A real-life, before-and-after transformation.
Decorating a bedroom is a delicate enterprise. No space in the home is more personal, and if you share that bedroom with an opinionated spouse, it gets even trickier. Is it going to be masculine or feminine? Modern or traditional? And what about the color? (I may be the Editor of Southern Living, but I was not going to have pink walls.) So when my wife, Susan, and I embarked on this project, we had two simple goals: 1) Create a comfortable retreat and 2) stay married. See how we found our modern oasis.
We needed a moderator, so we looked to Susan Hable, an artist and fabric designer from Athens, Georgia, with an aesthetic we both love. Hable and her sister, Katharine Hable Sweeney, run Hable Construction, which is known for textiles, rugs, and furniture inspired by the colors and patterns of nature. Hable has a passion for traditional Southern design, but she also likes to punch things up with a fresh, modern twist. That sounded like us. The room was just a big rectangle without a lot of character. On the plus side, we have six (5-foot-tall) windows with trees on all sides, which prompted Hable to say, “I consider this bedroom a tree house.” But there were no nooks to work with, no interesting details, and very little furniture.
We needed something to anchor the room, and my wife knew she wanted a canopy style but not something frilly—and on this we agreed. We went with a simple upholstered frame (the Clarke Bed; jaysonhome.com) in a light silvery gray that would go with just about anything. This choice really popped against the wall color: Tradewind (SW 6218); sherwin-williams.com
A key thing to tackle was the six window treatments. Here, Hable was a big inspiration. We wanted a simple look with clean curtain rods and few pleats, but we also wanted a little personality. Hable’s own shibori pattern, Baja, highlighted the greenery in the windows and added some bohemian flair.
The Lighting & Furniture
We did not agree on the lighting. My wife was dead set on modern-looking sconces, but I wanted lamps. As you can see, I lost that battle, but I’ve since warmed up to these Charlton sconces from Circa Lighting, partly because they’re handsome and partly because I know when to admit defeat. As for the mismatched furniture, we found the side tables from Tritter Feefer in Georgia, the lacquered chest was custom made by Hickory Chair in North Carolina, and the funky Halabala lounge chair is a cherished piece we bought years ago in New York. “Just remember: It’s a chair, not a hamper,” my wife likes to point out. “I don’t want to see your pants draped all over it.”
My wife and I are very particular about art, and we loved the staghorn fern painting over the dresser (both are by Hable) as well as the dreamy interiors by Athens photographer Rinne Allen, which Hable arranged in an asymmetrical display. This could all eventually change, of course, but I think it’s important to wake up in the morning inspired by your surroundings and go to bed feeling the same way.
All of the bedding was created by Hable Construction for their new collection with Garnet Hill. Hable let the patterns do the talking and skipped the throw pillows that would just end up on the floor.
We added a jute rug, which instantly gave the room a sense of warmth. There’s nothing simpler, more durable, or more versatile. On top of that, we layered a small kilim rug from the local Birmingham shop Paige Albright Orientals for some added texture.