People spend on average a third of their lives in bed. A relaxing bedroom is therefore essential; a comfortable and adequately sized bed or beds even more so.
Except where there is a separate dressing room or dressing area en suite — a refinement which few family houses have space for — the bedroom is used for dressing as well as sleeping. This complicates the planning of a shared main bedroom; a layout that obliges a couple to get in each other’s way while extracting clothes from cupboards during the morning rush is calculated to ruffle marital tempers. In other ways, too, the shared bedroom is a delicate proposition — particularly the decoration scheme, which should strike some balance between “His” and “Hers”.
Below are some of the factors to bear in mind when planning or improving bedrooms.
1 Bedrooms should be sited in the peaceful zone of the house. There are two considerations here. They should be well away from both internal and external sources of noise. In a two- or three-storey house, having the bedrooms well away from the living area (where some members of the family may want to talk or listen to music into the early hours) presents little problem. But in a bungalow or flat, making a noise-insulating “sandwich” between bedrooms and living area may prove impossible unless there is a bisecting passage way. Where the house faces a traffic-busy road, ideally the bedrooms should be at the back or sides of the house to avoid late-night and early-morning disturbance. Given the typical disposition of rooms, this is not easy to achieve. But it is well worth looking into the possibilities if you are converting a house in a noisy locality.
2 The bedrooms should have easy common access to the main bathroom and toilet on the same floor. However, where there are, say, three or four bedrooms, none of their doors should immediately face the doors of the bathroom and toilet: otherwise privacy is that much reduced. If you regularly have people to stay and space permits, install a washbasin and perhaps a shower cubicle in the guest room. Guests will appreciate this self-containment. So will members of the family.
3 In a busy household with young children or gregarious teenagers, the bedrooms may be the only place where individuals can retreat for peace and quiet. In such cases, bedrooms should contain some of the facilities of a sitting room as well as the bed and clothes storage. In the main bedroom, an easy chair or two, perhaps a desk top let into a storage unit or a small free-standing table will enable husband or wife to read, sew or do household accounts away from the hubbub of the living area. If grandparents live with the family, such additions in their bedroom may be much welcomed.
4 The challenge of planning the main bedroom extends beyond achieving a decoration scheme agreeable to both: most husbands probably defer to a degree of femininity in colour and style. A double bed or two singles? Is one partner a heavy sleeper; the other a light sleeper? Does one like to read in bed while the other does not? Mutual planning of detailed features in the room can help to meet each individual’s habits, even idiosyncracies.
5 Adequate division of clothes storage and dressing space between husband and wife, effective window-curtaining, adequate heating and lighting and soft flooring are all factors that determine a comfortable shared bedroom.
As with other rooms in the house, drawing to scale a plan of the bedroom on squared paper will put to the test the practicability of your ideas — whether you are furnishing the room from scratch or improving it with additions.
Having sketched in the bed area, you can next build around it the arrangement of other furniture and storage.
Traffic lines. Charting these in the bedroom is as important as in the living area of the house. Make sure that the path to and from the bed is unobstructed and that, in a shared bedroom, one partner can move to the clothes cupboard or dressing table without crossing the path of the other.