Y’all, Gwyneth and I are so excited to finally hit “publish” on today’s post. The original plan was to share this room reveal the week after Thanksgiving, but that was the same time we figured out and told you that we’d have to leave NYC. We thought it would be best to space out the tear jerkers, so we kept it in draft mode. Well, we can’t keep it from you any longer. So if you’re the weepy type, find yourself a Kleenex.
As much as we love surrounding ourselves with beautiful things, the real reason Gwyneth and I got hooked on decorating is because it was quite literally, apartment therapy. Making our NYC apartment feel like home convinced us that painting and rearranging furniture are effective ways to improve mental health, and working on this “Cottage Guest Room” with my Mom have convinced us that they’re effective in improving physical health too. Here’s why…
This past March (ironically, a few days after Gwyneth and I painted the front door pink), my parents asked us to come down to North Carolina for a weekend. When we arrived, we found out we were there because there was something they wanted to tell us in person – Mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Sitting in the sunroom, Mom said, “These are the cards we have been dealt. We can wallow in it, or we can do what the doctors tell us to do and we can keep living.” And then she told us that she didn’t want us to wear pink ribbon pins, donate our hair or set up a team for the next breast cancer walk. What she wanted was our help redecorating one of the upstairs bedrooms. So Mom got an iPad and a Pinterest account, and all of us got busy with a bedroom makeover that now looks like this:
Unfortunately, we don’t have a before photo of the bedroom to share with you. A Jack and Jill bathroom separated it and my sister’s bedroom, and the room was used as her “homework studio” when she was in high school. Like the rest of my parents’ house, it was decorated and adorable. But between the time that Mom was diagnosed and the sunroom conversation, she did what the gals in our family do when we have a problem (of the decorating or life variety) that needs to be solved. She started moving furniture. So what you see in this “before” photo is my sister’s studio with all the old furniture and decorations cleared out and some extra furniture from the attic moved in.
And while she was waiting for us to fly down from NYC and rearranging furniture, Mom devised her plan. She’d do the sewing, decorating and furniture placement on the days she felt good, and she’d research, plan and supervise from the couch with her iPad on the days she felt bad.
The “sunroom conversation” was concluded with Mom’s announcement that we were wasting our time. It was a good day (she had recovered from her first chemo treatment a week earlier), so I needed to fix my eye makeup – we had fabrics and paint to pick out.
The original bedding had to go, but the dust ruffle would stay. Mom didn’t want to have another one custom made (the four-poster bed had an unusual drop), and I loved it because the pattern had my two favorite things – layered patterns and pink. So we set out to Printer’s Alley to pick out the rest.
And while we were there, we picked up a few other ideas for the bedroom.
I was flying back to NYC the next day, so while Mom set up the sewing machine, Dad and I addressed the other biggie – paint. We settled on Behr’s Whispering Wheat and gave the walls
what felt like a hundred a few coats before I left. We did the rest over email, photos we texted back and forth, the Pinterest board we set up for the project, six cycles of chemotherapy, 28 days of radiation and two surgeries. Whether she was at a chemotherapy treatment or busy on the Bernina, no trim, knob or accessory went undiscussed!
Early on in the makeover process, Mom and I decided that our new “cottage bedroom” should be Gwyneth’s and my room when we come home instead of the room I lived in growing up. So over Thanksgiving, we moved in – grateful for our beautiful new bedroom and for our healthy Mom (Grandma) who had just finished treatment.
And now for the details! The curtains are White Linen Sheer Panels from Crate & Barrel. To give them a more custom feel, Mom sewed on pom-pom trim.
When we say everyone was involved with the makeover, we mean everyone. My 90-year-old grandfather painted the desk with Benjamin Moore’s Potpourri. The knob is from Anthropologie, and the slipcovered chair came from Pottery Barn.
Mom made the Euroshams and lumbar pillows with the fabric we picked up at Printer’s Alley, and the matelasse quilt and shams came from Bed Bath and Beyond.
As you can see, we think it’s a very cozy bedroom!
And if you think Mom’s decorating therapy ended with the bedroom, you’d be wrong. On one phone call, Dad said the sound of the sewing machine was a constant at home. Over Thanksgiving, we learned he wasn’t kidding – before we even walked through the door.
And that’s how Mom cured cancer with an iPad, a Pinterest account and her Bernina.
mk & Gwynnie