Bed afterThis is a difficult room to photograph. It used to be a den, with four doors. Now it’s a bedroom, with two doors.

It looks out at the interior stairway, with a light well. That makes it a bit dark, which  usually is a good thing for a bedroom. It also is very quiet and stays exceptionally cool in summer–nice when there’s no air conditioning (the historic preservation authorities frown on air conditioning units sullying the exteriors of buildings).

Toward doors before
Before, with doors galore.

I liked the old wallpaper, but it was in bad shape, and anyway rewiring made lots of holes in the walls. The floor was covered with vinyl, and we had no idea what we would find underneath.

Bureau actuel sol
Before: mustard vinyl. You can see the transition to the kitchen in the top left.
removing vinyl
The joy of ripping it out. Actually the joy was when it was done, certainly not during.

First, the floor: we ripped up the vinyl and found tomettes. But in what condition? We didn’t know until all the glue and gunk had been removed by our tomette expert. The verdict: the middle of the room was a ruin, but the tomettes around the perimeters were OK.

uncovered tomettes
What we found. Good or bad news?

However, we had the same situation in the kitchen. We decided to save the kitchen by cannibalizing the bedroom: all the serviceable bedroom tomettes were used to replace broken ones in the kitchen. Not a single one to spare.

We favored the kitchen, with its big, beautiful fireplace, over this room, which, as the Bâtiments de France architect put it was “without historical significance,” lacking boiseries, a fireplace or other embellishments. A quiet room, sleepy for sleeping.

Bed after shows floor
New floors that work nicely with the carpet.

I dreamed of putting in herringbone parquet, but that was far beyond our budget. Instead, we found long tiles that look like a plank wood floor. The weathered design has a blue/gray tinge that goes perfectly with the blue silk oriental carpets we had chosen.

niche before
Velour curtains: gone. Scary wiring: replaced. Niche: still there.

The niche was preserved, in all its lopsided glory (including the slanting base, which limits what can go in it). A very odd brass and copper urn took the place of honor.

Niche in progress
WHY lopsided?
It’s as if ancient Greeks had created a mash-up of Jules Verne’s submarine and a golf trophy.

The doors in the corner led to the other apartment: on the left, to the bedroom and on the right to the entry. They have been closed off with sound insulation and drywall. Some books and knickknacks adorn the shelves, but we wanted to leave empty space for guests to stash their bags or set out their things without creating clutter.

Another door, used by us only, goes to the closet with the furnace and water heater. And the fourth door leads to the big kitchen.

That door on the left leads to the kitchen.

You might recognize the Art Deco bed and matching wardrobe from the blue-flowered bedroom that now is the salon of this apartment (husband points out that a living room combines sitting and dining areas; a salon is for sitting only). We enlarged the bed frame to queen size, topped by a bio (organic) mattress from a local maker in Mazamet.

toward niche before
The windows before.
window during
During: freshly painted.

The windows have interior shutters, and I made a single curtain (it opens to one side because of the niche) with white-on-white damask fabric. Everything is as white as can be.

Toward niche corner after

We are still hunting for art for the walls. Some things must not be rushed.


28 thoughts on “Before/After: Bedroom in l’ancienne Tannerie

  1. What a wonderful job you have done on restoring the room and a wonderful job in documenting it. It is true somethings cannot be rushed. You never know when you will find that perfect little piece to complete the look. Here in the states so many people opt for Roos to Go. That is simply lack of imagination as far as I can see. At our Italy house we constantly collect and embellish. We also love using local artisans.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love that armoire, but how did you “enlarge” the bed to queen size, exactly? Did you have to have a new frame built to attach the head and footboard to? Good job with a tricky room!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gorgeously liveable. I am jealous especially of your organic mattress maker – I live in Vancouver where it is impossible to find a natural mattress at a reasonable price! If you don’t want to pay five figures for an imported hastens model you are stuck with sears and all the chemicals/bad karma… it keeps me up at night!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. When we are in Europe we sleep in the 60 plus year old bed that belonged to my husbands grandparents. I don’t know if they ever un-stuffed it, but Nonna would un-make it and air it out every single day. Nonno would be having his morning coffee at the table outside, and she would open the shutters and shake out all the bed linens above him. The family legends say that since he knew he couldn’t change her routines he kept an umbrella with him – he would open it up at the sound of the shutters to save his breakfast from the shake out. It is stuffed with wool and awfully lumpy, but I love every night I spend in it…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s a great story. I imagine the bed linens don’t discharge a lot of crumbs. Walking around here in the mornings, even in winter, you see the windows open and the comforters hanging from the sills to air out.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Or, if not ticking as suggested by Chad’s House, perhaps an organic wool topper. They can be had from website places. Not giveaway cheap, but durable and worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought living room was an American name for (originally) a room to be used day-to-day that is separate from the dining room and (today) an infrequently used formal room similar to the front parlor that the original creators of the living room were trying to do away with.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I went on a wild goose chase because my grandmother told me that people called their 1930’s open-plan living rooms Dutch halls, and I’ve only found this term used for rowhouses in Philadelphia. Well, also rowhouses in the urban parts of the inner suburbs, but never in a big single-family home. There’s no historical record of what this name means and I can only find it in vintage real estate ads. I even went to the Athanaeum, Philadelphia’s architecture library, and they had a photo of a development advertising “Dutch hall” on the features of the houses and I taught them what it meant.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I too like the before and after photos. Did you find that the old wallpaper extended over the ceilings – and sometime even onto the doors? Those floor tiles that look like planks are interesting, could you give a bit more info. please?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the old wallpaper covered some doors. In another room, we found a door we didn’t know existed–it had been papered over on both sides. The jib doors were papered on purpose–they are supposed to blend into the wall and be invisible.
      The tiles were a lucky find at a tile shop. I don’t remember the name of the maker, but they have fine ridges, so they feel like wood. They have a grayish tinge, which was perfect for this room–I wanted it to be as white and calm as possible, and I didn’t want more brown, because the bed and armoire provide enough of that. I’m happy with the look and feel–wood-style tiles are a good option if you can’t do real wood floors or if the area would have too much traffic.


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