Bedroom Beauty

This compilation of advice on designing a happy bedroom, gleaned from too many design magazines over the years, will hopefully be insightful to some of you. Let the bedroom be the sanctuary it was meant to be. I've itemized the subjects under headings for easier reading.

It is the focal point of the room and its look sets the mood of the space – for better or for worse. First, consider its orientation and placement in the room. Doubles, Queen-size and King-size beds should be centered on a wall and framed by two matching sides, whether they are tables or chests of drawers, shelves or armoires. Matching lamps can be placed on either side, too, for a classic, timeless look. Never shove a large bed against a wall or into a corner; the room’s layout will look lopsided with such a weighty piece of furniture off to one side. The bed should be the room’s anchor. A single twin bed in a child’s room or guest room can be placed more casually against a wall and can often double as a daybed for seating. A pair of twin beds should be placed symmetrically in the room, linked between them by a table with lighting.

An unmade or unkempt bed will forever ruin a bedroom’s charms. If the bed is not made, the entire room looks messy. Take a few minutes each morning to make your bed. It’s a transformative act that can actually redefine the room. Spend your money on good pillows and a good duvet. Few things in the annals of home decor are sadder than a bed with limp pillows and a lumpy bedspread. Invest in higher quality linens and you’ll feel better about the room, both in and out of bed. For the bedspread, avoid large, bold patterns: they don’t belong on the largest object in the quietest room in the home. Choose simple, fine sheets in restful neutral tones that can match nearly any cover. Choosing natural fibers like cotton, linen or silk will generally mean a more comfortable sleep. A high thread count is desirable, but any honest bedding salesman will tell you that after 400 it becomes irrelevant.

These dressing items can make or break the look of the room. Bed skirts often make a bed look more substantial and can add a formal, decorative element to the entire room. Keep the skirts simple and tailored for modern d├ęcor. Ruffled, pleated or scalloped bed skirts work better in traditional rooms. A general rule for cushions is this: more than seven on a queen-size bed is too many but fewer than four is too few. Large coloured cushions go at the back. You can change the Euro shams on these by season for a fresh look. In front of these, prop up two standard pillows in cases that match the sheets. For added luxury drop two more standard pillows in decorative cases and finally place a smaller, decorative pillow in front of these as a finishing touch. Throws should be folded lengthwise and placed neatly at the end of the bed. They are ostensibly there for impromptu napping on top of the covers but can add an elegant trim and contrasting texture to the bed when not in use. My bed is dressed with two Euro-style pillows, four standard pillows and one, smaller, decorative pillow in a contrasting fabric. It has a simple bed skirt and a folded woolen throw in a matching neutral at the end of the bed. Cozy!

Martha's Seal Harbor four-poster bed from the Skylands collection with Bernhardt.

This is an aspect of the room that, when done properly, offsets the other furnishings. Many people forego the headboard and bed frame all together, which is fine as long as other measures are taken to give the bed foundational form: large artwork on the wall over the bed and a trunk at the foot of the bed, for example. Those that do opt for headboards and bed frames often overdo it. One should choose a bed frame and headboard that are sturdy but not ostentatious. If you prefer wooden furniture, choose simple lines and sturdy proportions in a high-quality wood. Maple or oak are most desirable. Stay away from sloped headboards and footboards as they eat up valuable space. Metallic bed frames can be more elaborate and will add a delicate lightness to the room, perhaps even a touch of shimmer, depending on the level of luster.

Lighting acts as the room’s jewelry, adding sparkle, glimmer and even a touch of whimsy, if desired. The lighting on the nightstands should be proportionate to the bed and the room itself. If the bed is large and commanding, slender lamps with tiny shades will look inappropriate on its flanks. Instead, choose lamps with large proportions that can hold their own against such weighty furniture. The lamps should be high enough to read by and placed close enough to reach the switches from the bed. Secondary lamps can be placed throughout the room: a floor lamp next to a reading chair or small, decorative lamps on dressers.

I personally feel that most electronics have no place in the bedroom. Televisions and computers in the bedroom are particular pet peeves of mine. I realize it is a personal choice, but I feel that a bedroom ought to be that one sanctuary in the home where one can be at peace, undistracted by screens and monitors. Music in the bedroom, however, is desirable and I frequently fall asleep with my headphones on, listening to my favourite songs. A radio or small stereo system in the bedroom, discreetly hidden in a cabinet, can be instrumental in setting the mood for sleep… or other nocturnal adventures!


Jess @ lighting fixtures blog said...

I just added a Martha Stewart Chandelier to my bedroom. I love it! Her lighting line is spectacular. I has brought a whole new life to my bedroom.

Maureen said...

So true about one's bedroom being a sanctuary. I have long been a fan of Martha Stewart sheets and comforters and I am on my third set!

Thanks for a most informative blog.

Take care.


Joseph Patz said...

Hi Andrew,
My Bedroom is my refuge..It occupies almost an entire floor.It has all my media, TV all my books my laptop stereo ext...So in that aspect you may frown.I also have a large sofa,a high backed settee, collections displayed and everything and anything.I often wonder what it would be like as just a simple room devoted to sleep.Like many of Martha's guest rooms.She calls "sleeping chambers".

Andrew said...

Joseph, you're in good company when it comes to having a TV in the bedroom. Martha has TVs in her bedroom at each of her houses, not to mention her omnipresent laptop, which she keeps on her night stand. Tsk-Tsk! No wonder she only sleeps 4 hours. ;-)


will said...

i probably have the smalles bedroon in the world... i call it "the cell"... but its cosy and fulfills its purpose. i only sleep 6 hours. i am working on it ;-)