My bedroom


The late, great Interior Decorator Stuart Rattle was reported to have said that every design scheme he did started and ended with the Bedroom as it was "The first place you see and the last". I am also of the mindset that it is the most important room in a house, as it's also the most private room. Generally visitors don't see a bedroom, so it can be a true expression of all that you like and hold dear. It can be a fantasy get away, a sanctuary and a haven. But many people leave this as the last room that they decorate, perhaps because you are not held accountable in the same way that you are with an undecorated living area. With other financial priorities, such as purchasing furniture and decorating a room for children pushed to the forefront, I have seen some fairly depressing bedrooms in my time.


my bedroom - bay window

I have been interested in Interior Design for a very long time, and have always noticed details. I can clearly remember being invited to a school friend's house when I was 12. She had a beautifully decorated pink bedroom with wallpaper, matching curtains, coordinated furniture - all very girly and frilly (it was the 80's). The main living rooms in the house were also highly decorated with coordinating sofas, lamps, pictures on the walls etc. I can clearly remember the shock of then walking into her parent's bedroom with her for some reason or another, and finding that the room was undecorated. It was such a contrast to the rest of the house. The ensemble mattress was pushed up against the wall without a bedhead. The bedside tables were unattractive, small and perfunctory without lamps, there were white walls and no pictures. Bedding was mismatched. Two years later her parent's divorced. If ever there was evidence that there was little effort going into maintaining their relationship, it was in the decor of the bedroom which was clearly considered the most unimportant space in their house - everything else came first.


So with that said, there are things that I believe should never be in a bedroom. They include:


  • Paperwork, computers and other office related things
  • Exercise equipment, especially large treadmills and weights
  • The furniture you don't want to have in the publicly viewable parts of your home
  • Clutter and junk

You will never see these things in Interior Design magazines, so the best way to make your bedroom resemble one found in a magazine, or like you'd find in a boutique hotel, is to banish these things from your own space.


I'd also suggest that colour schemes should be restful - you can certainly use red or yellow in a room, but balance it out with neutral or cooler colours. A room that is predominantly red or yellow is not a restful space. Televisions should ideally be banished, but if you do have one, try to hide it somewhere, as black screens are voids.



Bedside tables should be a generous size - as Stuart Rattle said in an interview with The Sunday Age it should be "big enough to hold "a lamp, a radio or clock, a glass and water jug, a cup of tea, a glass of whisky and a stack of books. There it is, my whole life sitting next to me."" I like mine to have a drawer so that you can hide a notepad and pen, lip balm and any other bits and pieces you want next to you, but I don't think that they have to match, either. For a very long time I had a skirted bedside table on my side of the bed, and Mr AV had a small Georgian side table (now our hall table) on his side. The thing they had in common was that they had matching lamps, and were both a generous size. Small chests of drawers can make excellent bedside tables.


Making the bed as the focal point of the room is obvious - an ensemble mattress, no matter how artfully placed or bohemian dishevelled it may be when styled in a magazine does not scream comfort or luxury - you want something that is visually inviting for rest. I'm very fond of upholstered bedheads, having one in my own bedroom, but a decadent four poster bed, or canopy are also wonderful. As it is a bedroom you can go a little crazy with fabric - don't play it safe, choose something that you really love, and it will always feel special to you. As you only use a few metres for a bedhead, if you'd prefer not to spend the money on curtains this is a way of using a beautiful fabric in a more cost effective yet impactful way.


I love the sweep of curtains in a bedroom to both block out the outside world at night, and to give a luxurious element to the room - fabrics will always do that. Again, I don't think that doing cream curtains or blinds is the best way to go. The cost is the same for cream curtains as it is for patterned curtains, but the patterned curtains will have a much bigger impact on a decorative scheme.


And it goes without saying that a quality mattress and bedlinen are imperative. I always like to make my bed look comfortable - that means large European pillows, and two other standard pillows behind them. Don't get caught up on thread count with your linen either. This has become something that is being used as a marketing tool. It is definitely quality over quantity - Target 1000 thread count bed linen is not in fact equal to Frette or Sheridan 400 thread count bedlinen in the comfort stakes. Buy the best you can afford, but don't be afraid to go down in thread count between brands as it is not an indication of the quality of the cotton.


If you have space an armchair, or pair, or a sofa are also good - somewhere to hide away from the world with a book, or to chat with your significant other at the end of the day. Lighting your room with lamps is also a way to make it feel cosy. I rarely put the overhead lighting on - the room is lit by bedside table lamps and a lamp on the Secretaire in the corner.


I do plan to post pictures of our bedroom at some stage - it is still mentally 'unfinished' for me (proper lamps!). It was a room that I planned a long time ago when we still lived in Melbourne, and was decorated exactly as it is in the photos above for us to move into. While other rooms in the house were more transitional or unfinished prior to building the extension, I wanted a sanctuary from family life and renovations, so it was important to have this done when we moved in. I have to say that the fabric choice is reasonably bold, but nearly 4 years later is not something that either of us are tired of, and that is the key - choose something that you love and that suits you, and you'll always feel good when you're in your space.

More beautiful bedroom pictures on my Pinterest Bedroom board

29 comments:

  1. As a mother of four children, I moved down from our farm to Melbourne when they entered secondary school whilst my husband worked on our farm- and so for me, mostly on my own during that time, my bedroom become my sanctuary. It was a place that was peaceful and restful. Five years ago, with most of the children moved out, we extended our bedroom to incorporate more space, a much larger ensuite and walk in robe. I am so glad we made the effort as we now both enjoy this space when we are now both down from the farm.

    I had the privilege to meet Stuart Rattle and see his gorgeous bedroom at Musk farm- his room truly struck me as a sanctuary. His four poster bed was amazing and even though the room was small in contrast to others, you could tell that what ever was in that room was thoughtfully chosen and well loved. I can only hope he felt that way when he was at his farm- I believe he did as it was obvious in the feel of his home.

    So, i too think that your bedroom is not only an extension of your shared personalities- but a haven for your times together when we are so busy with families and life in general and a such should be decorated to reflect that.
    Lovely post, Marilyn

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    1. I so enjoyed reading about your view on Musk Farm Marilyn. I never got to visit, having only seen it in magazines, but I did think his bedroom had a very cosy feel to it - a true sanctuary. The changes you made to your Melbourne home sound perfect. Interestingly a book I've written about briefly on here before "A Pattern Language", which is a sort of bible for Architecture and Planning advocates a Parent's retreat. The interesting thing is that the book was written in the 1960's. They really stress the importance on getting away from family life.

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  2. Heidi, your bay window is one of the prettiest I have seen. That's Victorian architecture at its best! I agree with you about putting effort into furnishing a bedroom. That's an interesting observation you made about your 12 year old friend's parents' bedroom. My mother-in-law once gave me a good piece of advice - that the marital bedroom should be furnished in warmer colours rather than cool colours. Ice blue is a no-go in the bedroom according to her - you don't want to dampen the flames of passion is what she was saying without saying (an awkward conversation between mother and daughter-in-law). I do agree with her. Our current bedroom is very pink and our new bedroom will be a light rose pink and warm linen colour with touches of grey. I've gone with her advice.

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    1. We were very lucky to be able to steal the best room for ourselves! It used to be the formal Sitting Room, but I love waking up to see that arch.
      Your conversation with your Mother in Law is hilarious!! I do love warm colours in a bedroom, but tempered by neutrals like white or browns, or with the addition of green… the worst thing to see is a bedroom painted red. Far too aggressive! Your new bedroom scheme sounds lovely, and you're lucky your husband is fine with pink in the bedroom. My husband gave me the brief that he liked blue and stripes. Not exactly inspiring! Fortunately the grey fabric fooled him into not noticing the girly elements of butterflies and birds.

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  3. 1. Love this post!

    2. Love my bedroom, esp the chandelier and ludicrously high pitched ceilings and the city view

    3. The stuff you say to keep out of the room reminds me of the sad photos of the Baden-Clay's bedroom. Awful.

    4.I like those 1000 thread count Target sheets

    5. Yves Delorme is my go to brand for sheets and I luff me a feather pillow

    6. Your room is divine!

    xxxx

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    1. I love Yves Delorme, E's new set for her bedroom is so pretty! I know you love a well made bed, and a cushion!
      I didn't want to introduce a sad note in the post, but the Baden Clay's bedroom was awful, and was exactly how not to decorate a room. It was no surprise to me to hear they had some significant marriage problems.

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    2. it was v depressing and cluttered and worn out looking …sad x

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  4. I like your take on bedrooms being a metaphor for relationships!
    The fella and I bought a nice bed when we moved into our new digs.
    Our settings are plain but ok
    We need a bit more work but there are matching lamps and some pictures up.
    Love me a 1000 thread count sheet!

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    1. I had a few other examples too Cilla, but didn't want to write anything that would upset a real life friend that might read this post… but it's definitely something I've noticed.
      Investing in a bed is definitely worth it! Glad to hear you're settling into your new digs

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  5. Heidi it's like you are reading my mind all the way over there in Australia! I've been working on finding bedside tables for our master bedroom this week, soon we move out of our house and when we move back in we will have lovely hardwood flooring but we need some rugs for either side, nightstands and a headboard. I have always wanted an upholstered headboard, I'll be pairing mine with a large faux fur throw at the end of the bed. I bought some beautiful linens last year when we purchased our king size bed.
    I'm also planning to change up the art in our bedroom to something more soothing... your bedroom is amazing, love love the bay window and fabric choices, it looks like a true sanctuary. Very smart to get that sorted so that you had a retreat during your renovations.
    I think your observations about master bedrooms are spot on!

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    1. Ah, you're very much in full renovation mode Dani, so I suspect any house post will hit the mark somewhere with you at the moment! I can't wait to see your plans. Knowing your love of good fabrics and old things, I'm sure your new bedroom will be just beautiful. I really do love our upholstered headboard, and it makes such an impact in the room - definitely worth the investment.

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  6. Heidi, your bedroom really does look like the epitome of a peaceful retreat! That fabric is whimsical and elegant at the same time which is a perfect combination. I loved our bedroom fabric when I bought our antique bedhead already covered in a B & F toile….I subsequently had the chaise at the foot of the bed recovered in the same fabric yet am ashamed to admit that I have long, swishy curtains and pelmets……in a heavy CREAM silk shantung!! However, I must admit that I am somewhat happy with this as have vaguely starting to consider having wall behind bedhead wallpapered and the bedhead and chaise recovered and thinking that at least I can most likely leave the curtains, which still really do look good, as is. The two other features in my room that I won't mess around with are are the tromp l'oeil commissioned ceiling and the 12 pointed star light fitting which we bought in an antique shop in the Cotswalds before we were married….we bought a bag to carry it home as hand luggage in and I had to explain to various bag scanners along the journey exactly what it was! Rxx

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    1. That light fitting would have looked like a land mine in your luggage on X-ray! Hilarious! You're very lucky they didn't think it was a potential weapon, although I suspect these days you wouldn't be allowed to. Well your bedroom sounds quite beautiful Ms R! I would love to see photos of that ceiling, and I have to say a Tromp L'Oeil is much nicer than a mirror to look up to any day! I decorated my parent's bedroom, and it is a red and white toile (Mum loved Toile too), and I did cream silk curtains with it. I think it's really the only option with toile, as it's quite a visually busy print and difficult to put other things with. Please do a blog post if you do decide to redecorate - I'd love to see all the details!

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  7. This is very on point for me Heidi. Your bedroom is lovely and also the pictures that you have selected. Ours is currently being transformed: the previous owners went for beige paint with exposed red brick fireplace, exposed dark timber beams with different coloured timber on each of the skirting, door and wardrobe doors. Oh, and black and brown carpet. The overall feeling was dark and oppressive. I cannot even begin to describe how ugly the light fittings were. Our overall includes, a blue grey paint on all skirting, wood trim and wardrobe doors; cream/oat coloured barber carpet; white walls; plastered over ugly exposed brick areas on fireplace; and antiqued brass simple candle shade wall lamps (shades in a French grey silk). It is coming on leaps and bounds. By the weekend the carpet should be in and also the lights. I am very excited, to say the least.
    Your pictures are wonderful inspiration. I have not yet decided on fabric for the curtains, but I have a shortlist picked out. I will have to put up the old ones in the short term and wait until we have our Chelsea flat rented out and a few bills paid down!
    x

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    1. Your plans sound lovely Charlotte - I think the room you're describing would be quite depressing in England - the light levels are so low that a lot of dark colours can be very drab. We have dark carpet throughout the house, which is very practical and a good grounding base, but we definitely don't have a light problem so it works well. You'll find the carpet will make a huge difference in lightening up the space and making it also feel cozy, as well as the lovely colour combination you've chosen. Enjoy the fabric selection, always my favourite part!

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  8. Very interesting Heidi as the bedroom is often the least interesting room to see in a photo shoot but so consequential as a living space. All hypotheticals for me as I live in a tiny studio apartment. Thanks for that tidbit on thread count.

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    1. Ah, well your bedroom truly is the most important room in your house then GSL! You can often see a whole house, and no shots of the master bedroom in a magazine. Occasionally a guest room. I'm never sure if that's because the owner doesn't want their private space photographed, or if it just isn't actually photographable?

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  9. These are all so beautiful, Heidi, specially your own bedroom. Now feeling quite discontented, as have been thinking for quite a while that our main (quite small) bedroom is looking rather tired and a bit cluttered - the books have been invading too (all the other rooms are already filled with books). When refurbishing years ago I chose yellow and cream striped Laura Ashley paper, matching yellow curtains with Laura Ashley white cotton lace (now worn out and replaced with warm white sheers). There is a very large oil painting (no headboard) above the bed - of a night time garden in deep blues, greens and yellows. The bed linen is in blues and whites - but all getting quite old. Difficult to know how to refurbish as the painting colours are so dominant. The painting is far too large to use in other rooms where the walls are already crammed with paintings/lithographs. Also these days we prefer to spend money on overseas travel and life experiences than on the house. Now that he's retired, husband is reluctant to take money from investments other than to use for necessary maintenance and upkeep or for travel experiences we both enjoy. Pammie x

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    1. Your bedroom sounds lovely Pammie! It doesn't sound like it needs anything, other than a headboard (!). Maybe a book clear out might be good though. I'm so looking forward to having our library built, and clearing out my own very large pile beside my side of the bed. I've had no where to put them for the past 4 years, and while I have thrown out or given away a lot that I've read, I've still got quite a sizeable amount I want to keep!!

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  10. Dear Heidi,
    Very informative post.
    I agree bed linen quality is paramount and I have mismatched Yves Delorme sheets on my bed simply because the quality is superb and | have gotten it for 70 % off in the DJ's sale.
    Daughter in Brisbane had the complete set of Yves Delorme but again this was steal and I feel she needs the complete package to soothe her final year at uni and job applications.
    As a survivor/stalwart of 28 years of marriage may I add that a kings size bed AND possibly the occasional separate sleeping spot can do wonders for couples sleep in those tricky years when snoring and hot flushes come together into a perfect hideous storm.
    A wonderful comfy chair is a must too. I use this to meditate rather than as a clothes horse of in the past.
    In relation to the Baden Clay’s K described the bedrooms from the court photos and I felt such inexorable sadness. Sad for Alison that she endured such little bits of nothing (Thanks K for the description) for all her years of live with Gerard.
    Kate Bx

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    1. Despite upgrading to a King Sized bed when we moved into our house, I somehow still end up with a tiny sliver on the edge of the bed on which to sleep. However I think my husband has found it more comfortable!!
      That B-C bedroom was awful. I knew they had significant problems as soon as I saw it - all the things that scream depressing in a bedroom were contained within. I felt so sad for her too.

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  11. I agree with so much here. I have always felt that the bedroom needs to be a relaxing retreat (definitely no TV and absolutely free of clutter!) in a calming colour scheme. Quality bed linen is a priority too. We have recently had our room redecorated, new lamps etc and we love the result! Your bedroom looks stylish yet at the same time comfortable and the bay window is a lovely feature.

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    1. How nice that you've just done your own room up! We're so lucky to have such a lovely Architectural feature in our bedroom, it really does make it feel very decadent and grown up.

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  12. Hello Heidi... as I've noted before I adore the Schumacher fabric you selected for your bedroom. It is elegant, interesting and both bold and calming. As a chronic insomniac, I have banned anything electronic from my bedroom and it seems to be helping. I see my current bedroom as my 'forever' bedroom and put in place everything I've always wanted in a bedroom. I love going in there in the afternoon, drawing the sheers, and reading/dozing on the chaise. Like you, the little drawer next to the bed is so useful. I so look forward to seeing the completed bedroom but to me it looks divine already!! xx

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    1. I still love the fabric, I'm so glad we chose it. I think the trick with a bedroom fabric is to keep searching until you find something you absolutely love. Your bedroom is so pretty Jenny - you really need to do a blog post on your house!! While I love seeing the photos on Instagram, it's not the same as viewing it on a big screen!!

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  13. Finally someone has the nerve to take on thread count..where did it come from anyway ?? I'm glad you can't see my bedroom Heidi, there's too much stuff in there, books on the bed (another &&*heirloom, a sleigh bed )

    My musts are feather pillows and blankets not donnas, oh if there's any linen sheets going I 'll take them... I too sleep in a Victorian room so that's one thing we have in common

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  14. Is it me or ..but I dont recall seeing brightish green in many bedrooms re second last picture. I rather like it except the bed head is far too large for my taste

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    1. Yes, it's quite a dramatically over scaled bedhead. Bit of a fashion at the moment. Mine looks positively anorexic by comparison!!
      No idea where the hype around thread count came from. It's quality over quantity definitely on that one! Love a linen sheet too smr, it makes me think of staying at my grandmother's house as a little girl. She always had heavy linen sheets on the bed. And a blanket too, definitely no donnas like we have today!

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  15. Oh that window seat is charming with the light behind it. Looks as if it was made for it.

    Don't you find the history of the bedroom rather fascinating. From a closet or curtained four poster in a hall, to the present day. Looking at couples and their bedrooms as a reflection on the state of their relationship...It's not just the Queen who has a separate bedroom from her hubby; I know of a few older people who have always had their own bedrooms, and they all seem exceptionally devoted to each other. Funny, eh!

    In modern life the bedroom, like the kitchen, has become a catch all place with many functions. Unfortunately televisions/computers/electronics/mobiles in bedrooms are not conducive to good refreshing sleep. Especially for children. Nor is WiFi.

    There nothing quite like cashmere blankets for comfy winter nights. One thing I'm not a fan of personally are the mountains of pretentious pillows decorators use on beds. Can't abide that nonsense.

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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