Home & Lifestyle

Sleeping Beauties

Given the fact that we spend a third of our lives sleeping (or at the very least lying in bed wishing we could sleep), a beautifully serene environment in which to do that would seem to be a good use of our energy and our resources and whatever design flair we can muster. But for many of us our bedrooms are the most neglected rooms in our homes.

As a former editor of interiors magazine Inside Out, one of the daily perks of the job was being given entrée into people’s abodes. It was always so intriguing to see how people lived, the aesthetic choices they made and how their spaces were a reflection of their own tastes. The access-all-areas was either literal (visiting a home in person which we were shooting for the magazine) or more often virtual (given time and geographic constraints), via text and styled photography which had been submitted for our consideration. What I noticed time and time again, was how many otherwise amazing homes were “let down” by uninspiring or half-baked bedrooms. Lots of thought and effort seemed to be put into “public rooms” (kitchens, open-plan living & dining rooms) but the so-called “private” rooms would draw the short straw.  

What follows are my Ten Commandments of Better Bedrooms.  The list is not exhaustive but they are all worth keeping in mind if you’re finding yourself hopelessly out of sync with your bedroom’s current look.
  1. Set the vision. Devour a wide range of magazines and online blogs to see what styles of bedrooms appeal to you. What are you drawn to? Are they following a particular pattern or are they all wildly different. Narrow it down. Look for the common stylistic thread and see if the space you actually reside in can accommodate the vision you’ve arrived at. Otherwise re-set the vision. Test and re-test.
  2. Spatial awareness. There is no point deciding you want to turn your tiny, natural light-deficient bedroom into a spacious light-filled oasis. Embrace the possibilities of each space you have. If turning that modest bedroom into the world’s greatest shoe cupboard is really not an option get excited instead about transforming it into the world’s most cosy, calming and uncluttered sleeping zone. Find other more practical places in the home to store things that are otherwise detracting from the room’s simple charms. Small can be beautiful.
  3. The dark side. The number one mistake novice decorators make is trying every trick in the book to make a naturally dark room lighter. Banish the wall-to-wall clinical white paint (it rarely works) and instead try a stylish shade of grey or indigo on the walls. Extra points for going tonal and making the bedding a complementary darker shade. Dark-on-dark can look amazing and oh-so-conducive to a peaceful repose. A stylish bedside lamp can take on a Best Supporting role here in the darkly mysterious atmosphere.
  4. Skin deep. Beautiful bedrooms start from the inside out. By this I mean have the best quality and most beautiful sheets touching your body and then work your way outwards. If your budget extends to the highest quality throughout your entire “bedtime story” that’s great, but plenty of enticing beds are made up of quality sheets with less expensive quilt covers, outer layers and throws. It’s about priorities.
  5. Investment sleeping. Picking up on the earlier point: I’m not advocating getting into debt over this. I’m just saying don’t cut corners here. The right quality sheets and doona cover will work wonders in any space. The better the quality the longer they’ll last too, so the cost-per-sleep can become more attractive over time. It’s why artfully crumpled linen sheets can look like a million dollars on a bed made from wooden crates but why a cheap and nasty quilt cover on a designer bed will bring the whole tone down.
  6. Don’t count thread-count alone.  Ever since J-Lo burst onto the pop diva scene in the late 1990s we’ve been hearing about her insistence on hotel bedding with a minimum 1000tc. A lot of column inches have been devoted to the subject. In actual fact it’s a pretty meaningless metric and it more often boils down to the quality of the cotton, flax, or linen used and how it’s been woven and produced. Linen sheets for instance feel much better with a looser weave (more like 50tc). This is where personal preference really comes into it – there’s nothing like feeling different sheet weight and sheens in person. To this end Sheridan Australia (sheridan.com.au) is one quality bedding manufacturer who make it easier to compare their sheets’ widely differing selection of weights and weaves through hands-on sampling displays in some of the major department stores where they’re carried.
  7. Linen Fetish. Just a decade ago, 100 percent linen sheets were invariably imported from Europe and had a price-tag to match. The best linen sheets are cool in summer, warm in winter and just get better with each successive wash. There are lots of antipodean bedding manufacturers offering covetable linen or linen-mix sheet- and quilt sets now which rival the best that Italy, France and Begium had to offer. Sheridan’s Abbotson 100 percent linen collection is a local market leader. Aura Home’s ‘Maison’ range, a linen-cotton mix, also comes in lots of seasonally-inspired colours.
  8. Grey is the new white. There was a time when sheets pretty much came in one colour. Now not only is there lots of choice across the colour spectrum, but the so-called default colour choices are being joined by lots of new ‘modern classics’. For the newest neutral look no further than charcoal. 10 years ago this was considered “edgy”, now it’s verging on the commonplace. Team a soft-washed charcoal sheet set against a grey-walled bedroom and you’re on your way to sleeping Nirvana.
  9. Keep it simple, no matter how lavish. Bedrooms are for sleeping (and possibly watching television in). They’re not de facto storage rooms. This is the room which most benefits from having the least amount of clutter lying around. If you’ve oodles of space, then a great armchair and ottoman, or neat upholstered bench at the end of the bed looks amazing. But the star of the bedroom should always be the bed (and if you’re lucky enough, the panoramic ocean views).
  10. Play with pattern. This commandment won’t necessarily appeal to everyone but those who feel already primed and somewhat inclined shouldn’t be afraid to dive right in. ‘Pattern’ in bedding-speak used to equate to floral and stripes but in line with fashion’s broader interest in geometrics and digital printing techniques, there is now a plethora of contemporary choice out there for the pattern obsessed. One Aussie company that keeps hitting the pattern-play sweet spot is Aura Home (aurahome.com.au). Their geometric patterns are a graphic designer’s dream and there are new designs landing in store and online this month. Remember that the “busier” and more personality-plus you go with your bedding, the simpler and more tonal you should keep the rest of the room’s elements. Whether classic and low-key in style, or fashionably bold and bright remember that a successful bedroom is the one in which you can’t wait to retire to of a night.