One of the rooms I love designing in country homes are the bedrooms. A place of sanctuary, your bedroom should be a nurturing space to retreat to. There are plenty of looks for modern country bedrooms but the most important thing is that they create a sense of calm, warmth and comfort. There are some key elements that I always consider when designing bedrooms that feel effortlessly relaxed. I’ve outlined these tips below and hope you find them useful and inspiring.
Choose colours that evoke a sense of calm
I typically start with a soft muted palette for the walls, almost always influenced by nature. I choose soft tones such as dusky pinks, sage greens, eau de nil or soft blues. Or alternatively choose a neutral paint, which I often do in beamed rooms where I want the natural features to sing. Then layer with calm colours and soft to the touch textures.
There are two main ways I tend to consider colour in a bedroom – either a tonal textural palette or a harmonious palette.
A tone palette simply means varying tones of the same colour, with lots of texture so that the scheme doesn’t fall flat. These rooms can be the most difficult rooms to get right. But they are often the most calm, warm and cosy.
A harmonious palette means two main colours in a room and is the way I design most bedrooms. To compliment a calm tone on the walls I then introduce another colour accent elsewhere. This bedroom below is painted in Mizzle by Farrow on Ball, with a soft pinks and deeper pinks elsewhere. The headboard ties both colours together in the room.
Embrace natural materials and layer texture
Choose bedding, curtains and upholstery made from breathable natural fabrics like linen and cotton. The textiles will enhance the comfortable and inviting feel of the room. Add depth and cosiness by layering different textures such as wools and velvets with throws, rugs and large pillows on the beds.
I am also a big fan of headboards as they add softness to the feel of the room but also provide practical comfort behind your head. A soft upholstered headboard is far more comfortable than a wood headboard for both sleeping and reading. Plus, an interesting shape can add another dimension to a bedroom.
Finally, don’t scrimp on the curtains. I like to use full curtains with body and movement to create an extra feel of comfort. In old houses they also provide much needed insulation from draughty period windows. In this bedroom we opted for a loose gathered style curtain in an informal chunky linen.
Use nature as inspiration for pattern
I tend to be influenced by nature for pattern in bedrooms. Botanicals or florals are a natural choice. That doesn’t have to mean big traditional florals (although I love those too!) but instead subtle or faded botanicals that are easy to live with.
I then blend these patterns with smaller scale prints that add interest without overwhelming the space. I tend to choose four main patterns in a bedroom – the curtains, headboard, bed cushions and upholstery. Of course, there is the temptation to pile additional cushions on the bed but I find they end up on the floor most of the time! Start with the pattern you love that includes all the colours you like. I call this a ‘connector’ fabric which ties a scheme together and tends to be the largest scale print. Then I pick out each colour with a smaller scale print. In this bedroom the headboard was the connector of the soft pinks and subtle greens in the rest of the room. It then links perfectly with the green of the curtains including a simple but elegant border.
Wallpaper is another wonderful way to pull together the colours of a room. I tend to use wallpaper in guest bedrooms as you don’t sleep in it every day and are less likely to tire of the pattern. I love this William Morris in this guest bedroom. A beautiful botanical wallpaper, it perfectly blends two key colours. We kept the curtains simple with a chunky linen trimmed with the blue in the wallpaper. I avoided introducing more pattern on the curtains to ensure the room still felt calm and relaxed. Neutral curtains can look very flat, so we opted for a gathered heading so that the curtains had volume and interest.
Incorporate antiques or vintage furniture for interest
Choose timeless pieces which will withstand the test of time and add charm. In a room with a calm palette antique furniture adds contrast and depth. Most of all, antiques weave interesting character into your home. There is nothing more charming than incorporating a piece you have inherited or fallen in love with whilst browsing antique showrooms. Antique furniture is also more sustainable than buying new pieces. In this bedroom the dressing table adds a natural charm to the room and I’m a particular fan of mixing “brown” furniture with dusky pinks. I tend to avoid painted style furniture in bedrooms unless it’s for a child’s bedroom. For other tips on sourcing antiques please see my recent article.
Carefully plan your lighting
Lighting is a crucial aspect of designing a modern country bedroom and has a huge influence on the atmosphere of the room.
Consider a layered lighting approach to accommodate different needs and moods. Combine atmospheric lighting such as lamps with task lighting such as wall lights or reading lights. This layered approach allows for versatility. Although you may need some ceiling lights for ‘general’ lighting, avoid over lighting the room with harsh downlights. If ceiling height allows, consider a decorative ceiling light instead of downlights.
I love ceiling lights and wall lights in bedrooms as they add decorative interest and produce a much more subtle glow than downlights. In smaller rooms with small bedside tables I would always recommend wall lights, as it frees up space on the bedside table. If you have space for large bedside tables, then do include lamps as they create a soft diffused glow.
And finally, make sure you install dimmer switches to have control over the intensity of your lighting.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. If you would like help designing your modern country home do get in touch.