The master bedroom gets a facelift

The renovation drought is officially over, but a month ago I wouldn’t have guessed that we would choose this space to go first.

Let me back up. Let’s talk about the master bedroom. It’s a fine/functional/we-just-dropped-furniture-in-here type of space. I mean, we were using moving boxes for side tables until September!

We don’t love the space, and there are plenty of things that need addressed:

  1. Awful paint scheme
  2. Random unpainted access panel in the ceiling
  3. Inadequate lighting
  4. Ugly tile
  5. SIX DOORS and no place to put the bed except the half wall
  6. Bizarre closet arrangement that blocks a window
  7. The half wall
    Oh, half wall, you flow interrupting, unfinished eyesore. Before we closed on this place I had grand plans to knock you out. “First thing! FIRST THING!” I swore to anyone who would listen. You’re the worst.









Besides the long list above the room had some other minor issues, like a missing doorknob. (Broken off with a brick from the yard in a fit of panic at the sound of rushing water. Don’t worry, the water was actually seeping through some random holes in the laundry room and this occurred well before we had anything in the firehouse that could get ruined.)


Plenty of light switches and outlets that simply don’t work. Some were painted to match the wall. Some were plate-less.



Missing trim…


This mess… which is certainly our fault, but easy to look past on a daily basis.


Trim that is in place but not nailed down…


And this mess… which is ironic because we’ve had the mount for the TV since before we moved in. It did get aΒ  lot of action through the temperate months when it held one of the windows opens for us.


And, honestly, none of that bothered me that much until (there’s always an until) a local magazine contacted us wanting to include the firehouse in an upcoming issue that highlights interesting rehabbed spaces. I tried explaining that the studio is the only space that’s really done. While looking at pictures on our blog, the editor said, “The master bedroom looks pretty good.”

I (obviously) protested. She wanted to talk to her art director. I wanted to talk to Aaron.

When I looked at the space with fresh/maybe-we-could-fix-this eyes, I thought, “It wouldn’t take that much paint.” I causally brought up the idea of, “Hey, if this magazine wants to come shoot our space, maybe we should paint the bedroom.” Which snowballed into his suggestion to paint the trim, doors and half wall to make some of the suburban disappear. Cut to us grabbing some paint swatches from Home Depot.


Because this is truly an “in between” makeover (we have big plans for this space… and every space so there was no reason to linger over the choice) and I’m married to a photographer who has a color sense that would make any designer jealous, we quickly honed in on Dark Cavern (bottom right). We wanted to go with a darker shade than our previous bedrooms (we’re still strongly considering black after we renovate) and the warm tone matched our bedding the best.

In the meantime, the editor decided that “yes, we would love to feature your space” and gave us a whopping 10 days to complete the makeover. A few days later and a LOT OF EDGING we had this:


What a difference a few cans of paint make!

Of course, we took a few minutes to add some trim (which had to be custom fabricated, because nothing is ever easy at the firehouse), replace the switches and outlets with black versions and spray the handles and hinges a darker color so everything blends in.



I have momentarily stopped cussing at the half wall.






The access panel (upper left) even got a quick swipe of Antique White so it would blend in. Can we not talk about how much it pained us to buy “white” paint with any kind of tint?






I went into full staging/nesting mode in light of the impending photo shoot. My bedside table got a few new pieces of milk glass that we picked up in recent jaunts to surrounding antique malls.



The walls even got some art. (ART!!) A few fog pictures from long ago.






And Aaron got his very own side table staging thanks to some vintage pieces that haven’t seen the light of day in nearly a year.





Oh my! It feels good to decorate!


Obviously, it’s not perfect. The half wall disdain will surely creep back, in and we decided to nix the light gray curtains in favor of black pull down shades, which are on their way. But I actually smile when I walk in the room. We can certainly live with this, and actually enjoy it, while we focus on some more public spaces over the next few years.

This wasn’t the only thing we painted in that tight timeline. The others are looking a bit brighter (white… obviously). Any guesses?


    1. Thanks!

  1. love it! it looks great! I wish we could have Aaron give us a quick pick of a living room paint color, we are deciding between so many shades of grey (no pun intended).

    1. Meaghan – I keep telling you that you if you lived in St Louis we could help with all these things πŸ˜‰
      Grey is hard. Just be mindful of the undertones (warm vs cool) and what you’re going to pair with it.

  2. Dudes. Wow. Very nice. I looked at it on my phone, but the real computer pictures are where it’s at. I think Aaron’s side table clock should inspire your entire bedroom scheme: steely grey, deep teal, with pops of red and white.

    Speaking of white, I love whites with tints added to them! Not necessarily ‘antique’ tints, but some of the best so-called ‘pure’ whites are adjusted to some degree. Well, that’s my two cents. Where’s my change?

    1. Thanks! It is a pretty crazy transformation.
      I love, love the piece on Aaron’s side table. It’s actually a dark room timer!

      Ha! I told the woman at the magazine “You don’t know white until you marry a photographer.” My photographer mate is particularly picky – untinted is the only white to him πŸ™‚

  3. And now I want to redecorate our bedroom. What a difference with just a little paint! We painted Kidzilla’s room recently (two shades of pink, what else?) and it looks a thousand times better, even though we did absolutely nothing else but paint.

    My Mom had milk glass like that year and years ago. I’m pretty sure it’s all gone in various directions. Maybe some of it ended up in your place!

    1. I know! It’s crazy that paint can really transform a space.
      Every girl deserves a pink (or two shades of pink) bedroom πŸ™‚
      Maybe! I love that those pieces have history even if I’ll never know it.

  4. You two did a great job. I love it.

    1. Thanks!

  5. Yay for getting featured! I hope you celebrated in other ways than painting. And holy moly that’s a lot of work. I take back all the bitching I did over our bathroom this past weekend! But man that room was all over the place- at least it’s a lot easier to look at now!

    1. Ha! Nope. Just painted and painted and painted. We’re coming up on our 1 year anniversary of owning the firehouse so I think that calls for a good bottle of wine.
      Your weekend updates look great (you can never go wrong with white and the crown molding totally makes that soffit feel right). Plus they seem much more manageable than ‘PAINT ALL THE THINGS’ πŸ™‚

  6. It’s so crazy how much a teeny bit of “holdover” work can make you feel much better and more polished about a space. The bathroom in the space we bought is totally functional, but “needs” a bit of updating. Without a bathroom-updating budget (and with other areas needing actual help first), we opted to repaint it a brighter white and swap out the hardware and medicine cabinet on Sunday. Still far from perfect, but the next morning when I walked in it felt like a brand new space.

    Really love watching your space unfold. It helps keep us motivated in Chicago to keep plucking away alongside. πŸ™‚

    1. Exactly! It’s nice to walk into a space and smile πŸ™‚
      Thanks for keeping up with our changes and for your comments.

  7. Heather! Love it! And I am so excited to hear about the magazine. Great things are coming πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to see the article!

    1. Thanks!! I still need to see pictures of your new kitchen! πŸ™‚

  8. […] few cans of paint eeked the master bedroom (and a few other spaces) onto the “upgraded in the first year” […]

  9. […] Can we talk about living in a half-renovated building? My trick to survival is to ignore. The downstairs living room is overrun by tools and our bridal show booth? Ignore it. The awesome bathroom has a leak that makes it non-functional? Ignore it. The trim in the bedroom isn’t attached to the wall? Ignore it until you fix it when you are inspired to paint the space. […]

  10. […] magazine feature that amped us up to paint the master bedroom and hall is now up on Alive Magazine! Hop over to their site to see a few sweet shots of our space […]

  11. […] the blue in the tile (which the old paint color highlighted) and to tie it into the master bedroom. We coated our bedroom inΒ Behr’s Dark Cavern about three years ago, which is apparently long enough for Behr to discontinue a color. In lieu of going with a lighter […]

  12. […] It’s really odd and not worth the time or effort to even things out. So, just like in the master bedroom at the firehouse, we painted it in order to get it to blend in with the […]

  13. […] We historically don’t put a lot of emphasis on our master bedroom. The only reason the master bedroom in the firehouse got a paint job was because a magazine threatened… err offered to photograph it as it stood. Similarly, we […]

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