The bedroom. Most of us have one. Some of us even like our bedrooms, which is fortunate since we all spend so much time in them. They are where we peruse magazines, watch Leno (or sneak in the guilty pleasure of Martha Stewart), work out and gab on the phone with friends. We groom the cat, sort the laundry and fret over the next day's appointments. And we also sleep, lying inert through a good third of our lifetimes--or more for some of us.
If you have a bedroom, you also have a bedroom style, know it or not. It's your own personal world view of the sleeping quarters, and these days it can help define you. One camp insists that the space fulfill its traditional functions and nothing more. Adherents of this belief sleep and maybe make love there and get out; their furnishings and decor tend to the spare and no-nonsense.
These days, though, many people like to watch films or surf the Web in comfort, so they equip the room with a bit more utilitarian detailing. A flat-screen Sony and DVD player shouldn't sit on the floor, after all. For others, the idea of electronics invading the inner sanctum is almost sacrilegious. For these purists the bedroom signifies a haven, a cloister where they escape from the day's noise and veg out on high-count Egyptian cotton sheets and luxuriant comforters. These boudoirs overflow with pretty things and are, foremost, private enclaves.
They could not be more different in style from those bedrooms treated as an integral wing of the home's public area, a second family room to gather in and watch TV or talk with children and friends. These rooms demand seating for visitors and perhaps a good sound system. Or any combination of the above.
The bedroom today can be anything you want it to be, a trend that I've encountered through trial and error over the past year. Locked into an extensive home remodeling project that would force me to examine my own wishes for the bedroom, I found it's a jungle out there. There are no rules anymore; bedrooms are allowed to suit the personality and needs of the occupants. This leads to a provocative question: What does your bedroom say about you? And the even more troubling query: What does my bedroom say about me?
To be fair, I should point out that it's not just my bedroom. It is our bedroom, and its personality would be shaped as much by the laws of marital harmony (and budgetary restraint) as by my selfish desires.
As wives with a honed creative sense often do, my spouse was possessed of passionate wishes for her--that is our--bedroom. It wasn't quite like Monica on "Friends" shooting down Chandler's demand for a big yellow "merge" sign over their newly shared bed; I'm not that style-deficient. Let's say, however, that we each made some compromises.
First, though, we each had to inquire of our inner bedroom muse. It fell to our architect and friend, Lisa Landworth of the mid-Wilshire firm of Landworth DeBolske Associates, to abet our search for the ideal, affordable, doable bedroom. She began with the news that, in our case, the city of Los Angeles' zoning code would have some input too; due to insufficient setback from the house next door, our new lair would be on the small side--with less open floor space than in our previous bedroom, but potentially better, she assured us. Now, if we could just inform her which school of design we align with.
Separate closets or together? A tub and a shower? Warm carpet or cold hardwood? TV hookup or not? If you think it's easy to define yourself neatly, think again.
Lisa had a client, a film editor, who does everything in his bedroom--"literally from his bed," she says--and who needed his remodel to accommodate that fact of life. She had to install a wall that would house his editing machinery plus TV, VCR, stereo, cassettes and CDs. This is a man who keeps 10 remotes by his bed. Clearly not our style.
She has been asked to equip bedrooms with sinks, mini-bar refrigerators and furniture arrays based on the focus-group stylings of fine hotels. "Some people who travel a whole lot just have a good feeling about hotels. They would like their whole house to look like a Ritz-Carlton," Lisa says. Hmm. We adore traveling, but that isn't us.
This was harder than we thought, and with much at stake. We had stretched financially to pull off this whole-house remodel and knew we would have to live with this bedroom for a long time. Trouble was, there were so many ways to go.
Think of some famous bedrooms and how they reflect the life and manners of the person in residence. Television's best-known bedroom right now is probably Carrie Bradshaw's on HBO's "Sex and the City." Hers is part New York babe's seduction nest, painted a soothing celery green (with an iridescent lavender wash to make it pop on television) with an inviting wide and typically unmade bed dressed in white Calvin Klein sheets and a gray cover.