Rest your Weary Head

Now that the Nativity season is here, I got to thinking about the Innkeeper’s refrain, ‘No room, no room.’ With so much socialising, finding the time to sleep – and having a comfortable place to wind down – is very important to how well we cope with the Festive whirl. And it is this time of year that we like to laze in bed and take advantage of the winter darkness. Bedrooms are the most intimate of rooms – they say a lot about their owners – and yet just thinking about the millions of forgettable hotel rooms around the world, people often find them hard to decorate. Put most simply, bedrooms have to inspire sleep. They have to ‘invite’ us to relax.

masculine colours create glamour

They need decent storage for clothes and personal items, they need good curtains to block out the light and they need good lighting to enhance the space gently when they curtains are closed. That should be enough to consider but then it gets complicated, because the ‘bedroom suite’ incorporating a dressing room and bathroom is high on the wish list, even when space is at a premium.

It appears that ensuite bathrooms are still very popular, though I can’t quite understand why. Back to the forgettable hotel room, if your partner needs the WC in the middle of the night, on goes the light (which casts its beam straight across the bed) and bathroom extractor fan and wham, you’re awake too! Why on earth would you choose that for your own home? An ensuite after all, is a bathroom by another name, it doesn’t stop it being fabulous.

utilising small spaces

Perhaps the ensuite is a subconscious milestone for putting your mark on a property, but if you share your home with your partner, surely when you plan the space the quality of sleep you’re going to get from the bedroom of your dreams is of paramount importance? Having a bathroom door open directly into your bedroom is going to be invasive. And ensuites so often create plumbing issues, but that’s another story.

When you plan your bedroom, consider if this is a space you are going to spend time in other than at night. For example, I chose to have a smaller bedroom than those of my children. As its my home, it is my private space, but for the children, they want a room away from adult company. So, this was part of my brief, it was clear that I wouldn’t spend time in my bedroom other than when I was in bed and I planned the space accordingly. Deciding how you will use the space allows you to consider the furniture that will be appropriate for your needs.

Storage is always a big issue and when you define what you need, the furniture chosen will allow you to create the ‘theme’ of your room. As wardrobes and headboards can be expensive items, this is worth researching – and if you’re creatively minded – worth personalising, that way you’ll really get what you want. And then from there you can choose how you want to decorate the space.

bedroom storage

It is worth remembering that bold colours stimulate the senses, if you need to be calm at night, a vibrant orange bedroom might not help you to wind down. So how do you strike that balance between personality and function? If you are totally sold on vibrant colours for your bedroom perhaps use them as accent shades to highlight the theme, instead of using the colour as the most dominant feature.

accent colour

Incorporating colour into your bed linen also layers the intensity and creates visual texture. It lets you change your mind too. In this room the headboard gives the reference to the Eastern theme and this dark wood is then picked up in the other furniture. Using colour this way allows you to play with a variety of shades and changes the look of the room every time the sheets are changed. It’s a great way to have a neutral colour palette and experiment with how colour makes you feel at different times of the year.

zesty bed linen

gentle soothing tones

This image also has a neutral colour palette, but with a very different feel. There is a soothing quality to the space, the soft neutrals are only broken by the furniture – painted French country antiques. This space has a gentleness about it, there are few distractions. It is quiet and serene in a way that seems almost timeless. This is another way of achieving restfulness, paring back the elements of the room so that each contributes gently to the scheme.

And darker shades can be used in bedrooms to great effect. They create a moodiness, a sense of mystery and instead of feeling gloomy, the deep tones are inviting and cosy. The contrast with white bed linen contributes a lightness to the space and as the bed is usually the biggest object in the room, this acts as a reflective element.

deep tones add mystery

To make a ‘theme’ work, you really have to embrace it. All the elements have to be considered, they have to work together and contribute to the final effect. One of my favourite bedrooms belongs to a dear friend of mine. She has redecorated this space a number of times and each incarnation has been more confident, exploring her interests and tastes to great effect.

chalet glamour

She has added a sense of warehouse glamour with the ‘exposed brick’. This is a wall covering and has a raised texture but isn’t harsh against the skin as raw bricks would be. It works beautifully in her room because she has used it sparingly as a feature in the apex of the roofline and because of the steep pitch, it looks appropriate. Placing the picture above the bed at an angle offers a tromp l’oeil effect and gives the impression of a window. Choosing to mix in the faux fur throw and knitted cushion she gives the scheme a chalet feel, which balances the industrial feel of the brick incredibly well. It is wonderfully cosy, individual and glamourous in a way that warehouse styling sometimes is not.

industrial chalet

Because our bedrooms are such private places, it is easy to think that spending money on them isn’t as important as that spent on the kitchen or bathroom. But considering how important sleep is to our health and well being, having a bedroom that contributes to our rest is enormously impactful. Getting the space to function the way you want will allow you to relax, it will allow you to rest, it will allow you to dream.


certain images from – with thanks

The Shed Roof Project – part 2

Several months ago we started work on the new Shed Roof, carted away the rubbish (too awful for words) and constructed a new roof surface that would be suitable as a base for a living roof – something just as beautiful but more controlled than the ivy that had previously been there. It was all very exciting and I could see exactly how I wanted it to look and then came to a bit of a halt because I couldn’t achieve the results I wanted with the materials I’d been given for the purpose.

plastic lattice

At the start of the project, I wanted to see exactly what we could do with recycled materials. I’d been given 6 square metres of plastic lattice usually used to contain stones in a driveway and the idea was that we would fill the lattice with a soil mix and then plant the gaps with drought tolerant plants, some of which I already had in the garden. But although I’m a keen gardener, I don’t have enough knowledge to be able to gamble with soil compositions and to know that the weight of the soil wasn’t going to be too heavy for the roof structure – even though Richard had made it very robust indeed. So after investigating soil compositions to find a mix that would have sufficient water retention, but still be lighter than topsoil, I decided to bin that idea. I just didn’t know enough for it to be practical.

weather tight

Back to the drawing board as it were. I had to admit that without specialist help – which I didn’t want to pay for – I wasn’t going to be able to use the recycled materials after all. Frustrating, but a decision had to be made because the roof was just sitting there, weather tight, but unfinished. So, after a few sessions online I came up with a solution that seemed practical and achievable – a two part process involving a base layer of highly absorbent board topped with a sedum wildflower turf.

green roof composition
sedum wildflower turf

The boards are a pulped fibre, containing plant food for slow release, which starts out a bit like Ryvita and ends up a bit like Weetabix, nicely plumped up with moisture and even better, it retains the moisture for months at a time. For my south facing roof, this is going to be the biggest challenge, giving the plants a steady supply of food and water. The sedum turf sits on top of the boards and over time the roots work their way into the fibrous composition and completely mesh with it, so that the two really become one the same way they would in a garden bed.

Because of this the roof surface has to be prepared without roofing felt, so Richard coated the plywood boards he used to make the roof with bitumen and then applied a polythene membrane much like a DPC membrane. This will inhibit the roots from growing into the roof material, protect the structure and be low in toxicity for the plants.

an established green roof

an established green roof

I asked lots of questions of the companies supplying both components – because even though it is the plants that will be visible, I wanted to make sure I was using something that I could manipulate easily when it arrived on site – I didn’t want to have to use a fitter to get the boards in place.

The boards can be cut with a sharp knife. They’re great at insulating the internal space and they actually increase the lifetime of the roof structure because of the protection from the elements. And because of the nutrients impregnated in the boards, the sedum covering gets more established over time. Even better, a green roof absorbs CO2 emissions, which is logical but never articulated, so replacing my shed roof has now become my little bit of sustainability. The local wildlife will have seeds to eat, the shed will be well insulated and I can use the space for my business, the roof will become a feature of my garden and the maintenance will be organic rather than toxic.

This weekend the boards arrive and next Tuesday the sedum turf makes its appearance. So excited.

To be continued…

Photographs taken from riefa green roofing solutions and sedum supply – with thanks