Many of the master bedrooms I see are spaces of neglect. Repositories of mismatched furnishings, ineffective lighting, and exhausted bedding, they're clearly regarded as rooms “for sleeping only.” What a shame.
For by this logic, a mattress in a garden shed suffices. Although “presentation” rooms like the kitchen and living room are spaces other people see, the bedroom is your first sight on rising and your last on taking rest. Don't forgo the interior life for the appearance. Your bedroom should replenish and invite – and it should meet your needs.
To ensure it does, I’ll share a few of the questions we go over with clients before designing a bedroom.
What’s the best bed you remember sleeping in?
Lindsay in our office waxes ecstatic about hotels. She pines to live in one, she says. That sentiment was foreign to me until I stayed at The Cooper Square in New York. The room was beautiful, but it was the bed that seduced me. It had a high charcoal headboard, walnut surround, and wonderfully soft sheets and pillows. I wanted to pop it in my suitcase and take it home.
When shopping for a new bed, it’s important to have your exemplar fixed in mind. Call to mind one you loved. Was the bed stately and traditional, with cushions piled on silk sheets? Or was it modern and elegant, with a restrained affect and a linen duvet? How sheer are the sheets, how puffy the pillows, how dense the mattress? Know your answers before you submitting yourself to the onslaught of show suites and sales pitches. The bed you buy is the foundation of the entire room.
Do you read in bed? When and for how long?
Two kinds of people in the world: those who read in bed and those who read in bed a lot. If you’re like me, you grab a couple of minutes before bed and the occasional, lucky Sunday morning with a novel.
If so, you’ll likely be satisfied with a matching lamp on either side of the bed. It should be a standard table lamp, with a glass, metal, or ceramic base and a drum shade. Chose pieces decorative or simple according to your whim, but make sure the body is high enough that your book rests in the spread of light. (Depending on the side tables, this can be from 22 to 32 inches.) Make certain also that your lamp can handle at least 60W or its equivalent.
If you’re an avid reader or have poor eyesight, your best option is articulating reading lamps. You’ll see these fixtures more often on desks than in bedrooms; their manipulablebodies allow readers to better direct and position light. Contrary to popular belief, the lamps come in many pleasing designs. My favorite is the Tolomeo by Artemide. Its tabletop and wall models come in several body size and shade colours.
How much stuff do you need nearby?
The question of bedside clutter is a personal one. Many prefer their essential items – Vanity Fair, drinking glasses, and an alarm clock – close at hand. Others loathe the idea of knocking over asparagus ferns and spilling water when they shake out their duvet. Your approach to your bed space will express itself in your choice of bedside tables.
If you’re a minimalist, a sleek model with one drawer and an open base will produce a pleasantly light look. But be realistic about how you live; will books and magazines pile up in drifts on the floor? Will visible lamp cords drive you crazy? If so, you’ll want a beefier model with more storage.
Here, the obvious choice is bedside tables with two or more drawers. If your room is small and you're pressed for space for clothing and accessories, consider putting three-drawer dressers on either side of the bed. I've done this in my room, in fact.
Whether in the market for slight or commodious side tables, make sure you know your bed height before pulling out the credit card. Proper tables should rise to within an inch (over or under) of the bed’s surface height.
Are you afraid of the dark?
I’m one of those people for whom one streetlight in the window is a sentence of insomnia. To me, blocking light out is critical to a good night’s rest. For this, nothing's more effective than floor-to-ceiling drapes with blackout lining. If you're photo-sensitive, do not pass go, do not collect $200 – just go get them.
But if 98 per cent blackout is good enough, roller shades provide an attractive contemporary look. The vinyl of the blind is woven in different densities, permitting variable penetration of light. weaves. I discovered recently that you can order the blinds with two rolls – one with an open weave and one that will block light entirely.