Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home (2015)
living in your home
a novel bedroom
Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s historic home in Key West, this bedroom is a magnetic mix of rustic details and pop-y polka dots. Quirky references to animals of the hunt are sprinkled throughout: a trio of bird images (the thrifty homeowner tore them right out of a book) hang over the bed, ceramic owls perch on the dresser, and a papier-mâché stag overlooks the bedside desk.
But the real star of this room is the polka-dot-sheet-covered bed. It’s always a good idea to center your bed against the largest uninterrupted wall. This immediately helps with balance and flow in a space. Here, with the splashy spots commanding your attention, the bed becomes the visual centerpiece not only of this room, but of the adjoining living/dining room, as well.
The play of dots against plaid and ruched cotton against heavy wool creates a beautiful, dramatic moment. So the rest of the room is kept light and airy: the walls, curtains, and vintage furniture are all a pale shade. The only true color comes from a set of rich red Persian rugs that flank the bed, a last nod to the lodgelike Hemingway home.
A LITTLE PRIVACY, PLEASE. These French doors were originally clear glass. In place of curtains, the glass panes were painted the same shade as the rest of the door, leaving the nice architectural detail intact.
SOFT FOOTING. The attention to color and detail in this starter rental is amazing. Here, one of two small Persian rugs pops against the dotted sheets and emerald-soled slippers.
ALL THE TRIMMINGS. These old walls are rough, but they look crisp thanks to all the well-kept original molding, a detail that adds dimension and a sense of grandeur to any room.
JEWELRY JUMBLE. This jewelry tree is buried in personality. Stands like this are an excellent way to stop watches, small accessories, and scarves from becoming a tangled mountain on your dresser.
the surf shack bedroom
Susan + Kevin Lennon
Owner, SHOP by h. bleu + Founder, Lennon Design
This backyard pavilion in Venice Beach was puzzle-pieced together on the cheap. It is constructed almost entirely from architectural salvage; hence, the front wall of beautifully mismatched windows. The handy homeowners quickly assembled the makeshift home when their main residence was being renovated—and it has since become a landing spot for family, friends, and roaming surfers.
Taking up one side of this open studio space, the bedroom faces a set of antique doors that flood the room with light. Flowering vines have pushed through the rear cinder-block walls and are growing up and out. While the architectural details and ceiling are all painted a clean, bright white, the rear beams are dark blue, and the front wall is made from repurposed wood planks (stripped from old factory dollies).
The plywood floors were also painted. Oversize black and white squares were placed at an angle (like diamonds) instead of lined up (like rectangles) with the room—a great trick for creating visual movement while avoiding the static feeling of a common checkerboard alignment.
Every mostly white room needs contrasts like these; they make the difference between a sterile space and one that’s full of warmth and life.
CURTAIN CALL. Sheer white curtains are casually suspended from a thin rod, almost as if they were hanging in the sun to dry. This is a super-affordable treatment that allows for privacy while keeping the mood soft and romantic.
the dark & cozy hideout
NEW YORK CITY
What do you do when you have a long, thin railroad apartment and no clear spot for a bedroom? You redefine your definition of “bedroom.” This homeowner tucked her bed into a small alcove off the main hallway where it is cozy, quiet, and dark. Technically not a room at all, this tiny space is just deep enough for a full-size mattress—and nothing more.
To define the alcove, so it didn’t feel like an awkward cell, three changes were made. The interior walls and ceiling were painted a deep gray-blue, cloaking the space in comforting darkness and separating it from the other rooms. A platform-bed frame was built to fill the entire nook and provide storage underneath. And the third masterstroke was hanging tall curtains to give it a little more privacy—and a lot more light control for sleeping.
An oversize surprise always helps a small space. Here, it’s the nice big brass pendant light over the bed, as well as the optional hammock, which works as an additional bed for guests or the occasional after-noon nap.
A MOROCCAN ALCOVE. Instead of two curtains, Emily hung three—which makes all the difference. Two panels can come off as youthful, while three feels sophisticated.
HAMMOCK-VILLE. Hung on two large hooks and securely bolted to the walls, this hammock (a souvenir from France) is a favorite retreat from work. Because you can’t type in a hammock … you just can’t.
SIMPLE SNAPS. In opposition to all her nicely framed art, a postcard, two Polaroids, and a handmade grass cross are taped to the wall in a hurried but personal gesture.
the garden view bedroom
It may sound counterintuitive to design a space based on a view, but this ethereal, second-floor bedroom was dictated by that very principle.
The metal, almost museum-like bed sits against the middle of a wall with sweeping views of the gardens it overlooks. Even its unusual height is meant to maximize the line of vision through the windows. And placing the large worktable directly in front of the bed means that the homeowner can enjoy the same sight lines while working.
The rest of the room, which doubles as a home office, is purposely left minimal. Nearly bare floors, flat white paint, and shade-less windows define the look of the master suite. A single painting (of the homeowner as a teen) and a vintage rug add just a hint of personalization. The result: a spare, modern sensibility crossed with a spare, old-fashioned style.
Not every room can be led by a view, but what lies outside your windows should be taken into account. Spend some time looking at the sights from various angles around your space. You could catch a glimpse of a favorite tree or building and end up nudging a chair over a few inches to enjoy it.
VIEW FROM THE TOP. The exaggerated height of the metal bedframe is mirrored in Artemide’s modern “Tolomeo” desk lamp. It’s this common ground that makes mixing pieces from different eras successful.
the old hollywood bedroom
Lulu Powers + Stephen Danelian
The Entertainologist + Founder, MeeLocal
Saturated colors, intricate patterns, and dark wood are all throwbacks to the old Hollywood era. There is something comforting in the richness of these details, and something playful in the way they come together here.
This bedroom is extremely formal on the surface, with a neatly centered bed, thinly piped starched sheets, picture lights perched atop framed artwork, and acres of pillows. A mahogany-colored faux-fur throw echoes the brown wood trim, while old paintings add a museum-like quality to the space.
But the dominant use of sunny yellow gives the whole room more of a laid-back, beach house vibe. Gauzy, whisper-thin curtains increase the airiness. Even the toile wallpaper is a contemporary version of the classic print updated with muted shades of gray-blue set against a yolk-y background.
This lighthearted approach to design is crucial to keeping the fun versus formal balance in check. The last thing you want in a bedroom meant for relaxing is a space that takes itself too seriously.
KEEP THEM GUESSING. A furry brown blanket is just the thing to throw off all these bright whites and sunny yellows. This rustic touch keeps the room from tilting too far in one design direction.
the french boudoir
Ruthie Sommers + Luke McDonough
Interior Designer + CEO, AirMedia
daughters Eloise, Bailey, Posey
This sun-drenched master bedroom is entirely about the wallpaper. Rolls of the hand-painted de Gournay design took six months to arrive, and, the homeowner likes to joke, “cost about a year’s salary.” It was a big-ticket item that she saved for and dreamed about for years. So every other design element in the room plays off its whimsical style.
The wall-to-wall carpeting (always a good choice for bedrooms) has a sweet, subtle, floral texture that’s soft underfoot and practically renders the room silent. A metal canopy bed from Restoration Hardware, upholstered with a graphic pink fabric, picks up the pattern in the rug and softens the room even more. Luxuriously full silk curtains hang floor-to-ceiling, adding the illusion of height to the cropped walls.
Storage for this room is neatly hidden away. The only dresser doubles as a side table for the bed, while the full wall of closets is disguised behind wallpaper-covered doors. The rest of the space is pared down and minimal, so your full attention always remains on the dreamy scene playing across the walls.
EVERY INCH COUNTS. Notice how the width of this bed matches the width of the windows behind it perfectly. This was not an accident. The precise fit reduces visual clutter in the open space.
the blissed-out master suite
Eric Oliver + Thea Goodman
Professor + Author
daughter, Esme + son, Ethan
If you have the space, a great headboard quickly establishes a bold style. Minimal changes have been made to this room: the walls were painted pale lavender, and a big graphic silk and wool rug was plopped down. The room is radiant, simply because of the shimmering tufted velvet bed that sits right in the middle of it all.
This glowing bedroom is located on the seventeenth floor of a prewar apartment building overlooking Lake Michigan. With older buildings like this, the built-in features—generous proportions, dark wood floors, and thick molding—are the main attractions. In particular, the windows, with their decorative guardrails, feel like artwork and bathe the room in light that changes throughout the day. Filling the space with furniture that detracts attention from these elements would be a mistake.
Less is more here; the massive, curving headboard gets to be the main style statement in a room already rife with built-in personality.
CAPTURED MOMENTS. Photographs of children are priceless, but when framed well they transition from family keepsakes to true art.
DOUBLE DOWN. This lovely quilt features a graphic print on one side and thin stripes on the other, meaning you can switch up the whole mood of the room simply by flipping over the blanket.
the world-of-whimsy bedroom
Michelle + Dave Kohanzo
CEO, Land of Nod + Banker
daughter, Emily + sons Connor, Henry, Everett
Can a master suite also be the heart of a family home? According to this playground of a bedroom, the answer is a resounding … absolutely! Rather than a grown-ups-only sanctuary, it works as a movie-night hangout and lazy-Sunday lounging zone for the family of six.
Light, bright, and upbeat, the room’s decor reflects an eye for sophisticated detail and a quirky sense of humor. Playful touches, such as a vintage German Marilyn Monroe movie poster and a heart-shaped collage made from a year’s worth of travel photos, keep things lighthearted.
All the extra seating is the key to why this sunny room doesn’t fall into disarray after so much use. Aside from a giant king bed, there’s a pink settee and a chair loaded up with blankets for making cozy piles on the floor. The overall impression is comfortable, layered, and lush, with a refined but soft palette and a rich array of textures, from the velvet settee to the textured rug to the furry gray pillows on the bed.
This is a space that truly defines what it is to have a “happy home.”
H-ART. This photo collage was made from a few favorite family pics the homeowner had professionally printed.
INSTANT GRATIFICATION. A fast, easy, inexpensive way to get a poster on the wall without making holes in the paper: extra-large bulldog clips hung from tiny nails!
SITTING PRETTY. This bedside table is larger than most but has to be extremely hardworking. It’s a landing spot for jewelry, toys, magazines, and the family’s cat.
WHAT TO WEAR? Michelle’s curtain rod doubles as a landing spot for possible outfit contenders. As a welcome side effect, her fashion becomes a fun part of the room’s decor.
the minimalist master suite
Moon Rhee + Heyja Do
Shop Owners, Dear: Rivington+
Some people like to sleep in big bedrooms; others prefer the intimate retreat of tight quarters. This all-white space offers a great example of the latter. Located in the smallest room of a spacious duplex in downtown Brooklyn, the footprint of this bedroom might be tiny, but the level of coziness is through the roof.
To counteract the tightness of the space, the king bed sits right on the floor, lowering the “waistline” of the room. This drastically opens the top half of the space, making the walls seem taller and the ceiling farther away.
An all-white palette also helps expand the room. The white used on the walls here, a very bright “photographer’s white,” has a cool, modern feel. Soft, textural layers add contrast: a piece of antique lace drapes the bed, and an even older scrap of framed lace rests on the windowsill.
With all that white, some darker elements are needed for definition. An antique side table from Kenya, a rubber tree, and a vintage desk lamp become small, impactful moments. But the most eye-catching element of all is the unframed black line painting (created by the homeowner with a little bit of house paint)—a lovely, personal focal point in the sparse bedroom.
PILLOW TOWER. In most homes you expect to find colorful throw pillows sitting side by side across the top of the bed. But here, in a refreshing twist, the all-white pillows are stacked, biggest to smallest.
the stargazer’s lounge
Tim Cuppett + Marco Rini
Architect + Garden Designer
If you believe a bedroom should be a restful getaway, then take note. Every detail in this space was carefully planned with just that goal in mind.
An unbelievably fluffy feather topper covers the king bed, which is placed just so for stargazing through the windows. The homeowners have designated the room a tech-free zone; no phones, televisions, or computers are allowed to cross the threshold. But every Sunday, breakfast in bed is served on an antique tray.
Even the chic taupe walls are soothing. Charmingly simple side tables made from local wood are punctuated by petite bell jars repurposed as glass pendants—both of which were designed by the homeowner. And the personal touches continue on the gallery wall, which contains family photos and bits of memorabilia: a visual history, all framed in black and gold.
NOT SO BASIC BEDDING. Tim and Marco have a rule when it comes to top sheets and bottom sheets: they can never match. As a result, they’ve accumulated a beautiful collection of stripes and floral prints that are mixed at random.
8 WAYS to love your home so it loves you back
1TREAT IT RIGHT. If you see something that needs attention around the house—a leaky dishwasher, a loose piece of trim—take care of it ASAP. Letting things go in the short term almost always exacerbates the original issue, costing you more money and time in the long run.
2BUY IT FLOWERS. Picking up an inexpensive bunch of flowers (or cutting some from the yard) on a regular basis is a staple of Apartment Therapy’s January Cure, our annual guide to starting your year off right. It’s a small thing that goes a long way. Colorful blooms can serve as a visual reminder throughout the week that your home—and you!—are worth treating well.
3EAT DELICIOUS MEALS TOGETHER. Whether solo, with family, or for guests, cooking at home is always worth it. Each time you prepare a meal, the benefits increase: your cooking skills sharpen; your kitchen gets more streamlined, because you refine its organization as you use it; and, of course, you get to eat really good home-cooked food.
4SERENADE IT. Turn up the music and belt out a few favorites the next time you’re in chores mode; it’s way more fun. You can even use the music as a motivator; challenge yourself to finish washing the kitchen floor before the next song starts. You’ll clean more energetically and end up happier.
5APPRECIATE ITS UNIQUENESS. No home is perfect. It’s the quirks that give it character and charm. Taking the time to turn a challenging spot (a dark entryway, a supersmall bedroom) into an eye-catching design moment is one of the more satisfying projects you can take on—and doing so will make you love your space even more.
6DON’T CROWD IT. Be diligent in letting go of the things you don’t need. Your home should be more than a place to store your stuff. Leaving some room to grow is essential to being comfortable in your place, long-term.
7DON’T SKIMP ON TIME SPENT TOGETHER. It’s easy to prioritize the time you spend outside your home: working, socializing, exercising. But carving out time on a regular basis to spend an evening in—cooking a meal, taking a long bath—creates a necessary home-life balance. Plus, you’ll hit the ground running the next day.
8INTRODUCE IT TO YOUR FRIENDS. Don’t keep your wonderful (or on-the-way-to-wonderful) home under wraps. Sharing it with friends, neighbors, and family can inspire you to keep it cleaner, make improvements more often, and simply enjoy it more.
BUY IT FLOWERS. Even the most casually thrown-together arrangement is an instant mood lifter. Sprinkle a few stems at the front door, and watch any bad vibes wash away the second you cross the threshold.