Design A Bedroom
by Celerie Kemble
A bedroom is our most personal enclave where we are most bare, private, and sensual, or just plain hiding. The challenge is to create a physical comfort as well as a functional but aesthetically pleasing space. To make this room special, you must cater to many senses - sight, touch, sound, and smell. I can’t tell you how to decorate your room, as that is entirely personal, but I can pass on some advice.
Please indulge yourself here! Fabulous sheets are a bonus but not a necessity. Some designers cry thread count as though it’s an anthem, but I believe that pillows, comforter, and mattress have more influence over the entire bed experience. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it so think of your bed in the same way. Go to the showroom and flop around on the mattresses, hug the pillows, and rub the sheets against your cheeks before you make a purchase.
- An over lighted bedroom lacks romance. Make use of dimmers, three-way, and full spectrum and dipped bulbs, which show a varying brightness and can direct light in specific directions. Or use lampshades with soft opacity.
- Lighting looks best when at a variety of heights. Aim for four levels of lighting: table, standing, ceiling, and wall mounted. This is gentle on the eyes and combats harsh and unflattering shadows. I recommend using wall mounted swing arms near the bed (a great trick for smaller bedrooms), a standing lamp, and table lamps on a chest of drawers or bedside tables.
Window Treatments -
It’s one of the only rooms in the house that beg management of darkness as well as light, so think carefully about your window treatments. In the absence of financial constraints, a perfectly dressed window has a few layers. I like to use hidden but inexpensive blackout shades, sheers, matchstick or wooden blinds, and outer panels or a pretty roman shade. The panels and roman shade are mostly decorative, but they soften a room dramatically and add the illusion of greater height. (I recommend setting the shade, valance, and curtain pole all the way up to the ceiling).
- Wallpaper: Consider a good stripe, graphic patterns, and textures.
- Upholstered walls: Like living in a jewel box, this expensive option envelopes you in the fabric’s texture, pattern, and color.
-Paint finishes: The glossier the finish, the easier to clean (good for trim and doors). the more matted the finish, the easier to repaint over smudges. I usually do eggshell walls and semi-gloss or satin on the doors.
Because there is less traffic here, you can use more delicate flooring.
- I prefer wall-to-wall carpet because of the blanketing, clean, calm effect and the delicious decadence of soft pile beneath bare feet.
- If you can choose an area rug, remember that your eye is naturally drawn to the perimeter line creating the perception that the room is only as large as the rug. If that doesn’t dissuade you, keep in mind that electric cords, dust bunnies, and general household junk tend to accumulate in what I think of as the ghetto between the rug and wall.
- If you don’t choose carpeting or rugs, paint wood floors white, or a soft color, then accent with throw rugs. Or use a dark stain and keep the furniture light for a high contrast.
While the selection process is personal, here is a list of items to consider: bed, side tables, desk, seating area, chest of drawers, storage, a mirror. I don’t like sets, but prefer that each piece of furniture relate but not match in a room. For instance, I like to use two coherent but differently styled and scaled bedside tables. One might be closed (to hide books, glasses, etc.) and one more leggy and open, or I’ll use a small table on one side, and put a writing desk or vanity as a side table on the other.
A secondary seating option is a necessity for a bedroom. It’s a matter of manners to make sure there is room somewhere for a non intimate person to sit as there will always be occasions when they are in the room with you. At a minimum, a pull-up chair or bench will do. If space and budget permit, place a small love seat at the foot of the bed, or a chaise in the corner of a room, or a comfy reading chair and ottoman in a corner.
Tips and Treats -
- A tray next to the bed is a pretty and practical way to keep mess minimal and easily portable.
- Treat yourself to an outrageously soft throw blanket at the foot of your bed.
- For storage, think big Tupperware under your bed. Put your stuff in the large, flat plastic containers. They keep everything from getting dusty and they are easy to access.
- Put a surge protector or extension cord under each side of the bed. This saves you from crawling under the bed and tugging the plug off the wall. Always tape cords down the back legs of furniture so they’re not snaking around in view.
Note from VV: All photos (lovingly scanned for you) are of the beautiful bedrooms designed by Celerie Kemble, from the book "Celerie Kemble to Your Taste", by Celerie Kemble.
It's a wonderful book. Buy it HERE
Celerie Kemble is an interior designer for Kemble Interiors Inc., a decorating design firm located in Palm Beach and New York. She also designs a self-named line of furniture for Lane Venture, fabric for Braemore, and wallpaper for Zoffany. She has been featured as one of House Beautiful magazine's Top 100 Designers for over five consecutive years, and was named one of the fifty taste makers for the future of design by the much missed House and Garden magazine.