finishing touches: my red + white bedroom

by Grace Bonney

when it comes to design, i’m more of a big picture girl. as much as i love buying small accessories, i tend to have a really, really hard time pulling together the small pieces to make a room feel “finished”. so i thought, what if i treated my bedroom project like i would a post for someone else’s home? so i took a picture of our bedroom (above, click here here to learn how to make the the headboard!) and decided to shop around the web looking for pieces that would bump up our bed nook from nice to fantastic. i got a little carried away with picking options, but since finishing touches are often the hardest pieces (but the most important) to pick, i figured it never hurts to have a few options.

have any suggestions for finishing off this look? i’m all ears- and i’m still dying to find the perfect shades for those lamps. the cream shades came with the lights and i’m itching for something with a little more detail…

[sources: 1. double concentric pillow $178, , 2. hotline telephone $48, 3. fu dog bookends (2 for 49.95), 4. coral bolster $90, 5. mohair throw $250, 6. utility pendant lamp $39.95, 7. grace table by lorely furniture, 8. red apple memo pad $6, 9. royal bedding by olatz]

[sources: 1. scalloped red mug $6.95, 2. barn lamp $285, 3. zig zag rug $275 (i have this and love it), 4. corduroy floor pillow $28, 5. versa red pillow by madeline weinrib, 6. tablo table $103 (i have wanted this for almost 6 years now- it’s so cute!), 7. nautical stripe pillow $28, 8. brick chevron pillow by madeline weinrib, 9. 111 navy chair $230, 10. stitch throw $470, 11. iomoi paperweight $68, , 12. rimi highball glass $16 (great for bedside water)]

[sources: 1. red ticking sheets $79+ (i have these and love them!), 2. lee red pillow by madeline weinrib, 3. parrot clutch $598 (to go with the animal theme), 4. john robshaw bedskirt in gents stripe $165+, 5. tripoli bedding by john robshaw 100+ 6. engine bar stools $89.95+]

Suggested For You


  • I have the fu dog bookends, they are a little more red-orange than classic red, but they are awesome.

  • I would spray paint the lamp fixtures matte black and use some pretty textured white shades. Maybe with some subtle light grey embroidery?

  • I love all of this. That headboard is incredible. What about adding in some charcoal pulled from the gray tones of your wall? It will add some drama w/o adding another color.

    • casey

      the wall color is actually a soft tan, which looks more grey in this photo- it’s tough to get the color right with the light in the room (not a lot of it sometimes).

      grace :)

  • I am so glad I’m not the only one who struggles with the finishing touches of a project.

    Do you have room for a bench at the end of your bed? I can see one with a throw on top.

  • That headboard is fantastic! Most of the items you show above are just not spectacular enough! Try a pale apple green silk for the shades or even a silver silk if the lights are chrome. You really need a great chandelier over that bed, try our new Mirrored Orb Chandelier for that extra sparkle!

  • Hm. Perhaps introducing a secondary color (red/white is obviously the primary). Maybe two colors is a bit too matchy-matchy? I’ve seen some amazing stuff done with light blue & red…

    BTW, I’ve always loved your headboard :)

    • thanks iris

      yeah, i feel like i need a secondary color- but that’s precisely what i’m no good at picking ;) i always go “more red and white!” and then never end up with that finished look i’m hoping for ;)


  • i would definitely introduce another neutral color like chocolate brown or a soft grey.

    love the molding on your walls.

    • this might be crazy- but what about a dark cobalt blue? i know it’s bordering on american flag territory, but that’s the only color i really want to throw in there. i have so much grey and brown in the rest of the house i can’t bear to use it again.


  • I think that adding more red accessories–especially ones with bold patterns–will detract from the headboard (which is FABULOUS!)

  • cobalt blue would be FANTASTIC, grace! it’s much bolder than navy, so it wouldn’t be an obvious flag reference, and it looks so so great w/ the shade of red you have!

    i say go for it. ;)

    also, loved this post! i love when you get semi-personal on here! :)

    • thanks erin

      my dad has a great collection of cobalt pieces at home, gonna have to see if i can “borrow” some to bring back next week ;)

      g :)

    • lalala

      thanks so much for the link! sadly that color combo isn’t a favorite of mine though- for some reason the teal/aqua color makes it feel retro for me. and i’m not much of a retro girl ;)


  • I agree that the teal/aqua is retro, but I like where lalala is going. Can you sneak in a tiny tiny bit of turquoise? Or even the electric color of the pillows on emma and james’ couch, above?

  • I would take a ribbon with the same color as the headboard and run it along the bottom part of the lamps so it doesn’t create overkill so close to the already busy headboaard.

    I would also choose another pillow in another “complimentary” color on the opposite side of the color wheel – something in the blue-green family and then just add these little accent colors all around the room.
    i would go with a beige comforter set…

  • How about tacking some red decorative binding around top and bottom of existing lampshades. Then save up for bedding in picture #9! Picking up red w/o being overwhelmed by patterns.

    • rosie

      i’m just not a teal/aqua person. i’m more of a deep rich color person- dark blues, dark reds, rich yellows. i just can’t do turqouise- it’s not my color ;) thanks though!


  • i feel like adding much more red to the room would take away from the statement the headboard makes. i was going to suggest painting the gold body of the lamps red and finding white shades with a subtle grey detail, however, i think that might make the lamps look like antlers coming out of the headboard???

    i think a throw with a very subtle red pattern would look good at the end of the bed. i also really like the idea of adding blue to the room. a small blue pillow with a pattern, and a blue rug.

    this kind of blue:

    • christina

      i love that blue, thanks. that’s exactly what i’m thinking- but i’m not sure how to work it in. stripes at the top and bottom of the sconce shades?

      i love the idea of red “antlers” coming out of the headboard ;)


  • Red and white is my faaavorite color combination, I think, and sometimes I like to mix it up a little with some brown and various shades of green (mostly sage & mint…) It runs the risk of feeling Christmas-ey, but if you go in an organic direction (ie, green vines with red flowers) it usually looks pretty great.

  • how about a little pillow or throw with blue zig zag stripes? a straight stripe might seem too austere next to the fun headboard, but the zig zag seems to match the bold-yet-folksy feel of the headboard to me.


    i like that pattern, but in blue.

    thanks for posting this by the way! i’m going for red white and blue in my room, too. (also in a non-americana way), and this is really sparking my imagination!

    • thanks christina!

      i actually have that zig zag rug in the room (and in the roundup above)- it’s a favorite of mine.

      would love to see how the red/white/blue color scheme turns out in your room!

      grace :)

  • hi grace,

    i think the telephone is my favorite thing in the roundup! i also love your headboard and can see why it’d be hard to pick an accent when you already have such a standout piece. if you’re reluctant to pick another color, why don’t you try changing it up with textures instead? for example, use different kinds of wood and variations of white textiles. for colors, i agree that cobalt blue (or a bright yellow) would be fantastic!

  • i love the headboard..
    in our bedroom we picked two main colors blue and brown and then an accent color orange.
    so with you your red and white can be your two main colors and you just need to pick an accent.. that should probably bring everything together

  • Love the headboard! I don’t know if I’m daring enough for red/white combos, but it’s beautiful.

    I like a lot of the suggestions for a complementary color, but it’s a little hard to picture how it would look together in my head. Maybe you could do a set of different color boards and let readers comment on their favorites? (Like the ‘make it yours’ section on Making it Lovely: http://makingitlovely.com/2010/02/22/miy-4e-subdued/)

  • the telephone, the utility pendant lamp and the bed are so perfect, I’d be happy in a room that had those three elements and nothing else (well, also a big window and a huge closet)

  • grace-
    I’d keep it simple….
    Love #7 tables (and they’re called “grace” !) and maybe #5 throw blanket at the foot of the bed (both from first group of items).
    What i might do if it isn’t too much work is remove the molding on the wall behind the headboard and then paint the molding on the left wall the same as the wall color (like it looks you did on the right side wall).
    By the way, what’s the paint color? Love it – such a good neutral!

  • hi grace,

    there’s so many directions you could go in your room. i would say keep busy patterns away from the eyeline of the headboard, but anchor them other places in the room like the floor…which it sounds like you’ve done with the zigzag rug.

    i’m kind of a fan of tone-on-tone, which i’ve done in my bedroom, so i could see the olatz bedding set working really well to pop out the colors of the headboard and make that striking red/white statement. you’d just have to make sure the reds were complimentary. i would just add different accent colors other places in the room so that they wouldn’t compete for attention. i don’t think cobalt blue would look like the american flag…especially blue accents with a lacquered finish. Also, this may be too “primary colors” but what about bright canary yellow accents?

  • I think you should integrate another color, cream perhaps. Otherwise, all white and red = target commercial.

  • As a designer, I think we get stuck in our own homes sometimes because there are so many great ways to take the room. I love the headboard and can’t wait to see the finished product. I know you will find you ways – especially with all these great suggestions!

  • LOVE the headboard! As for adding other things — trust that you will know when you see it. A vintage printed hessian pillow on the bed would add contrast in texture and style without involving a big other color decision:) Have fun!

  • I would add some black and maybe yellow. Black, white and red is always a good combo.

    For me blue would be too patriotic, but it’s your room.

    I also like Jessica’s idea of spraypainting your lamp fixtures.

  • at least you got it down to only two colours! But ochre and/or black would be a great addition to it… ah, like the one before me also advises :-)

  • Perhaps replace those lights all together? Use those barn lamps on each side.

    Perhaps if the walls appear more tan, put in a beige tweed fabric (http://www.istockphoto.com/file_thumbview_approve/3983413/2/istockphoto_3983413-beige-tweed-fabric-background.jpg) in the rectangle behind your head board and use red accessories (ie phone, throw).

    Maybe use antiqued or aged wood objects as well, ie an old trunk for the foot of your bed, a floating reclaimed wood shelf (http://www.countreeliving.com/Reclaimed-wood-mantel-shelf-California-Meza.jpg), that kind of look.

    Use red and white patterned pillows on a chair or other furniture you have, but use textured beige and white on the bed?

    Otherwise, huge fan of your site :)

  • this is a great post and so many opinions put out there!
    my mum always said growing up (in relation to anything) that if you’re not sure, leave it. eventually the right choice will come to you. and i think that if cobalt blue has kinda been stuck in your head/gut for a while it’s the way to go.
    borrowing some pieces from your dad will let you live with the colour for a while before committing which i think is smart.
    good luck grace!

  • echoing keska george w/ red-rimmed shades, but I’d go with pagoda/squarish shades. But that’s just me, and we have an oriental-esque bedroom. Aqua, cafe-au-lait, black, and rusty red accents.

  • For the lampshades – I think the cheapest way to do this would be add a piece of ribbon or trim along the edge (a nice grey/white striped grosgrain might be nice). Or a cute mini pom-pom edge trim for something a little more “crafty” looking.

    Option #2 – I think variations on the red shade could do wonders for this room. Maybe paint the shades a dark dark blood red color to really make them pop.

  • For some reason I’m picturing mustard yellow….also, wood. Some sort of wood accessories could be amazing. Maybe slightly rustic….definitely used, maybe even a bit dinged up. Maybe even really raw (stump/driftwood-ish, does that make sense?) Something that looks like you picked it up in a roadside junk shop down south.

    I think your lampshades would look amazing with an organic or geometric pattern in gold leaf on them. Perhaps you could commission a local artist to add that? I’m thinking…Oh Joy!!! Like that girl has tons of free time….ha!

    Or….this may be delving into crazy territory…I’d love to see them with natural cotton.rope (slightly nautical) glued around them with about 1/2″ inbetween, to add texture.

    Or…even more crazy…brass chain…Don’t even know if this is possible, but it would be amazing, and super special.

  • do you have a landline? if not, I personally wouldn’t go for a non-functional item.

    solid mohair blanket +

    maybe another color could be purple? it’s really hard to tell without an accurate color swatch to compare colors to. are there more photographs of the room? :)

    do you want the wall sconces still or just a change in the shades? you can make some cute shades (cheap!) add red ribbon – maybe rick rack on the top and bottom.

    what about a red robe? :)

  • Hi Grace, How about simply trimming those shades with some red rick rack, maybe even stripes of alternating thicknesses, ending with a thick one that hangs off the bottom edge. A quick and inexpensive fix until you figure out the rest! And a simple red border on those white pillows would be good too!

  • I think you should go for a colonial -morocco look. thar headboard is awesome,I loved it when you showed the “how to”, and adding more prints may distract from it. i would go for brown leather or caramel wood furniture, and add plain colors like red, orange or mustard, or even white!and goig wild, what about adding some white feared fans hanging on the wall?? whatever you decide sure its great, so show us the result!!!

  • I know what you mean about the blue accent making it too retro. I like the canary accent idea too!! But in small doses. If not, you can always keep red and white as the main colors and add a shade of beige/khaki. I designed a model apt once that was all black and white with small accents of a khaki/gray color (light) and it really popped but didn’t take away from the black or white as the main colors.

  • I would suggest not using any more red at all in the room (or maybe one accent that isn’t near or on the bed). I think you diminish the headboard by loading on the red.

    I would use olive green and the deep cobalt you were talking about.

  • Love all the red and white pieces ~ so bold and graphic! Yellow would be a definite for me and also adding shades of grey/ charcoal. I think that would be such a classic yet interesting colour scheme. Love your site. Always inspiring!

  • Our bedroom walls are a very similar color to yours, and our main color scheme is yellow and white against the greyish tan walls with bright pops of red. So I say you should definitely add some yellow!

  • I just saw Diana Vreeland’s bedroom done in red with splashes of Cobalt blue and white. Billy Baldwin did it and titled it “garden in hell” but nevermind the blue really cooled the red down and added depth. Here’s the link or if you type in red rooms for search, it will come up with the paint colors of red. Some glass orclearn furniture with gold accents might lighten the red. http://www.housebeautiful.com/cm/housebeautiful/images/red-living-room-xlg-22203997.jpg

  • Grace, what others have said above about another color is what you need to do. And that color is and HAS to be dark cobalt blue or navy blue. I have the exact tanish grey color walls in my room, and although I didnt use dark blue (I used a black/white/cream color scheme), the black of my leather headboard can come off as a dark blue in the light, and it looks great with the walls.

    All your linens on your bed need to stay white and clean and detail free (because you have such a busy headboard), but infront of those white pillows, you need a long slim dark cobalt blue velvet bolster and in the center of it, your initials embroidered in white. I dont think it would cost that much, you could even make it yourself.

    If you can find small dark blue drum shades for your arm lamps, even better. It also looks like you really want to add a red and white stripe, I say make them horizontal stripe drapes with either a cobalt blue ribbon border inset into the drapes one foot on each side (to mimic your wall moldings), or just the blue ribbon detail going vertically on opening part of the drape, both you could do with liquid stitch.

    and dont worry about going too american flaggy, there is a reason our flag is those colors, its because they look fantastic together!

    throw in some cobalt blue foo dogs (my grandmother had fabulous ones from the 40s, my aunt got them, im still not over it…anyway) and your room will have an asian touch, which I believe all rooms need to have.

  • I like the idea of blue with the red too…. I think grey would also be nice. I think maybe trimming the lampshades with ribbon or something would be cool.. Or you could cover them some fabric.

  • Hi Grace!

    You mentioned above that the paint color is a light tan and not gray. (I thought it was gray too!) It’s gorgeous and I am looking to paint my bedroom that color as well but I’m having trouble finding the right shade.
    I was wondering what the name and make was?

    Thanks so much!

  • I love this post. Seen a lot of great rooms in the house tours, but some just seem 90% there, that they’re missing the last 10% of fabulosity. I think this would be a great regular feature for d*s. Realize other blogs are doing this, but most seem so less done. I know I totally stall out at “almost there.” It would be cool if we non-designers could send in a pic to get help with the finishing touches.

    BTW, I like the idea of olive or deep marine blue.

  • Looks really GREAT Grace!

    I like the idea of the red headboard as the accent color – and being the ONLY red in this room. I personally love red as an accent in white & tan room with accent pieces in shades of blue – like an aqua… the vintage-hobnail-vase-shade-of-aqua. Can you throw some ticking in there, to pick up on the tan of the walls? I love brown/tan ticking on duvets and recovered on modern chairs/benches. As for the aqua-ish color, a few vases and an end table high glossed in it would be so awesome!

    I love your sconces as is – they are awesome and look so great with your new headboard! I totally want the bird version in the green for a headboard :)


  • i just read you’re not into aqua. I read all the comments before but i didn’t see those! sorry. replace my above aqua accent with the COBALT – I think it’ll look awesome :) And it can totally be done without looking american flag-ish. cant wait to see how it turns out!

  • Hi! I would also love to get the template for this bed and cannot get the link to work. If possible, could you send? Thanks!