Hello gorgeous people and welcome to 2022! My goodness, we have a lot planned for this year and we can’t wait to take you on our journey! However, before we go headlong into pastures new, I thought it would be good to tell you all about the Beauty & the Beast bedroom restoration and renovations. Other than kitchens, I have to say that bedrooms are my favourite thing to design. I had such fun doing this room and wanted to explain my design process. Hopefully, if you have a period home, it might help you to concentrate your efforts in creating your own Victorian boudoir!
How we came up with the Beauty & the Beast name
So, why do we call it the Beauty and the Beast Room? Well, first of all, it’s quite grand, even before I started renovating it. It has very high ceilings, ornate cornicing and a large marble fireplace. The pièce de résistance is the enormous bay window with its intricately hand painted stained glass. It reminded me of the elegant, yet cavernous rooms of the beast’s castle in the fairytale. It was immediately obvious to me that the room was going to demand over-sized furniture, probably in the French renaissance style. I cant abide drama in my life, but I love it in interior design.
The first thing we bought for the room was an olive green painted French armoire from @louisagraceinteriors. It has an incredibly heavy single door with an mottled antique mirror attached to it. The keyhole escutcheon is ornate tarnished gold and the key that unlocks this fairytale wardrobe is fit for a Disney princess! My first impression was that the armoire looked like it would come alive at night. A bit like the scene in the Disney version of the tale during the “Be our guest” scene. So, that’s how the room was named. I do like naming rooms. Do you do that?
The design process
The Armoire really set the scene for the rest of the room renovation and design. I always start any interior design with one or two objects that I love. I find that if you can harness those first couple of inspirational pieces, the rest of the process flows quite easily. If it doesn’t, then more often than not I have chosen the wrong objects. The olive green paint colour of the wardrobe and its ornate detailing gave me the perfect linchpin for the design. It was obvious to me that the room had to be opulent and a palette of olive green, white and gold would work perfectly. I matched it to the paint I used from Cox & Cox to highlight the cornicing detail of the ceiling. That took me chuffin’ forever and I was wishing to god I hadn’t started it, but it worked out.
There are so may avenues I could have gone down as far as design is concerned. It’s also extremely easy to be swayed by current trends on Instagram and Pinterest. At the moment, it seems that full colour drenching (Where every part of the room including the ceiling is painted the same colour) is hugely en vogue. Wallpapered ceilings also seem to be back along with clashing bright colours. I love the idea of colour drenching, but it wasn’t right for this room, in my opinion. I’m not a fan of the bright clashing colours, be it in the home or my garden. It’s not a criticism, it’s just not my bag. I want my home to be calm and up-lifting. That doesn’t mean I’m afraid of drama, but I do like my drama to be coordinated and soothing.
Putting back the drama!
We are so lucky, as most of the original features of our home have been retained. However, the ceiling rose of the Beauty & the Beast bedroom had been, very sadly, removed. It was my mission to put it back and restore the sumptuous ceiling of this Victorian Gothic room. I found a guy in Portsmouth (Traditional Plaster Mouldings), who specialised in period plaster reproductions. He had painstakingly collected original mouldings from houses that were being demolished. Unbelievably, he had an almost exact replica of the original ceiling rose from our living room. He was able to make me a cast of it to adorn our bedroom ceiling. Phil, you probably aren’t ever going to read this, but I think you are the bomb and I wish the world was filled with more people like you!
Now that the meter-wide ceiling rose was restored, that allowed me to start thinking about which ornate beauty was going to hang from it’s celestial heights. Mr C, my hubby noticed a Moroccan metal chandelier when were shopping at One World in Cranliegh, Surrey. I wasn’t sure at first and was concerned it was confusing the period French design I had in mind. However, it works and it gives the room a sense of intrigue and continental drama. Plus, they speak French there, so that was good enough for me!
Making it cosy
The difficult part was going to be how to make it cosy and inviting at the same time. It’s so easy to make a period room with oversized features, look cold and cave-like. The high ceilings, albeit grand, can be overwhelming. If you don’t choose large enough furniture, then anything you place in the space will be swallowed up and look slightly ridiculous. It’s harder than you think!
In our living room renovation, I chose to paint the ceiling inside the cornicing a dark blue. That immediately brought the ceiling lower and gave an instant cosier feel to the space. For the beauty & the Beast Room, I wanted to highlight the room’s grandeur. So, I would have to use soft furnishings, texture and colour to create a warm space that says: “come on in, take a chair and stay for a spell.”
I chose luscious faux fur throws, velvet cushions, dark wood floors, painted antique wooden furniture and pure linen bedding to achieve this goal. The warm tones of the varnished floor are mirrored in the objects and art that I chose to adorn the space. A comforting rug, using the same olive and grey tones of the rest of the room, grounds the space and adds to the cosy vibe. I had visions of our guests getting out of bed after a luxurious night’s sleep, nestling their toes in their snuggly slippers as the soles touched down on the velvety rug. I know that sounds overly-romantic and slightly affected, but I do think it’s important to imagine what it would be like for someone to stay in a room in order to get it right.
The Wooden Floors
Restoring the wooden floors was a ball-ache and is a whole blog post in itself. There is a reel or two on my Instagram page about it: @jpslifeandloves
Removing the tar, yes tar, from the edges of the floor was the most difficult. I used an eco-friendly solution called Homestrip. I had to use a lot of elbow grease scraping it all away, but actually, with a lot of patience, it worked a treat! What it did do though, was slightly bleach the floors where I had pasted it on. This meant I had to stain those areas to match the rest of the floor. After that, I used a wood stain/varnish by Sandolin, which isn’t actually meant for floors. I think it was designed for outdoor wood. However, it has worked perfectly and is so hard wearing. I chose the Jacobean Oak colour as the floor was quite dark already and I wanted to add to the warmth of the space.
The finishing touches and why they are the most important!
So may people forget this part of the design process. For me, it’s the difference between a room that looks considered and curated and one that has just been “designed”. Going full throttle with the Beauty & the Beast idea, it was important to incorporate ethereal magical touches and sense of childlike whimsy. At the same time, there was no way in a million years that I wanted the room to look “themed”. I can’t think of anything worse than a room where everything matches. I can’t bear curtains in the same fabric as the cushions, or the wallpaper.
To me, a space where the objects and art match the upholstery stinks of a lack of imagination. The pieces of interest, whether they be a painting, or an antique bowl, or another treasured timepiece, should compliment the rest of the room, yet stand out as articles in their own right. I like people to want to go up and explore them in closer detail. To me, if everything looks like you bought it all, lock stock and barrel from your favourite interior store, then where is the evidence of the people that live there? Where are their memories and the treasures they have collected throughout their lives? Where is the love, the struggles, adventures and emotions that make up a family home? This makes me sound a bit snobbish and self-opinionated, but I don’t mean it to.
I don’t mean to sound like a twat!
I understand that so may people find it incredibly hard to design a room. That’s why the likes of Neptune Home have done so well in recent years. They have been so clever in curating everything you could possibly need to make a room beautiful. But, something is still missing when I see these rooms – it’s you! Remember that when you start your next design – where am I in the space? Where is my family? Can you see your characters and your history? If not, then it’s just a beautiful room, but devoid of soul.
I hung Victorian lace angels wings on the wall that my hubby and I had bought together. I bought a vintage opera glass that had the most beautiful tortoise shell exterior. Mr C’s Scandinavian rocking horse from @nordichouse had to be included, along with the vintage banquet I had had re-upholstered by a local artisan. My hubby had bought me an antique Channel No5 poster in a gold gilt frame years before. This had to go in the room with the French undertones.
I also included the fauxidermy hare I bought for Mr C from Holly Powell to add to the sense of mystical drama. The crystal candelabras were given to us by friends years ago. I had to represent the character “Lumiere” in some way. I even bought an old tea pot and a tea cup with a chip in it from local thrift shop to represent Mrs Potts and Chip.
And, so on to the next project…
Overall, I think it is one of the most successful designs I’ve done so far. There is still more to do though! This year, I hope to add the solid panel shutters to the windows and also restore the hearth of the fireplace. It’s been a wonderful experience in all and I sincerely hope that it has achieved what I wanted it to. Now, I had better get on thinking about the next project!
If you liked this then why not read: How to use Blue in Interior Design.
* Ad – This post contains items from a previous paid partnership with Cox and Cox and also Pr products from Wandsworth Electrical.