Home design ideas: Reviving and reusing old furniture in a guest room makeover

Sarah Cole likes to research the stories behind old homes, including her own Newton Victorian. So, when a woman who grew up in the house in the 1950s contacted her, the designer invited her to visit. The woman stopped in her tracks at the third-floor guest room, recognizing the antique dresser as her grandmother’s. (Cole had purchased it from a later owner.) “I asked her if she wanted the dresser back, but she thought it should stay,” Cole says.

1 To make the room feel chic, not shabby, Cole contrasted the traditional elements with modern sconces by Apparatus Studio with vintage-style cords. “The clean lines and industrial matte-black finish are everything the rest of the space is not,” Cole says.

2 Morris & Co.’s Compton wallpaper, a stylized floral pattern designed in 1895 for an art collector’s home in England, was the starting point. “We covered the only full-height wall to enhance the room’s already brooding feel,” the designer says.

3 Sticking to neutral furnishings elsewhere in the room lets the headboard’s terracotta-colored cotton velvet upholstery really shine.

4 A pendant by English lighting company Original BTC plays off the wallpaper. “The bone china petals are warm and pretty when lit,” Cole says.

5 Shades made from Tradescant & Son linen printed with hand-drawn stripes of pheasant tail feathers carry the organic motif to the windows while adhering to the monochromatic palette on that wall.

6 Cole refinished the storied antique dresser and changed its hardware when she determined it was a perfect fit for the space. “It was a little beat-up after over half a century of getting shuffled around the house,” she says.


Marni Elyse Katz is a contributing editor to the Globe Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @StyleCarrot. Send comments to [email protected]


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