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; tissusdhelene.co.uk) and Robert Kime (020–7831 6066; www.robertkime.com). 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.melissawyndham.com)
Rattan bottle lamp, £1,900, with the Gathered Shade, 17in in Old Flax Watermelon fabric, £804, Soane Britain (020–7730 6400; www.soane. co.uk)
Hydrangea linen, £292 per sq m, Robert Kime (020–7831 6066; www.robertkime.com)
Cello 2 rug by Melissa Wyndham, £699.60 per sq m, Robert Stephenson (020–7225 2343; www.robertstephenson.co.uk)
Vanessa Macdonald of Melissa Wyndham Interior Design suggests ways to create a bedroom sanctuary