The first decision to make when choosing a bed is whether to go for a bedstead or a divan base. Most new bedsteads are fitted with sprung slats to provide a resilient base for the mattress. The slats should be no more than 10cm apart to prevent damage to the mattress.
Divan bases consist of an upholstered box construction with a firm or sprung surface to support the mattress. ‘There are some very smart boutique hotel-worthy bedsteads around, while divans with ottoman storage or drawers are handy if you’re short of space,’ says Loaf founder Charlie Marshall.
A good mattress is vital for sound sleep so it’s important to try before you buy. The heavier you are, the firmer the mattress you’ll need but if you and your partner differ widely in weight, consider zip-link mattresses, which allow each person to have a level of firmness that suits them.
Mattresses may be filled with synthetic foam or natural materials and most also contain springs. ‘Springs are for support and fillings are for comfort. Different fillings have a very different feel,’ says Jim Gerety, Vispring sales director.
The comfort factor
The warmth of duvets is measured in togs: the higher the rating, the warmer it will be. Choose 4.5 to 7 togs for summer and 10.5 to 13.5 togs for winter. Four-seasons duvets combine a low and a medium rated quilt to give three options. Natural duvet fillings usually contain feather, down or a mix of the two.
‘The most luxurious duvets contain a high percentage of down, which has no quill and traps air effectively,’ says Sarah Wadsworth of The Fine Bedding Company. ‘Duvets with a higher feather content are heavier and perfect if you like a ‘tucked in’ feeling.’ Synthetic duvets are washable, so are ideal for allergy sufferers.
A comfortable, supportive pillow is another sleep essential. The softest synthetic pillows contain microfibre fillings, while memory foam gives gentle support and latex a more resilient pillow. Down is the softest natural filling but, for a firmer feel, choose feather.
There’s a trend towards more luxurious, boutique hotel-style bed linen, and fine cotton with a high thread count is considered as desirable as silk or pure linen. The thread count of a fabric denotes the number of threads to the square inch counting horizontally and vertically – the higher the number, the greater the perception of luxury.
However, that is not the whole story. ‘A high thread count alone doesn’t necessarily mean greater quality,’ says Pauline Woods, product technologist for John Lewis. ‘The benefits of a high-quality bed linen are to do with finish and feel, so the number of threads should be balanced by the way the fabric is woven. Percale cotton is tightly woven to give a crisp finish, while sateen weave fabric is softer to the touch.’
The wardrobes you choose will depend on the style of your bedroom, the space available and the amount of storage you need. Free-standing furniture is a good option if you lack wall space that’s uninterrupted by doors and windows, or if you expect to move house and plan to take your furniture with you.
Fitted furniture is best for high-capacity storage and can be tailored to fit virtually any space. ‘A full-height wardrobe will have room for a double hanging rail,’ says Karen Kendick of John Lewis of Hungerford. ‘Spacing the rails one metre apart allows skirts, trousers and shirts to hang in two tiers.’
If the bed and wardrobe are essential items of furniture for any bedroom, it is the smaller pieces that make the room comfortable and convenient to use. A chest of drawers can be a decorative addition as well as a means of expanding clothes storage, while bedside cabinets can provide a hiding place for books and other essentials.
Pictures on the walls or a group of framed photographs give the room a personal touch. ‘A few finishing touches such as an upholstered headboard, a little armchair or a comfy stool at the end of the bed can make the room seem like a luxury hotel every night,’ says John Sims Hilditch, founder of Neptune Home.
Designer Joanna Wood knows how to create feel-good interiors and has plenty of ideas for transforming your bedroom into a private sanctuary. ‘I firmly believe that a bedroom should be a place of refuge,’ she says. ‘It is important that the bed is comfy and layering bed linen gives you the chance to play with colour and adapt to the seasons – versatility is key.’
‘When deciding on a decorating scheme, paint the walls in a hue you completely love as you will wake up to it every morning. Think about the changing weather, too. Will your wall colour look as good on a dull grey February morning as it will on a sunny July day? I always incline towards a fresh, airy approach when it comes to paint.’
Stepping out of bed on to a warm, soft surface will create a sense of luxury, so choose bedroom floor coverings that feel good to the touch. If you have wood flooring, use rugs where you’re most likely to walk barefoot. For a simple, handcrafted look, woven cotton runners are an affordable choice but, for tactile extravagance, choose natural sheepskins or thick pile Greek flokati rugs.
In a spacious bedroom, placing a very large rug underneath the bed, so it extends at the sides and foot, defines the sleeping area and gives a generous, expansive feel. ‘As the bedroom is a low traffic area, a luxurious look is more important than durability, so opt for an economical wool blend carpet or the sumptuous appearance of a long pile saxony carpet,’ says Jeremy Garrish, carpet buying director at Carpetright.
First published in Homes & Antiques July 2015. Back issues are still available. To purchase a copy click here