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March 1999 Issue
The Bold & Beautiful Boudoir
by Jenny Wojcik
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You’ve probably heard that the average person sleeps during one-third of their overall life, and I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to just accept that and act accordingly. With that in mind, it’s obvious that one of the most important and functional rooms in our home is the room where we rest, refresh ourselves and escape from the world for a few hours each day.

The French referred to the bedchamber, as a Boudoir (pronounced bood-wah). Barnes & Noble’s Newmark Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases define the word boudoir as a "private sitting room; small, intimate reception room, part of or outside of a bedroom." We find that today’s boudoir, or master bedroom is often anything but small, but always meant to be intimate. Some even include a private sitting room. Normally, master bedrooms are significantly larger than their counterparts and are usually attached or adjacent to master baths, creating a suite. Master bedrooms often have special amenities, such as domed or tray-ceilings, specialty moldings and built-in shelves or wardrobes. All these design elements are meant to pamper and please, with convenience and comfort.

Bedrooms are probably the easiest room to decorate - as long as you know what you want. One of the greatest marketing efforts ever is the "Bed in a Bag" concept. Normally, for one price you get everything you need to "dress" your bed - a spread or comforter, a dust ruffle or bedskirt and pillow shams. Separately, you can purchase coordinating fabric, draperies, and curtains for the shower, towels, sheets and more.

Several designers have now "coordinated" these items and market them in mass merchandising stores at fairly reasonable price points. Still others have provided a sort of hodge-podge approach, giving the consumer the ability to "mix and match" from their line, with the assurance that everything they produce coordinates with everything else.

I am not opposed to the bed-in-a-bag approach, but I would like you to be aware that other options exist, and a well-dressed bedroom does not mean that all the "pieces" have to be exactly the same. While admittedly prejudiced about my own "coordination", I’ll share with you my master bedroom dressing strictly as an example.

  • Overall décor: tone-on-tone.
  • Furniture: whitewashed pine.
  • Damask floral comforter (tone-on-tone in sand beige).
  • Bedskirt: pinstriped tone-on-tone in sand beige.
  • Beige vertical blinds, a reversed tone-on-tone dark beige damask scarf (a different pattern and manufacturer than the comforter!).
  • My sheets (which show by the way, even when the bed is made) are a seashell pattern with a beige background and muted tones of coral and teal.
  • A recent acquisition, a print of a beach house, hangs on the main wall in the room and echoes the soft coral and teal, and is framed in a white-washed wood.
  • There are two floor lamps - both in black lacquer - and one crystal table lamp, which sits atop the etagere.
If you can visualize that, you’ll recognize that while everything is "basically" matching, nothing really does. It is merely a compilation of things that share some tonal qualities and colors. More specifically, everything coordinates without matching. The juxtaposition of the dark tone-on-tone diamond patterned drapery scarf, with the light tone-on-tone floral pattern of the comforter, adds interest and is comfortabletogether. The black floor lamps anchor the entire room.

Why does it work? It’s attention to the detail. I’ve used basic tone-on-tone colors, varying textures and patterns - all similar but not the same. There are three predominant colors in varying shades throughout the space - beige, coral and teal. I’ve accented with black to anchor or stabilize the room, and to cross-pollinate the black color from other rooms in my home.

I change my bedroom dressing occasionally. When I tire of one look, I do something different, but I always devote a large amount of time in selecting what I want. That’s my best advice to you too. Give yourself time to choose the colors and textures you want to surround yourself with. Give thought and consideration to whomever you share the room with. If s/he hates florals, don’t make her/him sleep under a blanket of violets! Find something that you can agree on and go from there. Peruse magazines, model homes, public spaces, furniture stores - you can get inspiration from all these sources.

The bedrooms in a home should scream comfortable; come on in and take your shoes off! That "comfortable" look is easily achieved by little touches like adding decorative pillows to the bed, stacking books on the floor, draping a shawl or quilt across the end of the bed and adding plants and up-lights to the room. If your master bedroom is cavernous (lucky you) then group your furniture away from the walls. It will instantly warm and complete the space.

Add some mood lighting. Start by putting your light sources on dimmer switches. After all, you don’t need landing lights in the bedroom - you want something soft and subtle. If you enjoy reading in the bedroom, add task lighting to that area of the room. Scatter a few fat candles around (and use them).

Lastly, I really recommend that you spend some decent money on your bed linens. Purchase bed sheets with a woven thread count of 200 or higher. Unfortunately, the higher the thread count, the higher the price will be, but you’ll reap the rewards by the linen’s fine quality and durability. Most of all, you will luxuriate in its softness - and believe me you are worth it.

Décor Data:

    Making a Designer Bed: After the fitted sheet is securely in place, add your flat sheet TOPSIDE DOWN, placing the wide finished hem at the very top of the bed. Now add any blankets or quilts, lining up the top edge with the top of the flat sheet. Add your comforter or spread and turn down the bed (as if you were about to get into it). Add your sleeping pillows and shammed pillows to the top of the bed and scatter your throw pillows. Voila - it’s beautiful and the topside of the sheet feels oh-so-nice against the skin!


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