Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary

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Follow a few key principles, and you’ll have a bedroom that offers a retreat from the hassles of the day.

When decorating the bedroom — the one room in the house meant for relaxation and rejuvenation — simplicity is the key to serenity. So no matter what your particular style is, all you need to do to create a sumptuous oasis is heed a few basic but important design ideas.

Paint Color
First, start with the paint color, aiming for a restful hue. “If you paint your bedroom red, it’s a hot and fiery place,” says Diane Burnett of Renaissance Interiors. “Choose soothing colors. Use the colors of the lake or the ocean on the walls. If not on the walls, then use this color palette for your bedding. Or use a shade of brown, which is a warm, comforting color. And it’s always nice to mix cool colors with warm colors.”

Lisa Flake of Caldwell-Flake Interiors advises her clients to paint their bedrooms white. “White is a soft, relaxing color. But if you don’t like white, soft blues and grays work well to create a serene setting.” Some of her favorites include Benjamin Moore’s Gray Cashmere, Martin Senour’s Smokescreen and Tidewater, and Sherwin-Williams’ Linen Cloth. And don’t forget the ceiling when painting your bedroom. Make this commonly overlooked area a focal point by painting it a lighter shade of the wall color.

Bedding Basics
A canopy or tented bed creates a sense of luxury and privacy, while an upholstered headboard ensures a comfortable spot to read. Flake prefers soft headboards and says for those who like a lot of pillows, hide the functional pillows behind a couple of square European shams, then place two king-size pillows in front before completing the luxurious look with a 60- or 76-inch bolster pillow about 10 inches in diameter. For a more minimalist approach, hide the functional pillows underneath the bed in a storage box, and simply place the bolster pillow against the upholstered headboard.

For both styles, fold the duvet at the foot of the bed or place underneath the coverlet. A bench at the end of the bed is convenient for changing shoes, or a simple footstool facilitates getting in and out of bed. A bedroom rug doesn’t necessarily have to be large: A small rug beside the bed provides a soft landing and the perfect place to wipe feet before slipping into the sheets.

Fabulous linens help set an indulgent mood in your tranquil retreat. Dress your bed with high-threadcount cotton sheets in the summer and flannel sheets in the winter. Use solid colors instead of busy patterns, preferably white or beige. Tranquil pale blue or light greens work, but avoid bright colors. Make sure your blanket blends with the sheet color, so when the bed is turned down, you’re presented with an array of similar shades.

Furniture Placement
Arrange the bedroom with furniture that fits the scale of the room. If you have low ceilings, a large four-poster bed is overbearing, so choose a low headboard instead. However, if you have high ceilings, a tall bed is perfect. Always opt for a bedside table that is the appropriate height for reaching your book or glass without fumbling. Flake says the standard height for a bedside table is 28 to 30 inches and the typical bed is 30 inches high. Flake likes a pair of lamps, but if you mix and match different sizes, stacking books under the shorter lamp is an easy way to make the two lamps the same height. Also, arrange furniture with adequate spacing between pieces to keep from overcrowding. In a small bedroom, an oversized mirror propped against the wall gives the space a larger feel. If you have room, create a special sitting space to curl up with a good book in a cozy chair next to a small table and reading lamp.

Lighting Options
Different sources of light for different functions are important. Recessed lighting on a dimmer allows you to control the overall mood. A table light on a chest evokes a pleasing atmosphere, and two pin lights on each side over the bed on different switches allows one person to sleep while another one reads. Window treatments, whether draperies (with blackout linings), shades, or shutters, need to darken the room enough for a peaceful rest if you are not feeling well or lucky enough to be sleeping in.

Simple, Organized Space
Do not over-accessorize your sacred space with too many dusty trinkets. Rid your bedroom of any pesky children’s toys, and forbid from entering your sanctuary all unnecessary technological intrusions such as computers, cell phones, or even telephones. (Place the telephone nearby in the hallway.) Bedside tables with drawers or doors work well to keep your reading matter, glasses, lotion, and other sundry items hidden. Keep out-of-season blankets, extra pillows, and your yoga mat in a trunk at the end of the bed or in storage boxes under the bed concealed by a dust ruffle.

A well-organized, clean closet is imperative to streamlining your morning ritual. Dressing for success is not supposed to be the first stressful event of your day, so hang clothes in the same direction while grouping them by colors and categories. Display a few of your treasured keepsakes and special family photographs on your dresser. Surround yourself with your favorite art hanging on the walls. Fresh flowers are always nice, but silk flowers work as well.

By incorporating a few simple design concepts, wake up each morning and fall asleep each night in the comforting cocoon you now call your bedroom.

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