How Our Own "Paris Apartment" Came To Be

A few years ago, when we had finished the various other phases of remodeling and restoring the downstairs of our little 1940's bungalow cottage we knew it was time to turn out attention to the upstairs and tackle that last part of our home. We knew when we did that we would finally be able to benefit from all the square footage in our home (which is a premium in a small home).

The space that has become our master bedroom suite is all by itself on the second story of Rosehaven Cottage. It was an addition in the early 1960's that needed a lot of reworking. With the encouragement of my brother (Mr. Craftsman) and my brother-in-law (Mr. Architect), we gutted the space down to the studs.

And this is what it looked like after the gutting...

Once we had it all torn down, it was time to build it back up again with new framing for a walk-in closet and a full bath. Plumbing and electrical for the upstairs had to be completely redone. Mr. Craftsman came to the rescue and wired everything perfectly. Our next door neighbor, a professional handyman, installed our plumbing for us. The rest was up to us.

About the time when we were faced with the daunting task of insulating and hanging sheet rock, we were visiting Hubby's family for the holidays. While a lot of socializing was going on, I was cruising the internet on a laptop looking for design ideas and dreaming of the day we would have a finished master bedroom. That's when I came across the website The Paris Apartment. I knew I'd struck gold! I called Hubby over and showed him the many photos and said, "That's how I want our master bedroom to feel!" He said, "Okay, let's do it!"

From that point on, we were on a hunt for design ideas based on the idea of making our own "paris apartment". We shot copious photos of crown mouldings at places like the jewelry store on Disneyland's Main Street and an historic home where a friend was married. We lost track of how many times we had to explain why we were taking photos of panel moulding and chair rails.

After thoroughly insulating the space so that it wouldn't be a sweltering heat box in the summer, we hung sheet rock. I mudded and taped all the seams and then set to work texturing the walls to look like the plaster walls downstairs. You know the joke "I just flew in from Albuquerque... boy, are my arms tired!" Well, my version goes "I just got done texturing the ceiling... boy, are my arms tired!" Thankfully, a good friend is a massage therapist so we could engage her services.

Once the "foundation" of the room was in place, it came time to put in the "frosting". We wanted to get it right by paying close attention to every detail so that each element in the room would look like it had always been there. Everytime I watched a Doris Day movie, I'd pause on wide shots to study the details of the sets so that we could get the era right in our installations. We even matched the original narrow-slat red oak floors that were downstairs in the original square footage built in the 1940's.

We also wanted to be VERY budget-conscious and not spend a lot on anything for the room, but make it look well-appointed. That meant a longer timeline than most renovation projects of this size. But ultimately, it meant we spent much less than we would have. If we couldn't find what we wanted for the price we wanted, we waited until we could. Between doing that and performing the finishing work ourselves, we saved a lot of money.

Hubby did all the moulding installation and did such a phenomenal job with some really difficult moulding profiles. It was my job to caulk and paint it.

A lot of the projects were divided like that. In the bathroom, it was Hubby's job to cut the tile and it was my job to mud and set the tile. We even tackled the scary task of installing a handpoured shower pan and finished it with hexagonal tiling.

After what seemed like a century, we were finally able to move into our master bedroom suite in November of 2006 just before we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for my side of the family. We knew we'd done things right when our niece (then 7 years old) asked how much money we had to be able to have such a fancy bedroom. I explained in a succinct way how I made my bedroom look like a "princess room" without spending a lot of money. It was a very gratifying experience.

We still have little things here and there to finish, but for the most part it's done and we love it! We had determined that we were going to design this room as a "valentine" to ourselves. We feel like we've succeeded and in some ways we've surprised ourselves in exceeding our expectations. So now our little secluded second story, truly feels like a "paris apartment". And we send a BIG thank you to Claudia Strausser, the founder and designer of The Paris Apartment for giving us the inspiration to make this "valentine" a reality!

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  1. Wow, Cindy. I've seen photos of your "Paris Apartment" before, but never in this much detail. What a beautiful job. I hope to be able to see it in person some time soon. Love this beautiful room.
    Love you,

  2. Cindy!

    It´s sooo beautiful and romantic!

    Have a peaceful and nice weekend!

    Love Annie

  3. Hi Cindy,
    WOW I am so honored! Your room is just divine and the crown moldings, French doors and handles really add the character and charm to evoke that feel you wanted. You must have the best dreams there knowing you did it all yourself and you should be really proud! What's next for you!? xoc

  4. Cindy, that is absolutely gorgeous! Love the bed! Love the toile! Love the French doors! Everything is perfect! I'll bet you feel like you're going on a vacation every time you enter that room!

    And you have a bungalow home? That is my dream home!

  5. Absolutely beautiful bedroom. Thanks for sharing. I need to remodel ours.

  6. Cindy, Your Paris Apartment is just fablous! From the beautiful crown molding all the way to the gorgeous crystal door knob!

    You and your husband sound like me and mine. I lay and grout all of our tiles, he cuts them. He cuts the molding, I paint it...teamwork!

  7. What a gorgeous room. I *love* it. It must be so rewarding to have done it all with your own hands.


  8. That is so beautiful Cindy! I bet you had your heart in your mouth when everything was stripped back and you knew it was all up to you to make it work now.

    I am so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who pauses the TV to look at the details of a room in a vintage film. :-) Beautiful job Cindy.

  9. That is a beautiful room, sigh. You must just love settling down in the night. What a great idea.

  10. Wow, it's really pretty! You two are so crafty.
    You should have a TV show.

  11. From someone who wants to live in the South of France one day, this is really beautifully and lovely. It's a satisfying feeling when everything comes together after so many months of work, isn't it? I love that the two of you worked so closely together on it, so it really is YOUR room and a labour of love.

    As I (slowly....) work on redecorating my condo, I seem to unconsciously be creating a beach house feel. Albeit one from Martha's Vineyard.

  12. Cindy, thanks for sharing your "paris apartment" with us! What a beautiful suite of rooms. I love the toile! You and your husband should be so proud of what you two accomplished!

  13. It's absolutely beautiful, Cindy! What a wonderful and elegant Paris retreat. Now you don't have to pay for the plane ticket to France!

  14. Its beautiful and so serene! The love shows in all the details and craftsmanship that went into making it so gorgeous. the crown molding is so pretty. The whole room is lovely and so romantic!

  15. Holy smokey doodles! That is so gorgeous!

    I'm all sorts of wanting to redo my room now ... and I'm really bad at painting. :)

  16. What a gorgeous bedroom. All of the work you did was so worth it. I love the moulding! It is stunning.

    Sorry I haven't visited for awhile ...

  17. Magnifique! Tres beau!

    Love every inch of your lovely chambre à coucher!

  18. Cindy, this is so chic and perfect a setting as any I have ever seen. I do hope you truly enjoy this lovely addition to your Rosehaven Cottage. Cheers.

  19. Wow, that is so beautiful! You two should pat yourselves on the back for a job well done!


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