To be honest, I hadn't really planned on doing a part four to this series, as literally every consultation or question I was asked during the April period seemed to skirt around the topic of upper floors and bedrooms almost entirely.
Granted there are probably more concerns to be had when designing the rooms that guests would have to encounter, but just like Carrie Bradshaw once said...
“I couldn't help but wonder…”
Is the reason that nobody really asked for advice when it came to their bedrooms, because we think we already have all the answers in this department? Or is it, that a bedroom is such a personal space, that admitting you don’t know what you’re doing means you're aren't in touch with your inner self? Are our bedrooms so personal that we can't ask for help?
Alright Bradshaw, take a breath.
Whatever the underlying reason, I was actually quite surprised that nobody had any meaningful questions to ask.
No offence, but judging by some of the the questions asked about kitchens and lounges, I can't imagine the master bedroom and en-suite bathroom suddenly became a shrine to interior design perfection.
The average person spends about 30 odd years in bed, plus another 92 days, give or take, in the bathroom. I get that it's not 30 years in one bedroom or bathroom, but we spend a shed load of time in them on the whole. It’s super NB we get this right.
Fortunately I've designed my fair share of these in the past, so whilst part four might not be a true "repeat offenders list" consider this list my comments on standby. Things that I always take into account regardless of the style of bedroom and bathroom I am designing.
Starting with the bedroom, we aren't talking feng shui stuff here. Keeping clutter to a minimum, and not having a wallpapered feature wall goes without saying at this point.
1. Thick neck, good shoulders.
I have a real thing for beds and bedside tables that don't take up at least 90% of the wall against which they sit. Undersized furniture is never a good thing, and in a bedroom having massive gaps between wall and side table, and side table and bed, ain't the one. It just makes things feel cheap and temporary in a room where you want things to feel solid and sturdy.
You want your bed and the adjacent furniture to be like a well-proportioned bloke. Thick neck, good shoulders. No point in having a thick neck of a bed and naff lightweight side table shoulders.
It is all about proportion and balance in a bedroom room, and the bedside tables should take up the slack left by the bed, so always aim to fill the bulk of the wall with furniture.
What do you plan on doing with the little gap you've left behind anyways?
If you've managed to fit a king-size bed in your room, fill the space on either side, and God forbid you have niches next to the bed and the bedside tables don't fill them entirely.
2. And another thing.
Staying with bedside tables briefly, a couple of other things keep in mind. Keep your bedside tables higher than the height of the mattress. They look a little sad when they sit lower than the bed. Am I guilty of doing thing in the past? Yes. Do I look back on those bedrooms and wish I hadn’t? Yes. But we live and learn. That's the point of the blog.
Furthermore, bedside tables are not just for your Gideon's Bible and your face cream. Most bedrooms miss the trick of bedside tables providing some significant storage for your knickers and the likes. If you are battling with storage, a single drawer bedside table with some spindly legs isn’t helping things.
A chest of drawers might be found on a different tab on a website, but it doesn't mean that shouldn't be the first place you look for a bedside table.
There are loads of companies that sell smaller chests of drawers that can easily be slotted either side of a bed. If we move away from the idea that bedside tables need to be these delicate accent pieces in a room, the world is really your oyster when it comes to options.
3. Get the lights.
I am a massive technophobe, so my default stance when it comes to automated lighting or dual switching, is always less is more. When it comes to your bedroom, don’t put every light on a circuit. You don't need to turn your bedside lamps on and off in three different places. Keep those bad boys on the switch that comes with the lamp, and only put your primary lighting (ceiling lights) on a dual switch.
That way you can turn on and off the room's main source of light from either the bedroom door, the bathroom or either side of the bed, but keep the secondary or task lighting simple, with their switching local.
30 years spent in bed might sound like a lot, but it pales in comparison to the amount of time spent standing at a light switch trying to figure out how to turn your bedside lamp off.
Check out a previous blog I've written about bedroom lighting. There are a couple other points to consider when it comes to well-balanced lighting.
4. For those who love awesome rates.
Sticking with technology, I am not a fan of a television in a bedroom. There plenty of other things one could be doing in a bedroom to pass the time. However I get not everyone is a fan of a good book before bed.
An over-sized TV in a sitting room may scream nouveau riche, but a badly planned TV in a bedroom, regardless of the size, loudly whispers, welcome to Ibis budget.
If you are going to have a TV in a bedroom, make every effort of conceal it, built it in, or make it as inconspicuous as possible. Slapping a 40 inch TV on the wall undoes all the good efforts made up until then.
5. Cover your modesty.
I've already done a blog post on scatter cushions on beds, but I think there is something to be said about bed throws too.
The width of a bed throw or blanket should measure about 800mm to 1000mm wider than the mattress itself. This prevents that scenario where the throw just sits on top of the bed, not really touching the sides.
Like a small flannel hand-towel covering the modesty of a fat bloke in a sauna.
I will admit that when it comes to a king or super king bed, finding a throw that wide isn’t easy, as most stores only cater for double or single beds (how dare they) but that just means you have to get something made bespoke. When it comes to adding personality or personality touches to a room, nothing beats bespoke.
Just to note as well, a cascading throw perfectly perched on one corner of the bed is not the way to get around styling a small bed throw. The throw or blanket needs to drop down either side of the bed for a significant distance. I would advise against touching the floor, but go pretty close.
6. A two third majority.
Regardless of what your bedroom floor finish is (the jury is still out on the idea of a rug on a carpet in a bedroom) the thinking behind having a rug under the bed is so that when you swing your legs out of bed, you immediately step onto something soft and warm.
There is no exact science behind the sizing of rugs, but in a bedroom situation, you want to create at least a 500mm boarder of rug around the bottom, left and right had side of the bed.
If your rug is only just tucked under the bottom two legs of the bed, and doesn't extend at least two thirds of the way up to the head of the bed, what's the bloody point?
If you are choosing to have a rug in the room to help layer the space and add in texture, colour etc, great! But then, rather position the rug entirely off to the one side. Tucking it under the bed, just a little, is a bit of a half arsed attempt.
7. Dress that window.
In the coming weeks I've got a blog post coming on window treatments and the likes, so I'll hold off until then to spill the tea, but here are a couple of things worth noting when it comes to window dressings in bedrooms.
A roller blind is not a suitable solution as the only window treatment in a bedroom. In the hierarchy of window treatments it goes, curtains, roman blinds, shutters, and THEN a roller blind.
Secondly, a radiator below a window is no excuse for short curtains. That’s what a roman blind or a shutter is for.
8. Oh this (c)old thing?
I've touched on bathroom design on this blog quite a bit already, so I won’t rehash too much, but a bathroom, particularly an en-suite, should really be an extension of the bedroom itself. There is nothing more that detracts from the success of a well thought out bedroom, than a cold soulless bathroom...well, other than a 40inch television on the wall.
Continuing some finishes or materials from the bedroom into the bathroom, is the easiest way to maintain design cohesion between the two rooms.
Something as simple as repeating the same style wall lights or matching the colours of the bedroom fabrics with the stone or tiles chosen in the bathroom, will help prevent things feeling like they have been designed by two different people with unmatched talents.
9. The master debate.
The debate between bath or shower, bath and shower and bath/shower combo, needs to be wrapped up.
If nothing more than to help end a domestic dispute, this is what I think.
It is always great if you can fit both a bath and a shower into one house or flat. However the master en-suite should try and avoid having a bath/shower combo as the only option. As an adult, stepping in an out of a bath every time you want to shower is a little undignified.
Chances are that if you have an en-suite bathroom, you have a second bathroom somewhere in the house too, so pop the bath/shower combo in there, and settle for a separate bath and a separate shower in the master en-suite. Or at the very least, just have a shower in the master.
If you only have a one bedroom, one bathroom flat or studio, and you need to make this call, I say just go with a shower.
If you have young kids and only one bathroom? Well, you already know the answer. You're showering in the bath mate.
10. Hollywood smile.
Finally, there is a difference between a double vanity and a double basin.
A double vanity is fine if you have the space, as it implies two completely designated areas, with double of everything. A double basin on the other hand, this were things start to get a little suspect.
Unless the vanity unit is about 1500mm wide, ask yourself if you really need to cram two basins in one bathroom for the sake of it.
A single vanity with two basins, is one of those things that I think Hollywood has sold us on. We see it in movies, two people side by side, brushing their teeth in tandem, chatting away. Firstly, where is the toothpaste foam? Secondly, they only do this so they can film both characters at once, so let’s not pretend that real life works like that.
That whole bathrooms scenario is make believe.
Rather capitalize on the extra surface area, than have two side by side basins crammed in there. Remember that bragging right check list? Double basins are on it. In bold. Underlined.
In the coming weeks, I am teaming up with some of my favourite suppliers, manufacturers, designers and industry pros to bring you a series I am calling The Basic Principle & Mates. I can shite on for days about interiors, but I thought it worth while to bring in a few other voices to help flesh out a number of topics that a load of you have been asking about. So look out for that. I have managed to wangle some big boys, so this should be fun.