Editor’s Note: The idea of purchasing and renovating a home is a dream that many carry, but few of us stop to consider the complications and complexities of the process until we are already knee-deep in drywall debris. Lisa Przystup, a writer, florist, and frequent contributor to Front + Main has been kind enough to share her journey of home ownership with us. Check out the first installment here. Enjoy!

west elm - Finally Getting To Those Guest Rooms

Illustration by Tallulah Fontaine
Photography by Sarah Elliott

Moving into a three-bedroom (four, if you count the attic) 1800s farmhouse from a railroad apartment in Brooklyn meant that my husband and I found ourselves in the embarrassingly gluttonous position of suddenly having more space than we knew what to do with (I hear you world’s tiniest violin). Well, we knew what to do with it, but we didn’t know how. The smallness of our Greenpoint apartment made decorating easy because each piece had no option but to live exactly where it fit. There was none of that glorious, unnerving, overwhelming head-scratching that comes with the luxury of possibilities.

From the very beginning of our upstate house hunt, we both had a soft-focus, golden-lit montage of various joy-filled moments hosting friends and family in our future home playing through our heads. Among the cornerstones of hosting—a dishwasher (which we don’t have), a healthy bar cart (check), deep breaths (and check)—is the curation of a guest room that’s cozy and warm and exactly where you want to be, which made putting together our guest bedrooms an intimidating task.

Our first guest room was initially going to be the master bedroom, mainly because it was the room we slept in the first weekend we stayed at the house. Figuring it out has been a puzzle—as I type this, it still hasn’t actually settled into itself. The proportions and layout of the room are tricky: there’s a long wall on one side with a closet door that leads to a short wall with a window that leads to another long wall that’s interrupted by a window. I won’t waste space attempting to explain the infuriating logistics of the room. Instead, I’ll tell you how we attempted to navigate things. We painted the walls, which as far as we can tell are plastered with layers of something cheaper or more terrible than wallpaper and those many layers of terribleness seem to be pulling away from the wall—we didn’t care—we whitewashed the whole lot of it. We hung some roller blinds, also white. On one wall, we created a happy moment involving a bench and a shaker peg rail (a device that’s served us well and that I’m afraid we’ve relied on one too many times). We’re still on a search for a dresser and I’m looking to give that long stretch of wall something to do but the room is slowly starting to fill out.

west elm - Minimal Bright + Airy Guest Bedroom in a Prewar Home

west elm - Minimal Bright + Airy Guest Bedroom in a Prewar Home

west elm - Minimal Bright + Airy Guest Bedroom in a Prewar Home

west elm - Minimal Bright + Airy Guest Bedroom in a Prewar Home

The second guest bedroom is situated across the hall from the aforementioned room and it’s a small little gem of a space. Unlike the other guest room, this one came together quickly and beautifully thanks to its diminutive size. Into it went my husband’s childhood spindle bed frame, which fit snugly in a little nook that seemed to have been carved out specifically for its full size frame. After that, we added a beautiful mahogany dresser we found at an antique shop run by Mary Gere in Montrose (yes, that Gere—at one point, my husband thought that he and the entire small town in Pennsylvania where his family is from was distantly related to the Hollywood star).

Next to giving it a fresh coat of paint, camouflaging the acoustic tile ceilings was as labor intensive as it got. Our inspiration for our camouflage of choice came from Stone House in Delhi, one of our favorite shops in town. We had noticed that the ceilings of the store had canvas draped across them—the owner Andrea told us it was painter’s canvas and that we could find it at any hardware store. The draping, of course, was a little tricky—we had to buy two pieces to span the ceiling as opposed to working with just one cohesive piece and it took a handful of attempts to get right, so it didn’t just look like a saggy mess. Based on people’s reactions (“What’s going on with the ceiling?” and “Oh! What’s the ceiling going to look like when it’s finished?”), I’m not actually 100% sure it doesn’t look like as saggy mess. Upon further inspection of Andrea’s ceiling, we realized that our recreation was missing a central design element: tension rods. But it’ll do for now. I’m sort of itching to get some beadboard up there, which I’ve delicately mentioned to my husband, but he’s not exactly jumping at the chance to do that anytime soon.

What really makes the rooms for us are the linens…we’ve never had the pleasure of owning such nice things for our beds—West Elm’s Belgian Flax Linen sheet set if you must know—and it makes all the difference. Having that extra touch makes crawling into bed, which is already my most favorite thing to do feel even more special and that’s exactly how we want our guests to feel.

west elm - Minimal Bright + Airy Guest Bedroom in a Prewar Home

west elm - Minimal Bright + Airy Guest Bedroom in a Prewar Home

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