Private Tour: Austin’s Guest Bedroom/Office

It’s hard to believe that eight and a half years have gone by since I moved into my house. In those eight years certain areas of the house have changed quite a bit as I’ve replaced old finds with my treasured “forever” pieces. But one room in the house has remained relatively unchanged, my guest bedroom/home office. Interestingly it was one of the first rooms I designed and it has functioned well enough to never need redesigning. Recently, however, I found what may very well be my forever desk and its matching credenza. They’re amazing, they’re gargantuan and they mean that nearly everything in the room—including the bed—must go. Before the wrecking ball swings, I thought I’d give everyone one last chance to take a look.

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You can never have enough pillows—unless you actually plan to sleep in the bed.

When I bought the house I was a recent college grad and my possessions were an unwieldy assortment of mismatched things I had collected over the years. Rather than finding things to fit a design plan for the room, I had to create a design plan that would make sense of the things I already had. Those items were a mint green tanker desk, yards of celery green drapes, odds and ends blonde furniture and some aqua artwork. Color would be my weapon of choice.  I created a palette of greens, blues and grays with accents of orange to help pull all of the close-but-not-close-enough greens and blues together. I feel like it worked. The paintings above the bed were done by a high school art teacher in the 1950s. I found them several years ago at a flea market for just a few dollars each.

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Like the office chair mat? Learn how to make it here.

One of my favorite decisions in the space was choosing not to split up the wall-to-wall drapes I had found at a thrift store in college. The room only has one squarish window in the middle of the wall in the corner, but the wide expanse of floor length drapes creates some needed drama in a pretty tiny room.

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You might have noticed the baby Bertoia chair hanging out under the window. Believe it or not, it was a $4 thrift store purchase my mother found several years ago. I was fortunate to persuade her to give me two of the four children’s chairs she found.

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The room has always been dual duty. I needed a guest bedroom for friends and relatives, but I also needed a home office that’s a real home office. As a graphic designer, a laptop thrown on a tiny writing desk would never cut it. So, my beloved Steelcase tanker desk followed me from a second floor college apartment to my parents’ house and finally to the third floor of my house. For a big guy, it gets around. The Eames aluminum group chair was an amazing $2 garage sale find. But one of my favorite things in the whole room is the giant 1960s relief map of Africa. It was a $10 buy at a surplus sale that I can’t believe I almost didn’t get because I didn’t know what I’d “do” with it. Thank goodness my rational side is easily overridden.

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People either love or hate the Dall ram keeping watch over the room, especially because most don’t even notice him up there until they lay down on the bed. But I find him to look wise and friendly. This was one of the few items I sought out rather than an accidental find. After seeing an antique ram’s head in an antique store (for a small fortune) I was a little obsessed until I hunted this guy down on eBay. I do not regret the purchase.

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You may have noticed the progressively changing wall color. The vaulted ceiling combined with a protruding closet and angled entry creates a lot of small planes and angles in the room—eight vertical surfaces to be exact. I had a little fun with it, choosing three different wall colors throughout the space. Though it sounds like it would be utter chaos, it actually helps harmonize all of the brightly colored objects in the room and creates the illusion of more space.

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One of the more unusual features of the room is this alcove over the closet. Fortunately the builders included a switched outlet making it a great place for all of my fiberglass up-lights. My only gripe is that I wanted to house my entire collection of stretched glass up here but most would not fit under the steep angle of the ceiling. My disgust over that led to me never really doing anything great with the space. The panoramic photo below is of my great grandmother’s graduating class from teacher’s college in 1924.

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Weird little spaces mean weird little places for weird little things. Although I like it, I don’t think I’ll really miss the blonde furniture that much. I’ve always loved the sort of tacky blue and gold art pieces. It’s the color mostly, but probably a little because someone hated them so much they were giving them away for free at a garage sale. I like to root for the underdogs.

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One of the things that people have always seemed to love most about the room is the light fixture. Although it may sort of give off that vibe, it’s not vintage. I actually found this on clearance at PierOne one day while shopping with Angela. I liked it because it brought a touch of black to the room and because the silk cylinder in the middle is exactly the same color as the drapes. It was meant to be, right? Originally it was a swag lamp, but I added the canopy so I could use it as a permanently installed fixture.

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The tough part about being a collector is having to make hard decisions about which things to keep and which to let go. I actually still really enjoy this space as it is and it’s a little heartbreaking to take it apart after all these years. But at the same time I’m ready for something new and the things I’ve found to replace all of this will really be worth it. The transition process will be long, but I’ll share when it’s complete. I have a feeling, however, that my houseguests will be a little less enthusiastic about the changes once the bed is replaced with a temporary air mattress.

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2 Comments

  1. Nina D
    Posted October 16, 2014 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    “I like to root for the underdogs.”

    Me, too! I always find it really hard to leave behind somebody’s oil or watercolor or crewel when I find them at Goodwill or some other thrift shop. Somebody made that! Put their time and their pride and themselves into it. Unless they are butt ugly I cannot resist. Sometimes even if they are BU I get them any way because it makes me so sad to see them there, tossed aside as worthless. Some are happily and proudly displayed in my home, in honor of these usually anonymous artists. And those that aren’t quite “upstairs” worthy can always find a spot on the wall in the basement which is mostly storage, but where its always nice to see a touch of homemade “art” among the extra cans of soup and the shop vac.

    Your room is great and I totally understand the melancholy you are feeling about taking it all apart. But you will have a great time putting the new space together, and always have these posts to remember how it used to be.

  2. Meaghan
    Posted October 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Love it. I’ll take some of those things off your hands if you want… especially the aqua panther. You’ll get visiting rights 0:)

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