Captain’s bedroom – Art and Afters

After putting everything in place in the captain’s bathroom turned closet/bar, we were both ready to close the book on this makeover and finish this space for our first house guests who are coming this weekend! That meant getting the art up on the wall and digging through the boxes of accessories that have been patiently waiting for a home.

In the dresser area, we bought a simple black frame from for our $10 map and opted for UV glass to guard against fading. Then I pulled in some driftwood (which we dragged home during this photo session, I love how white it looks against these walls.) A little radio tube lamp my dad fashioned for us and some old sign holders round out the accessories. I tried to keep the flat surfaces pretty clear so guests have a place to set things. The big mother-in-law’s tongue (some people call it a snake plant) is still hanging out nearby, but eventually we might get something with more height or bring in a plant stand.

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I also pulled all of our books out of storage and decided that this section of the dresser was a perfect spot for a hidden library. I left a few out on the desk, and the rest are tucked here for easy access for us or our guests.


Over the Mr. Chair we hung a black and white St Louis map that Aaron gave me for Christmas a few years ago. We considered a few pieces for this area, but loved how the black and white popped against the brick. We still want to find a small side table and maybe a lamp for this area.

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Over the desk, we finally hung this huge piece of art we scored at Rocket Century many, many months ago. I layered in some books and a few glass pieces, including two vases with old radio tubes in them. We scored a whole bin of radio tubes at an antique mall for just $20!


Something about this space feels a little off… so I wouldn’t be surprised if things get tweaked.


I stuck a few good books between stone book ends (I think we picked these up at the South County Antique Mall.)


The globe bank was a gift from Aaron, and the air plant and holder was a housewarming gift from a friend. I’m pretty happy that I’ve managed to keep it alive!


We’re always looking for interesting photo books, especially Ansel Adams. All of these are antique mall finds except the Uelsmann, which we picked up at Powell Books (as you do) on our trek across the Pacific Northwest last summer.


Here’s a closer look at the vases and radio tubes. I also stuck this cloche-like glass cylinder here to make it an odd set of items. I’m a big fan of odd numbered  pairings. They feel more natural than even numbered ones.

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Getting the art and accessories in place really makes the whole space feel complete. It’s a far cry from where we started this project, and even though I’ve shared a million pictures of this space, I love complete before and after shots.

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I mean, seriously, the transformation is like a breath of fresh air. You don’t even notice the exposed brick in the original shot.

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It’s also nice to corral some of the clutter and give every part of this space a real function.

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Axing the closet is one of my favorite changes in this space.

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So that’s it! It’s DONE! It always feels so good to finalize a space. Sure, we might tweak some accessories and swap out the side tables by the bed, but those adjustments are a pretty natural part of our design process.

  1. So good. Those radio tubes (or are they set design leftovers from The Matrix?) are so cool! I’m also pretty sure that entire room is about as big as our whole apartment. Certainly our living room/kitchen and bathroom would fit easily in there. Quite the decadent retreat!

    1. Right? There were actually TWO milk crates full of those tubes. I couldn’t convince Aaron to get both, but considering we’re only using about half of what we got… it was probably the right decision.

      Lol! This is definitely a huge space. If it makes you feel any better, it’s bigger than my kitchen… which makes me a tiny bit sad.

  2. It’s perfect! Amazing transformation.

    1. Thanks, Laura!

  3. totally a lurker who started reading your blog after seeing the house hunter episode. Love the finished room! Have you considered putting in one of the sign holders a little welcome sign and your wifi network and password for your guests? I think that’s a totally nice touch when you have guests, though I can also understand that it might be visually cluttering — you have a far better eye for design than I do (which is why I love your blog).

    1. Hi Sarah! We’ll take lurkers (that sounded better in my head…) I’ve seen the “wifi password” sign in other people’s pictures of guestrooms. It’s a cool idea! I’m kind of in love with the empty sign holders, but I’ve thought about working the wifi password into the closet/bar/dressing area somehow.

  4. That looks absolutely lovely and inviting, I can’t even believe where it started. The orange paint and blue trim is a major head scratcher, how can someone not at least realize something is wrong while they spend hours painting the trim and staring at that eye-watering colour combination? But you turned it into a serene oasis. I think as a guest, the only thing left that I’d want is a way to turn the room dark. In my home, I have light-blocking (and reflecting, also good against heat) rolllerblinds from Ikea that are inexpensive, but made a huge difference in the quality of my sleep. A room that begins to brighten with dawn is a sure way to make me sleep really badly. The shades still let some light in from the sides, but it’s a far cry from before. When not in use, they just roll up into an unobtrusive white stick above the window.

    What you said about the corner with the desk feeling off, I felt as well. Maybe it’s because the picture is hung aligned with the line of the right base part, and also the left and center arrangements as well as the far right glass tube being about the same height as bottom of the picture? I do love the items you picked, but with those alignments, it feels a bit like a grid instead of playful. Maybe you can try hanging the picture a bit more to the left and play around with the height of the decorations some more. Possibly add something on the left side that’s a bit higher than the picture-bottom.

    With all that said, I’d switch my bedroom for your guest room in a heart beat. To be so far that the only thing left to do is rearrange some decorations… sigh (longingly). As your guest, I’d feel so welcome entering that room. Well done!

    1. Right?! They went to great lengths to put so much horrible color up on the wall… and the window frames… and the duct work…

      You’re totally right! We actually have a set of Ikea shades that are going up tomorrow! I didn’t think it was interesting enough to hold out for or to post solo, but rest assured that they are going in. We like to sleep in a cave so I sympathize with people who need darkness at night.

  5. Great space! Where did you find the rug? I’m currently looking for something similar for my living room.

    1. Thanks! We found it on Rugs Direct, but then also found it on One Kings Lane for much cheaper. There’s some more info and a link in this post:

  6. Wow! Great work, what an awesome transformation!

    1. Thanks, Holly!

  7. It looks fantastic! Between the darker walls that really allow the brick to show off, and axing the closet, it looks HUGE. I mean, it was always quite a large room but now it looks that way. Also, do your guests use the pole?

    1. Thanks, Mel! They’re welcome to use the pole, however it needs waxed (so it really rubs against bare skin) and it drops into a construction zone. That doesn’t necessarily stop people though 🙂

  8. Everything looks gorgeous! I love how the wall color and the brick really play off of each other and all of the hardwood. Odd question: how do you clean surfaces and things that you put in vases? I hate having to empty out jars of rocks to wipe them all down, but the alternative involves a lot of dust and cat hair.

    1. Oh man… I don’t. Is that horribly gross? Maybe don’t answer that. This room is pretty much a no dog zone, which helps with the hair. I usually dust the outside and whatever I can reach on the inside (so the tops of the tubes in this case.) I’m probably not the best person to give cleaning advice…

  9. Great work! It’s crazy seeing how much more room that removed closet adds. It’s seriously impressive. I’m just as equally impressed with your plant skills. I want ALL THE PLANTS, but Chuck is sure to remind me of the two plant killers in our house: 1. Me 2. Louie. Ha!! Can’t wait to see what you guys do next! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Steph!
      The plants are a lot of trial and error. I buy plenty of plants that die… including one pot of ivy that withered before I had a chance to repot it. The windows in this area make it really easy to keep plants alive. I look like I have ALL the green fingers 😉

  10. I rarely comment, but I just have to say how eagerly I’ve come to wait for your posts and how I adore your style and your guts! You guys are awesome and you have the best DOGS, too!!

    1. Thank you!!! You win at comments for saying you love our guts… and our dogs 🙂

  11. I just, I can’t!


    1. I hope it lived up to the hype 😉

  12. The black and white St Louis map hurts my eyes because of the folds.
    Unless you like the folds, you could consider Ironing the map?

    1. Do you mean the US map? Yeah we know it’s not perfect, but the folds didn’t bother us. I had no idea you could iron paper?!

  13. Oh, wow! That’s awesome. I love, love, love the furniture, especially that dresser. The room looks amazing. I can’t think of anything I don’t like. Can I come over?

    1. Ha! Thanks, Patty. Of course 🙂

  14. This is the first time I comment on a DIY project (website), I’m so impressed by your work! Would you mind sharing where you got your lights? Are you satisfied with the setup as is?

    1. Aaron designed the lights using conduit and lamp cord. There are more details on this post:

  15. […] Reno plans: It’s mostly basic decorating in here: paint, new light/ceiling fan, then figuring out what furnishings and decor we keep from the captain’s bedroom. […]

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