Ask the ex­pert


Country Life Every Week - - Ask The Expert -

Where to be­gin?

The aim is to cre­ate a calm, well-planned en­vi­ron­ment in which you can re­lax and feel com­fort­able, with ev­ery­thing you need to hand. Start by con­sid­er­ing the fur­ni­ture —we like to used a mix of old and new to give char­ac­ter to a room, be­cause choos­ing all new pieces can look soul­less.

Cre­ate a fur­ni­ture lay­out, plac­ing the bed first against the wall that will com­fort­ably ac­com­mo­date it and add bed­side ta­bles. Don’t for­get to fac­tor in the po­si­tion of the doors and win­dows.

If you have the space, an arm­chair or chaise longue makes a com­fort­able place to read and a side chair is use­ful as a place to put your hand­bag on or throw your clothes over as you un­dress.

I like to think about sur­faces on which to put things in a bed­room, be it a bed­side ta­ble on which to put a book or a glass of wa­ter, a chest of draw­ers for a lamp and jew­ellery dish or a dress­ing ta­ble for a mir­ror and to dry your hair. Some­times, I might in­clude a writ­ing desk, although not usu­ally both a desk and a dress­ing ta­ble un­less the room is suf­fi­ciently large.

And your thoughts on stor­age?

For a master bed­room, I like to in­clude fit­ted wardrobes, ide­ally in a walk-in dress­ing area if there’s enough space, but a charm­ing free­stand­ing cup­board may be more ap­pro­pri­ate in a guest room where less stor­age ca­pac­ity is needed. Plan fit­ted stor­age care­fully, work­ing out how much short and long hang­ing space is re­quired and con­sid­er­ing shelves ver­sus draw­ers, shoe racks and so on.

How do you ap­proach light­ing?

Once the fur­ni­ture and stor­age plan is com­plete, the light­ing scheme is the next step. Typ­i­cally, I use ta­ble lamps in a bed­room, be­cause they cre­ate a soft light that’s ideal for a warm, tran­quil en­vi­ron­ment. Place them be­side the bed and on a chest of draw­ers, as well as a pair on a dress­ing ta­ble to cast an even light across the mir­ror.

Some peo­ple like to have ex­tra read­ing lights fixed to the wall be­side the bed or a floor lamp be­side an arm­chair. Task lights, usu­ally down­lights in the ceil­ing, are use­ful for bright il­lu­mi­na­tion when it’s needed, but I tend to use them more in city en­vi­ron­ments, where rooms are of­ten smaller than in coun­try houses.

What’s the next step?

It’s time to turn to the dec­o­ra­tive scheme and to de­cide on your choice of fab­ric, paint and wall­pa­per. Usu­ally, the cur­tain fab­ric is the start­ing point, although, some­times, a client will fall in love with a wall­pa­per and we’ll work from that. We’ll build up a mood board of fab­rics for the head­board, valance and arm­chair, for ex­am­ple, of­ten us­ing hand-blocked fab­rics, such as those from Tis­sus d’hélène (020– 7352 9977; tis­sus­d­he­ and Robert Kime (020–7831 6066; They add a cer­tain soft­ness, a per­fectly im­per­fect look that’s beau­ti­ful. Colours tend to be calm, with soft blues and greens, for ex­am­ple; we try to avoid hec­tic pat­tern and dark, se­vere colours. I like to in­clude cur­tains, rather than shut­ters or Ro­man blinds, in my bed­room de­signs, be­cause they look softer and make the room feel cosier. Cur­tain head­ings and poles will make a huge dif­fer­ence to the look of a room: French-headed cur­tains on an­tique brass poles with dec­o­ra­tive finials will look more tra­di­tional than those hung on slen­der nickel poles with cap finials.

Whether the head­board is straight or shaped—de­pend­ing on the fab­ric and the room—it’s usu­ally about 135cm (53in) to 140cm (55in) tall, de­pend­ing on the size of the bed. This looks the most bal­anced and el­e­gant and is com­fort­able to lean against when read­ing in bed.

To cover the di­van, valances have kick pleats or are gath­ered if we want a more tra­di­tional look.

And the fin­ish­ing touches?

Re­gard­less of whether the floor cov­er­ing is sisal, wool her­ring­bone or wood, I of­ten use a rug on top to tie ev­ery­thing to­gether and add an ex­tra layer of com­fort.

Then, it only needs a few pic­tures, in­ter­est­ing dec­o­ra­tive ob­jects and a mir­ror to com­plete the room and en­hance its invit­ing—yet calm—mood. Amelia Thorpe Melissa Wyn­d­ham In­te­rior De­sign (020– 7352 2874; www.melis­sawyn­d­

Rat­tan bot­tle lamp, £1,900, with the Gath­ered Shade, 17in in Old Flax Wa­ter­melon fab­ric, £804, Soane Bri­tain (020–7730 6400; www.soane.

Hy­drangea linen, £292 per sq m, Robert Kime (020–7831 6066;

Cello 2 rug by Melissa Wyn­d­ham, £699.60 per sq m, Robert Stephen­son (020–7225 2343; www.robert­stephen­

Vanessa Mac­don­ald of Melissa Wyn­d­ham In­te­rior De­sign sug­gests ways to cre­ate a bed­room sanc­tu­ary

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