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Five Things You Can do to Make Your Bedroom a Retreat and Not the Dumping Grounds for Toys and Laundry

The master bedroom in our home looks very much like, well, a
cluttered college dorm room. The shoes are all in a shoe cupboard,
dresses and suits hang nicely in the closet and daily clothes like jeans
and t-shirts sit neatly in the armoire. But that’s where the tidiness

Five Things You Can do to Make Your Bedroom a Retreat

Our always-full clothes hamper is unsightly and sits in the corner of
the room. The bed looks messy and not welcoming because I usually don’t
make it until after dinner, which is ridiculous, I know. Clothes we’ve
worn only once lay on the floor in hopes for a final resting place
either in the hamper or back into the closet. Toys line the walls.
Towels are on the floor from this morning’s showers. Books and magazines
litter the floor next to the bed — perhaps I’ll be able to read them
later. Much, much later.

The bedroom is not inviting and I don’t spend a lot of time in this
room. I’d rather read a book on the sofa in the living room, or better
yet, the kids’ room.

After a few years of living like this, the husband and I decided
enough was enough. We wanted our bedroom to be a retreat, a safe haven
for us, especially when our day wasn’t going so well. We wanted a place
to relax, not a place to cringe at.

So in the next few weeks we will be doing the following to spruce up our dreary bedroom:


— Our walls are currently painted in Swiss
Coffee, a terribly boring off-white color that reminds me of depressing
hospital rooms. The worst part is that we didn’t even paint the room
very well before we moved in. We were so convinced we were going to put
bamboo or seagrass panels on the walls (like what we had in the rest of
the house). Obviously, this did not happen. So every time I walk into
our room, I’m welcomed with the heinous deep red hue (the previous
owner’s choice, not ours) that peeks out behind the Swiss Coffee. Not
particularly attractive.

Painting a room is one of the most inexpensive ways to transform it.
There’s a mind-numbing array of colors out there and it’s easy to get
lost with all the choices. Who knew there were hundreds of different
shades of green?

Instead of standing in front of the paint section holding a gallon each of Ralph Lauren’s
Mediterranean Blue, Bali Turquoise, Aegean Blue and Baltic Blue, take a
little time to do some research. Flip through some home and interior
design magazines like Domino, Architectural Digest and Elle Decor
and earmark or tear out the pages of rooms that you like, rooms that
make you smile or take your breath away. Focus on the color(s) on the
walls and how they relate to the other furniture in the room. Then take a
look at all the pages you marked and find similarities. Do the rooms
you marked lean towards neutral, calming colors or do you prefer pops of
color that animate the room? Colors have everything to do with
emotions; find one that truly registers with you.


— Our current house was built in the
1960′s. The only source of lighting in each room before we moved in were
these lights that emanated from the closet, above the closet door
frames. It lit the room, but only dimly. This light created a lackluster
ambiance and drove me crazy.

We headed over to the World Market
(also known as Cost Plus Imports in some regions) on a mission to find
inexpensive lighting. Since our home has a Polynesian, Tiki theme, we
wanted lighting that complimented the organic style that flowed
throughout out house. We found a pair of capiz shell pendant lights that
were perfect (pictured above). The sunlight that comes into our bedroom
reflects off the shells and creates stunning shadows.

If you have a fan light over your bed, swap it out for something more
romantic and contemporary; fan lights tend to be uninspiring. Pendant
lights come in all shapes and sizes and can be very affordable. If your
budget allows, look for an intimate chandelier that will show off your
bedroom’s new colors.

Art & Photos

— The walls in our bedroom are bare
and unimaginative, but that’ll soon change. After we paint the walls,
we are going to put up some art and pictures.

Look for art that reflects your personal style and taste. Ikea and Target have a great selection of affordable art pieces. Buy a poster or two and frame them — AllPoster.com has a dizzying selection of posters.

Go through your photo albums, or if you’re like me, go through your
boxes and envelopes of photos. Choose photos of you and your family or
events that are special to you. Black and white photos are always
intimate and stunning. If you don’t have any photos that are in black
and white, scan photos onto your computer and use Google’s Picassa software (free) to manipulate your photo and use the black and white effect. Simple!

Create collages of favorite pictures and put them into frames, or
enlarge photos to 8×10″ or larger, frame them, and create dazzling wall
art. You can find affordable framing options at Michael’s. Pottery Barn also has a beautiful selection of frames, though they’re more expensive (pictured above).


— Our bedroom is minimalist, but this was not intentional. The only
pieces of furniture in our room are a dark wood armoire we purchased
from Pier 1 Imports last year and
our bed. Unfortunately, furniture can be expensive. Instead of buying
big, elaborate items that will add bulk to your bedroom, keep it simple —
add just one or two pieces, like a couple of bedside tables. Since we
don’t have any, all my books, magazines, and notes clutter our floors —
yuck. Bedside tables help keep your room organized and easily add to the
aesthetic of the room.

If you want to have a sitting area, but don’t have room for a
full-sized sofa, consider buying a papasan. They are unusually
comfortable and bring a relaxing feeling into your room. Choose papasan
cushions that compliment the colors in your room (papasan pictured above
from Pier 1 Imports).

Clean Your Room

— This is the easiest thing you can
do. Make your bed right away; it will instantly cater to a tidier state
of mind. Move your hamper into an inconspicuous area like the bathroom
or even your closet. If your laundry room is big enough, put a large
laundry hamper there. If you wear something and plan on using it again,
hang it up right away.

When you’re doing laundry, fold and put your clothes away
immediately. Sometimes, when I’m really busy, I throw our laundry on our
bed, thinking I’ll get to it soon. When bedtime comes, I still haven’t
folded the laundry and am irritated that it’s still on our bed. Too
tired to even lift a finger, I throw the clothes into the armoire.

The point is to keep your clothes in their proper place, hung or folded nicely, and not on the floor or on your bed.

Make sure your floors are clear of books, magazines, and toys. These
all have a place like a bookcase, nightstand, or coffee table and the
toy box.

Put your shoes in a shoe cupboard, shelf, or other shoe organizer.
You don’t need to be tripping over your shoes in the middle of the

Stop hoarding things. Go into your closet and purge everything you
have not worn in at least one year and donate it to a local charity.
Those Doc Marten boots you favored in college will probably never see
daylight again. The cashmere vest that is two sizes two small — chuck
it. The only thing you want in your closet are current clothes that fit
you well. If you still have clothes from 10 years ago, put them in a
donation bag; they are out-of-date, maybe too small, and are taking over
your closet space.

Your bedroom should give you a sense of tranquility and be able to
provide a calm and nurturing environment. Stop cringing and start

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