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Master Bedroom Update + Another Ask the Audience


Friends. If you are following along on insta-story you know that I’m styling every single room of our house right now for a big shoot with Real Simple on Wednesday. So this post is going to be brief (ish) and potentially riddled with grammatical mistakes! It’s like an olympic styling challenge. Luckily I’ve been training for 12 years, but man it’s a lot of work making ever. single. room. camera ready.

Meanwhile I wanted to give you an update on our bedroom and get your opinion on one VERY important thing.

Let’s recap: here is the bedroom before we renovated:


A blank canvas, for sure.


We put in new flooring (from build-direct) and added square footage to the still small closet (see closet makeover on friday!). That room has pretty windows and great peaceful views so we don’t care that it’s on the smaller side. I feel like the expectations for me is that I have a mansion, so I always annoying apologize that I have normal (yet totally lovely) house. Bear with me – there are a lot of you giving me feedback – some saying ‘Wow, your house is so small compared to most of America‘ and some saying ‘Stop saying your house is small! It’s big compared to us in the city!’. I’m trying to balance how I talk about the size. The truth is, it’s actually perfect for us right now. She feels big downstairs with smaller bedrooms upstairs and we think it’s just right.

Here she is before we moved in, fully renovated:


We lived like this for a few months (with some temporary blackout shades that we took out for this shoot because they looked WAY too depressing).


We had a dresser that didn’t work (see this controversial design mistake here) and Brian had to work temporarily in this room because our basement office flooded (like 3″ during the month where LA did a VERY good, but unappreciated impression, of Portland during its most rainy month EVER).

I started pulling some triggers and ordered this beautiful new dresser that was the perfect size, scale and of course a custom paint color. It’s from a company in LA whose work I LOVE and have pinned the heck out of every piece. They make new, beautiful english country inspired pieces – but all custom so you can control everything. It’s all made in LA with such stunning craftsmanship. It ain’t cheap. But this level of local craftsmanship shouldn’t be inexpensive and I’m happy to suggest them to those of you who have the budget to hire local artisans. You know I promote inexpensive mass market pieces all the time, but I also want to nudge those of you who can afford it to hire local, extremely talented and experienced artisans for special pieces. We have a combination of both special and mass market in our home and it works.

Back to the dresser. Brian loved this style the most (which shocked me) and they asked me for my custom color. We sampled 10 different colors and all agreed that Caldwell green was a classic, historic green on the darker side that would help it feel modern. We asked for it to be in a flat finish because, well, flat finish is currently cooler than semi-gloss (depending on the space).


I love that lady, although I thought that the green was going to be much darker. Paint colors are tricky and I held up the swatch of paper that I had painted, the one that sold us on the color and it was IDENTICAL. On a piece of furniture they tend to go lighter than you think they would. I still love it, though, and when it’s next to that Cherner chair … UGH. So amazing.

Then I found this huge Heywood Wakefield mirror at a thrift store in the valley for $90 (above). The wood didn’t match the dresser, obviously, but it was so pretty and HUGE so I went for it. I was on the fence for a while because I didn’t want an attached mirror to date the piece (nor did I want to paint it the green for fear of dating it even more). But I LOVED waking up to it. It was calm, simple and graphic. We decided that while it was kinda weird that we would go for it and attach it to the dresser (in the photo above a bath towel separates it from the dresser so it wouldn’t scratch it –  it was just leaning against the wall).


On the other side of the room are my nightstands (from Made Goods) and lamps (Rejuvenation) from our last house which I still LOVE. For the bed, we agreed with your vote and ordered that Rejuvenation windsor style bed. It’s PERFECT. I know a lot of you have the ‘bed in front of window’ problem and I’m here to say that an open headboard like this is your answer.

Plus we put in the new window treatments from Calico which are stunning. We float the bed out a few inches and the curtains perfectly frame the bed.

But then, ugh, we BROKE that mirror above the dresser.

We were installing it and we put too much pressure as we drilled into the back of the dresser, and it cracked and then exploded in broken glass. FUN! We still have the frame and we can get a custom mirror made to fit inside, but truthfully it is right next to another full length mirror that we need and love so it wasn’t perfect anyway. Two huge mirrors next to each other wouldn’t be obvious in a shoot because we could cheat it, but in real life it did feel like A LOT of mirror (see below).

So I experimented a bit … as I do. And I have a couple options for you – although NOT fully styled. I threw some lamps and props up there for dimension, but please only look at what is on the wall.

Option: the gallery wall:


You may have watched that insta-story. It took a few hours to get right. It’s a combination of different orientations, sizes, mediums and frames. Some have glass, some don’t. Some are modern, some old-world. We have one big anchor piece. All are in our color palette. I love each piece so much and together they look GREAT.

We played with lamps (above are two Target lamps available now).


I switched it up and added that schoolhouse lamp, which is even simpler and feels more modern.


I love that lamp, too and in person it felt too big but in this photo it’s actually fine … UGH. SO MANY GOOD OPTIONS.

And of course we tried two different lamps and it just seemed like too much.


I REALLY like the gallery wall. I do. But I lived with it for a few days and waking up to it (our bed is across the room) felt really busy. It was just too much for my little scattered brain who needs less things to stare at at 4am when I’m trying to convince myself that the house is decorated enough and that I should sleep…..

Then I remembered that I had this huge seascape and we tried that:


I know it’s less exciting, I get that. It feels small, but it’s HUGE. I also don’t like the frame as it’s faux finished. But the overall vision for the house and especially my bedroom is calmness and yes, I preferred this when I woke up. It makes me feel more calm and frankly nothing is more important to me than that feeling.


The debate isn’t totally over.

When I asked Brian, Sara and Brady they all preferred the gallery wall. I wavered. Do I LOVE the gallery wall in this photo more? YES. It’s a superior photo.

But in real life? Hmm. The bedroom is small and I really want it to be simplified and calm.

Obviously you can tell what I want and your comments probably won’t change my mind, but I thought it would be a fun debate to just see what you guys preferred. Do you think I’m boring? It’s not like I’m shoving that art in the trash if I don’t use it in this room. There are many rooms in my house that need more art.

So option #1: get the mirror replaced. #2: gallery wall. #3 large seascape (with painted dark frame).

Weigh in, folks (and check insta-story for what I chose :)) In the meantime here are all the resources for the room.

Resources: Green Dresser: English Farmhouse Furniture | Laundry Basket: Schoolhouse Electric | Black and Brass Task Lamps: Target | Tray: Vintage | Vintage Chair: County Ltd. | Leather Nightstands: Made Goods | Bedframe: Rejuvenation | Roman Shades: Calico Corners | Curtains: Calico Corners | Wall Mirror: DWR | Flushmount Light: Circa Lighting | Brass Lamp: Schoolhouse Electric | White Ceramic Lamp: Schoolhouse Electric | Wooden Blanket Ladder: Target. Woven basket, vintage cherner chair, pendant light.

Fin Mark


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R May

Even the gallery is wonderful, I say go with the seascape… it lets the gorgeous dresser shine a bit more. (And I totally agree with CALM being the way to go in your bedroom.)


Large seascape

I definitely prefer the seascape! I love the simplicity, and the seafoam green and blue tones give the space a very calm feeling. Plus there is something about the sea itself that is just soothing, and I imagine it is a lovely way to wake up!


My suggestion: The three central pieces from your gallery wall. The abstract one on the left, the tree at bottom right (but hung to end at exactly the same height as the abstract one), and then your favorite one of the smaller pieces on top of the tree. Brian, Sara, and Brady are right about the seascape, it’s too small. I love the gallery wall, but I can see why you want to tone it down. Keep up the good work!


I think this is a great suggestion and would be a fabulous solution. Good size and scale, but it tones it down a bit. I didn’t realize until I read this comment, but I think the smaller pieces off to the side are what make it feel so busy.


I agree, it is the smaller pieces on the sides that make it feel too busy. I love the seascape, but I do think it is too small for above the dresser. You should probably go with what calms you, though. We have a huge window across from our bed so I wake up staring at trees. It’s quite calming. I purposefully kept our bedroom very simple because I want it to be a serene place.

You know what, I thought that too! For a while when I was still allowing the idea of the seascape I was just going to remove the outer two on both sides. I should have shot it that way!! It looked strangely empty on both sides, then. And I know its hard to believe me but the seascape is HUGE. like 5 feet. It’s not too small, just looks small compared to the gallery wall. So funny.


If it does feel small, rather than paint the frame, why not get it matted and reframed? You can then cheat it to the totally optimal size!

Also – I like the peace in a bedroom too. Even though the gallery wall is more fun to look at.


Since they think it looks a little small, why not fill in the space off to the side with a large jug/container with some leafy/branchy stuff in it? It would still have a peaceful vibe.


What about re-framing the seascape with a mat so it takes up more wall space?

Kristy Taylor

What if you get a tall narrow floor lamp to put next to the dresser on one side and do a hanging or wall plant thing for the other side to balance things out and fill up the extra space? I think if you just stuck with a simple gallery wall and looked for things to help balance it with other options, you will be abel to figure something fantastic out.


I second this suggestion!


I was just coming to post the exact same thing!!! The gallery wall but with fewer pieces and get rid of those bits “off to the side” make it look a bit more uniform and calming. And keep the large white lamp – gorgeous!

Amy Madeline

I like this! The seascape is lovely, calming and certainly works, but I think a three piece mini gallery could also be relaxing to awaken too, and a bit more interesting and personal. In my small living room I have my first “gallery” group of three original art pieces, collected over time, which curiously all have an amusement park theme. Two are are very minimal in design and the largest is a dreamlike collage of black and white vintage photos. They are very calming and enjoyable to look at when I sit back to relax on my sofa.

Yes – I agree — simplify the gallery wall! And though the ‘ask the audience’ was about the art — loving the schoolhouse lamp balancing the modernity of the Cherner chair!


I think I prefer the seascape over all. The gallery wall is dope, but I like the simplicity and calmness that the seascape brings. It also seems more “English-y” than a gallery wall too, so I guess maybe I feel like it fits the home as a whole better? It looks lovely over that green-blue dresser. I really love how the room is coming together as a whole, it looks great!


I completely agree – as a Brit, the seascape reminds me of a room of a cottage I stayed in in Cornwall, especially with the style of the dresser and think this is the way you should go in the bedroom.


I like the seascape so much more in this space. The gallery wall is beautiful but I agree that it would feel like too much. For a real bedroom to wake up in, I’d pick the seascape

I LOVE that you guys are agreeing with me! Brian/Sara/Brady were all against me but I pulled the ‘i’m i charge card’. Ginny agreed with me (and she’s a brit!)


I agree that the seascape is way more calming. I usually like gallery walls, but not here. If it seems small when above the dresser and you don’t like the frame anyway, reframe it with something a bit wider that’s more your taste!


Hi Emily, I’m thinking the gallery wall for shoot with the one gold lamp. (I love those target ones but i think they get lost in art) & then maybe the large painting for after shoot as you deserve to wake up in a calm space. Megan Australua

Georgette Parkerson

Agree with using the gallery wall and gold lamp for the shoot.
Like the seascape, but it feels a little too small — also, is maybe hung a few inches too high.

I would agree with you guys but I need that art for other rooms and while surely i’ll be changing things a lot, I would LOVE to have my favorite art locked down so that I don’t have to change it all after the shoot. The seascape is good enough to shoot. It’s not as editorial but once I style out the top it will be editorial enough (which I did, last night and you’ll see on insta-story today – as soon as Brian wakes up).


Go with the gold lamp and seascape. Then sell me the frame from the mirror. 🙂


Also, I think you got the tone right about discussing size of house.


I was going to suggest the same as Megan, but you have a good point. And for the seascape, maybe framing it with some white space around it and a blue frame would work?


large seascape!


The gallery wall is pretty, but I’d prefer waking up to the seascape as well. It’s a lot less busy, and personally, my brain needs that pre-coffee. And it’s so pretty with your dresser. Also, definitely like the Target lamps the best.


The seascape painting, for sure. I agree, the gallery wall is to busy to be the first thing you look at when you wake up..a bedroom should give you a sense of calm. I love the dresser, by the way. Actually, I love everything about your style.

I’d say do the seascape with a taller item next to the drawers. Like a fiddle leaf or floor lamp. It just needs a little height in my opinion. I also prefer the “quieter” feeling for a bedroom, although the other options are all totally lovely.


Yes, a nice tall plant behind the chair in the corner. Bedrooms need a hit of natural green plant life! Fiddle leaf would be lovely.


Yep, I think something taller than the basket would work…. or maybe sconces on either side of the seascape instead of lamps on the dresser, just something else with height. And I have to stop myself from doing a #gallerywallseverywhere look in my own home- I love the collectedness of them but it can be busy.

Ha, I thought the exact same thing. It needs a big plant and it would totally work–either a tall one or one hanging from the ceiling.


Gallery walls have always been too busy for me. I vote for something calmer, especially above that beautiful dresser.


Agreed. And they are overdone.


If you’re taking photos of the room, I vote gallery wall. It looks more interesting and exciting.

If you’re living in the room, I vote do what creates the feeling you desire (in your case, the calm from having a single piece).


That dresser is a stunner! I love the gallery wall, but it doesn’t feel right for the space and I think it detracts from the beauty and simplicity of the dresser. I definitely vote for the mirror. I just think it compliments it the best and seems most appropriate for the space. Second vote would be the seascape, which is also a lovely choice.


Seascape. I’m kind of over gallery walls in general, and I agree that in a bedroom it’s too busy. You just need to work on the lamps. Those black Target lamps are cool but they look like task lighting. So my vote is seascape with the perfect lamp(s).

We talk about this all the time – being ‘over’ gallery walls. I tend to agree but every now and again I’ll find an inspiration image of a gallery wall that blows me away. usually its wall to wall and floor to cieling and the art is of course STUNNING, like gallery and of course $10k worth of art. So in the right place with the right art, and curated just perfectly I still LOVE the idea of a ton of art together on a wall, but I’m definitely leaning more towards one single piece or two that work perfectly together, etc, too. In my living room I did two mini gallery walls (just 3 pieces) and I like it a lot (as of today 🙂


Emily, I would love to hear more about how much blank space you can/should leave on your walls. I struggle with this often and I don’t recall you ever sharing any thoughts about this.

I have a gallery wall over my rather large TV and besta unit that look like thiscomment image but only 5 cabinets long. While I sometimes consider taking down the gallery wall, I don’t know how to navigate art around the TV any other way.

I, too, am over gallery walls and am myself considering getting rid of a gallery wall in our master. The gallery wall is way more standout in this photo, but because of my previous statement, I say seascape.

Seascape with new frame! Waking up to calm and serenity outweighs all else! The transformation is beautiful!


I agree! Seascape in a different frame. The painting looks like an oil or maybe an acrylic so it shouldn’t be under glass which means no mat. However, I think it needs a little breathing space to have the impact you need in that space. What about a frame with a linen or canvas liner (basically a border of fabric between the painting and the frame)?


I’m with you- I like the calmness of #3 the best

Sherrie S

Seascape for sure – calmness is important in a bedroom. But I feel like you could still add one or 2 things to the right or left of the seascape – maybe a macrame? Something textural that’s not framed. I like the idea of no symmetry and adding one or 2 more things fills up the space without the busyness of a gallery wall.


Seascape, hands down. I love the mirror, but not the hassle of re-mirroring, (could you use it as a frame for a pretty tapestry?), Oor the double mirror combo. So the seascape wins! It does feel so calm and peaceful, and I like how its colors.go so well with your curtains.. peace is your wish…go after it. That chair is gorgeous!! And the busyness of the gallery takes away from the movement of the chair silhouette.


What about sconces beside the seascape?


I was thinking of sconces too! Maybe some plug in ones from schoolhouse electric? The seascape is Emily’s preference, but it does feel small on that long wall. So some large sconces would help fill up the empty space on either side of the painting.


Oh, YES.




Definitely the seascape love it with the dresser!! I agree, I want my bedroom to be an oasis from the chaos of life!


gallery wall!

much prefer the seascape. better vibe, not so busy, pairs very well with the dresser.

Tara Turner

I vote gallery wall! Specifically the one with the white and gold lamp. Something about the combo of two lamps really works in this space. I get that it is visually cluttering for you to wake up to every morning but I don’t think the seascape is big enough for that wall and considering the other two major walls in the room have a lot of windows, you don’t have that much space to hang art. So if you’re going to hang it, make sure it’s worth it! My only thoughts on the seascape is that maybe sconces on either side would help fill in the space? You do have sconces throughout the main floor, so that could be an option? But I still vote gallery wall!


ditto on the sconces; love the seascape but the lamps block it slightly which cuts down on its tranquility factor (i.e., craning a bit to see around/through them). I wonder if the painting is feeling small to viewers because, with the lamps, the space looks crowded but there’s lots of white wall to either side?


I am so over gallery-walls, for the reason you said… they look busy! Plus, with so many moving parts, one or two of the pictures always look crooked (even in your photo, a couple are crooked). I love the seascape and I think the colors tie in perfectly with the dresser. Less is more in decorating for me!!


I love the gallery wall and maybe do that for the shoot, but ultimately do what feels best for you after the shoot. If that means a single simplified art piece than so be it. You are the one who has to live with it. Personally my bedroom (and all the rooms in my house) have a lot of art in them. I love to buy original art and have way overcollected, but I like to showcase them. I think once something is up for a while you barely see it anyway. It sort of all fades together after awhile.

I would say that I would like to see a bigger piece over the dresser. Maybe a really huge photograph or something. Despite that painting being big it still looks too small on the wall. Then again, your bedroom and you have to look at it daily so if that painting makes you happy leave it up there. I have a drawing of little people clowns over my dresser. Can’t say most would love it, but I do. Its also helps that its not in color so the clown factor is toned down a lot.


#3!!! I <3 the seascape. The color from the dresser picks up the colors in the painting very nicely. I like the more minimal, less busy look more, even in photos. And I can just imagine it is better to wake up to in real life. Seascape for the win!!!


I vote gallery wall for the photoshoot (get the great shot) and then go to the seascape for your own peace of mind! None of us have to live there and life is hectic enough!


yes. agree.

#3 – Seascape hands down. I think the gallery wall is busy even in the picture. The seascape with the gorgeous dresser and that chair mean that wall is absolutely visually interesting, but also restful and not overwhelming.


I love how you obsess over the small details, but when it’s done right – IT’S JUST RIGHT. I can relate. My two cents: keep the sea-scape, that’s your favorite anyway, and use two different lamps to bring interest back to that wall. It won’t look busy, because the lamps won’t cover the frame like they did the gallery wall. Best of both worlds.

Personally, I just install a picture shelf / rail, for easy changes in the future. I hate committing to one thing, even only visually.


What a beautiful dresser! Great choice and amazing color. I have to say, I heavily prefer the seascape option. It feels simple and graceful. That’s my vote.


Sea Scape, for sure!


large seascape with dark frame, by far! I am much more into pared-down focus these days. Gallery walls feel chaotic and, honestly, a bit dated. I think simplicity, especially in a bedroom, is so much more artful.

Katy DeBardelaben

Definitely in the minority here but I vote mirror! Having a mirror above a dresser just feels so natural and calming. If it’s too much mirror, maybe take out the full length and replace it with art there. Like a sculptural piece, wall hanging, or vertical gallery wall. I just always think a mirror wants and needs to be above a dresser.


I agree. That shot with the curves of the chair and lamp echoing the curves of the mirror makes my heart sing! Maybe then a few prints on each side of the mirror?


Absolutely 100% seascape. I love a calm and lovely bedroom.


#3 for sure

Penny at Enjoying The Simple Things

Large seascape please….love it.


Is there a happy medium between gallery wall and one large painting? Like hanging 3 smaller paintings? I agree on the too busy feeling of the gallery wall especially in your master bedroom. I can see a gallery wall if you were going for an overstuffed look but your other decor choices in the room are sedate and calm.

Definitely option 3!! I love a good gallery wall (I have one in my dining area) but for a bedroom I prefer to keep things more simple. I think the large seascape looks great and that dresser is AMAZE.


I’d like to see Option C – a less busy gallery wall, with all the frames and mattes the same, just different sizes and orientations. This would also give you bit of blog content as you could talk about “busy versus calming gallery walls”. (I actually think it’s the large abstract that’s making it look too busy, that baby deserves to stand alone.)

On a related note (that you didn’t ask about) I find two lamps on the dresser to much. I’m European and always a little baffled by the American devotion to symmetry, but I think two lamps is both more light than any space that size needs, and also it busies up the space more.


I prefer the gallery wall with just the schoolhouse lamp BUT it’s your room. You wake up in it everyday, and if you prefer the calmer seascape then that’s the answer. Design should ALWAYS take into account the tastes of the person it is designed for.


Seascape. The gallery wall made me grit my teeth from the beginning. Love the seascape, classes up the whole room!


Seascape! 🙂


Love both, but agree with you on the calmness of the seascape. I’d prefer to wake up that to that also. But reframe it in a more simple/modernish canvas wood frame so there isn’t so much gold and it speaks to the chair. LOVE the dresser.


Seascape, for sure; I am not digging the gallery wall. However, the painting does seem a touch undersized, and I don’t love those lamps with it… Glad you have to decide on a deadline and not me! Ha. It will be beautiful. (PS Compared to most folks, I kinda think you do live in a mansion…)


The dresser is a beauty! I would prefer the seascape but maybe its hung a little high?


I vote for option #2, the gallery wall cuz it works with the space and the dresser. Yes, it might be ‘busier’than you’d like but the lone seascape doesn’t seem very “bedroom” to me. Plus, I’ve heard that it isn’t good feng shui to have art in the bedroom that features water as it interferes with the positive energy or some such thing. So go #2! Lovin’ this old house and everything you are doing to make it a home for your family!

I think the seascape is beautiful and the colors are perfect. I’m with you on going the calm route especially in your bedroom. If the faux finish on the frame bothers you (hard to tell how good or bad it is in the photos) can you update to a floater frame?


Definitely the gallery wall, option 2. You like the seascape now, but you will get tired of it. The gallery wall will look less busy over time, as your eyes adjust to it. Maybe removing the black frame on the big abstract focus piece might make it feel less busy and calmer. Alternatively, maybe do a black frame on the small middle one and make its frame the same size as its neighboring black frame (the symmetry may increase feelings of calmness). I think what happened here is that maybe a minor tweak was needed that the rest of us (and by us, I mean Brian, Sara, Brady and I) don’t see. And so, instead of just doing that minor thing (whatever it may be), you went full-on “artist mode” and changed everything (which is actually usually a great thing because trial and error and experimentation are blogging gold, as well as artistically / creatively really satisfying). But, I just think in this one case, going with the seascape would feel kind of sporadic (knee-jerky) and forced, which is the opposite of calm. This is not to say that others haven’t had great reasons for choosing a different option than… Read more »

Everything in your bedroom is turning out beautifully! I love the seascape. It is more calm and the colors are perfect. If the faux finish on the frame bothers you, can you update it to a pretty floater frame? Not sure if you have time or if it’s possible…can’t wait to see your new home all styled out!! I know it will look amazing.

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