I’ve been hard at work up here at Londo Lodge and frankly I am loving all the distraction. I have to say, Jess’ post about holiday loneliness here on the blog really resonated with me. It’s been weird living alone during the holidays during a pandemic. And decorating for Christmas has felt both cathartic and kinda hollow. I’m thankful for the extra light and sparkle the Christmas tree brings into my ever-evolving living/dining room but I’m also kinda like WHO IS THIS FOR NO ONE IS GONNA SEE THIS (though having my sister and nephew up to help decorate it was a treat). I’ve been up in my new hometown of Fish Camp for two months now and, in a weird way, it’s been easier for me to interact socially here because I can have a stronger set of covid precautions. I have everyone get tested and quarantine before heading up, which works out because everyone I know is pretty much as observant and shut-in as I am. I also get tested every week and so far I haven’t gotten sick.
Moving into this house – which was purchased as a place I’m hoping will be a shared vacation home for my family once this is all over – in a time when gathering is more difficult and fraught than normal has been a strange experience. I find myself fixating so much on how spaces will be used in the future that I forget to make them functional for the current state of things. My plans for how and when I will do the actual renovations on this house have changed since I moved up here for a few reasons. Firstly, the more I thought about it the more I realized I wasn’t really willing to compromise on the complexity of the renovation I want to do. And the renovation I want to do is going to be expensive, time-consuming, and likely something I won’t want to be in the house for. Secondly, and more practically, I’ve been pretty disheartened by the lack of respect and awareness about the coronavirus the locals up here seem to have. I’ve had a number of different people (internet installation, fireplace inspection, electricians, etc) stop by the house with not one thought to wear a mask, despite the fact that I open the door wearing one. Since I don’t necessarily want a crew of maskless men in my house, I’m kinda thinking it will be better to wait until things clear up a little bit before starting any major renovations.
Can we just have a sidebar conversation about toxic masculinity and masks? Nine times out of ten the person I see walking down the street not wearing a mask is a man. And since I know that many of the readers of this blog are women married to/dating men can I just ask you to get your men under control? It’s completely ridiculous that straight men seem to be much less likely to wear a mask, despite the scientific data backing up that it is a chivalrous thing to do in that it protects others and it can actually help protect your own health. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Apparently, they’ve done studies and straight men won’t bring reusable grocery bags (LOL remember those? Like when we were allowed to reuse things without worrying they’d contaminate everyone?) because they worry it makes them look gay. Honestly, as a gay man sometimes I don’t see how straight women put up with this shit. Brian Henderson is the only straight man in the world that I like. The rest of them are trash. Just kidding. Kind of.
In reality, I obviously don’t hate all straight men. In fact, one of the reasons I’m so annoyed about all of this is that one of the straight men in my life, my brother, who is an ER nurse, got diagnosed with covid this past week. He got it from working in a hospital that is overwhelmed because people refuse to social distance or wear masks. He got it because he had to reuse PPE (still in short supply, apparently) so many times that it often got tattered and fell off. I know that most of the people not wearing masks could be wearing masks and should be because our healthcare systems are at a breaking point and it’s a small thing you can do for your fellow Americans.
All of this is to say that while I wait for Covid to stop ruining everything, I wanted to do some quick and easy updates around the house that provided some inspiration to those out there who may be in the same state of not wanting random workers in their houses, getting their spittle everywhere, during a pandemic AND people who might not have (or want to spend) tons on updating their house in an uncertain time. One thing to note about the little updates that I’m doing at Londo Lodge (which I will be sharing both here and on my blog) is that they’re not really the style I’m going for in the final look of the house. In these mini-makeovers I’m going for a more rough/artsy vibe while in the eventual makeover I’ll be doing a Cape Cod meets Craftsman, formal vibe. Anyway, I just don’t want you to be confused when I start posting about the second round of makeovers because they are going to be different than these. Part of the point is playing around with design while I wait for the big changes to get underway.
One more thing before I get to what I did in the guest room I designed for my parents. I GOT A DOG!!! I’m obsessed with her and she is the most beautiful girl in the world and is just a little butterball of PURE LOVE. Her name is Saturday (Satie for short, pronounced like “Sadie”). She is still in the midst of potty training and is very much a puppy (3 months old) but as a first-time dog dad, I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy she is. Yes, she thinks my kitchen is the toilet but honestly who cares she’s literally a baby? And because she’s part pit bull she’s cold all the time which means she loves wearing sweaters which is literally the cutest thing in the whole world.
Okay, now to the topic at hand: what I did to transform the formerly BLAH downstairs guest bedroom to make it ready for my parents to visit ASAP (safely, of course). Eventually, the plan with this room is to blow out the walls and extend it into an adjacent powder room to create a larger guest bedroom with an en suite bathroom and French doors leading to a deck (that doesn’t exist yet). But for now, I wanted to make it cozy and comfortable.
P.S. ALL OF THE PRODCUT RESOURCES ARE OVER ON MY BLOG. COME ALONG WHY DON’T YOU… AFTER YOU READ THIS POST FULL OF INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION.
The jumping-off point for me was the beautiful wall mural I got from York Wallcoverings (full disclosure: I did a collaboration for them which was the motivation for this whole makeover). Anyone who knows me knows I hate accent walls (unless there is some sort of architectural reason for them) BUT I love a mural. The reason I don’t like accent walls is they can often seem haphazard and thoughtless. I don’t think this accent would have worked if I had just used a solid color or even a pattern. I think for that type of accent wall to work you’d have to use some sort of trim, there would need to be an indentation in the wall, or there would need to be another reason for the wallpaper or accent color to just stop. I’m sure this is a controversial topic but I will go to my grave screaming about how I don’t like accent walls (or TVs above fireplaces for that matter).
Because I am not a fan of accent walls I wanted this mural to look as intentional as possible, more like a wall shape. Which is why I rounded the corners so it felt a little softer and more dynamic, less like a flat rectangle trying to cover one wall of a room. I did this by using a round piece of wood as a guide and cutting with a super sharp blade.
One of the things I loved about this mural is how soft and neutral the color palette was. So for the rest of the colors in the room, I wanted to stay in the beige, ivory, flax world. I used to hate beige, but I’ve been getting more and more into it lately and love seeing it used in non-gross ways. It can be a really warm, soothing color.
This room (and almost the entire house) was originally carpeted in beautiful, lush 1992 carpet. I have to say, I was a little sad to see it go. And even orMOMdo guilted me about getting rid of it (it’s soooo cozy on the feet). But I knew I would be replacing it with a pretty rug that goes almost to the walls so I was confident I could keep the space cozy while making it less nauseating to look at. I removed the rug myself and hauled it off to the dump (apparently it gets recycled which is kinda fun) and felt SO much better after. I still have a lot of this carpet to get rid of and it’s a lot of work (there are about 90 million staples underneath that are super hard to remove) but it’s one way I can get everything prepped for the final renovations here and less demo to pay for later.
I was tempted to leave the sub-floor as-is, as it was sort of weathered and splatter painted in a Leanne Ford way that made me happy. But I ended up painting it A) because I thought the splatter would look too busy and I wanted the room to have a soothing vibe and B) I felt the painted surface was a bit more safe, less likely to splinter. I actually just found random paint in the garage from the house’s exterior that I used and it’s holding up perfectly. If I were doing this as a permanent solution I’d probably have taken more care about what type of paint I used but since this is only gonna be like this for a short while I didn’t wanna waste the money.
The doors in the house are a really pretty neutral wood and while I plan on replacing them with heavier, more traditional doors eventually, I love the way they interact with the color of the rug and the rest of the textiles in the room. There’s actually a lot of really pretty light neutral wood tones all over this house and I’m getting a lot of inspiration from them.
Speaking of light, I replaced the dated flush mount with a simple globe pendant that I swagged to center over the bed. Someone on Instagram DM’d me this morning to ask me why I did that and it took me off guard because I had no idea. I just hadn’t thought *not* to do that. Like it seemed like the globe should have some relation to the bed, to make it feel cozy on that side of the room. It has the effect a canopy might have, creating a little atmosphere above the bed. But it’s weird how design can be instinctual like that sometimes. Like I do things without even thinking about it because I know that’s how it’s supposed to be.
The rug and the bench definitely helped amp up the cozy vibe, bringing in more textiles and more neutral colors. And the mid-century nightstands and dresser bring in a bit of a teak vibe that also nods to the Japanese flourishes around the room. While the mural provided the inspiration for the room, I never would have chosen it had it not reminded me of a vintage Japanese painting orMOMdo bought for me years ago (which you can see hanging between the two doors). My mom spent part of her childhood in Japan so I grew up loving Japanese art and design and thought it felt appropriate for a guest room where my parents would sleep.
Speaking of orMOMdo, she made the window coverings! I’m gonna have to do a tutorial about them because they’re actually super easy and we’re basically putting them in every window of the house (until I replace all the windows and doors and get legit window treatments). As someone who’s bought those paper accordion temporary window shades more than once after a move, I have to say these are a much better temporary solution. They’re not super user-friendly (you have to roll them up by hand which I don’t mind but might not be everyone’s cup of tea) but they cost less than $20 a piece and I think they look pretty chic for that price.
Believe it or not, I did all of this work by myself. So in my opinion this makeover is pretty approachable for anyone who’s not afraid of a little DIY (and who doesn’t mind their fingers turning into bloody stumps from removing carpet). I even wallpapered for the first time! The whole wallpapering process took me about three hours. The paper I selected came unpasted, which is actually the most forgiving for walls like mine that have texture. The hand-painted texture of the mural also helped hide any bumps so I’d suggest something similar to any of you out there that don’t want to skim coat your walls but are craving a wallpaper moment.
This room was definitely a study in high-meets-low design. Some things were more of a splurge (the rug and the wallpaper) but some were a total steal (you’ll die when you find out how much that bed cost!). Over on my blog, you can see more photos of the project, get all the details about sourcing, and find out where I scrimped and where I splurged. Head on over and check it out!
Design and Photos by Orlando Soria