Before & After: A Color-Conscious Bedroom Refresh

Senior Associate Editor Sean Santiago takes a no-holds-barred approach to decorating a rental

The editor ponders the limits of good taste atop a vintage Thonet desk.
The editor ponders the limits of good taste atop a vintage Thonet desk.
The room, painted in Farrow & Ball's Stiffkey Blue, with a sculptural pendant light from Tom Dixon.
The room, painted in Farrow & Ball's Stiffkey Blue, with a sculptural pendant light from Tom Dixon.

I live in Brooklyn. I wear flannel. I have a beard and eat granola that declares itself to be locally “gathered.” Despite ticking off all of these boxes, I do not consider myself of the genus “hipster,” though I will own up to sipping their artisanal, agave-sweetened Kool-Aid. My first apartment here, in the borough's Park Slope-adjacent Greenwood Heights neighborhood, was a bright white box geared toward Instagramming succulents in misshapen, handpainted pots against the walls. I loved it. I bought IKEA furniture. I hung drapery. It felt like home….until I felt like I was ready for something different. As soon as my lease was up, I was out and ready for a total design rethink. My new mantra? No more white box!

For the new me (and his new apartment) I called in Michael Lancelotti of Conceptual Glazing to consult on paint colors for the room. After seeing his work in Nana Spears and Daniel de la Nuez’s bold Brooklyn townhouse, I knew I could trust his eye. I wanted to go dark à la Matt Carollo’s moody Chicago residence but was wavering between shades of blue and gray from Farrow & Ball. We decided on the brand’s Stiffkey Blue for three walls as well as the ceiling, with a “reverse accent” wall done in Wimborne White; the trim, doors, and molding were done in Purbeck Stone, a light gray. The effect would obscure some of the uneven lines where the wall meets the ceiling and add a sense of much-needed drama.

A Ben Medansky ceramic cup is tucked behind an antique tree of life candelabra (above). An original sketch by New York-based artist Saul Lishinsky draws the eye above a pair of staggered antique Chinese stools used in lieu of a nightstand (left).
A Ben Medansky ceramic cup is tucked behind an antique tree of life candelabra (above). An original sketch by New York-based artist Saul Lishinsky draws the eye above a pair of staggered antique Chinese stools used in lieu of a nightstand (left).
Before & After: A Color-Conscious Rental Upgrade





Then I had to dress the recessed dormer windows. My old drapery wouldn't fit, and after much deliberating, I decided to push in a distinctly anti-BKLYN direction, springing for Rose Tarlow’s Tatton Stripe fabric, as seen in the Harbor Island residence designed by Alessandra Branca, for a pair of roman shades. The indoor/outdoor fabric seemed ideal for window treatments, and my preferred colorway, Paper Bag, picked up the earthier tones in my rug. It was the turn-of-the-century Caucasian rug that set the decorative M.O. for the rest of the space. I wanted to bring together bold primary hues—blue, red, yellow—but I wanted them to look a hundred years old. "Patina" was the buzzword, and it seemed to be the thread connecting many of my most sentimental keepsakes, from the art (a painting by self-taught Colombian painter Guillermo Vega I purchased in the artist's studio last summer) to the bedding, where In Bed's saturated linen pillow slips pop against the deep indigo of an Indian quilt.

I couldn't say my new space is finished, but it's headed in the right direction—away from a certain brand of Pinterest-esque perfection, where life is best lived through the lens of an iPhone and personality is sourced through affiliate links. My new space feels like me—it's a work in progress, imperfect and eclectic, as collected as anyone without the patience to pickle their own root vegetables can hope for.

Before & After: A Color-Conscious Rental Upgrade


EDITOR SOURCEBOOK
Tips from Santiago's makeover

1. Bettertex
Albert at Bettertex is so nice and always super excited to tackle whatever projects I bring his way. Their showroom is also easily accessible, meaning I can run by after work.

2. Saffron
This is my absolute favorite florist, on Hanson Place. Kana is so easy to work with and has a great eye. I usually just take whatever vase I have into the shop and have them design an arrangement on site—it's ideal.

3. Brooklyn Flea
I know, "flea markets" are de rigueur, but I'm not just telling you to shop this awesome market—get to know your vendors! Converse with people and build relationships. I always get a business card from anyone with a good eye. If they have something I like, I can email them to ask about it later.

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