I closed on my home one year ago today. A happy milestone, to be sure, but I remember the day being clouded by so much uncertainty.
The pandemic was just beginning to become catastrophic here in the US. On the day of my closing, I signed my documents behind a plexiglass wall, sliding papers back and forth to the agent through a little paper-sized slot. We were both masked and gloved up, of course, but I remember being tremendously anxious because I forgot to bring my own pen. I left the closing feeling a whirlwind of emotions: guilty pride for securing what I considered to be my dream home during a pandemic that left so many people struggling, regret for feeling as though my timing couldn’t have been any worse, and loneliness for the sheer fact that…well…I felt alone amidst the socially distant nature of it all.
I don’t bring any of this up to trigger COVID-19 memories that we all continue to struggle with or to paint a woeful picture of this objectively joyous memory. I bring it up to underscore how much my life and perceptions have changed since then–for the better! The pandemic was responsible for just one of many sources of my anxiety at the time. The irony of it all, however, is that the generally unsettled decision of purchasing this home one year ago has been responsible for more healing, growth, and self-discovery than I ever anticipated. This couldn’t be made more evident by how happy this primary bedroom makeover makes me feel. Design really is healing, folks (side tab: if you haven’t watched Ilse Crawford’s episode of Abstract on Netflix, please do! It really emphasizes the healing qualities of design).
If you read my introductory article about this project, you might recall that I planned for my primary bedroom makeover to mitigate my anxiety through the calming process of designing and crafting it, the intent of creating a space that helps me establish a routine, and by manifesting a space that reflects some of the anxiety that I’ve confronted and largely overcome during the last year. Let’s break this reveal down accordingly, shall we?! WE SHALL.
DESIGNING AND CRAFTING A TAILORED SPACE
The redesign of this room became a DIY extravaganza and I couldn’t be happier about it! I’m usually of the mindset that if I can’t find an object or design element that exists in the world (or within my price range), that I’ll just try to make it myself. I won’t lie… I’m not always successful in this department… but it’s always worth a try! In the case of my DIY reeded headboard/shelf/wainscoting moment, I’d say that I feel fairly successful and VERY pleased. This reeded wood detail is definitely en vogue at the moment and is often used these days for wall treatments, furniture elements, and cabinet details throughout the design-o-sphere. I often talk about how I like my design plans to feel on-trend, but not trendy, and I think this hits the nail on the head (SPEAKING OF HITTING NAILS ON THEIR HEADS, would anyone be interested in a dedicated DIY tutorial on how exactly this wall came to be? I’d spell it out here for ya, but it would double the length of this already-lengthy reveal. Let me know!).
The marble ledge/shelf and brass rod details add touches of sophistication, function, and timelessness that I think fit right into the vintage style of my home. Those small details also make the feature wall stand apart from the trend in a way that feels unique, but also timely. This feature wall took quite a bit of troubleshooting and rethinking, but I’m a better designer for it!
On the topic of creating things from scratch… would you believe that I made this side table myself? Believe it! I had a difficult time finding a side table that felt appropriate opposite my grandmother’s vintage sewing table on the other side of the bed, so I took matters into my own hands. I combined a marble lazy susan (it still spins!), a brass tray from Ikea, a marble utensil holder from Target, and a metal pipe/pipe fittings to create this custom piece. This piece was definitely a learning experience (the whole thing could DEFINITELY be more stable as it is pretty top heavy), but I loved taking a chance to create something for me, by me. And it’s quite pretty… if I do say so myself. You can check out this feature on Domino for a more in-depth story about this piece!
I LOVE THIS SCREENPRINT by Stamp & Repeat, who I found on Instagram a few months ago. First of all, this piece helped to define the color story for this entire room. Moreover, there is so much power in this piece… the subject feels both strong and extremely vulnerable… both masculine and feminine… which is a dichotomy that isn’t often idealized or celebrated in the Black community. When curating art for this space, it was important for me to surround myself with Black art and Black stories, and this piece certainly made for a good starting point.
While we’re here… can we talk about my new bed and linens for a second? FIRST OFF. THIS BED. FROM TUFT & NEEDLE. This was my first time ordering a mattress from an online retailer, and I may never go to a Mattress Warehouse ever again.
It was tremendously easy to order, deliver, and install (although difficult to get up the stairs on my own… I’d recommend not being too impatient to wait for a friend to help and suffering solo like I did). The mattress is super comfortable and even looks chic when it’s nakey. I ordered a queen-sized metal base, box foundation, and Mint mattress with antimicrobial protection.
OK. GET INTO THIS DUSTY MAUVE MOMENT WITH ME, PLEASE. I have to admit, I had a hard time finding bed linens for this space that felt complimentary, intentional, and warm. White felt too stark. Darker options felt too saturated. Most patterns competed with the reeded wood detail at the head of the bed. But then, I thought back to my mood board and remembered this little vase from Lulu and Georgia and the reasons I chose mauve as an aspirational accent color.
The mauve color of the bedspread complements the green tones in the Lulu & Georgia rug at the foot of the bed, adds a touch of warmth to an otherwise fairly neutral room, and brings a “feminine” touch to the space that feels appropriate amidst some of the more “masculine” components of the space (I hate gendering design elements, but sometimes these terms do help us identify contrast and juxtaposition). More than any of that, however, I believe it helps to elevate the bedroom and bring it to a slightly unexpected place, which I love. I opted for a king-size comforter so that it would luxuriously cascade off of the bed. I added a black quilt from Target to peek through and ground the bedscape to speak to the darker elements on either side of the room (the curtains and the closet), and a subtly patterned sheet set from Target to bring just a slight touch of visual contrast to the linear nature of the reeded wall treatment. A marigold, corduroy throw pillow from Schoolhouse speaks to the brassy elements throughout the room and adds a nice warm complement to the color of the comforter.
I love the photo above for a few reasons. First, because it shows most of the elements in the room beautifully speaking together in one shot (the black closet doors in the background. Various brassy elements doing their brassy thing. The punch of the mauve bedscape in the reflection. The branches that I awkwardly cut from a tree on the side of a local road). Secondly, because Keyanna (Yes, that Keyanna:)) did such an amazing job shooting this space, it reminds me of the beautiful shoot day we spent together shooting the space. Also, because I love how my oversized mirror from Rejuvenation is framed by AWESOME drapery from Everhem! It’s giving me the [admittedly specific] boutiquey, handsome clothier vibe that I wanted this space to embody.
I’m going to brag on Everhem for a minute. In true Malcolm fashion, I had an extremely specific vision for the window treatments in this room. I wanted a brass curtain rod that would span the entire length of the window wall to reflect the brass rod that sits atop the reeded wood wall. I chatted with Everhem about the vision, and they were able to create a completely custom solution that shipped quickly, was packed complete with installation instructions, and was easy to hang (with help!). The charcoal panels speak to the dark closets on the other side of the room to balance out the darker elements of the space.
In the photo above, you can see how the extension of the rod into the wall creates a custom and unique feature in this space. I was greatly inspired by hospitality design for this project, and this little detail feels like it belongs in a boutique hotel. And that makes my heart sing. Also! This shot also highlights the most important aspect of this room makeover: the fact that it’s helping me establish a strong routine in my day-to-day life.
I’ve recently started reading more regularly (“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle is currently on the docket) and I’ve been trying to journal fairly regularly to help mitigate my anxiety. It was important for me to establish a seating area in my bedroom to make these parts of my daily routine more feasible and inviting, and this armchair from Article makes it easy to fall comfortably into that routine. This area also created a perfect opportunity for a mini gallery wall, allowing for an eclectic group of frames that adds a touch of the “collected and classic” vibe that I’m perpetually striving for in my home. I added a picture light to the gallery wall for some downward nighttime lighting (since I’m usually reading directly before bedtime), and I love that centering it in the middle of the display is an unexpected placement of a classic form of lighting. I paid special attention to the lighting throughout the room, making sure to use accent lighting at different heights and strengths to cater to various vibes. This picture light creates a distinct reading area, the overhead ceiling fan/light from Schoolhouse lights up the entire room, and asymmetrical lights from Schoolhouse on either side of the bed make it possible to read in bed if that’s where the day takes me.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s important for me to spend most of my time in a space that speaks to Black art and Black stories. Back in 1863, the land that I currently live on was Freedman’s Village: a collection of houses meant to accommodate freed slaves that had traveled north in hopes of finding work and opportunity, but its creation had less to do with helping Black people integrate into free society and more to do with segregation. Nonetheless, Black Americans began a new phase of life, and built a unique and thriving community for schools, hospitals, churches, and social services. The illustration in the upper right corner of the photo above shows the village, and it reminds me daily that I live on land that was historically a thriving community of Black power, sacrifice, innovation, and magic. As Black American lives are too frequently viewed as a threat and taken from us too soon (news about Daunte Wright’s murder in Minnesota is breaking as I write this), it’s important for me to be reminded of the sacrifices that allow me to have the opportunities that I have, continue the legacy of my ancestors, and even own this house.
Speaking of 1863–the vintage valet stand in the photo above happens to have been made in that SAME YEAR! Just kidding. I don’t actually know when this was built (but it is indeed vintage, from this Etsy shop!). It just felt like a good segue to move on to the WARDROBE OF MY DREAMS–the main component of this room that is helping me underscore and emphasize routine-building behaviors.
PHEW. Ya’ll. This closet has been a journey eight months in the making. This closet makeover was the very first thing that I conceptualized upon buying this house, and I’m happy to say that it has exceeded my expectations. Before this process started, I had a conversation with a friend about how I wanted my closet to feel like a high-end, boutiquey (I’m using that word a lot, huh?) clothing store. She may or may not have thought that I was being a tad bit extra, but I stuck to my guns and made it come true! This closet zone has truly become the anchor of my day–starting with pulling my clothes off of my valet, and ending with throwing those same clothes into my laundry basket from Rejuvenation that fits so perfectly into the closet. Maintaining a routine is the primary way that I mitigate my anxiety, so this was an extremely important project to get just right.
The choice to go with black closet doors was a touggghhhh one, but one that I don’t regret for a second! Not only do they match the doors I’ve painted throughout the rest of my home, but they also provide an authentic impact in the room that just feels like me. More than that, I love how the tone of the black doors is mirrored across the room with the charcoal window drapery from Everhem. When I’m standing in the room, it feels like I’m enveloped in a warm symphony of saturations (YES, I’m making that a thing. Kudos if you know the reference). I found vintage doorknobs from Community Forklift in Maryland that match the door hardware on the front door of my house, so I enthusiastically purchased them and rushed home to remove the new handles that I purchased initially to install these beauties.
The buildout of the closet was fairly expensive, so I opted for low-end fixtures to outfit (pun fully intended) the inside of the wardrobe. The hanging rod is an upside-down curtain rod from Target, the pull-out storage units are all Ikea Pax storage systems that I manipulated for my purposes, and all of the side shelving was built by yours truly.
As someone who irons his clothes daily, a little ironing storage section was a must-have for my closet. I designed the closet to have a dedicated space to hang my ironing board and sit my iron for easy access during my nightly routine. There is A LOT of tea to be spilled about the details of this closet makeover, but I’m thinking about saving that for a dedicated article so that I can give you the juicy, in-depth, DIY story. How does that sound?
REFLECTING ON THE JOURNEY
There’s something about this room makeover that feels like the perfect embodiment of the last year of my life. There were some hiccups along the way, more than a few introspective realizations about my relationships with myself and others, and an inspiring conclusion that makes me excited about what’s next (*cough*BATHROOMRENO*cough*). I brought the journey back to my foundation by incorporating family heirloom pieces, focusing on Black stories, and tapping into new design sensibilities and interests that I didn’t know existed. And we’re just getting started!
Excited to chat with you about this room, and to share more details about the DIY projects that I created for it! Also, bonus points if you can count how many times I moved the throw blanket around the room during this photoshoot.
Team EHD here just to say…HAPPY BIRTHDAY MALCOLM!!! We hope it’s a great one and we can’t get enough of your beautiful bedroom! xx