One of the most interesting aspects of building from scratch is being able to make decisions about all sorts of details in a house that I had always taken for granted. This has, in turn, caused me to appreciate all of the pictures in my inspiration files even more, because I can look at them with a fresh perspective.
Take the bed wall, for example. My current master bedroom (shown above) is spacious and bright (I was planning on getting accent pillows, but once the decision was made to move, I put all purchases on hold). The furnishings, a mixture of hand me down and new, suit the room well; this is going to be the guest room furniture in the new house. The room is positioned in the corner of the house, so the architect placed windows on either side of the bed wall. Because I have faux roman shades on these windows, and because my neighbor has ‘mood lighting’ on the trees directly outside my window, I ended up layering both wood blinds and pull down black out shades to keep the room dark at night. I never really thought about the set up too much, because my house was 8 years old when I bought it and I wasn’t planning on making any structural changes. Now that I am thinking of these things more, I appreciate the lovely light that the room gets as a result of the original architect’s design, and the light on two sides that this room receives.
On the new house plan, when my designer (Suzanne Kasler) was sketching out the high level furniture plan for the house, she paused at the master bedroom. A discussion ensued about whether to keep the windows that were drawn on the bed wall, on either side of where the master bed will be placed. There will already be windows on two sides as the bedroom is in a little wing, but the windows on the bed wall face south – the most beautiful light. The view out of these windows is nothing special, and more than likely a new house will be built on the lot next door. Suzanne commented that window treatments behind side tables can be tricky and cumbersome to close – sometimes you have to deal with it, but when you are building a house you can choose not to deal with it.
When looking through my files, I saw all different sorts of ways that designers and architects have dealt with the bed wall situation. In this picture, from an old real estate listing, an interesting window was placed above the bed. I wonder whether the owners close the shutter at night?
Brooke of Velvet & Linen just did a post on her bedroom, and kindly send me a wider perspective so I could see her bed wall. She has two windows widely spaced. Because of the spacing, there is plenty of room for windows and side tables; the size of the bed also impacts the feeling of spaciousness. Was it Bunny Williams who said that a queen size bed has perfect proportions?
No bedroom post would be complete without a bedroom done by Jim Howard. I actually like the layered look of a bedside table in front of windows and curtains, but I can understand the challenge that closing the curtains would pose. Suzanne said that often when there are curtains behind a bedside table, she recommends using an automated closing mechanism.
This bedroom, also designed by Jim Howard, is even more beautiful in person. Jim gave me a tour of this house, and there have been changes since this picture was taken; very sheer linen curtains were added to the large east facing windows, and the valance above the curtains on the windows on either side of the bed were removed. There is also a door on the wall to the left of the large arched window.
One of my all time favorite bedrooms has windows on either side of the bed. The bedside table is pulled forward a bit, and it is not bulky, so closing the curtains at night is probably not too difficult. I love the framing effect of full curtains on a bed wall; maybe it is the height of the curtains counterbalanced with the lower height of the bed that has such appeal.
This is one of my favorite images from Suzanne’s book ‘Inspired Interiors’ (which has been so successful that it is now in its 3rd printing). I would love to see this room in its entirety – based on the sunlight on the carpet, the room has another French door on the right side of the bed. This room looks like the perfect size – not too big, not too small, and filled with light and beautiful fresh color (Suzanne describes the color as a French silver-blue). I wonder if the French architectural element above the bed inspired the color scheme? I am going to ask Suzanne about this room when I next see her.
This guest bedroom, in a home by McAlpine Tankersley, has enchanted me from the moment I saw it in the July-August 2007 issue of Veranda – all because of the window above the bed. I don’t think something like this would work in a master, especially a master where light control is important, but I can still dream! Photo credit Peter Vitale.
This lovely bedroom, via Bayou Contessa, is also one of my favorites for its color scheme and luxurious silk drapes that frame the Jonathan Adler headboard so beautifully. Note that the beside tables, though, are quite small, and don’t interfere with the curtains.
This cheerful bedroom, with interior design by Jan Showers, is one of my favorites. The billowing silk curtains are such a lovely backdrop for the room – would the space look the same if it didn’t have this design element? Image via Western Interiors, photo credit Dominique Vorillon.
Based on the urban density of New York City dwellings, my guess is that most NYC bedrooms do not have windows on the bed wall, unless they are corner units (and I would not imagine that a prized corner would not be devoted to a bedroom). I have noticed that bed walls from NYC based designer Noel Jeffrey often use fantastic wall treatments that would not be possible or desirable were there windows on this wall.
This room, by DC designer Kelly Proxmire, shows how a bed wall can incorporate pretty wall hangings and bed treatments when there are no windows to contend with.
This airy bedroom, from an Atlanta home that recently sold, could have very easily had windows on the bed wall, but instead the architect chose to keep that side of the room more private, and save the windows for the back of the room and the side that opens to the courtyard.
Finally, I recently saw this image on a new blog, Picture of Elegance. A wall with no windows is a great way to make a statement with wallpaper. Image via House & Garden, interior design by Alessandra Branca, photo credit Melanie Acevedo.
At the meeting last week with my architect and Suzanne, together they came up with a way to get the best of both worlds – the southern light, but still maintain the privacy on that side of the house. I am excited to see the next version of the plans to see how it works. In the meantime, what is your bed wall like? How do you like to decorate your bed wall – and do windows on the bed wall make it easier or more difficult to get the look you like?
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