It all started with a pillow…

One morning, as my husband Jim and I were making the bed, he casually mentioned that he was surprised I hadn’t tired of the plaid pillows yet. We have had our bedroom with the same décor since we moved in 12 years ago, so I guess he did have a point. And while it was photogenic, many of the fringe balls on the pillows had fallen off, and they were starting to look a little haggard.  Also, the matching drapes, while pretty, were not lined and didn’t hang particularly well.

A couple of days later, Jim was trying to turn on his bedside lamp and it wouldn’t turn on. Once it did, it didn’t give off much light. He made some comment about them being useless…or was it worthless? This was mainly because they were actually meant to be buffet lamps from another house, doing a rather poor imitation of being bedside lamps. They didn’t have near enough horsepower for the task, so again, he had a good point.

Now my husband rarely, if ever, comments on the decorating done in the six houses we have shared during our marriage. He is either extremely well trained or he just likes my style:) So when he does say something, I listen. And what I heard this time was “It’s time to redecorate the master bedroom!”

So where to begin? People often ask where they should start when decorating a room. For me, it always starts with inspiration piece like fabric, artwork, a rug, or a pillow. Sometimes, it is more a feeling you are trying to evoke; happy for a child’s room, bright and sunny for a breakfast room, or moody and cozy for a den. In that case, once you know the feeling, you can shop for an inspiration that stirs that emotion. Most often, my inspiration comes from pillows, and if it has at least three colors, I can create an entire room around that one pillow. So can you, and I’ll show you how.

The first of two pillows…

We have a small bungalow up in northern Idaho, and on the living room sofa, there are a pair of pillows that came from TJ Maxx. Every time we are at the bungalow, I admire those pillows. Last time we were there, I decided to bring them home and use them as the inspiration for our new master bedroom décor. That way, I could look at them every single day, instead of only a few days a month.

The second of the two pillows

Once I had my inspiration, it was time to start extracting the rest of the scheme from the colors in the pillow. If you look closely at the fabric, you will see a beige background, and then paisley designs that contain navy, aqua, and a shitake mushroom shade. From that pillow, the palette was born.

We were passing through Spokane, so I went into Pottery Barn on the hunt for new draperies, with my pillow in a bag with me. (Note: ALWAYS take your inspiration fabric with you, or at a minimum a really good photo. Once you get into a store with different lighting, it is very hard to tell if the colors will coordinate.) They had the perfect color of shitake mushroom drapes in a lined Dupioni Silk. Bonus: They were on 60% off. After three trips to the stockroom, the salesclerk was able to locate four panels left in stock. She was shocked, and I was overjoyed.

Next, a visit to the bedding department. If you think that our old damask bedding looked just fine, you are probably right. But it was 20 years old (!!) and had made it through four houses, including a round trip to Hawaii and back in a shipping container. Although excellent quality, it was made of polyester fabric that was a little shiny and required dry cleaning. Note: The fact that this duvet had gone with four different pillow/drape schemes over a 20-year period, is a testament to the longevity of good quality neutrals for the big-ticket items. Had it been poor quality or a trendy floral or plaid, it never would have stood the test of time.

So this go-round, the perfect bedding had to be made of natural material, be machine washable, and NOT a duvet cover, but rather a coverlet or bedspread. Pottery Barn had a beautiful Belgium Linen set in a waffle weave that checked off all of the boxes; it was the perfect light beige color, it was a natural fabric that was machine washable, and it was a nice weight coverlet. Oh, and did I mention it was 20% off? Folks, we had a winner!

After that, the room just kind of fell into place. The fixed elements that I didn’t want to change were my almost-30-year-old blue wing chairs, the loveseat at the foot of the bed, and all of the dark furniture. I also loved the artwork between the wing chairs that I had purchased a couple of years ago, and luckily it matched perfectly.

First, we installed the new draperies, and they were too short. Ooops. Highwater pants are fine. In fact, they even have a name for them…Capri pants. But highwater drapes? Not so much. Rather than have my husband move the rods, I came up with another solution that worked a little easier. I purchased large clip rings and just giving the drapes that extra 2″ was all it took. Whew!

Next, off with the old duvet, and in with the new coverlet and shams. An unexpected benefit of going with new bedding was the fact that this set did not have a bed skirt. I really love the “show the leg” look of the four-poster bed without a bed skirt, which feels cleaner and airier somehow. I replaced the pillows on the bed, chairs, and settee at the foot of the bed. They all came from the bungalow or other rooms in the house.

The buffet lamps were replaced by a Home Goods set brought in from another room in the house, and their pale blue gourd shape and tan linen shades work perfectly with the new decor.

After that, it was just a matter of editing out artwork and accessories. I wanted the room to have a feeling of calm and sophistication this time, so I eliminated several pictures and moved others around. The large picture above the bed was replaced with a small wooden mirror.

The bed was flanked with two toile framed pictures that had been above a dresser. Side note on those: Our first house in Hawaii had blue and cream toile drapes and pillows, with our old duvet set, in the master bedroom. Being on a budget, I cut out a couple of my favorite scenes from the French toile fabric, put them in oval mats, and framed them. Eighteen years later, they are still favorites.

So, that’s the story of the master bedroom re-do and the game of dominoes we played to get there. By purchasing a couple of new items, changing out the pillows, moving things from one room to another, and editing artwork and accessories, we have a completely different look. Every time I walk in, I just smile, whether it be during the daytime or evening. Best of all, my husband loves it. And you know what they say, “happy husband, happy life.” Actually, no one says that because it doesn’t rhyme, but you know what I mean…

Good tidings,


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