Project Reveal: English Cottage Primary suite


Photos by Ryan McDonald


Our English Cottage project is my family's (Alessia here) personal home, which we purchased upon moving from Detroit to the Chicago area. The home is a 1920's cottage that needed improvements to the floor plan to make it more livable for a modern family. Our biggest undertaking was moving the kitchen from a cramped space in the front of the house to a sunroom that was added in the 1980s, but today we are sharing the renovation of the primary bedroom suite. As with any renovation, our goal was to maximize the functionality of the space while retaining the original charm of the traditional structure.



Before: The primary bedroom had too many windows and door openings that made it feel choppy, and the carpet and wood trim was dated and uninspired.



After: We couldn't alter the layout of the windows, so we let them be our guide as we worked out the layout of the space. The entire room is now painted an eggshell finish by Clare Paint so that many windows and doorways recede, creating a calm, ethereal atmosphere. We added a custom-size wool area rug over the new hardwood floors to give us plenty of softness underfoot, and commissioned a king-size tufted bed upholstered in a rich caramel-colored velvet by Schumacher.



To open up the room a little, we pushed back the wall of existing closets by 18 inches, and reframed access to the closet with just one double door. This allowed a spot for a vintage lounge chair sourced on 1stDibs, and enough wall space to hang a small television. Of course, this means that the once romantic and relaxing retreat is now a favorite of our kids (forget about the basement -- they now are taking over the primary suite!).


On the windows, I chose a combination of flat Roman shades in linen and full-length drapery panels with a decorative leading edge, both made by The Shade Store.



Changing the entry to the closet meant that the space gained enough footprint to become a true walk-in closet, and we maximized storage there by adding floor-to-ceiling semi-custom cabinetry by EasyClosets on three walls and then hung a large mirror by Jayson Home on the fourth.



Before: The existing bathroom offered a good bit of square footage, but most of it was underutilized in the center of the room. We mostly worked with the existing layout but tweaked the elements to better suit our needs and aesthetic preferences.



After: We turned the linen closet into a feature niche by adding a base cabinet with generous drawers and marble shelves above it. The room had two sinks in an L formation, and we moved one to create a double-sink vanity. The new oak cabinetry has an open bottom for easy access to towels and large baskets and boxes that we use to corral smaller items.


I mixed metal finishes throughout with a combination of unlacquered brass and polished nickel. The plumbing fittings are Waterworks, and the decorative lighting (one of my must-haves) is a pair of petite vintage Italian wall sconces I found on 1st Dibs.



My husband and I knew we would benefit from larger shower so we removed the rarely-used tub to make space for a 4'x4' shower stall with a curbless entry. I specified a long ledge inside to allow more space for products and utilized marble slabs on the cased opening, the baseboard, and the ledge surface. We sourced all of the marble on the counters and in the shower from Calia Stone Boutique, my favorite Chicago-area showroom for stone goods.


I love both marble and limestone, so I incorporated both materials on the floor with a rectangular check pattern and chose 3x6 ceramic tile in a smokey green color for the shower, all from Alexander James (you can use the code reDesign15 for 15% off your own order). We used an antique white grout in both applications to tie the elements together.


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