“To sleep, perchance to dream,” Shakespeare wrote. But for many of us, the way we toss and turn, we may as well be in a bunkhouse than a grownup’s bedroom.
A 2012 survey by the Better Sleep Council revealed that Americans are a weary bunch: 6 in 10 of us crave more sleep. What keeps us up at night? For many, it’s stress. Stress experts even warn that a lack of sleep is a public health epidemic. So, turning the room where you spend one-third of your 24-day into a relaxing retreat can help you relax easier and live a better life.
Obviously, the bed is the focal point, as the largest piece of furniture. But what size should it be? That depends primarily on how much space you have, and what you need for comfort.
Head to Foot
A headboard frames the bed (as opposed to a mattress and bedspring that just float there), and a footboard can further anchor it. (In feng shui, the ancient art of furniture placement, a headboard provides a sense of stability and security.)
The bed sets the tone and style of the room—and that’s before it gets dressed. Even a carved mahogany bed can lighten up with layers of bedding, while a cushioned or padded headboard can likewise appear more contemporary and sleek with appropriate bed coverings.
Importantly, what will the “traffic pattern” be? You don’t want to have to zigzag around the bed to cross the room, and you need to access the master bath without stubbing your toe on the foot of the bed.
Overhead lighting has come a long way from the ubiquitous round frosted fixture. And if you have a high or tray ceiling, you’ll want to consider it. A sparkling crystal chandelier adds a romantic touch to any boudoir, as do wall sconces. Niche or tray-ceiling lighting can create a mood with a rheostat (dimmer feature). But less formal rooms may want a lighting fixture with a ceiling fan for comfort.
When you have a beautiful view, large windows bring the outdoors into your living space. But there are things to consider beyond the aesthetic, such as privacy and temperature control. In New Hampshire, if your bedroom faces east, you’ll want room darkening shades when the sun rises at 4:30 a.m. in the summer. In the winter, when the sun starts to sink at 3:45 p.m., west-facing living spaces need well-insulated windows that take advantage of every bit of light and solar energy.
This brings us to window coverings; how you “dress” your windows. For traditional rooms, consider a formal layered look with sheers framed in panels, crowned with a valance. Or tailored drapes that glide open or closed with a remote.
A contemporary bedroom may be better served by simple shades, but these aren’t your grandparents’ roller shades. They come in many fabrics and materials, add insulation value, and go up and down at the touch of a button.
The color of your dreams
Colors can be stimulating, lively and energy-boosting (highly saturated red and yellow), and restful and soothing (pale, grayish-blues, lavender, and certain shades of green). The most relaxing colors we respond to reflect Nature: the blue of sky and ocean, dove gray, green fields. For many, looking to nature when considering a wall color makes good sense.
Pantone, the color guide company, made history recently when they chose two Colors of the Year for 2016; actually, a blending of two colors: Rose Quartz and Serenity, a pale blue (www.pantone.com). The co-mingling of the two—chosen for their stress and anxiety-reducing qualities—yields a whisper of lavender.
According to the Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice Eiseman, “Joined together, Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquility of blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.” Wow! That’s a lot to ask of a can of paint. Other colors that are proven soothers are sage green and shades of gray.
These sophisticated shades feature hints of gray and can function as neutral colors. Add white trim for a crisp, fresh look, or, for a more masculine style, pair dove gray with charcoal for drama and depth. Speaking of neutrals, a monochromatic palette can work in your bedroom without putting you to sleep, so to speak, with a strategic use of a variety of textures.
Depending on its style and height, consider painting the ceiling a complementary color too.
TV or not TV?
According to sex therapist and author Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the answer is no TV in the bedroom. It hinders intimacy and inhibits conversation, she says. Plus, it disrupts the sleep cycle because it overstimulates you (especially if you watch the news, which can give you nightmares) just when you should be winding down.
More evidence is showing that having any electronic device at the bedside interrupts sleep, if only from the bright screen (including digital alarm clocks). So banish cell phones, Tablets, iPads and computers from the bedroom to catch more Z’s and more of life’s finer moments.
Consider a clock that emits light that grows brighter—like the sun coming up—to wake you in a more natural, non-jarring fashion.
Reading before bed can be great way to lull you toward restful sleep. Do you have room for a cozy sitting area or reading nook? Or do you prefer reading in bed with the help of a beautiful bedside reading lamp?
Move over, Rover
Pets: we love ‘em. And if Daisy or Tiger typically spends the night in your room, plan a spot for a dog or cat bed that’s out of the traffic pattern, so you don’t break an ankle in the middle of the night. Of course, they’ll still prefer your bed.
Makeover in minutes or remarkable remodeling?
Want a quick fix? The most inexpensive way to redecorate your bedroom is with paint and new bed linens. And if all you want is a seasonal refresher, that’s fine. But to create your special sanctuary, work with one of our designers to ensure that every detail is an expression of you and how you want to live—and rejuvenate.