Whether you’re shuffling off to sleep after a long day of work, curling up for a quick Saturday afternoon nap. Or just seeking a moment’s escape from the rigors of everyday life, there’s no place more personal and private than your bedroom. For that reason, local interior designers say the bedroom should reflect your personality and cater to your sense of serenity.
Personal preference should dictate every design choice, from bed style and fabrics to decorative accents and color schemes. But once you’ve taken a look at what you need and want, the pieces fall into place—and the only limit is your imagination.
“The most important thing to keep in mind when designing a bedroom is comfort,” says interior designer Ann Wisniewski. ASID, president of AJW Designs Inc. “Our bodies require rest to repair and regenerate. Creating a comfortable environment that gives us a greater opportunity for this is not just nice; it’s vital.”
FORM REFLECTS FUNCTION
Since the bedroom should reflect lifestyle, that might mean saying no to white linens for the couple who lets the family dog hop onto the bed. Creating a collection of decorative pillows for the frequent napper, or choosing silk sheets for the person who likes that first-morning cup of coffee in bed.
Jackie Barkley of Barkley Designs Inc. says there are many different types of family situations and rituals, all of which affect bedroom design. Early risers should choose other Special Treatment: Creative and eye-catching new looks for windows treatments than those who prefer to sleep. Whether a husband or wife likes to read at night, watch television, or work on a laptop can mean a separate seating area is crucial. So that one spouse can sleep while the other is awake.
Interior designer Vicky Panev also points out that the carpet is usually the most popular bedroom choice. Those with allergies may prefer a hardwood floor with small rugs to eliminate allergens that prevent a restful night’s sleep.
Bedrooms should be calming, comforting, and intimate. Good thumb rules include avoiding bright or loud colors, paying attention to the room’s balance, and staying away from clutter and overcrowding. Rich earth tones are the right color choice for a cozy,
“I tend to prefer more demure colors for the bedroom,” says Dianna Boykin, president of Signature Interiors. “You don’t need big, bright, bold colors and patterns in a bedroom.” She likes softer colors such as pastels or rich, deep earth, and spice tones. She notes that painting the ceiling darker than the walls can add an element of contrast to the room and limit light reflection, which adds romance and coziness.
Wisniewski says ideal bedroom colors come more from the pastel end of the spectrum, such as blues, greens, or neutral tones. While she tries to avoid more stimulating colors like red and orange, she says splashes of those livelier colors can work their way into the bedroom.
Interior designer Shirley Mitchell, ASID, prefers shades such as soft taupes or shades of blue, sage greens, and other muted colors. “If it’s too bright, it’s like a jolt,” she says. She adds that painting the ceiling a neutral color can add warmth to the room.
Symmetry and balance are also essential to consider when designing the bedroom. The panel suggests incorporating repeating patterns or themes throughout the room, such as using the same fabric for a decorative floor pillow and a comfortable chair. Nightstands on either side of the bed with matching lamps or similar pictures also can lend a sense of symmetry.
“Generally speaking, they say we as a people seek symmetry,” Mitchell says. She points out that balance doesn’t necessarily have to come through matching pieces or fabrics—weight can be conveyed through details like color. A deep red, for example, will look more solemn than a soft yellow.
When it comes to items in the bedroom, less is more. A room crowded with The Fundamentals of Furniture Buying won’t offer the relaxed feel that’s so important for a bedroom. If space provides, the bed, nightstands, one or two comfy chairs, a small table, and a reading lamp should suffice. While other items, such as a bookshelf, can add interest, many experts say dressers, armoires, and chests of drawers only serve to cramp space. With that in mind, a well-designed closet is a vital component of a well-designed bedroom.
Placing only a few items on top of a nightstand or dresser will help keep your bedroom from looking cluttered.
“I say max out your closets and make them as functional as possible,” Barkley says. “Don’t have a dresser if you don’t need one. Use the closet and put in shelves. Don’t have a chest of drawers if you don’t need it. You will just put stuff on top and clutter, clutter, clutter.” She recommends using a professional closet company or a do-it-yourself store to add shelving or drawers to allow your closet to hold more.
Boykin says her company frequently remodels clients’ bedroom areas to add more closet space. The bedroom’s main area should house only items that are there for comfort, she says, such as the bed and oversized chairs for curling up with a good book.
Hand in hand with overcrowding is the all-too-common problem of clutter. Simply cutting down on excess items in your bedroom and avoiding pieces of furniture that collect dust. Such as glass-top nightstands, which will help transform your bedroom into a peaceful oasis.
One final tip from many interior designers is to keep the television hidden further to create a sense of serenity in the bedroom. Some newer bedrooms have recessed areas for plasma televisions; small armoires or shutters can also hide the TV.
OFF TO BED
Whether you’ve got a lofty space or a tiny room, the bedroom’s primary focus will be, of course, the bed. Wisniewski recommends placing the ground first, preferably against a wall rather than a window. “According to feng shui principles, placing the bed against a wall provides a feeling of safety and support,” she says. “Placing bed far away from the door as possible and behind the midline of the room provides a quiet place away. From the ‘chi,’ or energy, of the rest of the house, making it easier to settle down and fall asleep.”
The type of bed you choose depends mainly on your sense of style and the look you are trying to achieve. Wisniewski notes that fabric headboards are popular and can be designed to fit “any space or whimsy.” Boykin adds that sleigh beds are popular for those seeking a touch of an old-world feel. She says many people are also moving toward a lifestyle-casual look for the bedroom—more superficial lines and pieces than the more massive, carved face.
Matching end tables and lamps create a sense of balance.
Your bedding provides another focal point for the bedroom, and the right choice can make all the difference for a well-designed retreat. Kathy Porter, The Linen Lady, says that “reality dictates and comfort sells when it comes to bedding.” That concept includes choosing your fabrics according to your lifestyle and making sure you buy the bed and mattress’s right size bedding.
While the variety available in the world of bedding is extensive, Porter says traditional colors remain popular. Gender-neutral bedding, she adds, is essential for married couples. “The bedroom is the place where you rest your body, rest your soul,” she says. “It should be comfortable. What’s soothing for one person isn’t necessarily soothing for another person.”
MAKING IT YOUR OWN
The bed, furniture, walls, floors, and lighting all add up to an array of options for making your bedroom a unique reflection of your personality.
Local interior designers say they have seen various recent bedroom design trends, from a more contemporary look to the luxurious, upscale hotel or spa/resort look. Boykin says as younger consumers enter their 30s, they’re increasingly drawn to the urban loft look. Others create sitting areas that make a welcoming environment for children and parents to gather and read books or spend time together—almost like a little family room.
THE LITTLE THINGS
It doesn’t take an ample allocation to make significant changes in the bedroom. Little glimmers can make a difference in creating a cohesive look. Boykin says that focusing on solid colors when creating contrast can be much less expensive than incorporating a specific pattern into a room.
Mitchell says thinking can open doors to a beautifully designed bedroom. A table can be made using an old drum or a piece from a garden shop—the possibilities abound, she says. Art, too, can add interest and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
If you have space, create a seating area in your bedroom. You’ll have a cozy place to read before bed or while your spouse is sleeping.
One other bit of advice from Mitchell:
Choose your expensive pieces carefully and build around them. “Never purchase any large piece quickly,” she adds. “Always think through your purchases.”
Barkley says decorative pillows can also make a bedroom blossom on a budget. “They add dimension, interest, texture, color, and luxury. It doesn’t cost a lot to make a pillow, and it can give you a lot of bang for your buck.” Another tip that applies for all bedrooms is to keep them clean, with the bed made. Last but not least? “Keep some fresh flowers next to your bed,” she says. “Nothing is more stunning than a fresh flower, even if it is only a single rose.”
No matter the style, size, or budget, experts say a well-designed bedroom is one that gives you that specific sense of serenity and relaxation. Panel says, “If you feel good in the room, it’s probably right for you.”