Colors for Jeanne’s knotty pine bedroom — let’s share our decorating ideas

knotty-pine-bedroom-brasiliaIn this week’s Retro Design Dilemma, reader Jeanne is asking for ideas to decorate her beautiful vintage knotty pine bedroom. She wants tips on colors to paint the angled ceiling, along with ideas for window treatments and nightstands to match her beautiful Broyhill Brasilia bedroom set.

Jeanne’s full letter:

Hi Kate,

DesignDilemmaHere’s my knotty pine bedroom.  I live in a story-and-a-half brick bungalow built in 1952. The upstairs is finished in knotty pine and is one large, open room. It has two sections, one which I use as my sleeping/bedroom area and the other is sort of a dressing, open area. The only thing I did before moving in, was have the hardwood floors refinished with three coats of polyurethane applied because I figured I’d never do it once I moved in.

knotty-pine-bedroom-in-atticI’m the second owner of the home.  The widowed “woman of the house” passed away and her two sons (who grew up in the home) sold it to me (in 2008). I assume that the sons used the upstairs as their bedroom, because there are two sets of built-in drawers built into the kneewall/attic space – one on each side of the bedroom. The cool thing about the house is that the kitchen was custom remodeled around 1960 and the bathroom was remodeled in 1964. Everything is original to these remodel periods, except a year ago I stripped all the wallpaper in the bathroom (even on the ceiling) and repainted and wallpapered.

Two braided rugs were left in the bedroom when I moved in.  I decided that I don’t really want to use them in the bedroom and have replaced the one on my bed side with the chevron rug (although I’m rethinking that decision but will use it for now).  I plan on replacing the braided rug on the dressing area side eventually. I was thinking a solid color, depending on what color(s) I paint the room.

knotty-pine-bedroom-with-closetknotty-pine-bedroom-patternknotty-pine-with-broyhill-brasilia-bedroomknotty-pine-with-broyhill-brasiliaThe ceiling and angled walls are white. A flat white. This is my dilemma.  I really love aqua. I would love to paint the room light aqua. Do I just paint the angled walls and leave the ceiling white?  Do I paint the angles AND ceiling aqua (the same color) or should I paint the ceiling one shade and the angles another for contrast? I’m open to a darker teal as well. I’m not sure if that would be too dark, or would make the room enveloping and cozy.

knotty-pine-bedroomknotty-pine-atticknotty-pine-closetThere are built-in book cases in the dressing area that I use for my shoes (I’m a woman, what can I say!).

knotty-pine-divider-shelfknotty-pine-bedroom-atticAlso, there is a built-in open shelf unit that divides the two areas (I love it!).  I was debating about painting the shelf unit (maybe a darker teal) and possibly painting the backs of the bookcases the same dark teal. Or should I leave the shelf and bookcases wood.  There is a lot of wood in this room. Or maybe paint them white or black. Help!

Plus, my biggest challenge will be painting the ceiling area above the stairway (above the shoe shelves in the photo). I don’t think I can do a precision paint job using roller extensions and may have to hire someone for that area.  A friend told me about using a “plank” but there is no way that I will be standing on something suspended above the stairs and I do not own one of those fancy ladders than transforms into scaffolding.

knotty-pine-room-with-divider-shelfknotty-pine-wallYou’ll notice the closet and built-in drawers have the original black wrought iron hardware, hinges and pulls.  I recently painted and re-did the inside of the closet (it was wood with one galvanized rod across). It has an angled ceiling – so I had to configure it to optimize the storage & hanging space with custom ClosetMaid parts I got at Home Depot. I’m really happy the way it turned out.

My goals for the room are:
• Paint the ceiling and walls (hope to do this between Christmas and New Year when I’m off work)
• Possibly paint the shoe shelves (backs only) and open shelf unit
• Find nightstands – either Brasilias to match my bedroom set* or possibly something modern from IKEA that I can mount on the wall. I don’t believe I have enough space for two full sized nightstands.
• New lighting – possibly something that mounts on the wall or turquoise ceramic vintage lamps.
• I’m not attached to the window treatments and will be re-thinking those as well. I saw some aqua velvet (not to be confused with “Aqua Velva”) curtains at IKEA (not sure if they still have them) or I also have some barkcloth drapes that I started cutting up to make valances.  They are a cream background with turquoise and red tropical floral pattern.

I went to school for and was a graphic designer/art director for about 20 years before switching to the account side of the advertising business. Yet, I have the hardest time trying to decide on something for myself. Just like the shoemaker’s children who have no shoes – either that or I have commitment issues. 🙂

* I found my Brasilia set on Craigslist and got it for $450 (Queen headboard, dresser with mirror and chest)! I’m still thrilled about it!

Thanks, Jeanne, for all this great information, and the photos. What a beautiful space — the knotty pine looks like it is terrific quality! We’ll be back at noon — with some ideas!

Readers, what do you think Jeanne should do?

Thanks to everyone who commented with suggestions or was able to tune in (or join in — that’s you Larry) live for our Google Hangout. Below are the three solutions that Pam and I came up with for Jeanne’s knotty pine bedroom.


Pam here: We know that Jeanne prefers aqua, but I wanted to show this first mood board — knotty pine and rust — to principally show how starting with your curtains — or, another complex colored textile — can be a great starting point to choosing colors for any room. In this case, I had these vintage rust and orange curtains on hand. I found them at the Goodwill and, well, have been hoarding them for some future project. I love how the rusty tones meld with the honey amber of the knotty pine walls and the oak floor. I found a braided rug in the same tones from Capel — I would make it big… I suggest a buttery yellow coverlet that picks up one of the colors in the curtains, on Wayfair.com…. and even would spray paint the traverse rod a hammered iron color to coordinate the rod with the knotty pine hardware used elsewhere in the room.

knotty-pine-tikiWhen I saw Jeanne’s knotty pine in combination with the Broyhill Brazillia and her tropical palm tree lamps, I immediately thought — tiki. I wanted to try to use what Jeanne already had in the room and make it work together. The Brazilia design reminds me of an up close view of a carved wood tiki figure and the knotty pine is reminiscent of a close up view of bamboo — perhaps like the bamboo that often lines the front of tiki bars. Even Jeanne’s existing natural wicker end table has a tiki feel to it because of its natural texture. I first found these Tommy Bahama Tropical Harvest window curtain panels, available at Bed Bath & Beyond. They have a lot of the same warm brownish orange color that is already present in the wood floor and knotty pine walls. I picked out the acid green from the leaf design on the curtain and found this limey green bedspread from CB2, which has a great modern texture instead of being just a solid block of color. For a rug, I chose this greenish hand woven Amesbury Jute Rug from Overstock.com, which also adds some earthy texture — that reminds me of a grass skirt — to the room without calling too much attention to itself. To finish off the room, painting the walls and ceiling a light, buttery cream — pulled from the curtains — will warm up the walls without competing with the knotty pine walls or any of the other elements in the room.

Pam's-mood-board-mineral-greenPam back: Mood board #3 heads into the aqua-ish territory that Jeanne likes. However, as we discuss in more detail in our video, Kate and I are concerned that a strong aqua will be too clashy with the knotty pine… it may be too “competitive” with all the orange in the kp. But, we think that if you tone the aqua down somewhat — lighten it and grey it out, then the values of both colors will be harmonious. The color of this coverlet set from Garnet Hill is called “mineral green”, and I think that it would work. The blue/green in the vintage curtains spotted for sale by ebay seller private screening are a darker version of the mineral green. I found another Capel rug that seeme to have the right colors — all the colors from throughout the room. Pick up the stronger colors in the rug for your accents. For example, the Arcadia Green of the spray paint for the traverse rod.

So there you have it. Lots of ideas, Jeanne — we hope we helped, rather than just confuse you. For sure: Your room already is beautiful — that knotty pine is dreamy — and versatile. We’re… jealous… because we don’t have this room in our own house to decorate! Let us know what you decide — many thanks for sharing!

  1. Ginger says:

    This looks wonderful and gives me some great ideas. I own a motel and home that were built in the 50’s. The 10 motel rooms are all knotty pine, and so is most of my house.

  2. Sarah says:

    I like Pam’s idea of knotty pine and tiki, but then that’s always been one of my favorite design themes and that’s taking my taste into consideration and not yours. I think that either the aqua or teal idea would work. In fact the more I think about it a light, very subtle aqua might be really nice and a really individual look!

              1. Sarah says:

                Yeah, but when I click it it just scrolls me down to the “leave a comment” section. It might have been my browser because both of the times i was trying to view it before i was using chrome instead of firefox or internet explorer

  3. kyle says:

    Enjoyed your GOOGLE program. The thought of painting traverse rods was hard to swallow but it made me think about 2 things. First spray paint manufacturers (no major brand mentioned) seem to go out of their way to change up colors every season which makes adding pieces that must be sprayed very difficult. Years ago this wasn’t as much of a problem and you didn’t need to have an air gun. Most importantly there are safety issues with traverse rods cords just as there are with blinds. I hang pinch pleats with pole rods and rings which move well and are easier to paint 🙂 Keep up the great work!

  4. JKaye says:

    If I’ve suggested the same thing as someone else, I apologize. There were so many comments I couldn’t get through them all. It’s great to see so much interest and support for the blog and a reader project. Also, I apologize for my typo-ridden post — is anyone else as tuckered out from the holidays as I am? What fun to visit this blog and take a break from the festivities.

    1. Jeanne says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, JKaye. I agree all the zig zags are competing with the knotty pine as are the darker wood dressers. My initial plan was to paint over the holiday week – but I am now focusing on finding the right textiles first (bedspread, window fabric or rug) and THEN decide on a color. If I can find the right aquas for the textiles, I may paint the walls/ceiling something other than aqua (and I like your idea of using different shades of the same color). I’m so glad I received all this input from everyone!

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