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Pleasant places to sleep

Don’t neglect the area where you spend such a large proportion of your life. Make it how you want it

WE spend a third of our lives in bed, yet of all the rooms in our homes, the bedroom is perhaps the most neglected. So why not get the very best out of your bedroom and transform it into something just a little bit extra special?

The bedroom is where we spend the first and last moments of the day, a place of tranquillity and seclusion. It provides us with a space to relax and unwind where we can sleep and recharge.

The bedroom is also a place for intimacy and privacy, where we can get away from the stresses and strains of everyday life, and relax and have a bit of fun. But the bedroom is not just for sleeping. It can be a home office, a study for teenagers and a playroom for the children.

Layout

To give your bedroom that extra special makeover, begin by planning the room layout, taking into consideration style, space and natural light.

Think where to position the bed and furniture, making the best use of the available space. Everyone has their own taste and style, no matter how simple or outlandish that might be. Some like their bedrooms to be ultra minimalist, while others prefer their bedrooms to be luxurious and full of cushions and throws. Others prefer to be surrounded by piles of books and familiar clutter.

Next, consider how best to incorporate colour, using complementary or contrasting colour schemes to brighten up the bedroom. For a calm, relaxing look, choose natural colours such as soft creams or nutmeg. Chalky blues and misty mauves combine elegantly with unbleached bed linen, are easy on the eye and look very restful.

Alternatively for a fresh contemporary feel, choose lilac or soft iris. If you are feeling really bold, choose strong, spicy colours such as burnt orange and reds and golds for that Mediterranean ambience.

The bed is obviously the main focus of any bedroom, with its style and position determining the overall feel of the rest of the room. A four-poster bed, for example, adds great glamour and decadence, while a low-level bed or a Futon immediately creates an Oriental atmosphere.

But remember when buying a new bed to consider how comfortable it is. Research has shown that a good bed makes a huge difference to our quality of sleep and therefore also to our health.

Another healthy option for the bedroom is to go for wooden flooring. This not only looks good, but is a healthy, dust-free alternative to carpet.

Control the amount of man-made and natural light in the bedroom using soft lighting, curtains and blinds. Uplighting diffuses light evenly across the room, creating a serene mood, while task lighting is ideal for sitting up in bed and reading or working at a desk.

Encourage natural light to enter the bedroom by hanging light, sheer curtains or soft blinds. If the early morning light disturbs your sleep, hang denser curtains in the lighter, summer months. For more privacy, Venetian blinds are an alternative to curtains. Fully open, the horizontal slats allow in light, yet prevent the outside world from peering in.

The biggest problem in any bedroom has to be storage. If your bedroom feels like one huge clothes cupboard with a bed thrown in the middle of it, then it probably needs some serious sorting out. Tackle it by considering how much room is required for storing clothes, shoes and bed linen etc. Think about the amount of hanging space required, and making the most of any under-used space.

Personal touches

While furnishings and decor create a room's mood, it is the smaller and more personal items that provide the finishing touches. Accessorise the bedroom with vases and ornaments, and hang pictures and old photographs.

Alternatively, if you want to really jazz up your bedroom, accessorise with retro chic or designer kitsch items. Furry picture frames, inflatable chairs and plastic furniture are great ways of injecting humour and colour into any bedroom. For a much more intimate, cosy feel turn the lights down low and burn sensuous scented candles and essential oils.

Tips

  • Enjoy your bedroom to the full by following these hints.

  • Plan for pleasure.

  • Renovate: Buy a new bed every 10 years.

  • Relax: Avoid using too many bright colours.

  • Keep calm: Subtle colours are far easier on the eye and are more calming and restful.

  • Breathe deeply: Keep the bedroom airy and spacious to create a relaxing ambience.

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