Our Master Bedroom Makeover
Here on the northwest side of Chicago, bungalows abound. They vary a bit in style, but you can usually bet on a few key features like red or gold checkerboard brick. Small stoops under a brick archway, built-ins, stained glass windows. They're all common features. The main feature though and what truly makes it a bungalow is the half story on top. My understanding is that at the time Chicago bungalows were built (around the 1910s–1920s), the half stories were much more affordable to build while still providing a little extra space. Most bungalows we toured when house shopping had two bedrooms on the main floor, and the second floor was one large space. This space often was an unfinished attic at one point and was then turned into additional one or two bedrooms. They're very charming and the idea of a full story master suite is wonderful until you realize there is only one place you can position the bed, your dresser is going to end up against a slanted wall, and you're generally not going to really have the floor footage that you technically have, because most of us (and our furniture) are more than two feet tall.
Our own bungalow is a bit different. The shape on the outside is actually a bit more of a barn, with the second floor walls going straight up and then slanting toward the ceiling, which allows us a little more flexibility. Both original bedrooms in our home are on the second floor, as is the original full bath (we have a third bedroom and third full bath in the basement added more recently). I love this about our bungalow, and I love that we have an actual hallway at the top of our stairs, even though it's more of a closet-sized landing.
We're still a bit limited on where we can place our bed in our bedroom. I'm not against a bed placed in front of windows; however, in our bedroom, the size of the wall would force us to put the bed off center of the windows, which would bug me. Not wanting to have to forgo a headboard with the bed against the slanted wall (which would also undoubtedly be a feng shui nightmare), our bed rests again the wall where the door into the room is. Not ideal, but I love waking up facing the window bursting with morning light (after I remove my eye shades, that is).
There WAS one problem with the sloped ceilings when we moved in. Popcorn ceilings! Low ceilings, partly slanted, covered in messy popcorn spray. Coupled with a poorly executed trim that went around the top perimeter of the room and moss green walls, the room was not the serene oasis I wanted our bedroom to be.
I had looked into having all our popcorn ceilings removed before we moved into the house, but the time between our purchase and moving in was short, as was our budget, so it's not something we prioritized. I had a vague memory of my parents removing popcorn ceilings in their own living room when I was a kid. I talked to my dad and he confirmed it's a quick, easy fix, and we scheduled a time to have them visit and help tackle the ceilings.
We moved in April 2015, and that September, we started work on the ceilings. My parents, Alex, and I removed furniture from the room, laid down tarp, and got to work making the ceilings moist to loosen the popcorn material before scraping it down. It ended up being way more difficult than we expected, and a very slow process. Following that process was sanding and patching all the holes and gauges we made (plus we were down a person for this process, as I was newly pregnant and avoiding inhaling the dust) before putting on a coat or two of ceiling paint.
The labor and time wasn't enough to deter us. We ended up doing the whole second floor over the following winter and spring, and it's beautiful! Lying in my bed, I look up at a smooth ceiling and feel so much more at peace. Our first floor still has popcorn ceilings, but at their height, they're quite unnoticeable. After removing our popcorn ceilings, we painted both second floor bedrooms Benjamin Moore Moonshine, and we painted over the odd, metallic, sponge-technique paint on our hallway walls with Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace, which is the white we used in our kitchen and living room as well.
So here it is! Our serene bedroom that allows the windows to be the star of the room and makes me feel happy when I wake up in it. There are a few things I'd like to change, like replacing the closet doors (which are currently shutter-style accordion doors that often come off the hinges) and painting the trim white instead of cream. And the bed could use a colorful lumbar pillow. But even if we don't ever get around to those little projects, I love love love our bedroom.
Photos of the updated bedroom are by Rachel Loewen. The before photos were taken by me.
Wall color: Benjamin Moore Moonshine
Rug: Safavieh from Home Goods
Tallboy dresser: Megmade
Credenza dresser and nightstands: West Elm
Bedding: Ikea comforter and West Elm sheets
Wall lamps: Ikea
Art above the bed: Jenny’s Print Shop
Art above the tallboy: Minted