Creating a Holistic Bedroom

April 2, 2009

As I mentioned in a previous post, the House Beautiful Magazine book, The Home Book, has an “expert insight” interview with me on how to create a holistic bedroom sanctuary.  I thought I’d share it with you:

1. What should be the homeowner’s primary consideration in approaching the design (redesign) of their bedroom?

How they want to feel in the space.  The bedroom should be a special serene place to nurture yourself and rest.  For instance, if insomnia is a problem, I’d paint the walls a pale sky blue because it is known to induce sleep. 

2. What are major mistakes homeowners make in designing their bedrooms, and how can these be avoided?

Trying to make the bedroom multi-functional.   Using stimulating colors and patterns that are not restful. 
3. How do you feel about including ancillary areas in the bedroom (i.e., treadmill, TV, small home office, etc.).

The bedroom should be your sanctuary—a “womb” instead of room.  If space constraints prohibit you from having a separate home office, then I would make sure it is in an armoire-computer-type cabinet.  I have to admit, I personally like a TV in my bedroom, but keep it behind closet doors opposite the bed.  One of my favorite treats is spending time snuggled up in bed watching movies.

4. What colors work best in a bedroom? Which should be avoided?

As I stated earlier, pale blues induce sleep and reduce inflammation.  Pale pinks are emotionally healing.  Greens are physically healing.  Browns are nurturing and grounding.  I would avoid reds as they raise your blood pressure.  Some brighter yellows are also too stimulating.
5. What should the homeowner look for in a bed (design wise)? How should the bed relate to the room’s design?

The bed is the focal point in the room as well as the most important piece of furniture–not only in the bedroom, but also the entire house.  It’s where you spend one-third of your time, so it should be extremely comfortable and well made.  The headboard is important as well, because we often sit up in bed.  I especially like upholstered headboards which I find most comfortable.  The bed should be placed opposite the entry door so that you have a full view of the door.  It should not be in front of a window. 

6. What kind of lighting do you like to include in a bedroom, and why? What type of lighting is essential, and which is optional?

The more variety, the better (table lamps, sconces, floor lamps).   I avoid overhead down lights because they cast ghoulish shadows.  Good bedside lamps with dimmers (whether table lamps or wall sconces), so that they can be both good for reading as well as atmospheric (i.e. romantic).  Scented candles on bedside tables.
7. How do you approach a theme for the bedroom (i.e., “romantic”) to achieve the feel, but without going over the top?

Color first and foremost.  It’s the most powerful element to work with.  It affects emotion, physical well-being and promotes certain activities. Comfort is equally important.  Sensuous bed linens and good down pillows are what make the room inviting.  Luxurious curtains that block out light.  Soothing, serene artwork.

8. What decorative touches are going to facilitate good sleep in a bedroom?

Great mattresses, luxurious bed linens and pillows.  Steer away from bold patterns and prints.  Mix soft, yet different, textures (i.e. Egyptian cotton, washed linen, velvets, chenilles & silks). 
9. What type of window treatments do you prefer in a bedroom?

Simple curtains that are interlined with flannel so that they block out the light and help with insulation.  I like them simple but very full—atleast three widths as opposed to the traditional 2.5. Think “ballgown”.

10. What innovative storage options have you successfully used in a bedroom? What are storage pitfalls homeowners should be aware of?

The closet!  The bedroom should not be a place for storage.  Clutter creates chaos, not serenity.

11. Can you offer guidelines for picking the perfect dresser?

Dresser?  I actually don’t use dressers.  I prefer to store folded clothes  inside of the closet and keep the bedroom floor space more open (i.e. less furnished) so that it can breathe.  However, I do like oversized bed-sized tables and/or chests if there is room.
12. What ways can the homeowner use to head off clutter in the bedroom?

Leave it outside the bedroom door!  If there is one room in the house that should be your sanctuary, it should be the bedroom.  However, since the bedroom is a great place for reading and catching up on correspondence, have special baskets for books, magazines and other reading material that can be moved from room to room.  Just don’t let the bedroom be the permanent place for storage.  Decorative boxes are also great for storing bedside amenities like sleep masks, lotions, aspirin, etc.—especially if your bedside tables have no storage.

13. Do you have rules for organizing closets?

Not “rules”, so much as the phrase “order leads to harmony”.   First of all, clear out all clutter and clothing that hasn’t been worn or used within the past year.  Group like things together as well as like colors.  “Decorate” the closets as you would your rooms, so that each time you open them, you look at beautiful vignettes! 
14. What sort of art do you think is most appropriate for bedrooms?

Anything that is calming, soothing—invokes fond, pleasant memories.  Family photos that make you smile.  Landscapes that take you out of the space into dreamland.

I often have trouble sleeping and have worn a sleep mask for years because I am sensitive to light.  Not sure why, but I think it is because my skin (on my eyelids) is thin.  The other day, I was taking advantage of a gift certificate to the Bumble Lane Spa in Baton Rouge  (fabulous place!) and purchased a new sleep mask there called “Lights Out” from the “SPAcific Essentials” line from www.pendergrassinc.com.  The mask is sculptured so that it doesn’t flatten the lid against the eye, therefore allowing freedom of eye movement, thus not interrupting essential REM sleep.  I have been using it since Sunday and haven’t had a sleepless night since!!


  1. Sleep masks do help in getting a better quality of sleep to prevent those annoying bright lights. –

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