By ROSEMARY SADEZ FRIEDMANN
Scripps Howard News Service
Bedrooms have come full circle in the history of interior design. There was a time when the bedroom was used for everything, not just sleeping. Kings held court while comfortably propped up on pillows in their beds. That's either the epitome of luxury or laziness, I'm not sure which.
Then, in early-day America, cottages consisted of one big room, so out of necessity, all took place in that one room: eating, sleeping, recreation, sewing, etc.
Today, bedrooms are still more than just sleeping rooms. They are a retreat from the hectic, noisy world. Bedrooms are a place to read, meditate, write letters, exercise, watch TV -- and sleep.
So how do we decorate the bedroom to take advantage of its versatility?
First, look at the bed itself. OK, it is the most essential piece of furniture in that room, but that doesn't mean it must be typical-looking. If there is ever a room where personality stands out, it is the bedroom. Is there a four-poster bed in your personality? Or should that bed fold into a couch by day and only blossom into a bed at night? Is the room more useful for other activities during the day, whereby a Murphy bed is a good idea?
More often than not, the main bedroom in the house will have a mattress and foundation, nightstands, a dresser, perhaps a chair and a television armoire. All those pieces should be chosen with care, as they will be with you for many years. Select good quality and a style you know you will love day after day after day.
If an upholstered headboard is chosen, the colors of the room can be easily changed every few years just by changing the linens and reupholstering the headboard. Keep the drapes a rather neutral color, so only the valance needs changing when the linens and headboard change color.
Paint the walls instead of papering them as it is easier to paint over paint than to peel or steam paper off in order to repaper. A bright color on the headboard wall complemented by a softer tone of the same color on the other three walls is always attractive.
Custom painting on walls is even better. It personalizes the room in a way no paper can. Anyone can buy paper out of a book, but custom painting such as sponging, ragging, painting a scene or copying the pattern of the bedspread onto the wall is unique. And the good news is that custom painting often is no more expensive than good wallpaper.
Lighting is also important. Two types are ideal -- one for atmosphere and one for reading or other tasks. Mood lighting, such as lights under the bed or dimmers on wall sconces, makes the room glow in an inviting way.
For reading, the best lights are overhead spots that come out about 8 to 10 inches from the wall, depending on the depth of the headboard. This way the light is overhead just where you need it and the nightstands are left free for books, glasses, clock and what-not.
Pleasant dreams ...
Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of "Mystery of Color." For design inquiries, write to Rosemary at DsgnQuest@aol.com.