Design:

My Amagansett Bedroom: Before & After

Photography by Emily Andrews and Nicole Franzen

As seen in Live Beautiful and Domino

In the age of quarantine, home has never been more important. While we may not have control over what’s going on outside, we can curate spaces that makes us feel calm, safe, and relaxed. The bedroom in particular serves as a respite from the stresses of daily life — it’s where we’re encouraged to unwind, recharge, and forget about work.

This brings me to the newly-designed bedroom in my Amagansett, New York home. After many years, I felt I needed to refresh the space to make it a bit more refined. With that said, I didn’t want to wipe the slate clean. Instead, I used some strategic decor tweaks that would pack a large visual punch without draining my budget. The resulting process combined problem solving and beautiful design in equal parts. It further underscored the fact that, for me, it’s the little transformations that allow me to exercise my mind and creativity most. 

Taste does change over the years, but you don’t need to spend a fortune to make small improvements in your home. The before-and-after of my Amagansett master bedroom serves as exhibit A — read up on my design lessons learned below.

Allow design to unravel piece by piece. 

It’s important to create a cohesive color dialogue in your home, including the architecture and the interior design. For this project, the rope ceiling in the master bathroom served as my color inspiration. Warm rust and terra cotta hues reverberate in my choice of furniture, textiles, and upholstery. In addition to color, the pattern and texture of the rope also informed my use of natural fibers throughout the house. The graphic pattern of the rope is echoed in the striped rug and striped round pillows, while the vintage rattan chair and bamboo lighting mimic the rope’s texture. I learned that it’s important to let design unravel piece by piece, material by material, until it comes together. There’s magic to be found when you don’t have a design plan in mind.

Athena Calderone
Athena Calderone

Resist design clichés.

Bedroom design can easily fall into formulaic, matchy-matchy monotony. Instead, try playing with symmetry and scale. For example, I have two matching sconces flanking the bed, accompanied by two radically different bedside tables. On the right, I have a solid, low travertine cube table with a tall rattan lamp. On the left is a taller, round wood table styled with a ceramic vessel for flowers or branches. 

You also don’t need to follow the prevailing advice to hang a large piece of artwork in the center of the bed. I went with a diminutive painting hung over the right side, which creates negative space and draws the eye in. I’m all about asymmetry, but have a few guidelines. You should always play with varying heights, materials, and scale so that the asymmetrical choices look and feel intentional. Find ways to shake things up and play with an unorthodox composition.

PRO TIP: USE OUTDOOR LINEN FABRIC INSIDE IF YOU DESIRE A LIGHTER HUE, BUT DON’T WANT TO WORRY ABOUT STAINS.

When in doubt, get creative.

I knew I wanted an upholstered headboard that extended beyond the bed frame, but I didn’t want a classic upholstered bed. To bring my vision to life, I asked a local professional to design an upholstered panel that I then adhered directly to the wall. It looks like it’s a part of the bed, but it’s actually a free-standing piece. I also wanted a light upholstery fabric, but didn’t want to worry about stains. I went with a sturdy outdoor linen material to ensure long-term durability. 

I took a similar course of action for the platform bed frame. I couldn’t find one that I liked, and it was far too expensive to create a customized piece. A quick search on Etsy led me to a nearly perfect frame — with a few exceptions. I messaged the designer, and she allowed me to tweak and customize the frame until it was exactly what I envisioned, all for a fraction of the cost. I learned the importance of researching, asking questions, and getting creative — you never know when someone will make alterations and work with you on a custom design. 

Shop vintage to reduce waste.

I try to shop vintage whenever possible. I do my best to be mindful of the waste a project creates, and I always sell old pieces locally before buying something new. Plus, one-of-a-kind vintage pieces make a space truly unique. In the bedroom alone, the travertine side table is vintage 1970s, the burl wood plinth is Milo Baughman from the 1960s, the bamboo sconces are French 1970s, and the bamboo chair is Italian 1960s.

THERE’S MAGIC TO BE FOUND WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A DESIGN PLAN IN MIND.

Reframe the negatives.

The ability to re-frame negatives into positives is a powerful skill — both in life and design. For example, the ceiling in the bedroom is lower than the rest of the home. Rather than letting this frustrate me, I decided to embrace the intimacy created by the lack of height. I used textural plaster on the walls and ceiling to create a cozy, cocoon-like atmosphere. 

As I reflect on this small refresh, I’m reminded of the pure magic that unfolds when you allow your eye to be led piece by piece, material by material. For this reason, I find it important to trace inspiration and break down what makes a design successful. 

Necessary Objects

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