Boudoir Beautification: Nearly There

After  three months of living in the spare bedroom, we are back in the Boudoir!  Principal reasons for the lack of progress are: it takes a long time to get stuff made to measure and shipped from China; K-man’s broken wrist needed to heal; and I said I wasn’t helping any more with DIY and I meant it.

Let’s recap: we started with top to toe magenta, a huge triple-wardrobe that had to be pushed side-on into an alcove, fire-hazard ceiling tiles in the bay window, and flowery old-lady curtains. Our furniture was too big for the room, the colour induced insomnia, and the cracks in the ceiling could have fit one entire Victoria Beckham inside them.

We conducted an interim stripping job, and then life got in the way.  For a very long time.  We sold our bedroom furniture on e-bay, except that little Victorian pine chest of drawers which has gone back to my parents from whence it came.

And now, I bring you the next stage! This stage is called Most of it is Done So Despite Our Best Intentions Let’s Leave It As Is For At Least Five Years.

First things first, actual construction projects. An electrician moved the sockets to sensible places, and accidentally knocked a hole through to the study.  It took him twice as long to complete the job as his estimate, and I wanted to punch him.

Once the triple-wardrobe had been dispensed to two of the stupidest people I’ve ever met, the way was clear for the built-in wardrobes.  I despise built-in, preferring to scour the universe for the perfect item of free-standing furniture.  This is because I have never stayed in the same house for more than four or five years, and when I leave, my shit comes with me.  It didn’t make sense to me to buy something that you can’t take with you, when portable options are available.

Well, it turns out that most modern furniture isn’t constructed with 1930s alcoves in mind.  It proved astonishingly difficult to find either a single wardrobe large enough to make the most of the space, or a double wardrobe small enough to fit.  Anything that did fit was either ugly, expensive, or both.

Built-in was the way to go.  The problem with built-in is that most of it looks like it came straight from the plasticised nightmare of a dystopian minimalist.

As luck would have it, there are a number of powerful internet-based search engines that can occasionally be persuaded to find the person you are looking for.  The person we were looking for arrived at our house, spoke very little, listened to my vague description and watched my general arm-waving, and exercised his psychic powers.  I think I know your want, he said in a thick Hungarian accent, and started pulling out photographs of his previous work to show me.

He certainly did know exactly my want, and here it is:

And here it is again, in the other alcove:

He measured the space and sent very detailed drawings by email.  Eight weeks later, he and two colleagues installed these two hand-built cupboards in one 9-hour day.  I love supporting local craftsmen, so it fills my heart with joy to tell  you that the aggregate cost of these cupboards was cheaper than one OK-quality wardrobe from a trusted furniture supplier that ships their shit in from China.  And for that bargain price, we chose exactly what we wanted rather than having to put up with what is available.

Instead of the flowery curtains, we now have plantation shutters in our bay window:

These were expensive enough that we had to give it serious thought before committing.  They also have a 10-week lead-time because they are made to measure in China and shipped from there.  But, I am glad we spent the cash and waited the wait.

Our new bed is made to look like antique metal, and is the sturdiest version we could find.

The wallpaper is by Next.  We wanted a kind of modern country feel to this room, and I saw this wallpaper while I was furtively leafing through a copy of one of those magazines that exists to make us all feel inadequate.  I love this wallpaper, and the feature wall approach means it’s not overwhelming.  The cleanliness of the rest of the decor means the look doesn’t tip over into twee.

Our other recent furniture acquisition was from our local vintage/junk shop.  It was so cheap I cannot remember how much it cost.  It’s serving as K-man’s bedside cupboard. He hit the relative jack-pot, and I am bitter considering it was he who let go our previous bedside cupboards at a knock-down price.

This is the little cupboard thing we stumbled across on a weekend away, and it goes perfectly in the room.  The mirror is one we have had for years, and have no idea where it was purchased.  The colour on the wall is Wild Mushroom by Next.  I was skeptical since it looked too dark and pink in a tester space, but K-man talked me into it.  It changes with the light, shifting between muted pinky-grey-brown hues.

The astute among you will note the carpet.  We desperately needed carpet back down, for noise-reduction, warmth, and shard-protection.  We looked at huge rugs, but could not find anything of the required size at a price we could stomach.  This is super-cheap felt-backed carpet that K-man cut to fit and laid himself with a craft knife, a staple gun, and a few hours.  it’s not quite a perfect fit but it is close enough.  It will serve until we get the whole house re-carpeted (a couple of years).  As long as we don’t rub up against it too much, it’s fine.  The stripes were the least-offensive option in the price-bracket and while they’re far from ideal, they don’t jar too much.

There are still some things I am not entirely happy with.  The fireplace isn’t quite so vile now the colour on the walls somehow disguises its pinkness, but still:

The question is what we do with it.  Options are to leave it, paint it off-white, or replace it with something similar to this:

Black might either be too harsh, or go well with the bed-frame.  I can’t decide.  We could always paint it if it’s not right.  The off-putting thing is that with the living room fireplace, the process was horrific and expensive.  We paid £600 for someone to fit it, and they did so badly.  Also, the tiled monstrosity is original to the house, and I don’t hate it as much as the shit-smear that used to be in the living room.  I hate to rip out original features.  What would you do, internet?

Questions also arise about my bedside cabinet:

It really is that orange, and it does not look right with the more neutral tones of the bedroom.  It was a parental hand-me-down, and we think it’s 1930s or maybe 1940s.  It is a good solid cupboard with a shelf inside, and I like everything except the colour.  It’s covered in what seems to be a kind of varnish (I don’t think shellac, but it could be), and I’m sure I am jinxing myself even as I type this, but it cannot be too hard to strip down with some hideous chemical.  Then I would have two options: either stain it dark like K-man’s, or paint it a neutral colour and fake ‘distress’ it.  What would you do with it?

So, the tour’s finished.  I hope you enjoyed it!  Home improvements are off the table again until autumn, but then I think we might look at the study.  That was another temporary paint-job (to cover up a sea-mural) but we could use the space far more effectively.


4 Responses to “Boudoir Beautification: Nearly There”

  1. 1 Deborah May 18, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Oh I like the fireplace! I’d say leave it and agree with not giving up something original to the house. I like the idea of staining the bedside cabinet to match the other. Yeah it will probably be a pain but I think it will look great.
    ~ Deborah (from over @ Mrs. G’s place)

  2. 2 Jen May 18, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I like the striped carpet. Like Deborah, I think the fireplace is fine as-is and I agree that staining the bedside cabinet to match K’s would look nice.

  3. 3 jennatjugglinglife May 19, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I don’t care for the fireplace and it would bug me enough to rip it out at some point. It doesn’t say modern country, which is the look you’re going for–I actually think the black would look great and add to the country feel.

    I am with about country–I like “true” country pieces–but I loathe ruffly, overdone “country.”

    I would match K-man’s nightstand.

  4. 4 Fred July 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    I was googling for 1930s alcove wardrobe and came across your page . Love the wardrobes! We live in SW London. Not sure whether your Hungarian-accented man works in these parts, but if he does, would you mind sharing his contact details?


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