My bedroom/home office is dark and huge... Need help to re-decorate it!
December 19, 2012 in Design Dilemma
My bedroom is too big for "just" a bedroom (and you'll feel lost in it, anyway) so we decided to move there the home office too. But it is very dark (windows to the West, but looking to a corridor - no sunshine except in summer), and I don't like watching my notebook from the bed, or the bed from my table...
Was thinking on changing the furniture to a lighter color, but it can't add the natural light anyway. Now I'm using it just as bedroom, but it feels very big, like a ballroom, it is not a cozy nook I'd like to have.
So does anyone have any ideas to visually separate it in a bedroom and a separate home office? And adding some light, brightness, cozyness...? It is a square space of about 250 sf.
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Do you have photos? What is the lighting?
December 19, 2012 at 6:33AM   
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I've just taken some pictures, it is 3:49 PM here, so afternoon, and winter, so all is grey, but it shouldn't feel so dark as you can see it on the photos.
There is a central chandelier (5 bulbs), a small bedside lamp, and another one beside the armchair I could use for reading, as I moved my table to the living room. But I don't even go in for reading...
December 19, 2012 at 6:52AM   
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Thanks for the photos. What's on the other two walls?

I see a bed area and a reading area. I don't see a home office area or desk. Will you be buying a desk and chair? Have you settled on a budget yet?
December 19, 2012 at 8:23AM   
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The door is in front of the bookshelves (if you enter the room, you see the books & armchairs), the right side is the bed and the left side is the big window (with no light coming in...). I used to have a desk and a chair in the right corner, instead of the armchairs, facing to the center of the room, but as it didn't feel good to be sitting there the whole working day, I moved (with the desk and everything) to the living room. Now I have all the messy desk in there :)
I haven't set any budget as I have no idea what could be done... Maybe different storage for our books and clothes...? Or maybe dividing the room in 2 areas with something (wall, furniture)?
December 19, 2012 at 8:31AM   
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In my opinion, the place where you work all day should have the best view. It should also not be the place where you sleep. Does your desk in the living room have a good view out the windows?

Often a messy desk is the result of inadequate storage or a reluctance to use what is already there. Adding some good storage will help you remove the mess from your desk. Get a large blue paper recycling wastebasket if you have paper recycling. If your desk has drawers, clean them out and use them with drawer organizers and file folders. You'll probably need a small (or large) bookcase, perhaps with doors. Ikea has a good selection for under $200. At the same time, you can buy some attractive new desk accessories ($10 to $50) and a new lamp (if needed).

The area can be set off with a small beautiful screen such as a Japanese style shoji screen or a carved wood screen, available from import stores and secondhand stores as well as antique stores. Ikea may have screens, too.

Do you have photos of the living room with desk in place?

Here's a link to folding screen photos on houzz:
December 19, 2012 at 8:56AM   
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You could get an open on both sides cubicle bookcase/divider. That would give you room for extra small storage, books, papers and decor items but also allow you to have some of the cubicles empty or not fully filled to allow light from the window. Another possibility a light sheer curtain hung from the ceiling as a divider that allows light in when closed but also would allow you to pull the curtain all the way back if you wanted it open.
December 19, 2012 at 9:10AM     
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Thanks you both for the ideas!
Now the desk is fine in the living room (apple_pie_order has convinced me to leave it there), it has good view - so I'm staring out of the window all the time :) but that's fine. Maybe I'll invest in some storage solutions.
The other question is: how to eliminate the "ballroom" feeling in the bedroom? The ceiling is high too, and one feels quite lost in such a big space. And still don't like the darkness... It feels like an old man's room, without any freshness.
December 20, 2012 at 3:52AM   
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Happy winter solstice. The days will start getting longer and brighter.

In the meantime, if you don't actually love any of the furniture in the bedroom, I suggest you replace it. It's probably what is making the room feel like an old man's room without any freshness, as you say.
In your ideabook, you have a lot of light bright rooms that are classic in styling but with some sparkle from colors or gold trim. This library room stands out:Crisp Architects

Notice what the library room has that yours does not: color on the wall, a very large warm color carpet, very comfortable chair and a place to put your feet up while reading (okay, it is a coffee table not an ottoman, an ottoman would be better for feet!). The overall effect is warm because the area of cool color on the wall is small compared to the rest of the room.

The brown wardrobe in the bedroom is the dominant piece of furniture. The chairs are also dark and not adding any pizzaz. I think the bed should be dominant. This image from your ideabook could be an option on styling:
Charmean Neithart Interiors, LLC.

You can also get a lot of impact from wallpapering one accent wall: GreeN. O. LA

If I had a $500 budget, I would wallpaper one wall , slipcover the chairs, buy or make an ottoman, paint the brown wardrobe, and buy some large pillows for the bed to increase its presence. For $200-$1000 more, I'd buy as large a rug as possible in a warm tone.

For $2000 or more, I would replace all the furniture and add a huge rug.
December 20, 2012 at 6:50AM     
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By the way, if your question shows a photo, you get more responses. on houzz. I strongly suggest you try posting again with a different subject heading such as ""Old man's style" bedroom in 1830's building needs fresh update for young couple on a budget". Include photos of all four walls, especially the windows.
December 20, 2012 at 6:55AM   
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ModaScapes Interior Design
Regarding the ceiling being high: you can use paint to redefine the space by cutting the wall at 8-9' (depends on what you mean by tall as some of our ceilings in AZ are 14-16', so I'd cut it even higher) and painting a different color on the bottom portion. The top portion and ceiling would be the same color. The higher the sheen in the paint, the more light is reflected... and also the more imperfections in the walls will show. You can use a simple or elaborate piece of moulding to separate the two paint colors.

Another way to bring the ceiling down to a more managable height (perceptually), is to stair step objects for your eye to follow around the room. Right now, the bookcase and armoire look like the only things that seem to get close to the ceiling, (other than your art, which needs to move), and then there's a huge jump to your bed or chairs. Add a headboard of large proportions and layer nightstands in front of it- at least make sure it's 1/3 of the height of the wall. Drapery panels also do wonders for the necessary step down from the ceiling.

Regarding the ballroom feeling: If you put your bed at a diagonal, it would take up a lot more space. It makes nightstand placement a bit tricky, but that can be managed. Then, add an uplight on a timer in the corner, pointed at the wall, and you have some really nice ambient lighting, with a touch of drama. Add a tree and you'll have wonderful shadows cast, creating instant wallpaper. Trees are another way to add something tall for the next "step".

Group collections of art to create a larger, purposeful, collection. This will eliminate the vast space between you and the art and the pieces themselves, which only accentuates the room's size. Add area rugs to define the spaces. Room screens are fantastic for creating mystery and clear division. If it were me, I wouldn't want to be able to visibly hear all the words coming out of those books when I was trying to sleep, so that's where I'd add a screen for sure. Then you can place chairs facing the bookcases, with the backs to the screen. Or if you can secure them, go crazy and use the bookcases as the room dividers, decorating the back of them with something fabulous.

I could go on... fun space to work with! Wallpaper would also bring the scale of the room down, as apple_pie_order suggests above.
December 20, 2012 at 7:17AM   
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You've given me wings! These are very good ideas, and gave me inspiration for more.
Just some questions: which wall do you think I should cover with wallpaper? I also have the idea of changing my wardrobe, and get one taller one (instead of 2 bulky ones), with mirrored doors. Maybe later on I can change the bookshelves too.
I've attached 2 plans, the first one shows the current arrangement, and the second one is the one I'm planning to have. What if I hang a big golden framed mirror above the chest? (it is now in the left corner, and it would be dividing the bookselves, in front of the door.)
Which color of rug (and wall) would you suggest? I know red/orange are quite popular nowadays, but sincerely they feel like the 60's and I don't really like it...
Regarding the ceiling, it is 13 ft. high, so where should I divide it? (And again the same question with the colors...)
Thanks in advance! I'll post some photos once we are done :)
December 20, 2012 at 8:39AM   
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ModaScapes Interior Design
oooohhhh, very exciting, a floor plan! Now you're asking for it. ;-) Can you share the scale here? I have some thoughts on the layout and the light issues, now that I can see the space from the top-down and need to draw it out for you.
December 20, 2012 at 8:47AM   
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I hope my boyfriend will be excited too when I tell him to move all the furnitures, and above all, to buy new wardrobe :-)
The room is about 16' per 15', so it is almost a square. (I don't know why the second version looks smaller, I just moved the furnitures... anyway.) This is my biggest problem, as if it was a rectangular one (e.g. twice as long as wide) I could more easily divide it, and make a cozier space for the bed...
December 20, 2012 at 9:03AM   
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Here are more libraries with rugs:

You can shop to get an idea what is available, then buy local.
December 20, 2012 at 9:18PM   
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ModaScapes Interior Design
Just a thought on the lay out... without know exact dimensions of everything, of course.
December 22, 2012 at 9:29AM   
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