When choosing a decor and style for your bedroom, what should govern your choice? Should you opt for a contemporary look, be inspired by vintage looks, throw in Zen elements, or stick to a classic design?
According to Wayne Clarke, design director at And So To Bed, there's only one way to make your choice. “Follow your heart, and then decide,'' he says. “Trends will come and go. So choose pieces you really love and they will transcend any trend. I would personally recommend long-term choices.''
Combining a number of stylistic elements that go together to form a unique, personal look is what the contemporary bedroom is all about. “Carefully selected objects, choice and combination of materials and shapes, as well as sensitive deployment of light all set the mood and create a very individual space that goes beyond merely providing a place to sleep,'' says Werner Baumgartner, managing director, Swarovski Middle East. And Simona Molteni, brand manager at Bagnaresi Casa, further recommends using your own sensibility, taste and needs when making your choice. “As an interior design company, we strive to provide services which are wholly synonymous with our customer's design needs.''
The bedroom is becoming more than just a room for sleep, and people want the room to be comfortable and comforting. “There is a trend for bigger, statement beds upholstered in pale, beautiful fabrics or painted in an interesting finish to give a luxurious look,'' says Clarke. “There is also a move towards including other pieces of furniture such as comfortable chairs, sofas and chaises, and of course the ubiquitous plasma screen TV!''
Painted furniture is a popular trend, along with sumptuous bed linen. Colours for the season are taupe, sandstone and pale grey, mixed with brushed steel. Fabrics that are all the rage include crisp cotton bed linen, ultra-soft silk and cashmere throws. “Everything starts here,'' says Thomas Lundgren, CEO of THE One, referring to the bedroom. “We spend a third of our life in bed, and a good night's sleep is crucial for us to function properly, especially as we get older. Harmony in the bedroom, or the lack thereof, is a marriage/business maker or breaker!'' Lundgren believes that the bedroom is the heart of a home and therefore the most important room in the house.
“Don't neglect it just because guests may not necessarily see it,'' he warns. “It is your space and should reflect your personality and style.'' Lundgren also cautions against having a TV or other electronic equipment in the bedroom. “The possible exception is a good sound system and great music to fall asleep to,'' he says. “Likewise, ban all work from the bedroom and make it a spiritual space.''
According to Mohammad Nilforoushan, CEO of Couture Interiors, “At the end of the day, people want a place to unwind, regroup and relax. A bedroom should be a retreat or a haven where you can both relax and rejuvenate.''
However Clarke, in his passion for luxury, would translate this in his own way. “In the bedroom, luxury is all about a beautiful bedstead, comfort, tranquility, luxury duvets and pillows, cool soft bed linen, beautiful fragrances, and most importantly, a sumptuous mattress,'' he says. Hameed Khawaja, visual merchandising manager at Homes R Us, suggests lamps to create the desired mood in the bedroom. In order to utilise space better, ceiling lamps and chandeliers are also options.
Anup Kumar, sales director at United Furniture says, “In furniture, the current preference is for modern, straight and clean lines. People also love accenting one wall of the bedroom with bold colour and complementing it with dark wenge or espresso-coloured furniture.
What is most important is to have a welcoming space to return to at the end of a hard working day.'' The Zen-Spa range from THE One fits this slot perfectly. “As the name implies, the range is all about creating a sanctuary of simplicity, spirituality, peace and harmony,'' says Lundgren. He identifies four major trends for the bedrooms of today. “Retro is a trend that captures the spirit of the '60s and the '70s. It's about being fun and colourful; a mix of woods and old classic design pieces,'' he says.
“The Vintage-Romantic style with its mix of old and new, and soft textures and matte surfaces will satisfy those who prefer the classic look, while the Cool/Contemporary bedroom is all about clean lines, hard glossy surfaces and functionality, but with a fluffy rug thrown in to soften things up.''
Khawaja highlights a tendency to move away from minimalism towards traditional furniture in an attempt to capture Old World charm. He further comments on how master bedrooms are now being referred to as master suites. “Besides the bed itself, small seating arrangements such as a recliner or a wing chair with an Ottoman are also gaining focus.''
Judging by today's market trends, the current emerging choices seem to focus on a desire for interiors that are both luxurious, yet simple and elegant, and decor that is glamorous yet comfortable and functional. As Clarke puts it, “I think there will be a move towards classic styles that transcend fashion, and in the bedroom this will mean the use of fabrics such as velvet and leather, which are classically luxurious.''
To preserve the association between the bed and slumber, and to help you reach ‘dreamland' more quickly, choose colours that are easy on the eye, textures that are soft and velvety, and add relaxing music to perfect the ambience. These elements have the same effect as any other relaxing bedtime ritual.
Charles Dhooge, an Interior Designer at Flamant, believes a bedroom is a personal cocoon, so it should be cosy and relaxing, and elegant as well. “There are definitely no taboos regarding what can go in or be kept out. Add travel souvenirs and pictures of your kids, friends and pets to brighten up this personal space. Even throwing a few cushions on the bed can promote an instant desire to relax and let yourself be.'' He believes that decorating is all about making the right choices. “It is about using the right colours, ones that make you feel comfortable and bring positive energy.''
No doubt, a bedroom is one's personal sanctuary, but transforming it into a place of privacy, wellbeing and relaxation can also be achieved through the refined use of textiles and colours. Baumgartner suggests adornments. “Combine simple, top-of-the-bed accessories with contrasting textures for blankets and cushions. The room can be adapted to various moods through flexible use of soft furnishings, such as tassels and rugs.''
Nilforoushan says the atmosphere of your choice can be easily created with the help of luxurious pillows, throws and duvets. “Opulence is key,'' he says. “And it can be achieved by combining high thread count sheets with richly textured fabrics, such as silks, tapestries, linens and velvets for bedding. Fresh flowers, candles, chandeliers and beaded lamps or pillows also add extravagance.''
Molteni thinks that even though the bed is the main piece of furniture in the bedroom, it is the design and care of the details that make the big difference. “These could range from cushions and ribbon decoration to horn buckles, paillettes, Swarovski crystals, and customised fur carpets that match the colour of the bed linen or blanket.''
Your dreams can be easily influenced by your state of mind, which in turn can be affected by the ambience in your bedroom. To aid peaceful sleep, use a few tricks like adding a hint of fragrance or lighting an aromatic candle. The key is to create an atmosphere that turns off the troubled mind and supports your dreams. Accessories add warmth and cosiness, and lend a personal touch, but how do you give this all-important room a heart? “You'll be amazed at what a difference a few candles can make in creating a feeling of romance and harmony,'' says Lundgren. However, he warns against cluttering the bedroom with accessories. “Be selective,'' he says. “Energise the space by choosing pieces that harmonise with the space or hold positive memories. Life is all about positive energy, so give your boudoir a boost of this with some green plants and candles.''
Wayne agrees that accessories can greatly impact a room and instantly personalise a space. “They can add colour and drama, and give the room its sense of style. However, when adding accessories, one must always pay attention to scale and colour.'' Accessories in the bedroom once involved just a bed lamp, a rug and a few decorative and cushions. “This formula has not changed much over the years, although its forms have,'' says Ajai Dayal, general manager of retail and marketing at Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group. “The bed lamp, for instance, is now modern with brushed steel, stark contrasts and mixed materials.
“A key change has also been the introduction of the ‘odd piece out' accessory, which may not necessarily have any functionality, but is superlative in design.'' He also notes that pieces rendering a ‘shock and awe' effect, such as a bright yellow vase, are also making their way into the bedroom.
However, the world is becoming a smaller place; no longer is a design trend or style idea restricted to one country or a group of nations alone. There was a time when trends set in the West permeated gradually to the rest of the world. “Not any longer,'' says Mikael Thinghuus, CEO of Denmark-based IDdesign, which is represented by the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group in Dubai. “One of our newest style trends, Deluxe, features luxury elements in glamourous metallic colours and plays with strong, deep tones. And this trend originated from the Mena region.''
The Scandinavian lifestyle that IDdesign represents – a lifestyle that was once deemed minimalistic – has evolved far beyond this over the last two decades. “Deluxe, in particular, celebrates maximalism, as a reaction to the minimalism of the last decade,'' says Thinghuus. “It does not reduce but adds lots of extravagant accessories with shiny metallic effects in purple, black, white and gold, and it is rich in detail. It dares where others tone down.'' However, prevalent economic conditions across the world have been a driver for the emergence of certain styles that are not so obvious, “such as earthy appeal, more leather, and softer textures,'' says Thinguus.
Dayal is of the view that the Scandinavian style is taking over home decor. “We are seeing more designs that are tranquil yet unapologetically international in approach, such as the combination of glass and wood strips on headboards matched with trendy wood finishes such as dark walnut and oak-choco.''
For a rejuvenating slumber, maintain positive and clean decor in your bedroom. Choose a colour that emits the type of mood you want to define your day. Go for calming colours to soothe the senses, or bright shades to keep you happy and energetic. Let natural light stream in for a fresh atmosphere and keep your relaxing haven orderly and clutter-free.
Nissa Nensey, owner of Al Huzaifa Furniture, strongly agrees. “The bedroom is a place where you awaken and power up – mind, body and soul. So it is not about setting a single mood, but creating several. Contradictory as it may seem, ‘restful energy' is what we believe bedrooms should be about,'' she says.
All elements in the bedroom should therefore work in harmony. “The interplay of colours, forms and textures must add up to that sense of restful energy,'' she explains. “My advice to homeowners is to pick the genre that works for you. Let your choices be shaped by the fact that your bedroom is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you see at night. Also, keep an eye on style so you have a place you can be proud of. It will then be a decision you definitely won't lose sleep over!''
Kumar, however, suggests a little restraint. “Only choose the necessary furniture pieces. Arrange these in the most aesthetic manner and complement them with stylised accessories that help stimulate your senses
in the morning.''
Spanish interior designer, Maria Jose Guinot, who is represented in the UAE by Interiors, believes the look these days allows a mixture of styles, avoiding the homogeneity typical of the past.
You can have different possibilities in bedroom decor – strong and Baroque, such as a classic headboard combined with two modern nightstands, or a natural leather bedroom with auxiliary pieces such as faux travel suitcases and trunks that fit with classic or modern furniture. For fresh morning decor, Guinot suggests the use of paper and light fabrics on walls. Guinot also believes that conserving the planet is the responsibility of each individual, and that acquiring eco material is a duty.
But how concerned are UAE homeowners about social responsibility and eco-awareness, especially when purchasing their interior decor and furniture products? “That depends a lot on education, and where you are in the circle of life. Is it survival or self-realisation? Do
you have empathy or not?'' muses Lundgren.
“I would say the awareness in the UAE is less compared to other cosmopolitan cities such as San Francisco, London and Copenhagen.''
Thinghuus is proud of IDdesign's strong ethos on minimising waste. FLEXA, IDdesign kids' furniture range, is made of pine from the company's own forest and for every tree that's felled, two are planted. Slowly but steadily, social responsibility and concern about carbon footprints has been permeating society, says Baumgartner. “Awareness has been gathering momentum and today's consumer inquires about the products and their source. In the next three to five years, the true impact of a responsible global citizen will be felt in this region.''