Beauty sleep

Beauty sleep

Dark and moody or pastel-hued, contemporary bedroom spaces can provide the ultimate escape.

Not all that long ago, bedrooms were a frilly affair. Always a place of rest and cocooning, they were nevertheless on the fussy side: patterned drapes, swags and tails, the odd four-poster competing with a ball-and-claw dressing table. If not entirely Gone with the Wind, it was an aesthetic that was resolutely girly and infinitely cluttered. Fortunately, we’ve moved beyond the boudoir. The modern bedroom is a calmer, pared down and definitely luxurious space. Here’s how to make it work.

Pale and interesting

Palette-wise, there’s a new neutral that has been on the design horizon for a while now. Somewhere between a pale terracotta and a pinky nude, it’s a stunning alternative to traditional taupes.

‘In our busy lives, a calm and restful bedroom space becomes a necessary sanctuary,’ says fabrics specialist Haidee Kramer of Dreamweaver Studios. ‘Variations on nude tones are very restful and they engender a feeling of wellness. From this starting point, you can freshen it up by introducing more feminine pinks and gentle greys for a softer look.’

Anne Roselt, Plascon’s colour manager, describes these comforting shades as uncomplicated, timeless and elegant. ‘Once seen as feminine colours, soft pinks and salmon are becoming gender-neutral,’ she explains. ‘These cocooning hues are gaining popularity, as they create a setting that is familiar yet original. I think of them as earth tones and they pair beautifully with bleached wood, natural fibres and other neutrals, such as white.’

‘Using a dusky pink as your starting point makes a good foundation for a sophisticated Scandi-style bedroom,’ adds Joburg interior designer David Muirhead. ‘It’s a very versatile tone in that it adapts easily to warm or cold seasons, as well as to lighter or more moody looks.’

Muirhead suggests working with different textures to keep it interesting. ‘Faux fur will add a wintry glamour, as will natural-
fibre accessories in mohair or pure wool. Also, consider the play between matt and sheen. For example, you may opt for pure linen bedding, and offset the matt finish with a high-gloss lamp or painted table.’

Another advantage of a light, natural-toned bedroom is longevity. Beautifully suited to children, teens and adults, this is a look that can grow with you and won’t date.

Moody hues

Charcoal walls were certainly less prominent in the shabby-chic bedrooms of the 1980s. In today’s modern bedrooms, however, dark tones are a fantastic way to add a quiet, masculine glamour. ‘Even if it’s just one wall, a strong block of colour adds drama and impact to a bedroom space,’ says Muirhead. ‘It’s a wonderful way to offset any neutral tones, but be wary of allowing the room to become overly sombre – it’s essential to create contrasts and introduce different materials.’

So, much like a pale space, a darker room benefits from variety. If you love deep greys, for instance, combine tactile accessories such as a chunky chenille throw, linen scatter cushions and sheer curtains. ‘It’s all about the interaction of different textures, and the negative/positive spaces that are created by your materials,’ says Muirhead. A pair of simple brass pendant lights, for instance, comes to radiant life in front of a dark feature wall; the rosy tones of a stonewashed duvet are echoed in a patterned woollen rug.

But it’s not just easy-going greys that translate into luxurious, contemporary bedrooms. ‘Charcoal, black, deep inky blues and forest greens all look wonderful in combination with dusty nude tones,’ adds Kramer. ‘If you want to add vibrant accent colours to the mix, yellows, hot terracottas and ocean blues look spectacular. Metal and mineral shades are still very important, and brass tones look particularly good with this colour palette.’

Practical magic

Part of the joy of a truly serene bedroom is that it’s a space that works. ‘Comfort and luxury may be the hallmarks of a successful interior,’ says Muirhead, ‘but, above all, a room has to be practical.’ The aim is to create something timeless – a space with longevity that really provides a peaceful and rejuvenating escape.

One of the best investments you can make is a good-quality, comfortable bed. Ditto the best linen that your budget allows. Creating a sense of order is important too, so try to adhere to the ‘a place for everything’ idea. A walk-in dressing room with designated storage would be first prize, but built-in wardrobes with space-saving sliding doors work like a charm.

Illumination is key: you’ll want a combination of soft ambient lighting, together with a good reading light that won’t disturb your partner. If you need complete darkness to sleep, then block-out curtains are the answer. If not, floor-to-ceiling sheers will soften a bedroom space and gently filter the light.

Modern bedrooms are pretty much defined by an absence of clutter. It’s worth bearing this in mind when you’re choosing items such as side tables, lamps or chairs. ‘Clean, graphic forms will keep the look fresh and contemporary,’ says Muirhead. ‘Timber floors are particularly well suited to this look. After that, you can add embellishment in fabrics, wallpaper and accessories.’ In smaller-sized rooms especially, pared-down shapes add to a feeling of simplicity and help to create an illusion of space.

The jury is still out on whether or not electronics detract from a healthy night’s sleep. If you’re a late-night checker of emails and social media, consider a wall-mounted bedside table that doubles up as a charging station. This will at least keep cables out of sight, preventing your bedroom from looking like a Nasa testing station.

Wall to wall

Few things are more instantly rewarding than a fresh coat of paint. It’s quite simply the most effective way to transform a bedroom. And, in the worst-case scenario, you can change your mind and choose a different shade.

‘Bold wall colours are a fantastic way to create a sense of intimacy and glamour,’ says Muirhead. ‘Better still, they often make a room look bigger. People tend to steer clear of dark tones as they think the opposite applies. But they form a stunning canvas, contrasting beautifully with pale floors and geometric accents. If charcoal’s not for you, consider a dark navy – it is equally dramatic and highly contemporary.’

‘When choosing paint for a sophisticated effect, a velvet-sheen finish is ideal,’ advises Roselt. ‘However, if your walls are not perfect, it’s worth considering a matt version. This is far more forgiving and will hide any imperfections.’

Next to paint, wallpapers are a superb design tool that are fast gaining ground in SA. No longer limited to fussy florals, they offer a stunning array of looks for modern spaces. ‘People are craving individuality and self-expression,’ says Kramer. ‘When it comes to choosing, my advice is to look at what’s happening in decor trends and then put your spin on it. Variations on the new neutrals are already appearing in the 2017 collections. Dutch brand Eijffinger, for instance: their new ranges Geonature and Resource are filled with these calming, sophisticated colours.’

Kramer recommends looking for non-woven wallcoverings, which are easily strippable. ‘As much as longevity is important, your chosen design need not be forever. The important thing is the ability to transform a bedroom – whether that’s a chalky colour wash, a calm textural option or a vibrant feature wall.’

Styling: Francoise Jeanne De Villiers; Photography: Andreas Eiselen/; Stockists:,,,,,,,,,


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