Chamber of Secrets Part 3: Making a Design Plan

In case you missed it, you can get caught up on the tale of the Chamber of Secrets here:

Part One, Part Two

The Chamber of Secrets is the first room I’ve ever really designed from scratch.  Settling on a design for the built-ins and the closet, and seeing them transition from sketches on paper to tangible objects (the window seat is in!), has been such an interesting process.  It has also been a little overwhelming at times – my brain sometimes feels like a frenetic kaleidoscope of colors and measurements and fragmented to-do lists.  To try and resolve those slivered thoughts into a cohesive picture, and to make sure we continue forward progress, I decided to be more systematic in my approach.  At the beginning of Domino’s The Book of Decorating they break the decorating process down into nine steps, which I’ve found really useful.  I’ve used their steps as a template for tackling the Chamber of Secrets, although I’ve condensed my process to six steps.

Step One: Find Inspiration

I’ve shared some of these images with you before, but I’ve found it so helpful to have them all organized into one space.  I refer to it a lot to make sure my vision is staying focused.

Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanRed House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanSources, clockwise from top left: 1,2,3,4,5,6

Step Two: Determine Your Style

You might remember when Mera and I tried to put a name to our respective styles and struggled with it.  Now that my living room is coming together it is starting to feel like a good representation of my style. Here’s a picture of the living room yesterday, when we briefly emerged from the blanket of fog that’s been sitting heavy on the valley for days. Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanAnd here it is looking the other way: Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanThere are still things I’m tweaking, of course, but it’s a room I love spending time in.  Verbalizing my style remains difficult, but the words that come to mind looking at these photos are eclectic, collected, arty, mix of eras, layered.  In the Domino book they summarize it into neat little sentences, so mine might be: Eclectic and collected, with a mix of eras.  What do you think, did I get it right?

Step Three: Consider How You’ll Use the Room

This room will be an office, craft space and guest room.  Crafts are messy, so it’s important to have closed storage and floor space for spreading out.  Bookshelves are essential – most of our books are still in boxes from when we moved in more than two years ago!

Step Four: Assess Your Stuff

The Domino book suggests taking photographs of furniture to help decide whether to keep it, change it (paint or reupholstery), or give it away. Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design Plan That desk is a hand-me-down from Cameron’s dad and it is a noble beast.  The drawers are two feet deep and the work surface is huge.  I have some fear that it will look too cabinet-y when it’s in place next to the built-ins, but we’re hoping to make it work.  You might remember the green Herman Miller office chair with its irrevocably stained, disgusting upholstery that I got for a steal on Craigslist.  I’ve actually started working on its transformation, which you’ll see when you scroll down!

Step Five: Create a Design Scheme Red House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design PlanRed House West||Chamber of Secrets: Making a Design Plan The palette for this room is pretty neutral.  The walls will be Benjamin Moore’s Dove White in a flat finish, and all the cabinetry and trim will be Dove White in semi-gloss.  I’ll bring the blush, coral and indigo into the room with textiles (there will be a lot in here, between the daybed and the window seat), and the desk’s surface and the office chair are black.  Yep, the chair is black!  I still need to finish it so that’s all I’m going to share about it for now, but as you can see from the photo my second attempt at painted upholstery is going WAY better than the first time.  I’m planning to bring green into the room via plants and art.

Step Six: Make a Decorating Schedule (a to-do list)

We’re fortunate that we already have most of the furniture for this room.  There’s a trundle bed on Craigslist that Cameron and I are going to go see, and hopefully we’ll be able to check that off the list soon.  Currently, our list looks like this (the to-dos are in the order we’ll be tackling them):

To Do

  • Finish building shelves
  • Paint room and cabinetry
  • Install hanging rod in the closet
  • Install wood floors
  • Replace baseboards and trim around door

To Make

  • Cushion for window seat
  • Pillows for daybed and window seat
  • Curtain for window
  • Pin board or peg board for over desk

To Purchase

  • Trundle bed
  • Ceiling light (I’m trolling eBay and antique stores, and hoping to find a vintage one that works)
  • Throw pillows (though I’ll make some of them, I’ll probably purchase one or two as well)

So that’s my design plan!  Putting these ideas together and writing this post has already helped me feel so much more organized and purposeful.  It’s looking like I have some hammering, painting, and sewing coming up (in that order).  How do you tackle decorating projects?  Have any of you ever used a method like this? Thanks for reading along and have a wonderful week!

15 responses on “Chamber of Secrets Part 3: Making a Design Plan

  1. Carol Crump Bryner

    This is an impressive piece of planning. I know for sure I’ve never been that organized. Your living room does look like a place made for sitting and enjoying, and I’m sure the Chamber of Secrets will come out great. I love your step five – the design scheme. Lovely colors.

  2. y2knina

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post. I find big projects really overwhelming, and sitting down to think things through and break the whole down into small, individual steps makes everything seem achievable. Or at least come-closeable. (And, oh, how I love crossing stuff off lists.)

    I don’t know when (or where) I learned the trick about taking photos of things, or progress shots in the middle of a project. I don’t really understand why reducing 3D reality to two dimensions helps me to see things more clearly, but it just about always works.

    Really enjoying watching you create this space. Thanks for sharing!

    1. k80bennett

      Yep, a photo can make all the difference. I wonder if it’s a kind of third person clarity- being more objective about other people than we are about ourselves.

  3. Jessica Caneal

    This post is super helpful to me, as I am new at all of this and trying to make my home look more cohesive and styled, given a tight budget, and an eclectic mix of thrifted/begged/borrowed (but not stolen) furniture, since I lost everything I previously owned in hurricane Sandy. I can’t wait to hear more about the painted chair re-upholstery, as I have a vintage chair that I would like to have re-upholstered as well (so, so, so outside my skill set).

    1. y2knina

      Jessica, having once nearly lost everything in a fire, I understand a little of what you must be going through putting together a new home with whatever you can cobble together from hand-me-downs and limited resources. Embrace the eclecticism that has been thrust up in you,take your time and try not to stress too much. It’s just stuff. You’re safe. That’ style most important thing! Good luck to you.

    1. k80bennett

      Thanks Emily! I’m excited about the palette – I definitely gravitate to blue and cooler colors, so it’s fun to shake it up a little bit (but not too much 🙂

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