Interior Decorating

Designing with Joy: Pineapples and Barbies for Christmas – The Paul and Babe

Designing with Joy Cover Photo

In each issue of Design & Living, residential and commercial designer Christen Anderson of Live Christen Joy showcases a joyful project of hers. This month, Anderson reveals “The Paul and Babe,” a Minnesota lake retreat that maximizes style and storage space.

Photos by Hillary Ehlen

The New Home Project

With the current world we are living in, we’re seeing a trend of people investing more in their homes and vacation homes as we’re spending most of our time in these spaces. This includes, of course in the Midwest, lake homes. This late summer and fall I worked with a Washington D.C.-based client who recently purchased a property in Minnesota lake country. She found it was becoming her more permanent home away from home and was ready to add her own personal style throughout. Join me as we head to the lakes to take a look into The Paul and Babe Project and see just why I think it is babealicious!

Designing with Joy Cover Photo
Designing with Joy December

The Master Bedroom

The master bedroom at the Paul and Babe is located on the main floor right after walking through the kitchen and living room, which have expansive and breathtaking views of the blue waves of the lake. The master is quaint—the wall the bed sits on is roughly 118 inches long and the longer wall with the door is 172 inches with a bump-out. The floor has a rustic look and feel with its greige tones and the ceiling is a rustic shiplap with noticeable knots. Two windows and a closet complete the tour of the space at the beginning of the design process.

A few needs arose as it became more apparent the client would be staying here for a longer period of time—more storage, a queen-sized bed (as a question, can we fit it?), additional lighting, a rug to break up the flooring and a TV that could swivel, as there was only one good wall for the TV and it didn’t face the bed. Oh, and we must make it fun! This client clearly enjoyed and respected the design process, giving me creative freedom to dream up the best design that fits for her.

The Design

We had a few key components I had to work with that needed to be included from the start—the queen-sized bed (yep, it will fit) and storage needs. With that, I started the layout with hopes and dreams of what could potentially fit.

First, nightstands. We did not have a ton of room, 24 inches wide max, but we could fit a nightstand on each side of the bed if we found the perfect size. I had hoped to find one with drawers that could be additional storage should we need it—think swimsuits, socks, pajamas.

Next, a dresser. We only had room for a 36-inch-wide dresser with already a smaller than a preferred three-foot walkway. Finally, I planned on a tall cabinet in the nook near the entryway. The space was too narrow for another dresser and this could be the perfect solution for more storage.

Below the bed, a large rug; above the dresser, a TV on a mobile arm; and behind the door, a full-length mirror.

Designing with Joy December

The Look and Feel

Next up was locking down on a look and feel that we would use for selections. Since it’s a vacation home, I knew we could play a bit more since it’s a space you come to let your hair down, unwind and enjoy the little luxuries that make you smile and laugh a bit! Here are a few things I proposed to incorporate:

  • Bring in texture via the bed, nightstands and grasscloth wallpaper.
  • Layer in interest through fun lighting elements. Another option could be sconces.
  • Complement the warm, cozy cabin feel by using selections that are not overly loud but still have a wow-factor to them. Think muted colors, textures, layers of yummy fabrics and brass “jewelry” in the space.

Supporting my look and feel, I pulled together a few broad selections to see where we had a knee-jerk reaction of “love that!” and the potential “okay, not that!” Either way, it’s helpful to know. After this meeting, we were able to create a list that was the North Star of our look and feel. Here is a peek into that list:

  • Loves – artwork, grasscloth, the idea of a window treatment refresh, monogramming, not opposed to overlapping the window with the headboard a bit, a large rug for her puppy.
  • No thanks – upholstered bed, scalloped edges, or mint colors (See why this is important? Great nuggets to know!)
Designing with Joy December

The Fun Really Begins – Selections

Wallpaper—this was going to kick off the room selections, so it needed to be right. Multiple soft pink grasscloth samples were selected as options, finally nailing down the perfect shade that was not too bright or too red. We hugged all the walls with this beautiful grasscloth knowing it would be soft with a clear presence.

Next, large pieces of furniture! The bed made from rattan and raffia was both casual and striking. It overlapped the window a tish but not an uncomfortable amount. To complement the rattan, I found white nightstands with a hint of texture and brass “jewelry” (hardware) to start to pull in a bit of sizzle to the space. Though it was only a single drawer, we had no concerns with this considering what we found next.

Designing with Joy December

The cabinet we found to tuck into the corner was PERFECT! 72 inches high and 36 inches wide, it had four shelves that were eager to be filled with Vineyard Vines, Lily Pulitzer and cozy winter sweaters should the storage space be needed. Another win, brass knobs to continue our brass metal theme.

Lastly, we opted for a white dresser to balance out the natural materials of the bed and cabinet. In a faux Belgian linen, the white is anything but ordinary and the brass knobs are a shiny reminder of that.

While selecting the furniture pieces we also came upon a fantastic mirror that was even larger than your average “full length”—72 inches high and 24 inches wide—it fit like a glove behind the door and, you guessed it, was rim med in brass to ensure the other neighboring selections would approve.

Let there be light! My client already knew she had to have lamps that are truly their own artwork. We opted for a matte white color to complement the room’s aesthetic and then paired the two beauties with a flush mount, beaded and brass light fixture that would be sure to balance out the lamps’ favoritism based on looks alone!

Let there be time for sleep! We agreed on blackout window treatments to ensure a great night’s sleep. Though, these treatments would be nothing that would put you to sleep. Linen “Pineapples Chintz” fabric layers in both comfort and luxury. As you look at the treatments, see how the valance and the roman align? The detail that had gone into constructing these is incredible and beautiful. Based on a rare 18th-century Indian document, the delicate fruit is placed against a solid background for a head-turning effect. Fun fact, pineapples are the symbol of hospitality, according to Schumacher’s design house. I love this as my client oozes hospitality and generosity and, I must agree, it has quite the effect.

A large rug with soft blues was a nice introduction of a new color, which we also pulled into the bedding. The bedding adorned with duo stripes, carefully selected “Anna” font for the monogram detail and a quilt in solid blue ensured the blue did not feel unwelcomed in the space. The bed also doubled as a space her pup would for sure enjoy extra cuddles in!

The room would not have been complete without a bit of sand and waves. After seeing the three Barbie girlfriends enjoying a carefree day on the beach—we knew it was the perfect piece. With the addition of a brass bamboo frame, it was ready for its new home.

Time to Turn Down the Sheets and Say Goodbye

The Paul and Babe has become a bit more babealicious, if I may, with this beautiful transformation of a traditional lake home bedroom into a space that feels like a slice of Palm Beach meets Lake Life. At the end of the day, we succeeded in meeting our client’s needs, needs that have shifted a bit with our new normal, and that is what makes us the most joyful at the end of a project.

Christen Anderson of Christen Joy Homes


Anderson is a Minnesota native with an eye for decor and design. Christen Joy specializes in new-construction commercial projects, exceptional remodels, furnishing high-end living spaces and creating memorable special events. Anderson is also a passionate art collector, world traveler and home cook who frequently entertains for friends. 

Join me on Instagram and Facebook to see my latest projects and email me at [email protected] for project inquiries.

Read more from Christen Anderson here.


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