How to cre­ate a rest­ful sanc­tu­ary

De­sign­ers weigh in on decor choices for the bed­room

Montreal Gazette - - Home Decor - STEPHANIE WHIT­TAKER

You’ve had a tough day. What you want most is to re­treat to a rest­ful sanc­tu­ary, where you can chill out and re­new your­self.

Ideally, your bed­room should pro­vide you with that refuge. But if it doesn’t, there are many things you can do to trans­form it into a sooth­ing haven.

A good place to start is with colour, say de­sign­ers.

“Any colour in the right shade will work,” said Tara Hamel, who spe­cial­izes in res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial de­sign with Space2 De­sign Inc. “Opt for muted colours on the walls.”

She sug­gests choos­ing “the sec­ond or third value” on those colour se­lec­tor strips that paint stores stock.

“If you want some strong colour, you can have it in such items as cush­ions, area rugs, bed­ding or the wood­grain in your furniture,” she added. “Not too many peo­ple can stom­ach strong colours on bed­rooms walls.”

While red walls may seem like a sen­sual choice for a bed­room, they’re far too stim­u­lat­ing, said Nora Hanes­sian, a Mon­treal ar­chi­tect who also prac­tices in­te­rior de­sign.

“I’m more in favour of tone on tone. I like earthy tones. And blues and greens do calm us,” she said.

You can cre­ate a uni­fied ef­fect by paint­ing the ceil­ings in a half-tone of the wall colour, Hanes­sian added. “A chair rail around the walls or a crown mould­ing near the ceil­ing will cre­ate a co­coon­ing ef­fect.”

One place to start the search for the per­fect wall colour is in your bed­ding, said Mar­got Kil­roy, de­sign con­sul­tant and colourist at The Hub, a paint and hard­ware store in Bea­cons­field.

“Peo­ple of­ten come into the store with their bed­ding – a quilt, for in­stance,” she said. “We start with the colours in the bed­ding and take a softer ver­sion of the colour for the walls.”

Some­times, there’s a need for com­pro­mise when cou­ples dec­o­rate their bed­rooms. “Of­ten, I no­tice the bat­tle lines are drawn when cou­ples come into the store to choose colours,” Kil­roy said. A lit­tle ne­go­ti­a­tion be­fore you head out to the paint store can save that pub­lic tus­sle over the choice of vieux rose (her) and hunter green (him).

As for de­sign trends, one that’s cur­rent- ly pop­u­lar is a monochro­matic look for walls and ceil­ings.

“I of­ten sug­gest the ceil­ing be painted the same colour as the walls to make the room wel­com­ing,” Kil­roy said. “I also sug­gest peo­ple add cor­nices in their bed­rooms and paint them a softer colour than the ceil­ing.”

One thing that kills a rest­ful am­bi­ence in a bed­room is clut­ter, the de­sign­ers say.

“Hav­ing too many things, in­clud­ing too many pieces of furniture or art, can be overly stim­u­lat­ing,” Hamel said.

“You might have an arm­chair in your bed­room that you love but if you just use it to put clothes on, then it’s con­tribut­ing to clut­ter. You might as well re­move it to cre­ate a more open and airy feel.”

Tracey MacKen­zie agrees that less is more in bed­room de­sign. As a feng shui spe­cial­ist, she con­sults on the an­cient Chi­nese art of po­si­tion­ing ob­jects to fa­cil­i­tate a ben­e­fi­cial flow of “chi,” or en­ergy.

“In my work, I of­ten see two types of bed­room,” MacKen­zie ex­plained. “There’s the pris­tine type of room that looks as if a nun sleeps in it, or as if no one at all sleeps in it. And then there’s the other kind that I call the ‘house­wife’ bed­room. It’s got ev­ery- thing in it: an iron­ing board, a laun­dry bas­ket filled with laun­dry, a tread­mill and many pho­to­graphs of the kids, the par­ents, the grand­par­ents. It’s not a re­lax­ing place.”

That’s be­cause the laun­dry is a re­minder of work that is yet to be done and the tread­mill rep­re­sents ac­tiv­ity. And all those pho­to­graphs? On a sym­bolic level, said MacKen­zie, they’re keep­ing you from feel­ing that the bed­room is your own private sanc­tu­ary.

She sug­gests her clients move the fam­ily pho­tos to a hall­way or den and post pic­tures in their bed­rooms that make them happy.

“Th­ese can be pic­tures of places you’ve vis­ited where you’ve had a great vacation,” she said. “They serve as won­der­ful re­minders and they send a mes­sage to your brain that makes you feel good when you fall asleep.”

If the bed­room needs such a to­tal makeover that you won­der where to be­gin, start with the place you love best, said Mon­treal de­signer Mitchell Davey.

“Find the spot in the bed­room where you feel good and most com­fort­able: the bed, a chaise longue, an ot­toman, and fo­cus there,” he said. As­sess whether you re­ally need ev­ery­thing you have in your bed­room.

“One of my clients had a re­gency chair in the bed­room that no one used. So what’s the point of it?” he said.

And con­sider that less is more when it comes to pil­lows. The trend of lay­er­ing pil­lows on a bed to make it invit­ing can be over­done, Davey said.

“A cou­ple of sleep­ing pil­lows and a cou­ple of shams are great. But if you have to strug­gle to take a dozen pil­lows off your bed to get into it, where are you go­ing to put them all? It’s bet­ter to put your money into the qual­ity of the few pil­lows you use.”

Pay at­ten­tion to the lines and scale of the fur­nish­ings, added Nora Hanes­sian.

“If an ar­moire or dresser are over­whelm­ingly large, they’ll seem even big­ger when you’re ly­ing down.”

You can mit­i­gate the large scale of an ar­moire, for in­stance, by hav­ing an arm­chair and read­ing lamp be­side it.

Plants can im­prove the air qual­ity in a bed­room by ab­sorb­ing car­bon diox­ide and ex­ud­ing oxy­gen, but use them spar­ingly to pre­vent an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of moulds or spores from the soil, Hanes­sian said.

And avoid harsh light­ing, said Davey. “Choose lamp shades that cast a warm glow. And make sure there are many points of light, not just one lamp.”

If your home is in a lo­ca­tion that af­fords an aes­thetic view, do po­si­tion your bed to take ad­van­tage of that panorama, he said.

In­vest in high-qual­ity linens, which will draw you to your bed, the de­sign­ers sug­gested. And if you need to sleep in dark­ness, be care­ful about the drapes you se­lect, Mar­got Kil­roy said.

“If you need black-out drapes, choose a lin­ing that’s not heavy and rub­ber­ized be­cause it will draw the fab­ric down,” she said.

And fi­nally, said Tracey MacKen­zie, sur­round your­self in your bed­room only with things that you love and find beau­ti­ful. “When you go to bed, sur­round your­self with happy things. You’ll want to cre­ate a favourable en­ergy in your bed­room.”

De­signer Tracey MacKen­zie, in re­do­ing a client’s bed­room, opted for a more stream­lined look than what was there be­fore (see photo be­low). A new bed with con­tem­po­rary head­board and sides of black leather prompted her to go for orange and white “to...

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