Consider the master bedroom. For some, it’s a sanctuary, a personal retreat that spells relief. For others, it serves as a jammie-friendly extension of work, with a laptop just a bed table away. It’s a room where you sleep, to be sure, but lounging, enjoying a movie, and even dining are not uncommon.
No matter what the size of the space, the bed looms large, so it has a lot to do with the room’s overall decor. Whether the bed frame is an 18th-century four-poster, an espresso-hued, streamlined wood platform or upholstered headboard studded with nailheads, simply changing the bedding — sheets, pillow cases and comforter or duvet cover — instantly refreshes. It affects the mood, with style skewed by color, pattern and texture.
“New pillows and bedding are an easy and affordable way to make a bedroom feel sensuous,” says Mitchell Gold, whose company, Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, recently introduced a bedding line sold at Bloomingdale’s and at their own freestanding stores.
But when it comes to dressing the bed, it’s complicated. That’s because there’s such a huge range of styles to suit, and so many questions to answer. Add to that, the confusion over thread count (number of threads to the square inch; a lower number generally has a more course “hand” or feel).
Do you gravitate to the pristine, spalike vibe channeled by crisp white linens? Do you prefer traditional toiles, flamboyant florals or bold patterns in Caribbean island hues? Would you like to be swept away in imagery that conjures a Tuscan villa, a Cotswolds cottage or a hunting lodge? Are you a fashionista who savors seasonal changes or someone who doesn’t take it all too seriously, opting for sleeping on sheep (yes, flannel), bugs, chandeliers, roosters, silly ogres, fish, night owls or guitars (all available at Garnet Hill)?
One easy if not vanilla approach is to match everything. It’s especially calming when the colors are neutral or muted, such as pale blue, green and lavender. This look can be very beautiful when varying shades of the same color one up/one down and introducing textures as well as ornamentation.
Of course, simple, elegant white-on-white satiny bedding — expected with turndown service at resorts and spas — still has enormous appeal.
Playing off white can add a fresh note. Purchase a new duvet cover or comforter to spark existing sheets. A patchwork pattern or multicolored floral, especially in large scale, allows expanding the sheets palette, as you can play off of the colors in the print. Some of the splashy mega florals — like the vivid orange or raspberry gerbera daisies that Isaac Mizrahi did a few years back for Target — surely change the dynamic. Even a medium-scaled palm or leaf design in vibrant green on white lends punch to plain whites.
Add contrast pillows, in different shapes, scaling down from the largest shams at the back (probably matching the duvet covering your comforter). Pillow cases in front of the shams match sheets, either solids or in companion prints. Layer in at your comfort level: long rectangles, rolls, smaller squares as accents to break up expanses of color or pattern, or simply to dress up.
Here’s where beads and embellishments star. Sequins, mirror beads, crystals, rhinestones are stitched on everything from cashmere to silk. So is embroidery and appliques (flat and dimensional — like roses that Valentino uses in couture handbags). Check out the labels Dransfield and Ross, Ankasa, and Bliss Studio for jewel-like throw pillows.
Not surprisingly, some women’s apparel designers have translated pretty, feminine dress-up features to their bed linens.
Throws can be important accessories — for a chair in the bedroom or the top of the bed. They provide extra warmth when you need it as well as texture (cashmere, knit and velvet, as well as other fabrics). Strong, solid hues can be a toothy counterpoint.
Appliques and splashy prints highlight the new spring collection of Lilly Pulitzer for Garnet Hill. Fans of Pulitzer clothing and its signature Palm Beach-y palette will identify with signature exuberant hues and detailing such as ball fringe or pleated trim on pillows.
More casual but equally stylish is the new bedding collection of Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams. Like their furniture designs, the group is not fussy, mostly tailored and sometimes kicky, with plays of acid green or spice and black and white denim ticking. In addition to solid sheets in six colors, there are companion pillow cases with borders to match or complement, like wide/skinny stripes. Some duvet covers are reversible, so you can dramatically change up the look. Also, the duvet covers feature an L-shaped concealed zipper, which makes it easy to pop in the comforter.
Nothing is black and white in bedroom decor today — unless you choose a sophisticated Hollywood glam, cozy cottage or modern romantic combination of stripes and florals.