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Planning a Modern Bedroom in a historic home: ORC Spring 2020 Week Three

planning a modern bedroom in our historic home | how to blend styles and make it seem natural

This week, I’m slowing down the tempo and showing you how I’ve planned this design for a room I didn’t exactly ever plan to have. I’m also diving deep into the ways we are making our modern addition look like it belongs in our 100 year old home. So let’s dive in …

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bedroom with historic trim and flooring in a 100 year old house

When we bought our home last July (more on that here: Our 1924 California Bungalow: Full Home Tour), we were so enchanted by all the original character that remained in this 100 year-old house. There had clearly been some renovations over the past century but what was left behind was special.

The home boasted original 1920s craftsman-style trim made from hard oak wood. Every door in our house was original, 100 years old, and solid wood. Many of the door knobs where either original or impeccable replicas with glass knobs and functioning keyholes. The six-inch thick baseboards were covered in layers of chippy paint and featured a beautifully curved edge. Our living room and dining room still had the original picture rail intact.

historic home with modern furniture accents

We made the decision pretty early on in our inhabitance of this house that we would bring in a more sleek, modern aesthetic to juxtapose against the original – and slightly battered – home’s details. We knew that adding straight lines and simple hardware allows the historic details to emerge from the background and truly take center stage without becoming obnoxiously period.

While we did have to completely gut the house to make necessary repairs to the damage caused by the tornado (more on that here: How We Are Rebuilding After The Tornado), we were able to salvage many of the original pieces of hardware that existed in the house.

As they demoed, I asked our contractors to be extremely cautious with our original trim work and doors. Rather than tossing them in the garbage, we made plans to add them back into the home once new drywall is in place. We were also able to save the original floor grates for the HVAC system and will be displaying those in a unique way as we put the house back together.

Most of that original trim will be installed downstairs. Since we’re adding four new rooms upstairs (a bedroom, an office, a bonus room, and a bathroom) and we want the entire floor to feel consistent, we won’t be installing old trim upstairs. Instead, we’re going to follow with tradition and create a simpler, less formal trim profile that will still wink at the historic details found downstairs.

We’re planning to work with WindsorOne craftsman mouldings and trim to patch any broken pieces from our historic trim and to build new trim details upstairs. Here are the trim styles they recommend for period homes:

craftsman trim profiles from windsorone.jpg

Our original downstairs trim most accurately resembles the profile from Option 1 (above), so we’ll be using pieces from that collection to rebuild our downstairs trim where necessary.

In order to portray a more laid-back take on a craftsman style for the less formal rooms upstairs, we’re planning to build door trim that matches Profile 4 (above). This simpler style will tie together the historic charm we loved so much about the original house with a more modern aesthetic we’re bringing in with furniture and home accents.


modern decor in a family home

Last Spring, during the One Room Challenge™, I openly declared: THIS IS US. THIS IS OUR STYLE AND THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE MORE OF FROM HERE. I was referencing the bonus room we completed during the ORC and the more modern, playful, and colorful vibe we gave that room (more on that here: Modern Media Room). Then we promptly sold that house and bought the antithesis of a modern home; our 1924 California Bungalow in our beloved Lockeland Springs neighborhood of East Nashville.

our 1924 California bungalow front porch

Of course, I had plans for this house. I always knew we’d be tackling some sort of renovation in the distant future. I even mentioned down-the-road plans for a possible dormer and a garage apartment in this introductory post. We just didn’t realize we’d be making such massive sweeping changes so soon into our ownership of this home.

Faced with a sudden need for our house to be rebuilt, we had to make some quick decisions.

Would we just build it back to what it was? Well, it doesn’t make much sense to take a poorly functioning home and tear it apart just to put it back together in the same dysfunctional way.

Would we attempt to restore this old house to get it on the Register of Historical Places? Eh. I’m not a fan of people telling me what I can and can’t do in my own home. Plus, we’re already under an exterior historic overlap (so they already control a lot of what we do) and that’s not been super fun. But mostly, I don’t think we have the time right now to make good decisions about the restoration process. Restoring houses takes a long time. It’s a lot of work. And we need to get our family back in our home as quickly as possible in order to minimize the trauma on our daughter. So, no, let’s not restore it.

Will we gut the interior and go back in with all modern trim and materials? I love a crisp, modern space. But I also loved this home as it was. I want to marry the two. So let’s do that. Let’s save what we can from the original house and anything that’s new can be modern. We’ll bring in more modern paint colors and tie them to the house with light fixtures and accents that have historic profiles but in modern materials and finishes.

Here’s a sneak peek at our home’s exterior design concept, to set the tone:

modern craftsman style home exterior plan - black and grey with cedar wood tones

Yes, we are going with a very dark color scheme which is very modern. But we’re also salvaging the original 5 inch wood siding and most of the original, historic windows. The lighting we’re using is somewhat traditional (if not a little industrial) in shape but incorporates modern colors and finishes to juxtapose. Bring in a little modern. Place it against something historic. See the formula coming together?

If you want modern accents to make sense in a historic home, you need to have an equal mix of both styles.

For the interiors of our home, we’re using a similar formula. Our architectural details (trim, doors, and windows) will be historic or replicas while our furnishings will be more clean-lined, modern silhouettes – often covered in more traditional materials like ceramic, iron, wood, tweed, wool, seersucker, and linen. We’re striking a balance between the old and new by introducing pieces that feel timeless and modern at the same time.


modern bedroom final - a black and grey color scheme in a historic home's master bedroom

To build a design concept for a room, I typically begin with something meaningful to the family, couple, or person for whom the design is being crafted. With this room, because it’s my own space, I decided to shift focus off myself by letting that meaningful objet d’inspiration be more of a story.

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As I reflect on the past seven years of my life with my wife (OH WOW SRSLY IT’S BEEN SEVEN YEARS), and how our homes have evolved along the way, I am constantly reminded of a story I used to tell everyone about our differences in our design styles. It goes something like this;

When I moved into Christine’s home, everything was beige or grey and striped. The walls were greige. The sofa was grey. The rug was grey and beige, in a striped pattern, and the throw pillows were from the same Ikea line of decor and featured the same beige and grey striped pattern. I moved in and immediately, I nixed all the neutrals and brought in some color.

Then I typically smirk and pull her close to me around the waist as she pretends to be amused with my antics.

I’m using this story as inspiration for this room because what I’m actually saying when I tell it is this: I moved into Christine’s home and I moved her personality out of it.

I realized just how much I’d been denying my wife the comfort and solace she sought in her own spaces by negating her tastes entirely and forcing her to live in homes in which she saw almost no reflection of her personal style. Ew. Gross.

So, last Spring, I began to correct course by designing a home office that she and I could share in our previous home (more on that here). After that design, we were even interviewed by Grace Bonney of design*sponge for a piece about couples decorating their homes together (you can read the full article here).



Neutral master bedroom decor

The above photo was taken in our suburban home’s master bedroom before we sold the house and moved back to the city last year. After we moved, we took very few photos of our new master bedroom. In essence, because we hadn’t made any changes to the space, we felt no need to photograph it at all.

We did, however, snap this one picture, which shows how some of our furniture made its way into our new home:

historic home details

Well, sort of. I mean, you can tell there’s a rug and you can see the baskets at the end of the bed. There’s definitely a dresser. But that’s kind of it. Sorry.

The good news is that you didn’t miss much. Most of what was housed in this space was destroyed when the chimney caved in and flooded the room. We couldn’t salvage the bed or mattress. We had to throw out that rug. Those baskets had already begun to mildew by the time we arrived back in town the next day.

But we were able to save some of our furniture and decor from the space. We’d installed grey curtain panels behind our bed and, after a dry cleaning, they’re still in good shape.

Our bedside tables, which you can see in the photo from our suburban home (below), have only slight water damage to the legs and I think I can repair them. The plan is to sand them down and stain them black. I’ve been wanting to do that for years in order to restore the beauty of these vintage Henredon pieces.

vintage bedside tables mixed with modern decor

We’ve purchased a new bed that came with a headboard but we’re also considering reusing our old headboard. We really have always loved this tufted linen headboard and the water damage to the legs was minimal. I’m considering removing the wings and installing a french cleat to the back of the headboard so we can hang it directly onto the wall. This would give the headboard a modern profile and remove the traditional nailheads from the equation.

neutral bedroom decor with linen and cotton textiles


Of course, we are designing an entirely new room. So there are a lot of new pieces that we’re going to be incorporating. The following photos contain shoppable links, so if you would like to purchase any of these items to use in your home, you can support my free blog by shopping through these links:



It’s been five weeks since we began our tornado rebuild (more on that here) and things have been slightly slow lately. The progress on the house was moving along so fast for the first three weeks then the framing was done and we had to begin relying on tradespeople to complete tasks and call in inspections and BAM it all came to a halt.

But that’s okay because we’re moving again! All the trades have completed their rough-ins and inspections were approved on Tuesday! So today, our insulation is being sprayed in (that’s right – we’re getting fancy and saving on energy costs by adding spray foam insulation in the exterior walls) and tomorrow, drywall begins.

I’m eager for the house to start looking more like a home again and that means I’m receiving deliveries and freaking out over whether or not the rug is going to actually match the chair and deciding what paint colors we want to use in the entire house.

Here’s how the back of the house looked FIVE WEEKS AGO versus how it looks today (please note that the upstairs addition, where you see the windows, is our new master bedroom):

But again, this is just about our One Room Challenge™ bedroom, so let’s see how she looks as of this morning –

building a new bedroom in a historic home

That’s the view from the hallway, looking into the bedroom. It’s still just studs as of now but if you look closely, you can see all the rough-in electrical that’s running through the space. We have planned for everything.

master bedroom lighting plans

Here, you can see where we opted to add 6 inch can lights in front of the doorway to the room. We also added a ceiling fan box over the bed because I run hot while sleeping and I require a ceiling fan for a breeze (even in winter months). For accent lighting, we’ve added two switches – one on each side of the bed – to install plug-in sconces over our bedside tables. It’s a small space but this should provide ample light for ever task and scenario we’ll have.

Installing TV wiring inside the walls of a remodeled home

Christine’s favorite feature of this space (so far) is the designated wall-mounted TV boxes the electricians have installed on the wall that will eventually be opposite our bed. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that she works in television and she’s also a big fan of TV. This simple addition will allow us to mount every TV in our home and have access to all the power and cables we will ever need in order to directly stream content without bogging down a wireless network!

My favorite part of this little setup? The wires will all be entirely invisible behind every television! No more wire … wires.

adding outlets in closets - the case for taking this extra step

Now, here’s my one little stroke of genius that I’m enormously proud of and I can’t wait to see it in action: I added outlets in the closets. Every closet in our house will have an outlet. Why? Because we charge so many different devices and I’m tired of seeing cords all over the place.

By adding outlets in the closets, I’m giving us the option of using each storage space as a charging station. I can also charge our cordless vacuums in every closet, allow myself to have roll-out-of-bed coffee every morning without taking up bathroom countertop space, and if I really want to, I can lock myself inside the closet while I work without worrying about my laptop dying. Smart, right?

I’ll be back next week with (fingers crossed) a REALLY BIG update to show you! In the meantime, head over the the ORC blog to see the rest of the rooms as they get transformed: One Room Challenge Blog




Stay safe and sane, my loves. I’ll be back soon.


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