The interior designer and author breaks down the formula for this natural and calm bedroom in
her Houston guest house.
What makes a room more than just pretty, what are the elements that make it memorable? In our Secrets of a Great Room series, we ask designers to tell us how they created their signature rooms. From decorating advice to the practical nitty gritty of furnishings, we get their insider advice on crafting rooms to remember, like this airy guest suite by Marie Flanigan.
Interior designer Marie Flanigan is known for her fresh take on traditional decor. Originally trained as an architect, Flanigan creates timeless, elegant interiors that reflect her clients’ tastes, but are all marked by a sophisticated simplicity. Flanigan’s first book The Beauty of Home: Redefining Traditional Interiors, debuted on September 8. In her book, Flanigan distills her style into nine key elements that she explores in depth, some of which can be seen in this room, including the architecture, composition, and moments of surprise.
“I love colors that are found in nature because they stay timeless and classic,” says Flanigan of her earthy palettes. “Nature’s colors bring the outdoors in and put our spirits instinctively at ease,” she adds. Here, tones of rust, stone gray, and natural jute complement the warm wood tones of the beams and floorboards.
“Introducing a fall palette completely changed this room,” says Flanigan. “The palette started with the Yasmine Linen Stripe lumbar pillow,” says Flanigan, who notes that all the colors she introduced spun off of that one piece. For example, the Stone Washed Linen Shale Duvet Cover picks up the grey of the pillow. “I had so much white already, I wanted to add drama and contrast,” says Flanigan of her choices.
Layering textures is a hallmark of Flanigan’s style—and she says it’s also the secret to making a room welcoming. “A range of materials and textures, from crisp cotton sheets to a chunky jute rug, will subconsciously enhance their tactile experience of a room,” says Flanigan. “Texture makes a space feel enticing, drawing us in and inviting us to touch, feel, and fully experience our surroundings.
“With this refresh, I was looking for an opportunity to bring in warmth and character,” says Flanigan, who originally designed the guest bedroom as a neutral space with lots of white. The jumping off point for warmth was the Capri Soumak Woven Jute Rug. “It’s a mix of wool and jute,” notes Flanigan. “Wool keeps it soft and chunky and the natural fiber is textured—it’s the perfect material.”
“Investment pieces should stick to classic silhouettes, fabrics, and colors; you can layer and be bold on top of that,” Flanigan advises. “I like to mix styles and keep it fresh, but if you keep the major pieces, especially the upholstery, something you can layer over, it allows you the freedom to mix in different things over time.” Here the upholstered linen headboard, gray linen chair, and marble side table are never-goes-out-of-style neutral pieces that form the base of the room.
“I love to have rugs go right up to the nightstand with plenty of room to step onto the rug,” says Flanigan. “You don’t want someone to step onto the hard floor; there’s something subconscious and luxurious about a soft, textured rug underfoot.”
Flanigan likes to provide options for how to dress the bed—offering sheets, a coverlet, throw blankets, and a duvet, so guests and family members have options on how they layer. Bedding layers also offer the opportunity to add texture and style. “Sometimes, I like to layer in silk or velvet for a little luxury and surprise,” she says.
“The size of the Yasmine Linen Stripe Decorative Pillow is incredible, it adds so much impact and weight to the bed without having to introduce so many pillows,” says Flanigan. With a single large-scale lumbar you get the style impact of multiple smaller pillows—without the fuss.
“The focal point bed is my favorite moment in this room,” says Flanigan. If you want to try a bed in front of a window in your own home, Flanigan advises that you must pull the bed forward enough for the drapery to hang freely behind the bed. Also, make sure your headboard is firmly attached to the bed—this won’t work with a headboard and a bare-bones metal box spring frame.
Our homes should surprise and delight us, says Flanigan. In a guest bedroom, she believes the best way to delight visitors is to think through what they need. Flanigan displays fresh flowers, provides extra bedding and pillows, and puts out a welcome tray with favorite magazines and snacks. “This final tier of personal attention and graciousness enhances the allure of a room and makes guests feel cherished,” she says.
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