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Designer and Domino columnist Sarah Sherman Samuel takes us behind the scenes of her latest project in a monthly series that tackles the nitty-gritty of remodeling—from sourcing materials and fixtures to DIYing a kitchen island.

The guest room in our home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has become a relic of our pre-pandemic lives. In the past year, it has been a schoolroom for our kids, a storage area, a playroom, and everything in between. Its final rendition had to serve all these needs and still look good. I reached out to Etsy (one of my go-to resources whenever I’m working on a new project) to curate a selection of sellers that matched my vision.

The first thing I knew the room required was a desk. I found this model from DKL Custom Woodworking and fell in love with it. The way it’s cantilevered above the doors on one side makes it a sculpture in its own way. The shape also creates another mini shelf to keep an extra pen or tuck a notebook under for quicker access than rooting around the drawers if you have to take something down. It’s the perfect match for this Cesca chair, since both are modern.

Courtesy of Etsy

I didn’t want the room to have too many wood tones layered over one another, but there had to be a chair in the corner for a cozy reading nook. I usually search by material instead of style. That way I’ll end up finding cool things I wasn’t even looking for. In this case, I typed in vintage leather chair. I ended up sifting through pages and pages until I discovered this vintage sling chair.  I realized the method worked better because you don’t pigeonhole yourself into a certain idea and potentially find something completely new.

We already had the bed—something I had handmade years ago—but it needed to be reimagined in a way to fit the rest of the new decor. Etsy named sky blue its color of the year, and I’m a longtime fan of it, so I started looking for a way to work it in before landing on this ethereal bedding from So Good Linen, which looks great in the natural light that flows through the room. Yet it’s really grounded, so it matches the wood grains, too. After we had the main building blocks in place, I began searching for the best accessories, like this black and white bolster pillow, to give the bed some contrast. 

Courtesy of Etsy

This led me down the rabbit hole of my favorites. I’m always saving things I’m into on Etsy as I go—even if something I like isn’t quite right for the project I’m working on, it might be right for another one down the line. Now you can shop other people’s saved items, which I’m starting to do. That’s how I discovered the floor lamp from Heka Design Lighting with the gingko leaves—I like how it reflects the leaves outside the window. By now, my folder is full of great stuff—small art pieces, safari-style armchairs, even benches—if anyone needs a deeper look at what I’m searching for these days.

Our Winter Renovation issue is here! Subscribe now to step inside Leanne Ford’s latest project—her own historic Pennsylvania home. Plus discover our new rules of reno.