No, I haven’t finally lost it! I’m currently working on a master bedroom suite and in changing the layout of the rooms we’ve had time to look at ways of improving the space for both people using it. We started with a conventional loft space – ensuite bathroom at the rear and the bedroom the full depth of the house – with the sloping ceiling creating an area of wasted space. The clients had spoken to a fitted wardrobe company and were disappointed with the amount of space that putting cupboards into the sloping ceiling actually gave them. I went out on a limb and suggested that we investigate the plumbing and structural support to the loft to see if we could move the bathroom to the space under the eaves – after all you don’t need full head height when you’re in the bath do you? Interestingly the clients had also had this idea, but had ruled it out because they thought it was likely to be too difficult to achieve.
We were lucky, in this case the steel support had a nice big void below it that would enable us to run new pipework for the ensuite. As soon as we knew that, all of our attention was placed on reversing the space so that the dressing area had the head height needed for wardrobes and storage. And it was at this stage that we started talking about gadgets. I know you’re all shaking your heads, but think about the hotels you’ve stayed in that have clever lighting and curtains – gadgets in the bedroom are the touch of luxury that we otherwise take for granted in the kitchen. We think nothing of spending money on ‘toys’ used for food preparation, but unarguably more time is spent in the bedroom when asleep. Why are gadgets designed to enhance that fundamental activity considered extravagant? Why shouldn’t you pamper yourself in the space that is responsible for providing you with a good nights sleep?
Being comfortable at bedtime is about more than just your mattress. Temperature, lighting and noise levels all play their part. And when two people share a space, one is bound to be a lighter sleeper than the other. Add all these variables together and you can see why getting a scheme to suit both people is often difficult. But what if you could block the light from the velux window over the stairs? What if you could light the wardrobes but not have the light fall on the bed? What if you could have a bathroom extractor that didn’t come on with the main lights and wake the whole house? These are all small ‘first world problems’ as my daughter is so fond of saying, but they all contribute to our levels of irritation at a time of day when we are trying to relax, wind down and recharge for the day ahead. Removing these little frustrations actually takes away a far bigger problem – the issues of not being able to sleep. For someone who regularly sleeps badly, it takes very little to get into bad sleep habits and those are often triggered by things that wind you up. My pet hate is the bathroom light, right through the wall from my bed. It pings on and I ping awake. I wake so suddenly that my heart is pounding and I’m then awake for hours. Right now there’s nothing I can do about it, but believe me, as soon as I can that bathroom is being refurbished – and the light will be switched from outside the door.
This is why I’m so keen to help clients improve their space. If simple ideas like this can improve the quality of their lives, then the effort is worth it. So – let’s talk about gadgets, shall we?
Who wants to get out of bed just because they’ve forgotten to switch a light off? Two way switching is my first must have in a bedroom that has both ceiling and wall lights. And every hotel worth its cocktail bar has adopted this in their accommodation. This is something to borrow – it costs no more to wire or to fit out – but in levels of comfort and convenience, it is streets ahead of the neighbours. This little luxury is right up there with saying ‘good night.’
Next on my list are motorised velux windows. In loft rooms – or houses with roof lights over the stairs – having a window that will close itself when it feels rain (yes it has inbuilt sensors) and has an integrated blind that closes at night is one of my favourite things to suggest to clients. No more wet carpet in a downpour because the velux was left open, no more light pouring into your bedroom through the open door from the landing. It operates with a remote and has solar panels to power the mechanism. Totally brilliant.
And finally the noiseless extractor fan. Seriously, the sound they create is so quiet you can’t hear it over conversation. For people who don’t bounce out of bed in the mornings, the drone of the fan can be too much; it’s a less than pleasant start to the day. The noiseless fans operate on a vacuum concept with the moisture being removed by air transference – its a bit too technical for me to get my head around, but the results are brilliant. I also like to put the extractor and main bathroom lights on a separate circuit so that when you need to light the bathroom at night, the light levels are lower and less invasive. It creates a more ambient atmosphere in the bathroom which makes it more compatible to a bedroom environment, something I’ve always felt ensuite bathrooms lack.
So, when you start to plan your master bedroom give some thought to how this space is going to enhance your sleep and what irritations you really want to eliminate. I promise it will be money well spent.