Before & After: A Color-Conscious Bedroom Refresh
Senior Associate Editor Sean Santiago takes a no-holds-barred approach to decorating a rental
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.
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.
Tips from Santiago's makeover
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.
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.