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Designing a Calming Bedroom

With Sharon Lillywhite, Founding Partner of Oliver Burns
How to design a calming bedroom with Oliver Burns

The bedroom continues to be one of the key spaces within the home. A calming bedroom environment creates a relaxing personal space which is essential to allow us to rest and recharge. We talk to Sharon Lillywhite, Founding Partner of multi-award-winning architectural interior design studio Oliver Burns, about how to design a calming bedroom and the elements to consider when designing a new bed.

 Firstly, what role do you think the bedroom plays within the home?

Since we spend around a third of our lives asleep, the bedroom has always been a key space to consider within the overall design scheme of a home. The bedroom is more important than ever before. It’s a place to rest, recharge and dream and as such will always remain a cherished space in the home.

At the top end of the market, our clients want this space to be highly personalised to meet their individual needs. The master suite will usually occupy a whole floor of the home. Within this space, there will be a his and hers bathroom and dressing area, a separate or communal living area.  Occasionally, we may also work with clients to create separate bedrooms.

Designing a calming bedroom

Image courtesy of Oliver Burns 

We continue to see the desire to transform the bedroom into a cocooning environment. How do you create a space which not only generates the sense of cocooning but is also light and spacious?

Our clients love Savoir’s luxury beds as they provide the ultimate in comfort. To create a cocooning environment, we recommend investing in sumptuous and high quality bed linen to ensure the overall feel of your bedroom is inviting. The key is to choose high quality fabrics that are luxurious in feel, but are still practical and durable.

We love to incorporate bamboo carpet into our bedroom design schemes. This soft and sensuous material not only feels sumptuous underfoot, but is also highly sustainable.

Other key elements to transforming the bedroom into a cocooning environment are storage and lighting. A decorative bowl displayed on your beside table is a great way to conceal any clutter and to ensure the space feels ordered. Likewise, ambient lighting is crucial to creating a relaxing environment. We love to incorporate voice-activated technology within our luxury bedroom design to be able to control everything from the comfort of bed.

At what stage of redesigning a bedroom should we consider the bed design?

The foundation of good design is space optimisation and careful planning. As the largest piece of furniture within the bedroom, we always consider the bed at the beginning of the project. In addition, the style of the bed you choose will likely shape the overall design direction you take with the space.

Savoir Chrissy Bed in neutral leather upholstery fabric


As it’s the largest piece of furniture within the room, what are your recommendations to incorporating the bed within the space?

When designing the interior scheme of a bedroom, we like to think of the bed as the focal point of the room and the bedside tables as the perfect bookends that frame this key feature. If you have high ceilings, an oversized headboard can create a stunning design statement.

Once we’ve decided on the size and style of bed, what should we be mindful of when it comes to colour?

Colour psychology always plays a key role when designing our luxury bedrooms. As it has a direct impact on our mood and energy levels. Since a bedroom should be a place of complete tranquillity, by extension the colour palette should reflect this. We would always recommend a classic neutral palette for the bedroom. We suggest shades such as grey, taupe, white and cream, for their timeless and calming appeal. Otherwise, blue is deemed to be a good choice due to its soothing qualities. Bold accent colours can then be woven in through accessories and soft furnishings to add visual interest. We also like to add in colour and interest via a statement headboard. We work alongside specialist craftspeople to create amazing, one-of-a-kind headboards that elevate a space from ordinary to extraordinary.

Tactile and textural designs continue to be plentiful this year, how can this trend be translated into the bedroom?

Layering luxurious textures and fabric will not only add depth to the room, but allows the individual to tailor the bed to their specific needs. We recommend playing with layers of sumptuous bedding to create a space that is rich in textural interest. For instance, the bedroom is one space within the home where our clients love to have a sumptuous rug or carpet underfoot. Which helps to warm the room and make it feel more inviting.


Oliver Burns Bedroom

Image courtesy of Oliver Burns

We know that the ideal sleeping environment is dark. However, what components of the bedroom should be considered to ensure the space works both during the day and at night?

Lighting plays a key role and should be designed to be adaptable to different moods and the time of day. Firstly, configure the layout of your bedroom so that your bed either faces or is close to a window, so that you benefit from maximum natural daylight and views when you first wake up. Bringing the outside in is also important. As it can help develop a stronger connection to nature, which has been scientifically been proven to improve sleep quality.

We always begin by incorporating a statement light as the centrepiece within a room. The most used lighting is likely to be task lighting. So, either opt for stylish pendants either side of the bed or traditional bedside lamps. To conceal natural light whilst creating a warm atmosphere, the best combination is black out blinds combined with curtains. An alternative option is to add sheers behind the curtains. This creates a more classic feel and allows you to let daylight in during the day without it being overpowering.

Oliver Burns Bedroom

Image courtesy of Oliver Burns 

Lastly, are there any key elements that you personally think will help create a calming bedroom?

I’m lucky enough that where we live in the countryside, there is a beautiful view of the surrounding fields from my bedroom window. To make the most of this view, I’ve positioned a comfy chair by the window to read a book. Maintaining connectivity to nature and the outside world continues to have an impact. This can be achieved by making the view a key feature of the space, which has the added benefit of maximising the natural daylight a room receives. Lighting is another important element to creating a relaxing ambiance in the bedroom. I always recommend having adjustable lighting with different settings, so you can alter the lighting to reflect your mood or the time of day.

Lastly, the finishing touches can make all the difference to how inviting a bedroom is. I love layering sumptuous bedding and having a soft rug underfoot to make the space feel ultra luxurious. I always make sure I have flowers and my favourite candles on my bedside table as a joyful thing to see when I fall asleep and when I wake up.

Sharon Lillywhite is Founding Partner of multi-award-winning architectural interior design studio Oliver Burns, who thoughtfully design the world’s finest homes. Discover their recent projects,  www.oliverburns.com.

From traditional curves to modern silhouettes, visit our Design page to view the whole collection of Savoir bed designs.