For years, Portland, Oregon, interior designer Kathia Emery kept her favorite furniture in storage. "It didn't suit my decor," Kathia explains. "I wanted an English country manor house, but I lived in a '50s-style ranch," she says.
But everything changed when she reunited, recently, with her husband James Kahan. Originally wed in 1964, the couple divorced two years later. Decades rolled by and then a year and a half ago, life brought them together again. Newly wed for the second time, Kathia and Jim purchased a 1940 colonial in Eastmorland, Oregon, close by the college where they first met. "It's a classic white house with green shutters," says Kathia happily. Although the new house was a great backdrop for the furniture she'd stowed away, its rooms called for an update—particularly the master bedroom, where busy wallpaper, fussy window treatments and a hodgepodge of furniture left the rectangular space feeling disjointed and overcrowded. "I envisioned a traditional-style bedroom," says Kathia, who runs her own firm, Emery & Associates, in Portland. "But, at the same time, I didn't want it to look like my grandmother's house."
Kathia Emery turned the fabric
sample that kick-started her
palette into a pillow (behind her).Kathia stripped away the wallpaper and created a warm backdrop by painting the walls deep beige and the trim creamy white. A discounted fabric sample with a host of beguiling orange, yellow, blue and green blossoms inspired her accent colors. Fortuitously, all these colors tied in with striped silk drapes she'd brought from her old living room.
Kathia recruited a friend to rework the drapes to frame two bedroom windows and designed a third fabric panel of complementary green silk to conceal a window behind the bed. The drapery gives the sleeping area a grand presence as does an affordable silk coverlet and a cache of silk pillows Kathia's friend sewed. A local antique store yielded a generous scrap of additional leaf-strewn silk, which Kathia hemmed and displays at the bed's foot for added visual interest.
All the furnishings, including the handsome four-poster, the stately highboy and bow-front chest, were consignment-store finds Kathia had stowed away. Nightstands include an antique chest passed down from her husband's family and an inexpensive round table hidden beneath a new silk skirt. "It's more interesting when things don't match," the designer claims. The bedside lamps were each $15 vases. Kathia had the vases wired and topped them with ready-made shades. In place of the room's utilitarian light fixture, she installed a romantic chandelier. Although the chandelier was a "mini-splurge," Kathia admits, the reproduction ceiling medallion that adds to its stature was purchased for under $10.Most of the accessories—the armchairs, pretty botanical prints, Picasso reproduction and antique-looking table clock—were pieces Kathia and Jim already owned, too. Delighted at not having to spend money on furnishings, the couple decided to invest their remaining funds in a sumptuous rug. A kind of mutual wedding present, the rug augments the elegant ambience that Kathia finally had the opportunity to create for her furnishings after so many years.
Design planning, including
looking for fabric and
furnishings not already
Stripping the wallpaper1 day
Sewing the back-of-the-bed
Sewing the table
skirt2 1/2 hours
Sewing the pillows 4 hours
Installing furnishings, hanging
pictures and chandelier1 day
Fabrics for drapery, table
skirt and pillows1,059
Fabrication of drapery, table
skirt and pillows (including
lining and pillow fill)343
- The room's scale, which afforded space for large pieces of furniture.
- The pristine hardwood floor.
- The generous windows providing natural light.
What They Hated:
- The busy wallpaper strewn with zigzags and flowers.
- The odd layout in which the bed of the previous owners had been squished at one of the rectangular room's narrow ends.
- The elaborate window treatments complete with swags and café curtains.