Are your bedrooms unused for much of the day? If so, perhaps you could consider transferring some hobbies or activities there and relieving some of the pressure on the living room. It is certainly a very good idea for children and teenagers. But even if you’re going to keep it just for sleeping and dressing, you’ll need to consider a few things first: practical problems like whether there is a socket near the bed, if you have enough storage, how important it is to soundproof and whether you’re sometimes going to have to put up other people, If it isn’t only your room, you must consult the other occupant — his or her taste in decoration may not be the same as yours.
The style of your own bedroom is intimately personal, and you’ll relax best in surroundings that you feel are really you. But do a bit of homework first to find out the possibilities; then be wholehearted about what you think is right, whether it’s sensual, crisp, dramatic, bright or subdued.
The bedroom is the one place where you can probably take out an old fireplace with no regrets. If your bedroom is small, keep your furniture as low as possible. Also furniture on legs, rather than coming right down to the floor, will add a feeling of spaciousness.
There are two rules: that it should look relaxing and be flattering to your skin. Strident patterns and harsh colours are probably best avoided. But even if you stick
to something plain and muted, you don’t have to be terribly practical since, unless it’s a teenager’s room, it’s unlikely to take anything like the wear and tear of the rest of the house. Your carpet, for example, can be of an inexpensive quality or something long-haired and pale and, since you don’t have to worry about smoke, water and grease, you can choose less fiercely practical wall coverings or possibly even indulge in wall hangings.
You should give a little extra attention to the ceiling as it’s one ceiling in your home you’re likely to lie and stare at. You could wallpaper or paint it to match or contrast with the walls, or have a decorative frieze where wall and ceiling meet. For the adventurous, there’s stencilling, freehand murals, stars to stick on, even a four poster bed. Sound insulation is often a major consideration in the bedroom — a fitted carpet, cork-lined walls and double glazing are ideal.
Most concern must be given to the choosing of your bed — we do spend more than a third of our lives there, even if we are asleep for much of that time. What we’re lying on affects our bodies, the quality of our rest and, ultimately, how we feel and think. A saggy old bed will eventually damage your spine. You should have a new bed every ten years, and then as good as you can afford.
Mattresses are either foam (easy to handle and light), old-fashioned stuffed, or interior sprung (the best beds have one thousand springs). A good bed base will prolong the life of your mattress; some sort of base is a necessity because of the amount of moisture you lose during the night.
Beds that fold away are both more comfortable and less expensive than they used to be — avoid ones that crease up the mattress.
The position of the bed is all-important — out of draughts, and so it’s easy to make. If you want to include seating in your bedroom but there’s little room, you could raise the bed on a plinth and have a step round it to use as a bench, covered with carpet or floor cushions. Or raise the bed right up, add a ladder and have your seating underneath. (You could use this idea for a desk, too.) In either case you can build your own unit or, for seating, buy widely-spaced bunk beds and use the one down below as a sofa with loads of cushions.
Although not strictly necessary, most of us like a chair in the bedroom – even just a low stool to sit on in front of the mirror, or something to throw a shirt on. A light near the bed (even if you don’t do much reading) is a good idea, and adequate lighting for making-up your face.
Try to overestimate what you need and then fit it in with the shape of your room. Built-in storage will hold far more than the conventional chest of drawers, etc. — but make sure it’s not going to look like an afterthought. Remember you’ll probably have to store spare blankets here too, as well as clothes and hobbies. You could consider covering your cupboard doors with material, perhaps to match your curtains, bedspread or wallpaper. If you are short of space try a bed base with drawers in it — recessed handles are, of course, essential. A lot of bedside junk is rather unslightly so you may want something other than open shelving by your bed. Shelves directly above the bed must be at least 1 m (3 ft) higher or you’ll be forever hitting your head on them.