The Guest Room

The Guest Room – A sneaky peek

I wish decorating a room was as simple as choosing a colour scheme.

Unfortunately in our house before you can get on to the good stuff (paint colours, wallpaper, curtains, lights) you have to go through weeks and months of stripping out the old. Woodchip wallpaper on the ceiling,  a window that had security grilles , windows with openers plastered shut , a massive window cill that had been put on top of the original and was full of cracks. holes in the walls, crumbling plaster, cracks in the ceiling, and rusty old radiators in the wrong place.

Fortunately you can skip all that and just see the after shots (not yet, it isn’t finished) , but to get the full impact do read this first

The horror before shots


Fast forward, and here finally after removing trunked electrics, mending the plaster, stripping the room we got it back to this.


Design decisions


We were really pleased with the black hall and wanted to carry on the black woodwork into the guest room. What we didn’t expect was that we would decide to paint the ceiling black!

Are you turning into a goth?

When we told my mum she was not impressed. I tried to explain it wasn’t black but more of a  charcoal, and honestly she would love it when all was finished, she is still not convinced. Hicks and Weatherburn mixed up more of the eggshell and an emulsion to exactly match and we got painting the room in all its inky glory. The old plaster has lovely edging details on the corners and we didn’t want to paper over these, instead we painted the edges so that when we paper it will show the edge detail.

Once we had painted it we then checked over it and touched up any dints, hairline cracks with plaster before repainting


There are so many different delicious patterns to choose from when choosing wallpaper. In the end we both agreed on a Little Greene wallpaper called Vine. It is heavily influenced by William Morris Wallpaper on display in the Whitworth Gallery. We haven’t used wallpaper in the house before but we thought the guest room would be a good place to experiment. I enjoyed doing it!

The Light

Searching for the right feature light for the guest bedroom had become a mammoth task. We had searched in so many shops and found some lovely lights but we could not agree (look at the pinterest link, there are some lovely ones all under £250). Out of the blue, whilst searching on ebay, I came across this beauty. It has five arms and is 1m wide and 1m deep (not including the drop). We both agreed it was beautiful. It was brass, it was a statement, we loved the Secesionist style which felt in keeping with the room.  It is a Vintage Berliner Messinglampen which normally retails for £2000, I managed to get it for £100 and the lampshades are real cut lead crystal.

It was a collection only in the middle of the Pennines (2o miles from us), fortunately it was still in Yorkshire – not Lancashire. The woman selling it had recently moved back from Germany where it had hung in her house. Unfortunately for her, and lucky for us, the ceilings in her Pennine farmhouse were too low to accommodate this massive light, so she had to sell it.  

The Carpet

The hall carpet , had been such a success we decided to use it in this room too (Jacaranda Natural Weave square Charcoal)  it is a 100% wool with a jute backing.

Fixing the Oriel Window

The window is a very pretty Oriel window. An oriel window is a second floor self supported bay window.

The window on the inside had a new window ledge which was higher than it should be and had a big divide along the middle as it had been constructed from two pieces of wood. First thing was to pry it off, and see what was below. I am a massive fan of the crowbar.

Removing the window ledge revealed the original below.  It was created out of tongue and groove and had warped and split apart over the years, which is probably why they had covered it over. They had also cut off the original bullnose leaving a jagged edge.

We removed these planks carefully and revealed the oriel window structure. It was all dry and solid so we put some insulation inside to help keep the room warm (this window ledge is 2.7m by 2m), placed the boards back and screwed them down.

A giant piece of plywood was then put over the top of the whole thing and screwed down. This gave us a smooth surface, the bullnose of the window ledge was created by joining two pieces of quadrant together to form a semi-circle, this was then screwed onto the old edge to create a seamless finish.

In the meantime Gerry the Stained Glass man took out all the windows, replacing them with plain glass, whilst he took the original windows to work on them. He cleaned, repaired and replaced some of the old crumbling lead before encapsulating them between a double glazing unit. Finally they are then put back into the original frames.


Here it is all painted black (paint still drying!) check out the sexy brass monkey tail fasteners and the bullnose.

The finished result

Well you will have to wait and see, as will we. The carpet needs fitting, the radiator needs to be plumber in and the furniture all moved back in. But for now our work here is done, come back soon and see the end result.

Join the Conversation


  1. Avatarsays: Ralph Quito

    Thank you for sharing! What a lovely article and the photos are amazing too! I love how you put together these information on “The Guest Room”. Easy to read, very relatable and great tips! Can’t wait to read more!

  2. Avatarsays: Joe O'Donnell

    Out of interest – you have obviously done a huge amount of work – what made you decide not to reinstate a fireplace and picture rail. Absolutely love the light! So lucy with the orginal plaster work as well!

    1. Happenuponsays: Happenupon

      Hi Joe,
      We did think long and hard about what to replace. We are members of SPAB whose aim is to “delay decay through maintenace”. In essence this means to repair where you can but not fake it, we would never have removed the fireplaces or the picture rail but they had been over the years.

      The fireplace was probably firstly adapted to fit a gas fire and then when central heating was put in it was totally removed. We had no evidence of what type of fireplace had been in the room and the hearth had all been dug out and replaced with cement with gas pipes in it. If any of the hearth had survived we may have put in a salvaged cast iron bedroom fire surround, though added to this was the issue that the existing bed was a superkingsize bed and the fireplace and hearth would have taken up quite a bit of room. The floorboards in the room had been lifted and replaced over the years and we had decided for warmth and comfort to carpet the bedroom. Bare floorboards are beautiful but can be draughty. The decision to have carpet meant that we would have to cut round the hearth or carpet up to the wall over the hearth which looks odd if there is then a fireplace. We knew knocking out fireplaces was a messy process and we were never going to use the fire as a real fire which would mean that it could make the room draughty again. We have done nothing that would mean that the fireplace could not be reinstated in the future.

      The picture rail was a point of discussion as the evidence wasn’t compelling that it had ever been there, certainly there had been a paper border that ran along the top and it was painted a different colour but not on every wall. The other former bedroom also has no picture rail (though we haven’t removed the textured wallpaper in this room so maybe it was removed in this room too). On one of the walls above the chimney breast there were little peg marks but this could have meant a shelf. It has a very deep cornice (around 8 inches) and and we didn’t feel that the decoration would benefit from a picture rail. If we had found a picture rail upstairs, we may have made a replica of it but we had nothing to base it on. We have remade doors, architrave, skirting but these existed and needed repairing or replacing.

      A long answer for a quick question! we are lucky that we are not having to consider these rooms as a one hit we often say to ourselves we can return to this room in five years and make changes. It is also probably why we still have not tackled the coach house
      Thanks Thea

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