French doors the same size.
In addition to the step the room was, of course, governed by the size of the bed (the drawing is not to scale but you get the idea) and my son has a vintage G-plan bedside table that is 45cm square which was non-negotiable. The rest of that wall was free for a wardrobe. The desk was a slab of old laboratory worktop from Retrouvius. We’ve used them before and they come pre-cut at 120cm long by 60cm deep which worked perfectly. My son also said he wanted a single high shelf running all round the room and a cork noticeboard.
The basics in place, I started to plan the wardrobe. Joinery is expensive and I felt that another set of doors would get in the way of the French doors and any curtains and it might all get messy and crowded. I decided the solution lay in a curtain that could cover both wardrobe and French doors. At night the windows would be dark and the wardrobe open but, as you can see from the angle it’s open to the room so you can’t see when you are in bed. Then, during the day, when he might be at his desk, the curtain would swing back and cover the clothes and any mess.
A quick stroll round Google revealed that the answer lay in a dormer rod. I rang Jim Lawrence, who I highly recommend by the way, who told me the standard length is 120cm. I needed 140 and they agreed to make one for me (they do bespoke this wasn’t a special service) on the proviso that I didn’t hang any really heavy curtains as it might bend. A support would then be placed on the edge of the wardrobe to support it when swung across there and on the far side of the French door for night.
I also needed a reversible curtain. I bought a linen tab top from La Redoute and sewed a tablecloth on the other side. This may be temporary. My son wants a pattern on that side but so far we haven’t found one he likes. I also think I will make a curtain with ruffle tape so that I can hang it on rings and it will be easier to pull not to mention that he wants some form of blackout lining during the early summer hours but we have a few months to sort that out.
Inside the wardrobe I salvaged a drawer that was in the wardrobes in our room which I knew were being pulled out and that saved on joinery costs as well. The French doors were made to replicate an image I found on Pinterest and which matches the new back door and French doors downstairs.
Finally the decor and this is where you can really start to add character. My son had said months ago he wanted to have textured wallpaper on the lower half of the walls. Over the summer I stayed in the Hotel Bourg Tibourg in Paris and when I showed him pictures he loved the rich terracotta colour so we decided to use that as the base. The vintage desk was dark wood and he wanted matching dark shelves which we stained. Both he and the 19yo wanted cork floors. He chose a dark one from ReCork which almost looks like leather and adds to the luxury feel of the room. I will do a post on that at a later date.
Finally he added a couple of Persian rugs that we had had in the sitting room at the old house and don’t need here as the room is smaller and job done. He has added his plants and his books and a once grey and bland room is now warm and cosy and characterful.
I have made a little reel of the curtains over on instagram if you fancy a look. Once the basic layout was sorted the character has come from colour and texture. The doors are more in keeping with the age of the house, the cork floor is warm underfoot as well as being sustainable while the vintage Persian rugs will always bring colour and character to a room. The textured wallpaper (Anaglypta) brings in another layer and the vintage wooden desk adds to that. The high shelf almost works as a picture rail bringing decor high in the room.