In addition to residential work in my design life, I've explored every iteration of bedroom, from to the recreation of a honeymoon suite at the Daniele Hotel in Venice, Italy, to a necklace of hotels in Sanibel Island in Florida with LXR (The Blackstone Group), to the renovation of the model rooms with Marc Appleton at The San Ysidro Ranch. One recently divorced client of mine wanted his new single life bedroom to have a hotel-like feel to it because he didn't want women that he brought home to feel intimidated by former relationships.
So I know what atmosphere to evoke in a bedroom and what elements contribute to the successful execution of the most private and romantic of spaces. My own bedroom is where I escape to feel safe, where I relax, and where I do my best work, or so I think. It's where I retreat for solitary contemplation or a good cry and where, behind closed doors, I try to leave the rest of my life behind. It's where I do leg lifts while I'm watching the Food Network, where I wrap birthday presents, and where I catch up on e-mails at the end of the day. But sometimes I fling the doors wide open in order to hang out with my closest friends for an impromptu fashion show, a party within a party, or an intimate chat. It's a room where my boys have all slept with me gypsy style, where we've sprawled out to watch movies, and where Christmas stockings have been torn apart with my ex-husband, ex-lovers, and current boyfriend. My Jack Russells are permanent fixtures in the room. Being small, Greta and Gitana can easily curl themselves on a pillow above my head and whoever else's head happens to be next to mine in bed.
I still love, all these years later, the majesty of my bedroom in Santa Monica, California -- its imposing bed with the red tester sweeping down around the mattress, the Chelsea Textile crewel work, the Colefax & Fowler trim, the French 19th Century painted mirror, the sofa at the foot of the bed, adjacent ottoman, and slipper chair tucked between corner windows. There is such a sense of intimacy for me in this room that it manages to feel cozy in spite of the 15 foot cathedral like ceilings.
In any bedroom, my motto is to keep things simple, clean, and comfortable. I start with the bed. Personally, I like a version of a colonial four poster. There is something about having posts that lends a sense of importance to a bedroom. The colors, patterns and textures of the fabrics are equally essential. Organizing your palette and fabric swatches on a small board or in a binder is a great way to play around and "sketch" out concepts. Color, obviously, sets the tone of the room. I like a signature color in a bedroom, but never anything too loud or obtrusive. In fact, as a rule, everything in a bedroom should contribute to a quiet, restful atmosphere.
I favor a Spartan approach to furniture pieces -- a chest of drawers or armoire, bedside table and, if space allows, a sofa at the foot of the bed; and maybe a slipper chair to throw discarded robes onto. Layering of colors, patterns, and textures, along with a playful or unexpected juxtaposition of periods and styles is a great way to autograph your inner sanctum -- for example, an 18th century Gustavian chair alongside a Jacques Adnet desk from the 40's. Or Moroccan rag rugs underneath an English Chesterfield sofa. Re-upholstering pieces you already own is a great way to re-use and re-cycle. A piece that has lived in another room could be given a new life just by simply changing location. Now is the time to experiment with things you already own. A worn-out dress, an Indian sarong, or an old dressing gown can easily be artfully repurposed into bed pillows.
Integrate items and objects that have personal meaning such as your child's artwork or a keepsake from a relative that you can't find a place for but it has sentimental value. Neatly arrange things you've collected on your travels (whether from down the block or around the world) on walls and bedside tables. Hang silk nighties behind the door, pile books by the bed in order of size, a handful of simple flowers in a vase. These small touches take time but make such a difference because a room in a home should never be merely an exhibition of good taste; that's what decorator's showrooms are for.
Above all else, the bedroom must work. Lighting is very important. Waking up to the rising sun is still such a thrill for me. The curtains can be lined and interlined but I'm not an advocate of blackout blinds or very dark curtains unless you work nights. I love waking up to morning light seeping through the curtained windows easily and knowing exactly what time it is by the subtlety of the colors outside. As far as artificial light is concerned, I put everything on dimmers, even the lamps. This allows you to manage your mood on the fly and adjust the atmosphere for various activities, whether you're setting the scene for seduction or engaged in a more utilitarian purpose like a bedtime reading of The Week. I've noticed that a lot of people have horrible overhead lights for their kids. I believe in being inventive with lighting in a bedroom, no matter what the age of the inhabitant. It's a nice thing to pay attention to and will give wonderful texture to a child's thoughts. It may be a sin to have a TV in the bedroom, but for me there is no better place to watch a favorite show or a film than from my bed.