Making-over a master bedroom

Joseph and Kate's master bedroom was badly in need of a makeover. It had minimal storage, with only a couple of badly fitted wardrobes. The couple have introduced a modern scheme, including a smart storage area, that has transformed the bedroom into a hotel-style sanctuary.

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Joseph and Kate have introduced a modern scheme, including a smart storage area, that has transformed the bedroom into a hotel-style sanctuary.

Fact file

The owners: Joseph Warren, an artist and designer, and his wife Kate, who is a writer and editor, live here with their two children Silas, 9, and Theo, 7. Joseph runs, which is an online gallery featuring an evolving catalogue of his contemporary artworks
The property: A five-bedroom Victorian townhouse built in the 1870s
The location: Colchester, Essex
What they spent: It cost the couple £5,500 to transform their master bedroom

The problem

The master bedroom in the house was badly in need of a makeover. It had minimal storage, with only a couple of badly fitted wardrobes in the chimney breast alcoves and there was no drawer space. The original cornicing and picture rail had been taken down and the lath and plaster ceiling was now sagging and cracked.

The solution

A modern scheme, including a smart storage area, has transformed the bedroom into a hotel-style sanctuary. Joseph did much of the work himself – he created an impressive bespoke wardrobe and dressing table and levelled out the uneven floorboards. He also had the cornicing reproduced.

‘When we first moved here we knew the entire house needed to be transformed, but we decided to start with our bedroom, because it would be the sanctuary where we could escape while the rest of our home was still in chaos.

‘We wanted to create a practical space with a boutique hotel-style look. I knew from experience what it’s like to finish decorating a room only to find that there isn’t enough storage space for everything, so I decided to design and make all the fitted furniture, giving us custom-built storage to suit our own specific needs.

‘With a house of this size, I knew that I would have to do most of the remodelling work myself, otherwise all of our budget would have gone on paying for the labour.

‘I started by preparing the shell of the room, laying acoustic foam sandwiched with 18mm chipboard on the uneven floorboards. Apart from giving me a flat, solid base to work on, it also cuts down on movement and helps protect the carpet. The walls were then plastered and the cornicing and picture rail fixed in place. I’d asked a specialist company to take a moulding of the original Victorian cornice as I couldn’t find anything similar off-the-shelf. I admit the cost of the mould was quite expensive, but we have planned to use it elsewhere in the house, so it was well worth the outlay.

‘The furniture is inspired by 1950s designs, using birch ply finished with a black laminate – I love the multi-layered look. The laminate came from a trade supplier, so I had to order a bulk quantity, but luckily I was able to use the surplus materials to make the bedside cabinets and dressing table. We contrasted the effect with a neutral backdrop, teamed with bolder tones in the artworks and other furnishings.

‘I made the wardrobe by boxing in the fireplace and squaring off the walls with shuttering timber, which gave me a flat box to work around. We then drew up sketches for the storage. Kate wanted shoe compartments and a double-height hanging rail, while I needed more drawer space. We also included a laundry section.

‘I had initially considered making bi-folding doors for our wardrobe, but then I changed my mind, deciding instead on sliding doors as they would be less intrusive in the bedroom. It was not easy finding a fixing system that was suitable for the weight, width and height of the large doors, but I eventually managed to source a suitable kit by Häfele UK.

‘We had planned to wallpaper the doors, but decided that they needed something more durable so we chose the laminate finish. We agonised over the colour because it’s such a large surface and we didn’t really know how it would come together until it was finished. But I think we made the right choice with matt black, as it doesn’t dominate the room.

‘We then tackled the décor, opting for white on the walls and picking out the woodwork and cornicing in two shades of Pebble from Leyland Trade to create definition. We took samples of the paintwork to help us choose the curtain fabric, then we customised our low-level bed by attaching a fabriccovered headboard to it.

‘The room’s understated look has been contrasted with statement pieces, such as the Best & Lloyd reading lamps, a Tom Dixon mirror ball pendant light, an Eames rocking chair and my own butterfly artworks.

‘We love the results – we now have a functional room with plenty of good storage and it looks great too.’


Fixtures and fittings£1,800
Walls and flooring£653
Furniture and accessories£2,000