Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Comfort and Luxury Bedroom Style



As long as we're on the subject of bedrooms, I thought you might be interested in what some of our favorite designers have to say about these very personal spaces and the design elements they use to fill these rooms with comfort and luxury...

According to Michael S. Smith in his book "Elements of Style", a bedroom should be designed primarily for sleeping, relaxing and escaping from the rush and noise of the day. The room should be calm and the bed comfortable. And what some might call luxuries, Smith calls essentials: fresh flowers, a good reading light, art you love, a fireplace, shelves for books, a concealed sound system, television and DVD player, curtains or shutters adequate to managing light and "wonderfully comfortable chairs". If that sounds like a lot to you, the designer admittedly agrees and adds that a bedroom should also be "a room that's magical to sleep in; it should not be cluttered or over-designed". It is his ability to bring all of this to one beautiful, perfectly-designed yet personal, livable room after another that makes Smith the master designer he is. See two of his classic designs below, and more in the pretty details above.



As I mentioned in my last post, one of my favorite bits of bedroom decor advice comes from the incredible Charlotte Moss. Known for her feminine spaces, she was asked in an interview for Southern Accents magazine how she maintains her signature "feminine look without being cloying or alienating men, especially in the master bedroom?" To which Moss reiterated advice she has given before: "Trying to appeal to both, you could end up with a master bedroom that's nowhere rather than one that speaks to the lady of the house. Men don't want to admit it, but they want to feel like they are being invited into the bedroom. You don't want a master that is a navy pinstripe. It should be all about the lady of the house." This philosophy is illustrated beautifully by the work she did for a showhouse in Kips Bay, New York (see the two photos below). Moss imagined her homeowners as a couple who met in Rome, married in the hills of Tuscany and then blended the beauty and history of the Italian countryside with the urban style of their new life together in Manhattan. If you haven't already seen the rest of Ms Moss' fabulous showhouse pied-a-terre, I strongly urge you to go here. It's all just so beautiful, it shouldn't be missed.



In a House Beautiful article from November 2008 called "The Secret of Comfort is Quiet Luxury", Texas designer Ginger Barber designed a master bedroom for clients with teenage children. The space is feminine and private, but like the rest of the home, designed with family and comfort in mind. Faded and worn-looking textures and patterns on natural fiber fabrics, jute, hotel-grade and well-worn antique carpets, large-scale furnishings and soft, warm colors make every room in the beautiful house less formal and more livable than it might have been in the hands of a different designer. And yet, as thoroughly used and family-friendly as the house is, it is also, in Barber's own words, "very done". The master bedroom, below, with its rose-printed Bennison fabric, plaid taffeta bedskirt, baroque mirror, soft carpeting and linen upholstery, is, like the article's title, both comfortable and luxurious.


The caramel cocoon below was designed by Harry Heissmann who is currently establishing his own design firm after nine years working with the legendary Albert Hadley. The use of a monochromatic color scheme and the small pattern of the wallpaper make this room feel calming and cozy. Luxury comes in the form of golden shimmer: visible only up close in the subtle iridescence of the wallpaper, and more obvious in the antique gold finish of the iron canopy bed. Fine linens, soft fabrics and textured carpet add comfort both visually and to the touch.


Phoebe Howard kept the comfort of her husband in mind when designing the master bedroom of their Atlanta apartment. In an interview for House Beautiful magazine, Christopher Petkanas asked the designer why she chose to use a headboard but not a footboard. Howard explained that besides having to take into consideration the small size of the room, she also believes about footboards that "most men — and this includes my husband — don't like them. They complain about being constricted." So she designed a beautiful, upholstered headboard for the light, airy space and left it at that. I don't think anyone viewing this room misses the footboard one bit, do you?


A good mattress and an upholstered headboard are the two essentials of a comfortable bedroom. So says designer Peter Dunham. This particular bedroom of his design, below, has the added luxury of an en suite bath with a fireplace. Actually, the fireplace is in the space meant to be the bedroom and the bed is in the space meant to be the bath. During the home's redesign, Dunham swapped the use of the rooms and of the new design he says "In a rather plain way, it's extremely sexy and luxe, isn't it?" Yes and yes.


Everyone's favorite Country French designer Charles Faudree has very specific ideas about bedrooms. "Because we usually begin and end our days in a bed," he says, "a bedroom should be especially beautiful, comfortable and relaxing--a place that truly soothes the soul." The room below from Faudree's book "Country French Living", is a glorious example of just such comfort and luxury overflowing with the designer's signature French accent. The brown floral carpet and toile wallcovering envelope the room in femininity that, because of the color, doesn't come off as too sweet. A generous bedskirt that puddles to the floor and layered patterns and pillows add to the bed's luxurious yet cozy appearance. Dark finishes on the antique bed and other furnishings add warmth to the room and lend an overall groundedness that appeals to both men and women lucky enough to stay as guests in this lovely room.


One of my recent magazine feature favorites, the bedroom below belongs to Los Angeles designer Joe Nye. His design apparently began with the chinoiserie curtains which led to the fabulous wallpaper and I'm sure everything else just fell in line behind that. In designing the very small bedroom of his only 900 square foot apartment, he also determined the large buffet a key piece, claiming that "such a giant piece of furniture in a small room...can make a room feel bigger". Having employed that strategy myself in my own small spaces, I'd have to agree. In this room, I think it also helps that the large buffet is finished in a soft color that blends nicely with the green of the wallpaper, making it less intrusive than it might be otherwise. There are so many other really pretty elements in this room, I'll just let you look at the photos below and see for yourself that comfort and luxury are possible in even the smallest of spaces.
For a client with six children, designer Susan Zises Green created a master bedroom that is as much a daytime retreat as a place to retire at the end of the day. The luxury of space afforded the placement of a comfortable sitting area. The soothing color palette creates a sense of calm and order.


To create a romantic master bedroom, designer Barry Dixon used a luxurious amount of the same floral fabric on both bed hangings and window panels. The faded terra cotta wall color is similar to the lining color on the canopy panels creating a sense of warmth in the otherwise bright and spacious room.


This master bedroom design by Jonathan Adler also employs a draped canopy bed. This space, however, is much more contemporary than the one previous. A minimum of pattern and color is balanced by a generous use of texture on the floor, walls, even the ceiling. Then, in the midst of so much light, the navy linen curtain panels create a sense of cozy comfort.


Another contemporary space, this one by designer Marshall Watson features textures and finishes that add richness to the modern shell. Super soft carpeting and textural bed linens and upholstery fabrics heighten the room's comfort. Walls treated with a mottled glaze that has a pearlescent finish add to the sense of luxury experienced by the room's occupants.


In doing research for this post, I've learned so much about my own style, and about the design process of so many other designers, and that it really all comes down to this: however you style your bedroom, it should above all be personal. Of all the spaces in your home, this one should best reflect you and the things you love and that make you feel loved in return. I have also become certain that it was a huge mistake to leave my own room for last in the decoration of my home... and that it's a mistake a lot of people make. Thinking first of the public spaces that visitors will see, and quite likely concerned over budget restrictions, many homeowners, myself included, leave their own bedrooms for "later". Over and over again I read designer's opinions that master bedrooms should not be the wasteland of cast-off furniture and delayed gratification so many of them become. Parents often short-change themselves in order to give their children lovely, fun spaces. One designer urged parents to let the kids wait, saying that children are usually happy to be surrounded by their toys and a comfy bed and won't notice much that their room's "style" isn't ideal, unless the parents bring it to their attention. What do you think about that idea? In the first home I owned, the master did get decorated first, not as the result of a conscious decision, but completely by default. The rest of the house was undergoing major physical and structural transformations not required by the master bedroom. So in went the new furniture on top of the new carpet surrounded by new wallpaper and coordinating window treatments. Everything in that room was fresh and new and just what I wanted. I remember well how nice it was to have that one space in the house that was peaceful and pretty and free from clutter and noise. Now, don't get me wrong, my current master isn't some kind of horrid pit. Quite the opposite. But unlike other spaces in my home, it's never been "done" as in completely redesigned all at once and finished for any long period of time. I've "made do" with some things I'd rather not have to look at anymore. I've tweaked things into more attractive arrangements. Added a new decorative pillow now and then. This time though it's getting more than a tweak and I am determined to give myself a room that fits the criteria spelled out by these designers (okay, maybe not a fireplace, but I can certainly squeeze in everything else on Smith's list of must-haves!).

Have you dealt with delayed gratification in the decoration of your own bedroom? Or did you design your personal space first? Which of the spaces pictured here speaks to you... or best reflects your own style? I'd love to here what you have to say about the ideas I've compiled here. And as I continue to work on my very own master redesign, I wish you the luxury of a space that is your very own.

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