Let’s take a couple of careful steps back and examine the situation closely. Of course we all want the nocturnal wonderland described in the first paragraph, but we never quite manage to achieve this effect. There could be multiple reasons for this result, but I believe the main culprit here is that we mistake the function of this room to be one of leisure, where in the real world the room serves as a purely practical space: a room to sleep in.
Keeping this in mind, if you start from the assumption that all you will be doing in this room is sleep, it seems perfectly natural to add some more functions, like clothes storage, and maybe even a TV screen for entertainment. In no time at all, a room that has started out as a space of luxury and calm has turned into an assemblage of different functions. Coming back to the original image in your mind, let me ask you some questions:
Of course you didn’t: the room you conjured up in your mind was an image of luxury, based on the kind of depiction you see in magazines with names like ‘luscious homes’ or ‘country living’, or images from luxury travel brochures for expensive hotel rooms. It is important to understand that those rooms serve only one purpose: to feel luxurious, nothing more. In practice, most hotel rooms are short on storage, you don’t stay long enough to accumulate random clothes on furniture (strangely, we tend to be much more at our best when we are staying in luxury hotel rooms and keep our stuff together).
The crux of the matter is simple: at home, your bedroom serves more than just one function: it’s a place to sleep in, to keep your clothes, to store stuff that you cannot fit anywhere else, … and you are prepared to put up with the mess because you’ll have your eyes closed at night anyway!
Is there a way out of this mess? Indeed, there is, but you won’t like it.
For one thing you have to start thinking of your bedroom in terms of ‘not just a bedroom, but a room with multiple functions’. Once you have digested that shift in perception, the real work begins: if you want a room that feels relaxing, you’ll have to make sure that nothing distracts from the relaxation. It’s not enough to add a couple of candles and throw cushions to create ambience.
In the first instance, you will need to remove any items that form a distraction from the peace and calm you want to find here. That can be achieved by relocating some of the more obviously disturbing items like the surfboard stored throughout the winter months, or the ironing board that has taken up permanent residence in the corner. If you cannot manage to remove all of these things for lack of storage elsewhere, the second, less useful, option is to hide them away in the room itself. Think along the lines of a set of hidden storage shelves, a hanging ceiling that allows for storage space, or a false wall that covers up a lot of stuff.
Keep in mind, though, that any such option will ultimately take away from the space the room provides. Looking at the standard sizes of bedrooms in many flats, this in itself could end any chance of creating a spacious feeling in the bedroom. The best option is always to take things away.
Another notion to take on board is this: if your consider your bedroom as an oasis of calm and quiet, you should really limit the items in here to the ones that help you feel relaxed: a surfboard or an ironing station are not what dreams of tropical holidays are made of!
Maybe you even have to look at your bedroom in another way: if you find that you really only use it to sleep in and do your chores, why would you even resent that it does not look luxurious after all? Maybe your expectation of this space is not aligned with the practical reality of your daily life to start with? The dream of having that relaxed space may be the result of something completely different: maybe you crave a space that is just yours? Or you are exasperated by the excitement that is inherent to all the other rooms in your home?
That being said, of course we all want a bedroom that is calm and quiet. However, the practical situation of our lives may not always allow for that dream to come true. If you are living in a small one bedroom flat with a kitchenette in your living room, you’ll find that the bedroom is the only option to store many things, especially if you want the living room to remain presentable to receive visitors. In these cases you’ll have to make hard choices, and one of those choices might have to be that you give up on that dream of a luxury bedroom.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.