Choosing Your Bed-and-Bath Style

Let your senses be your guide as you consider the decorating options.

Excerpt from It's Your Bed and Bath Copyright © 2004 by Joan Kohn

Choosing your style is like dancing the hokey-pokey—you put your whole self in!

Except for your terry-cloth bath towel and your nightclothes, nothing in your home comes closer to your skin than the rooms that bathe and embrace you. Our bodies know the smooth comfort of cotton, the gentle give of down, the reassuring heft of wool. We remember the satiny borders of blankets pulled all the way up to our noses, the delicate texture of embroidered linens and the loopy afghans knit by our grandmothers. We respond differently to wicker chairs, chintz cushions and leather ottomans. Shiny metals, polished stones, woods of all kinds—each has a feel all its own.

Let’s take a tour of some bathtubs, showers and beds, trying each one on for size. It’s time your palms, elbows, shoulders, fingertips, back, and even your little toe had their say in your decorating decisions.


Variegated blue, green, and gold slate tiles dominate the design of this earthy grotto-like master bathroom. With just enough space for the large tub for two, the flanking walls are mirrored to create the illusion of more slate and a more open sense of space and light.


Personalized with robin’s-egg blue and a touch of gold leaf, this antique four-poster bed with an unadorned canopy frame basks in the golden glow from a mica shade on the earthenware lamp. Hickory pecan floorboards and pine furniture continue the natural simplicity of this design.


This bathroom design owes its strength and beauty to the careful attention that was paid to each architectural detail. The tub, in an alcove formed by the glass-walled shower and toilet, is backed with wainscoting, enclosed with double-recessed panels and topped with Carrara marble. Crown molding and an oval clerestory window further refine the space.


With an equal measure of crisp color and classic form, this diminutive guest room is bathed in sunshine even on cloudy days. The joyful yellow-chrome bed, bedding and walls, with an accent of red in the blanket, are juxtaposed with the rigorous simplicity of the early-twentieth-century Mackintosh Hill House chair and the Rietveld crate table.


A round window with spoked mullions, a glass display cabinet, a scalloped vanity table with glass legs and a crystal chandelier suspended from a dome detailed with a necklace of mirrored tiles impart a stately elegance to this bathroom. The gray terry-cloth chair adds comfort, and a steam shower provides a distinctly modern amenity.


Screened by the treetops, this second-story bathroom, with its striking claw-foot tub and integrated shower, was designed with a sense of nineteenth-century romance. Light is amplified by a mirrored wall that surrounds the window and by the metallic tub finish, and natural stones of rust and beige complement the chrome fixtures.

Choosing your style is, in a word, sensational. Use all your senses to ensure that the look, feel, sound and scent of your new design is just right. When your body agrees with your mind, you know you’ve found your style.

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