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How to tackle the challenge of designing a lower level bedroom

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The challenge in designing this lower-level bedroom was both structural - a huge bulkhead cut through the room’s ceiling line - and fiscal. As often happens, the lion’s share of the design budget had gone to the common rooms and master suite on the floor above. The guest rooms had to be done cheap.

Barry Calhoun/Barry Calhoun Photography

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To make the room feel like a luxurious state within a state, we had to underscore its distinctness from the larger home. This required a “statement” element, one that could harness the room’s atmosphere while drawing the eye and (with luck) distracting from the bulkhead. The solution was to wrap the walls in light, neutral wallpaper. Lowering the colour contrast between wall and ceiling, we achieved a soft transition that successfully washed out the three-foot intruder.

Barry Calhoun/Barry Calhoun Photography

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With most of our budget spent on wallpaper, frugality came to the fore. The most obvious area for savings was the bed. Rather than purchase a complete bed, with side rails and a footboard, we bought a stock headboard and had it custom-upholstered. At $1,200, it gives a full measure of elegance for about half the cost.

Barry Calhoun/Barry Calhoun Photography

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The bedside tables were another great savings. They’re not actually bedside tables; they’re Ikea dressers, chosen for their girth and functionality. In so large a room, we felt it was more luxurious to take up space than to economize – and the dressers’ large drawers provide abundant space for a visiting couple to unpack and get organized.

Barry Calhoun/Barry Calhoun Photography

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The lighting and accent pieces – on either side of the bed we went with overscale lamps – are what ground the room and make it grand.

Barry Calhoun/Barry Calhoun Photography

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