Caitlin’s Bedroom Update! – The Disaster That Caused A 3-Month Delay And The 3 Design Questions She Needs Help With

SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED SINCE MY LAST BEDROOM POST. (In the world, but also in this room.) Schadenfreude fans, today’s update is dedicated to you!!! Things in here were very bad and scary and overwhelming (for me – it’ll be a fun read for you, at least), but we’re finally back on track after a multi-month delay. It’s been a minute (or, uh, 7 months?) since my last bedroom post, so let me catch you up on the complete unraveling of my life (followed by a few design conundrums, because technically this post is for “work” and not for “throwing myself a pity party”). We begin here…

That’s the listing photo on the left and my move-in day on the right. The good: a palatial, 16′ x 11′ bedroom, really lovely light, plaster walls, and original hardwood floors and windows. The bad: THAT AIR CONDITIONER. Spoiler alert: it leaked. Badly. I’m still not sure of when it started – it was an early 2000s window unit (i.e. slightly different drain/overflow functionality than comparable wall units) and the A/C’s remote control meant that it was always a little “on” even when it was switched “off,” but a water damage expert later suggested it may have been going on for a while (like, since before I moved in).

I still remember getting the call from my landlord requesting entry to my apartment – mainly because it was really late at night, my boyfriend and I had just checked into the world’s tiniest Boston hotel room after a traumatic dinner that ended with a friend carted away in an ambulance (she was fine, thankfully!), and I’d just realized that I’d booked us a room that boasted really special amenities, like no staff on site (!), stained sheets (!!) and a whole room-sized bed with a stunning view of THE BATHROOM’S GLASS BARN DOOR (jackpot!). You know when people are like “chin up, it can’t get any worse?” They’re lying! It definitely can, baby!!!!

ANYWAY. The phone call. My landlord told me that the paint on my downstairs neighbor’s ceiling was peeling, which indicated water damage. Upon entering my room, my landlord later described seeing a few cupped and buckled OG hardwood floorboards (yeah, an absolute gut punch, I know) in addition to water damage surrounding the A/C unit. I flew back to LA and hired a water damage specialist, who officially confirmed that the A/C had caused the damage, and I made a plan to stick around the apartment for a few days to supervise the repair process. (LOL. A FEW DAYS. So naive.)

Well…that was the plan, at least, until I peeked inside the A/C cavity while my building’s handyman was cutting open additional sections of the wall to house the new replacement unit. (Side note: I learned my building literally does not have insulation, which is why the temperature outside is the temperature inside! Fun old apartment things!) I’d never seen inside an ~100-year-old building before, but I was preeeeeeetty sure that walls of any age are not supposed to be simultaneously slimy AND fuzzy.

But wait, there’s more! After the wall was opened more, I learned that there was no asbestos survey on file with the city for my building…so there was no way to tell if the thick layer of dust now coating the entire room was dangerous or not. (The good times kept on comin’!!!) After spotting what I thought looked like mold and learning about the asbestos risk, I stopped the work and called my landlord, who scheduled sample testing. About a week later, an inspector collected wall, paper, debris, and air samples and I’m SO glad I advocated for myself, because…

I MEAN. GUYS. Should I play the lotto or what?! LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD OVER HERE! I’m not joking, though – despite being built in the 1930s, I somehow live in the only old building in Los Angeles that wasn’t constructed with asbestos material. The testing did, however, indicate two types of black mold in the air – stachybotrys and chaetomium – and this literal Dexter scene went up in my apartment 3 weeks later. (I have to confess – the wait between my initial “hey, I think there’s mold here” and complete remediation was brutal and took waaaaay longer than I’d anticipated. So much sofa sleeping! So much back pain! I got my first ulcer from being so stressed!)

After the first round of remediation, air quality testing indicated that all the mold hadn’t been eradicated. The team came back the next week, cut out more of the plaster wall and original trim (again – a gut punch), and sprayed everything down a second time. A bright spot: my boyfriend flew out to LA and was present for most of the remediation – we slept on the floor of my living room while industrial strength fans ran 24/7 in the back of the apartment – and having someone who was willing to hoof it to Walgreens to buy Pepto for the aforementioned ulcer when I thought I was dying DID actually make the process a little bit (or a lot, TBH) better. I think it’s really easy to spiral in housing situations like this – especially when they’re going on and on, week after week – so I’m really lucky that I had a great support system who helped me figure it all out, at least 🙂


And thankfully, the second round of remediation did the trick. I spent a week with that microbial crime scene in my room before the remediation company got the all-clear, and it only took about 4 half-days to put the whole space back together – one to measure, one to hang drywall, one to mud and paint, and one to fix the flooring (which had dried out significantly in the time it took to handle the other issues – the cupped boards had mostly flattened, and my building’s handyman was able to remove screws and knock the buckling floorboards back down into place). This weekend – after nearly 3 months – I was finally able to move back into my own bedroom. I WILL NEVER TAKE IT FOR GRANTED AGAIN, I SWEAR.

To that end, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE. The last time we chatted about this room, I was working through three potential bedroom color palettes in an attempt to make a decision about which one of these beds to order. I loved reading your feedback – thank you for helping me work through my analysis paralysis! – and this weekend, my bedroom fiiiiiiinally started to take shape when my new bed frame was delivered…

DISCLAIMER: Before you look at these – yes, it is a king-sized bed. Yes, I do currently have my full-sized mattress in a king-sized frame (still deciding on my mattress – it’s a huge investment that I’ll spend 4 months a year asleep on! Though I am currently heavily leaning towards this one for its heating/cooling functionality – would be great to not have to use the heater or an A/C at night!). Yes, those are t-shirt quilts (I know I work at a design blog, but my mom gave them to me and I love them!). Yes, it is kind of nerve-wracking to put your VERY in-progress room on the internet, but…if I can use a bathroom with a glass barn door, I can do this too:)

AHH. I know there’s a ton of work to be done here – and we’ll walk through it all below – but I feel like I’m starting to see what it can look like in here, you know? First: THE BED. I went cognac, y’all!!! I know the lighting on my iPhone isn’t the greatest – and these aren’t edited at all – but it’s such a luxe, rich, rust-meets-gold shade (at least in here, with northeast light!). My wall is 107″ long and this headboard is 97″, so I love how it fills out the space – going from the world’s bitsy-est bed to something that’s appropriate for the scale of the room has been a game changer.

And second: HELLO, RUG! Once I saw the Grand Rug in Deep Blue, it was ooooooover for me. I literally cannot tell you how much I love this rug – it’s so plush and the color is out of this world (it’s saturated AND quiet? Solid but still dynamic? It’s a literal dream! They just announced new colorways and I’m trying to figure out if I can work one into my dining room because I love it so much). I actually cried when I rolled it out (not joking – this whole mold thing has been weighing on me for a long time and finally seeing this beautiful rug against my brass dresser BROKE ME. I really truly love it and I can’t wait to style around it!!!!).

This brings me to my next point – y’all, I’m expanding the color palette a little bit (from “cognac and desaturated blues” to “cognac and pretty saturated, uh, everything else.” The front of my house is going to be pretty restrained and a little more minimal – mainly lots of pinks, greens, neutrals, and texture – so I want to make a space in my home that’s a little more vibrant and energizing. (Everyone I know will testify that I have no problems sleeping, so my bedroom priority is more “WAKE UP, LET’S GO” than “WIND DOWN, RELAX,” you know?)

I ended up pulling two of my favorite vintage pieces in here – an Otomi pillow (a 2017 Long Beach Flea score!) and a Tobacco Leaf card case (there are two sets of printed playing cards in there, too!) – to serve as the jumping off point for the rest of the color in here. I’ve loved both prints for years and I’m really excited to have a bedroom that makes me feel as happy and energized as these two pieces do:)

Which brings us to our first debate: What color should the walls be? I thiiiiink my current frontrunner is the faux grasscloth wallpaper from Society Social in either citrus or sage – I love how the classic texture balances out the super-modern bed shape, and it’d be a great backdrop for the rust fabric – but to be fair, I also don’t hate how the wheat faux grasscloth looks in my little keynote mockup, either. I’m also open to just painting in here, which is obviously the easiest and most affordable option – what are your thoughts?

Next up: let’s talk nightstands, please! I originally wanted something square and campaign-y to tie in the brass dresser, then I thought that something really long could balance the visual weight of the 8’ headboard (!!!), but now I think I’m back to looking for something a bit more squat and plinth-y that could fit in the confines of the rug. (I have about 23″ between the edge of the bed and the edge of the rug, and I do want something with storage – maybe campaign nightstands were the right call all along?) Either way, I feel like I’ll know it when I see it. (Also on the hunt for a cute vintage perch for the corner so my cat can sit comfortably in the window – she loves people-watching!)

MOVING ON. I still cannot believe that I own this dresser (and that I did not have to like, go into debt to acquire it!). VINTAGE DREAMS DO COME TRUE (if you are very patient and prepared to wait forever, at least). This one is in incredible condition – it was actually in better shape than the one I wrote about in our 2021 “if money were no object” post – and scale-wise, it’s almost like it was meant for this wall. Design-wise, I’m just planning to hang a few of my favorite art pieces up here (and I’m also on the hunt for a good vintage jewelry box to adorn the top of the dresser, if anyone has any fun leads!).

The last two walls are giving me a bit of design trouble, so stick with me for some external processing. The facts: there’s 3.5′ feet between the foot of the bed and this wall – it’s a super comfortable walkway, and I’d almost rather not clutter it with a bench or stools or baskets. That said, I am going to need to suck it up and figure out a location for a new full length-mirror (I don’t know if y’all can see that one, but it’s broken and it drops shards of glass every time I move it, so it’s probably time to call it and recycle her, hah).

I’m leaning towards placing it on this wall – a bit to the right of where the TV is right now, but I’m worried about the rest of the wall/walkway feeling sparse and empty. (Maybe it’d be a good use case for the huge famous Rejuvenation arched mirror?) I’m also worried about putting so many reflective items next to each other – will it be too much? Beyond that, will I regret not opting for an end-of-bed bench or baskets or even a narrow storage solution on the wall? I’ve only owned twin or full beds and am planning to celebrate this upgrade with some very liberal pillow usage, so I guess I do need to put them somewhere at night – if you’re currently a king bed owner, what works for you?

Moving on! First – if anyone wants a free IKEA Tarva bed frame in LA, please leave a note – it’s yours 🙂 I feel like the size of this wall is better scaled for a mirror, but the 5′ distance between the bed and wall have me considering some sort of vintage armoire or chest here. I originally thought it’d be a great place for a vanity or desk, but I like doing my skincare near a sink (because I’m messy, and I also because need water), my makeup near the window (better lighting), and my work from…well, not in my bedroom, I guess. I’d like the extra storage (and honestly, I’m not crazy about waking up and staring straight into my own eyes every morning), but maybe a smaller mirror closer to the hall door on the left would be nice?

Last but not least – let’s talk WINDOW TREATMENTS. I’m torn here – on one hand, I want to go with bamboo shades because I love the texture they bring to my home (I just hung these $48 cordless ones in my living room and they look just as good as the $600 versions!), buuuuut they don’t have awesome blackout functionality (which is okay in my living room when they’re layered with curtains – that’s just less of an option here, considering that a curtain would make that closet door on the right annoying to use). Light leak doesn’t really bother me, but I also don’t want to buy multiple window treatments if it ever does, you know?

My alternate option: go with a patterned shade. And while I love this idea now, I worry that any pattern (outside of something simple, like a neutral stripe or dot) will really lock me into a certain color palette or direction. Right now I love that the bed, rug, and dresser are functioning as such a versatile base layer – every piece I’ve brought in here has looked awesome against this backdrop. (I mean…I knew saturated blue with warm leather and brass is one of my favorite combinations to build upon – very classic EHD! – so of course, this cognac fabric is a great substitute for leather!) I’m excited about the flexibility to mix things up in here, and I can’t wait to figure out if I should optimize for texture or pattern. It’s a fun problem to have, at least. (FINALLY.)

That brings us to the end of your schadenfreude-y rollercoaster ride – another saga in the books. (Like literally, in the books – my apartment passed inspection yesterday at 10:50 AM and it’s officially a closed case with the city!) As a reminder, I’d welcome your thoughts on paint/wallpaper, nightstand shape, mirror placement, end-of-bed necessity, chest/armoires vs. desks, and window treatments. And if I can help answer any mold questions…or if you’re in the market for an IKEA bed frame…well, I’ll see ya down there. Happy Wednesday 🙂 xx

The post Caitlin’s Bedroom Update! – The Disaster That Caused A 3-Month Delay And The 3 Design Questions She Needs Help With appeared first on Emily Henderson.

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