Deep Dive

Jae Joo Cracked the Code on Making High Ceilings Feel Cozy in Her Connecticut Bedroom

Words by Morgan Goldberg
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Photo by Nick Glimenakis

The high, vaulted ceilings in Jae Joo’s 1970s Connecticut country home are both a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, the New York City-based interior designer appreciates the contemporary architecture and the airy vibe. But the substantial height, coupled with an abundance of windows, makes it difficult to achieve a sense of coziness—especially in a bedroom. It’s so challenging, in fact, that she considered closing and flattening the ceiling in her primary suite.

At the last second, however, Jae decided to embrace the loftiness and use decor to warm up the space instead. She painted the bedroom walls in Farrow & Ball Light Blue, hung lots of art, and invested in a vintage, hand-painted screen that sits behind the bed, offering a headboard-meets-wallpaper moment. She even added side panels to the screen for a cocoon-like effect.

The suite is rounded out by a spa-like bathroom with plaster walls and brass hardware, as well as a periwinkle dressing room that’s adorned with pottery by Jenny Min. “I always think about what kind of mood I want to create,” Jae explains. “I was inspired to make the space feel really calm, imaginative, and dreamlike.” All the charming qualities of a great bedroom.

The project: A 1970s contemporary house

The location: Fairfield County, Connecticut

The room: A primary suite with a bedroom, bathroom, and dressing room

The client: The designer herself—and her husband

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Photo by Nick Glimenakis

The biggest problem to solve: This room has really high, vaulted ceilings and a lot of wall space. I wanted to make it really warm, despite its height and size. The challenge was: how do we make it really cozy?

The item that started it all: The hand-painted Italian vintage screen behind the bed, which I purchased from 1stDibs, really sets the mood for this room. I wanted something that feels dreamlike and dramatic, but doesn't disturb the linear aspect of the room. It added a perfect hint of drama and texture, and I could build off of that.

The piece that anchors the space: The whole point is that it's an open suite, so you can see the screen from every angle, whether you’re in the bedroom, the bathroom, or the closet. It serves as a nice background to look at from every perspective.

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Photo by Nick Glimenakis

The splurge and steal in the room: All the custom architecture elements that we added in the space were splurges, like the blue closets and the marble sink with brass legs in the bathroom. I like bathrooms to feel more like a room rather than a sterile place.

The ottoman in the bathroom and the chair in the dressing room are vintage pieces that I found in flea markets around Fairfield County and had reupholstered. Those were total steals. I reupholstered the ottoman with an antique rug, which is really fun.

The design risk with the biggest payoff: In the beginning, we talked about closing up the ceiling and making it flat because it's hard to utilize the height. At the last minute, I decided to keep it open and add skylights to bring the outside in a bit. You can see nature and trees. I'm really glad that we did that.

The happy accident: In the bathroom, we were supposed to have tile floors that would connect to the wooden floors from the bedroom. But when we tried to connect them, the transition just didn't feel smooth. So we decided to use the herringbone white oak flooring throughout the entire suite, which fits really nicely and makes the bathroom feel more like a part of the space.

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Photo by Nick Glimenakis

The biggest learning: Architecturally, this room is very clean and minimal and a lot of the elements that make the room fun are just the details that we added in it. I realized that I like to create rooms that don’t feel overly complicated, but that still make you want to take a closer look at all the little things.

The little detail with a big impact: The simple, oversized bedding, which we custom made with linen fabric from de Le Cuona, makes the room feel really cozy and moody.

Why this space works so well: I love that there's a mix of color, patterns, and styles. There are both old and new items. And overall, the space feels really personal. This room has a lot of my favorite things that I've collected over the years displayed throughout, which makes it really fun to look at.

The final vibe: Imaginative, calm, and relaxing.

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Photo by Nick Glimenakis

The Goods

The image of an Early 20th-Century Italian Hand Painted Screen product
Early 20th-Century Italian Hand Painted ScreenSHOP NOW
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Farrow and Ball Light BlueINQUIRE
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Waterworks Easton FaucetINQUIRE
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Giuseppe Ostuni 1950’s O-Luce LampSHOP NOW
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Sherwin-Williams Purple SolitudeINQUIRE
The image of an De La Cuona Seed Poppy Linen product
De La Cuona Seed Poppy LinenINQUIRE

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