“Before and After” – Anatomy of a Rustic Chic Show House Room Called “A Study in Grey”

I thought you might like an inside view of the “before and after” photos of my room, which I called “A Study in Grey” and which was executed for the Mansion in May Show House to benefit Morristown Memorial Hospital.  The estate, called Fawn Hill Farm, is a beautiful property in Harding Township, New Jersey, and is nestled among rolling grounds and lush planted spaces.  I am very appreciative to have been a part of this most successful show house for such a worthy cause.

But back to the room itself.  I must admit that this little guest bedroom which, at just 13′ x 15′, languished unclaimed in the designer lineup – unwanted and unloved, just like the days when you’d be the last one picked for some game in gym.  Even I passed it up and didn’t give it a second thought during the initial walk through.  And when I didn’t get my first pick for the show house, I dropped out.  I was asked by one of the chairpersons to please come again and take a second look at the room and consider doing it.

So I went again and I have to say it was with half a heart that I did so.  And I suppose a feeling akin to pity – something like the little forlorn tree in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” – overtook me and I agreed to do it.  It just sat there – hopeless, hapless and helpless – begging for its Cinderella moment.  But I’m so very glad I did reconsider and I am grateful to Louetta for urging me to look again.  It was a wonderful experience to transform a sad, small bedroom into a gleaming little jewelbox.  I chose to play not only with the colors used in the space but the placement of the furniture itself.  Most of us in our own homes generally choose to paint our walls a lighter color than the floors.  Here I did just the opposite by painting the walls a warm grey (“Iron Mountain” by Benjamin Moore) and using the room’s trim color (“Floral White” also by Benjamin Moore) to paint the floor using BM’s porch paint in a double beige bias plaid design painted on top of the white base.  

“A Study in Grey”, therefore, is a play on words.  In this case  I did study the interplay of different shades of grey that would become the wall color which would work with, but not match, a grey found in the chintz of the draperies.  But by placing a modern sawhorse desk perpendicular to the major wall having a window overlooking the entrance it became a place to read, play games or do other things.  I then placed the modern twin-size bed which I designed parallel to the opposite wall.  By designing it as a platform bed with a top height of 18″, it became not only a bed, but a place one could comfortably sit as well.  This placement opened up this small room enormously and what had at first seemed like a very cramped bedroom became a room that could do many things. So in this case it became a “study” as well as a bedroom.  Of course I could have just brought in a full-size bed and plopped it between the two symmetrical doors in the room with two side tables and table lamps and presto! run-of-the-mill bedroom.  But I wanted this little room to deliver more than that.

I hope you enjoy looking at these “before and after” photos.  I am also hopeful that they speak for themselves and give you an insight as to just how much hard work goes into sow’s ear to silk purse prestidigitation.

I have to express my deepest and most sincere thanks to all the generous people who helped make this room a reality.  There’s simply no way my vision of this room could have been executed without their incredible talents and skills, and their tireless efforts to make the most perfect product and to deliver their finest service, all in a very short period of time.  I am in awe of each of you!

To Michael O’Brien and his crew of PaintTek Quality Painting (www.painttek.com) for spending countless hours scraping, sanding, patching and painting (and repainting) this little room.  Your standards for perfection are off the charts and without your stunning background this room would not have been nearly as successful!

To Susan North of Schumacher (www.fschumacher.com) for so beautifully and faithfully resurrecting the chintz which was the chief inspiration for the room.

To Schumacher (www.fschumacher.com) for so generously helping me realize my vision with your beautiful fabrics.

To Jean Tau of Two Worlds Arts (www.twoworldsarts.com) for building and finishing the chicest canopy bed in the world!

To Daniel Barney of Daniel Barney Antiques (www.danielbarney.com) for lending the most exquisite grey porcelain lamp for the desk.

To Leah Jampel and Katie Knuth of New York Surface Styles (www.nysurfacestyles.com) for making the painted floor come alive by expertly (and exhaustingly) hand-painting the bias plaid on the floor.  You made something so very difficult to achieve look so completely effortless!

To David Feldman and his crew of Chelsea Workroom (www.chelseaworkroom.com) for crafting the most beautiful draperies, bedding, upholstery and pillows for me.  Everything was perfect (as always)!

To Sean Benetin of Millwork & More (www.millworkandmore.com) for making the most handsome pedestal.  You and your guys are the best!

To Peter Margonelli (www.petermargonelli.com)  for not only capturing the final result so beautifully with your photography but also for so generously lending two magnificent “Birch Trees” series photographs for the room.

To Maureen Chatfield (www.maureenchatfield.com) for creating the breath-taking “White Roses” painting.  It is such a thing of beauty as is all of your art.  (I miss this painting very, very much!)

To John Dransfield and Geoffrey Ross of Dransfield & Ross (www.dransfieldandross.biz) for allowing me to use the beautiful Dutch painted chest from their wonderful line of home furnishings.

To Louetta Shioleno, Cathy Biczak and Katherine Sheeleigh, chairpersons from the Mansion in May program in tandem with Morristown Memorial Hospital, for making this the easiest show house I’ve ever been a part of.  I hope I will be invited back.  You’re all wonderful to work with.

And last, but certainly not least, to Jason Kontos and Marjorie Gage of New York Spaces magazine (www.nyspacesmagazine.com) for loving this room and wanting to so generously share it with their readers.

Thanks to you all, so very much!


Here are a few more shots from the room.


“After” photos by Peter Margonelli



Filed under Furniture, Gardening, Home Furnishings, Interior Design and Style, Lifestyle, photography, Portraiture, Style, Uncategorized

2 responses to ““Before and After” – Anatomy of a Rustic Chic Show House Room Called “A Study in Grey”

  1. Really beautiful! What a transformation!

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