Make Your Bedroom a Peaceful Retreat

Bedrooms are more than just a place to sleep, so decorating them for maximum comfort is key.

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Bedrooms have come full circle in the history of interior design. There was a time when the bedroom was used for everything, not just sleeping. Kings held court while comfortably propped on pillows in their beds. That's either the epitome of luxury or laziness, not sure which. Then in the early American days the cottages consisted of one big room so out of necessity, all took place in that one room: eating, sleeping, recreation, sewing, etc.

Today, bedrooms are more than just sleeping rooms. They are a retreat from the hectic, noisy world. Bedrooms are a place to read, meditate, write letters, exercise, watch television oh, and yes, sleep.

So how do we decorate the bedroom to take advantage of its versatility? First look at the bed itself. It is the most essential piece of furniture in that room but that doesn't mean it must be typical looking. If there is ever a room where personality stands out, it is the bedroom.

Is a four-poster bed your style? Or should that bed fold into a couch by day and only blossom into a bed at night? Is the room more useful for other activities during the day whereby a Murphy bed is a good idea?

More often than not, the main bedroom in the house will have a mattress and foundation, nightstands, dresser perhaps a chair and a TV armoire. All those pieces should be chosen with care, as they will be with you for many years. Select good quality and a style you know you will love day after day after day.

The headboard, on the other hand, doesn't necessarily have to be part of the collection. If an upholstered headboard is chosen, the colors of the room can be easily changed every few years just by changing the linens and reupholstering the headboard. Keep the drapes a rather neutral color so that only the valance needs changing when the linens and headboard change color.

Paint the walls instead of papering them. It is easier to paint over paint than to peel or steam paper off in order to repaper. A bright color on the headboard wall complemented by a softer tone of the same color on the other three walls is always attractive. Custom painting on walls is even better. It personalizes the room in a way no paper can. Anyone can buy paper out of a book, but custom painting such as sponging, ragging, painting a scene or copying the pattern of the bedspread onto the wall is unique. Here again, when the mood strikes, the custom paint can easily be painted over with little effort. And the good news is that custom painting often is no more expensive than good wallpaper.

Lighting is also important. Two moods are ideal; one for atmosphere and one for rereading or other tasks. Mood lighting such as lights under the bed or dimmers on wall sconces make the glow in an inviting way. It is especially nice to have mood lighting in the bedroom if the room is visible from a sitting area in another room.

For reading lights, the best thing is overhead spots that come out about 8 to 10 inches from the wall, depending on the depth of the headboard. This way the light is overhead just where you need it and the nightstands are left free for books, glasses, clock and whatnot.

Pleasant dreams ...

Rosemary Sadez Friedmann is a interior designer, member of the American Society of Interior Designers and president of Rosemary Sadez Friedmann Inc. in Naples, Fla.

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