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Style Watch

Your guest room can also serve as your child’s study

Erin Gates designs a useful space that’s both modern and sweet.

Sarah Winchester
Sarah Winchester

Boston-based interior designer Erin Gates and Newton homeowner Dina Ciarimboli have been working together for years. In fact, a number of the rooms Gates has designed for Ciarimboli’s family appeared in Gates’s book Elements of Style , published last year and based on her blog of the same name. Recently Gates finished another room in the house — a study for Ciarimboli’s 9-year-old daughter, Olivia, that doubles as a guest room. Using the existing paint color, an alluring shade of gray with purple undertones, as the starting point, Gates created a workhorse of a retreat that is at once modern and sweet. “I sneak in there myself to do work when I’m home — even though I have a separate office on the third floor. I love lounging on the daybed with my laptop,” says Ciarimboli.


1. Gates used Farrow & Ball’s Lotus wallpaper, an oversize pattern that Ciarimboli had long admired, to create a bold accent wall that anchors and sets the tone for the room.

2. Brass sconces from Visual Comfort’s Studio French Collection add warmth. “Silver was the obvious choice,” Gates says, “but we liked the contrast of the gold.” A cord cover eliminates the hassle and expense of hard-wiring.

3. In search of art with purple tones, Gates found these butterfly prints (under $20 each) on Etsy and had them framed in gold.

4. Makkas Drapery Workroom in Framingham made the ivory and gray linen curtains with a Parisian pleat. “It has a cleaner look than a traditional pleat and hangs beautifully,” Gates says.

5. Gates chose throw pillows in three different patterns. The secret to mixing, she says, is to use a monochromatic palette and play with scale. Try combining organic and geometric prints along with a textural element, she advises.

6. The velvet daybed from Restoration Hardware’s Baby & Child collection is comfortable for reading, easily doubles as a guest bed, and takes up less room than a traditional bed.


7. The side table is a height that works “whether someone is sleeping or sitting,” Gates says.

8. Gates scored the gold table lamp at HomeGoods, her go-to source for inexpensive accents.

9. She found the gold-framed, linen-covered pin board on Etsy. The inversely curved corners add movement and whimsy.

10. An upholstered side chair makes more sense than a rolling desk chair in the carpeted space.

11. The Parsons dining table from West Elm accommodates two. “It was important to Dina that there be enough room for her to sit and help with homework if need be,” Gates says.