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Family Living

She’s a designer, he’s in excavation. They DIY-ed their New Hampshire home into something beautiful

Together they remade the second floor of their house with all the bells and whistles — and a climbing wall.

The designer used scrapbooking paper for the musical instrument art above the storage crates in son Turner’s bedroom. “I’m hoping he’ll be into music, though he hasn’t picked up on it yet,” she says.  She painted the plywood with rock-climbing handholds gray, which adds texture without distraction.
The designer used scrapbooking paper for the musical instrument art above the storage crates in son Turner’s bedroom. “I’m hoping he’ll be into music, though he hasn’t picked up on it yet,” she says. She painted the plywood with rock-climbing handholds gray, which adds texture without distraction.Tamara Flanagan

When Amber and Tim Roy moved into their Barrington, New Hampshire, home, it had a primary suite on the first floor, plus three bedrooms with a shared bath upstairs. Wanting the convenience of a bedroom with an attached bath, but not the inconvenience of sleeping on a separate level from their now 6- and 4-year-old sons, Turner and Pierson, the couple needed to come up with a fix. “We didn’t want them navigating the stairs when they woke up in the middle of the night, or in the morning when they came in to cuddle,” Amber says.

Using elbow grease and know-how — Amber is an interior designer and Tim works in excavation — the couple reconfigured half of the second floor to create a proper bedroom suite for themselves. Borrowing space from the oversized landing, they enlarged the bedroom next to the bath, relocated the bathroom door to connect to the bedroom, and created a connected walk-in closet. The kids have to traipse through their parents’ bedroom to access the bath, but at this point, nobody really minds. “We wanted to add a half bath in the hall, but the plumbing didn’t work out,” Amber says.

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In addition to building new walls, the pair ripped out the bedroom ceiling to vault it and inserted structural beams for support. Next, they lined the entire bedroom in shiplap, including the ceiling, which now reaches 12 feet at the peak. The hallway side of the new wall also boasts new, white planks. “I wanted something more than drywall; this adds character,” the designer says.

For the decor, Amber looked to Tuscany for inspiration. In the bedroom, the interpretation is lighthearted. Nods include a bit of wallpaper in a sweet floral pattern that incorporates lemons and birds; a fanciful, gilded chandelier; and a variety of artwork and mirrors. A chartreuse velvet armchair that she bought from a friend’s grandfather for $50 over a decade ago influenced the palette. “I knew the chair would be gorgeous in a room someday, and there it is,” says the designer, an avid collector of vintage decor.

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The bathroom door with etched glass panels reflects an earthier Tuscan style and hints at what’s to come: a backsplash wall of Moroccan zellige tiles in an inky green hue meant as an ode to Tuscany’s iconic cypress trees. Soapstone tops the antique sideboard that Amber fashioned into a double vanity. “I found it on Craigslist for $150 after searching all the terms — sideboard, credenza, buffet,” she says. The artwork over the toilet is her favorite part of the scheme. “I got the idea when I stepped over the kids playing with the scraps of slate floor tiles,” the designer says. “I had them arrange pieces on a board, then glued them on one by one.”

On the adjacent wall, a glass door — one half of a set of French doors that Tim salvaged from a jobsite — offers a glimpse of the walk-in closet and allows light to flow to the bath. Amber modeled the space on a clothing boutique, complete with floral wallpaper and a glossy, green ceiling. The etagere is store-bought, but the wall shelves are homemade. “I stained wood boards then applied gold leaf to the edges for a flaky, gilded look,” she says.

The boys’ bedrooms sit across the hall from the couple’s suite. Pierson’s nursery has a smattering of old and upcycled pieces, such as Amber’s great-grandmother’s rocking chair and book ledges the couple crafted from reclaimed lumber. Turner’s bedroom showcases his parents’ DIY chops. Tim proposed the rock wall for which Amber designed the fractured pattern of plywood shapes. The striped walls are Amber’s handiwork, as is the beaded ceiling light made from restrung beads tied to a wreath ring wrapped with twine. She purchased the bed at an estate sale then refinished it with day-old brewed tea and steel wool.

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Amber and Tim were thinking about remodeling the first floor, but instead turned their attention to converting an old school bus into an RV. The designer won’t likely wander too far, however, as she also has plans to renovate a historic duplex in Dover. “I get excited by anything old, especially houses and furnishings,” Amber says. “There’s an incredible energy about them.”

RESOURCE

Interior Design: Amber Dawn Interiors, amberdawninteriorsne.com

MORE PHOTOS

The homeowners used reclaimed lumber for the book ledges in Pierson’s nursery. “It’s the only homemade thing poor Pierson has in his room,” she laughs.
The homeowners used reclaimed lumber for the book ledges in Pierson’s nursery. “It’s the only homemade thing poor Pierson has in his room,” she laughs.Tamara Flanagan
The dormer of the primary bedroom has Caitlin Wilson wallpaper, a gilded chandelier from The Collector’s Eye in Stratham, New Hampshire, and a dresser that homeowner Amber Roy refurbished. “I take any old furniture offered to me,” she says. The cow painting by Woody Jackson is from Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont.
The dormer of the primary bedroom has Caitlin Wilson wallpaper, a gilded chandelier from The Collector’s Eye in Stratham, New Hampshire, and a dresser that homeowner Amber Roy refurbished. “I take any old furniture offered to me,” she says. The cow painting by Woody Jackson is from Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont.Jennifer Bishop
Zellige tiles by Clé in cindered olive drove the design in the primary bath. The initial plan was to use 2-by-8-inch tiles set in a herringbone pattern, but Amber switched to squares when she learned that the rectangles were back-ordered. “The color was much more important than the shape,” she says.
Zellige tiles by Clé in cindered olive drove the design in the primary bath. The initial plan was to use 2-by-8-inch tiles set in a herringbone pattern, but Amber switched to squares when she learned that the rectangles were back-ordered. “The color was much more important than the shape,” she says.tamara flanagan


When there wasn’t enough Nancy by Schumacher wallpaper for the closet ceiling, Amber painted it a glossy green.
When there wasn’t enough Nancy by Schumacher wallpaper for the closet ceiling, Amber painted it a glossy green.Tamara Flanagan



Marni Elyse Katz is a regular contributor to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.