Negotations are…

Negotations are proceeding on one of the houses we liked best; we're hoping that by the end of the day today we'll know whether we're able to come to agreement on a price or not. Wish us luck.

In the meantime, we're still holding on most things. Our buyers have until July 7th to get their mortgage finalized; they had the bank's appraiser come by yesterday, so hopefully that's progressing with all good speed. We're waiting until we hear they've been approved before we start actually packing, since if they aren't, then we're back to square one on selling the condo. (There's been some other interest, but nothing definitive.) It should all go smoothly, but you never know.

We also aren't actually buying any furniture or anything yet. But that doesn't stop me from trying to at least think through some of the decisions we'll need to make if all goes well. Thanks for all the feedback on the whole kids-sharing-room thing; we've pretty much decided that we're okay with sticking little boy in a tiny room of his own for a decade or so. Whenever he starts complaining too much about his sister's room being bigger, we can decide if we want to share an office or some such instead. So Kavi is probably getting her canopy/trundle bed. It's a shame that the Madeleine bed is also the most expensive of the beds. If it were two-thirds the price, I'd just buy it. We'll see.

(Dear homeowners we're negotiating with right this second, if you happen to google and find this post, please don't fret too much that we're already redecorating your beautiful home. We love what you've done so far with the place, and if we manage to come to agreement on price, we plan to do our best to maintain integrity with the beautiful design elements that are already there.)

Now my obsessiveness has moved on to our bedroom. Most of the houses we're looking at in Oak Park are smallish houses that have converted their attics into master suites. What that means is that you get a room with low walls (about 50 inches high), but cathedral ceilings. They're nominally large rooms (say 19' x 14'), but the low walls means that they don't actually feel all that large. Kevin bumps his head when he comes near the walls. They're also mostly just drywalled, so currently a bit bland. Here's one of them:

I kind of feel like if you're going to have cathedral ceilings, you ought to do something to emphasize the cathedraliness of them. Something to draw the eye up, to enjoy the space. Plus, I love medieval and Gothic decor, so of course it's tempting to go all medieval on that ceiling's ass. Okay, that doesn't make any sense, but you know what I mean. Yet at the same time, I don't want to put so much stuff on the ceiling that I end up making the room feel smaller and claustrophobic. It's a balancing act.

Here's an actual Gothic cathedral ceiling, with amazing vaulted moldings, and another one, with moldings and stained glass, and Notre Dame, with elaborate murals.

Obviously, those moldings and murals are way too much for a little bedroom, and I truly dislike this yucky blue sky ceiling with wall mural, but could I get away with a little bit of medieval design? Something like this medieval mosaic is more the style I was originally thinking of, maybe just one of the triangular sections above the windows? But maybe that would clash too much with bedding, etc. -- a painting like that would be such a strong design choice, it'd pretty much demand that everything else was coordinated with it.

One other option might be to pin sari fabric flat to the ceiling (not draping, as that would definitely be too claustrophobic, I think), which would get some color up there. And if we decided we didn't like it, it'd be relatively easy to take it down again and turn it into curtains for another room or some such. These utterly gorgeous Indian-inspired bedrooms are tempting me.

I tried looking for decorating advice online, and found:

"In any room that has cathedral ceilings, the "height" is built in, so drawing the eye up is not the goal. Translated, that means it can be a darker color or the same color as your wall. Same color ceilings and walls tend to be monochromatic and clean; lighter colored ceilings and walls tend to be more traditional; darker color ceilings than walls tends to be very contemporary."

Which sounds good, but I think they're thinking of bigger rooms than our bedroom would be, like this large living room in blues, or this large bedroom in purple and white.

I went looking for more info and found this very detailed page on painting ceilings -- but it almost has too many ideas for me. Now I don't know whether to add wallpaper, or borders, or moldings, or what!

The rest of the house will probably be Craftsman-style, so dark wood moldings around doors and windows and ceilings. One house we're looking at has gorgeously restored the Craftsman style on the first floor, and it's tempting to just keep carrying that through the rest of the house (as we can afford to). They even have little medieval touches, which makes me think that you can mix in a bit of medieval with Craftsman and it'll work okay. I could just go with dark wood beams in the bedroom too, for consistency, but I'm worried it'll feel too dark. (Also, maybe super-expensive to add, as opposed to little moldings from Home Depot?)

This ceiling has added moldings, which starts to give a little more of the look of the Gothic ceiling, although they chose to paint them the same color as the ceiling, so it's a very subtle effect. I kind of like it, though it's also a bit barn-like. And this ceiling is more of a barrel vault than a cathedral ceiling, but I like the dark walls with lighter ceiling (though I wouldn't do pure white), and the elaborate crown molding around the border of wall-meeting-ceiling. Also like the switching back to um...not sure what you call it -- baseboard? molding? halfway down the wall, although I'm pretty sure the walls in these bedrooms aren't high enough to get away with that!

Anyway, thoughts? I'm pretty sure I want to do something more than just painting it, or even painting it in two colors, to lend it a bit more character, but how much can I get away with? Can I give it a mild medieval feel without going totally over the top?

And just to complicate matters, you can keep in mind that our previous bedroom was painted in deep rich tones of gold, with a chocolate accent wall (then repainted in bone with white trim, for the sale, and all of our bedding is currently coordinated with that. I don't think we can get away with paint colors that dark -- I don't even think I want to. But maybe a much lighter shade of gold?

6 thoughts on “Negotations are…”

  1. I’m noticing that so much of what you’re thinking about sounds like blah blah blah to me. When it comes to a place I’m going to live in I focus on functionality. How does the furniture flow, is everything indestructible, how do I add storage space, where’s the closest grocery store for a gallon of milk, that kind of thing. The rest of design features, for me, become background if I live somewhere. Yes I want it to look nice to visitors, but really not my priority. Very different personalities.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Kevin handles the functionality — he’s already charted out all the schools and where they are in relation to all the houses and what the walking distance is and where the bus routes are, for example. So I don’t have to worry about any of that. 🙂

    For me, having a beautiful space makes it a joy to work in it, every day. Since I’m at home so much, it makes a huge difference to my daily happiness.

  3. It will be more fun to call and brainstorm ideas, but my initial thoughts are that all the examples of “more interesting ceilings” take place in rooms with higher ceilings. The converted attics you are looking at are much more like the 2nd floor in my house, with nice “texture” but not a lot of height.

    I’m not sure if the ceiling in the middle of the room is peaked or flat. If peaked, I think you could do a design through the middle spreading down about 1/3 of the way down the slanted ceiling, with a denser design in the middle getting more sparse as you go down. If the ceiling is flat in the middle, I’m not sure a mural will work (sorry)but I think that very lightly draped sari fabric running down the length of the room could be lovely.

    Katie’s room looks very much like this one. The ceiling in the middle is flat. What we did there was use a rich color on the long vertical walls, a paler version of the same color on the slanted bit of the ceiling and then pure white on the top. I know white is boring but it also reflects light very well, making rooms much lighter as the light bounces off the ceiling back down again. Somehow decorators never seem to mention this fact. But then, most decorators seem to like dark (as in light-obscured) rooms. Anyway, this monotonic scheme works well. It probably makes the room seem slightly smaller, but the effect is minor. Katie’s room is bright yellow on the bottom, middle yellow on the slant and bright white on the ceiling and trim. When the light comes through, the room absolutely glows. It’s gorgeous in a way neither of us expected. We also have thin bright red curtains over the window. When the sun shines through the curtain, you’re surrounded by a rosy glow.

    If we ever get around to doing our room, I have a plan for a Moroccan harem room with darkish terracotta walls (which should glow warm in the sun) and an ornate stenciled pattern over the walls in a paler color, which would be repeated on the slant of the room. Haven’t decided on the ceiling yet, but in this case I might go somewhere in between the pale stencil and the dark wall and just think of it as a snug sleeping place (in the middle of a harem). I got the idea from a picture in a magazine and if I can find the magazine I’ll scan it and send it to you.

    Another idea would be to richly (and medieval-ly) convert the dormer space but keep the big space a bit more plain. Convert the dormer space into a fully benched platform (think big window seat) that was cushioned and draped alla harem. A nice pierced metal lantern would be lovely there was well. Go hide in the harem nook. Then I would also add a 2nd richly decorated section somewhere else in the room – I’m thinking perhaps an ornate window treatment on the far end. It’s hard to tell without the room.

    Another thing I’ve read is that sometimes you should just rejoice in snugness. Throughout history people have deliberately made small snug rooms to feel cozy in. You might stop worrying about small and concentrate on snug.

  4. I agree with Kirsten: darker colors on bottom, paling as you go up. Or else darker colors in the alcove, paler colors in the main section.

  5. joyce scrivner

    I think I’m planning to paint my interior in Santa Fe style, even if I do live in Minneapolis.

    The uneven bits of the ceilings and such will get some appropirate stenciling (most likely Native American related) including some of the bathroom tiles.

    My living room however came with Linen wallpaper – a lovely thing – I have to redo some bits due to a roof failure (they are stained and/or coming off), but I may go with a fabric on the wall in those areas.

    I’ve been told you can ‘starch’ fabric to the wall and it will stay. So later you can remove the fabric and wash it and then use it for something else.

    I really like the ‘style’ books – Santa Fe Style, Art Deco Style, etc. for ideas.

    Have fun!

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