This tiny room needs a good bedside manner

June 11, 2005|by ROSE BENNETT GILBERT /Copley News Service

Q: How can we fit our king-sized bed into a bedroom where all four walls are totally not king-sized? I mean, between the window (on the north wall), the closet and bathroom and hall doors (on the other three walls), we may have to take off our headboard (and footboard?) and just stand the bed in the middle of the room. Help, please!

A: That's not such a bad idea, you know. A "floating" bed can solve many room-arrangement problems when there's too little wall space. And you may not have to lose your bed head in the process. I've seen a tall four-poster fit easily into the center of an under-the-eaves bedroom where the slanted walls were too short to accommodate it. I've also seen headless contemporary beds look perfectly at-home in a sea of loft space, anchored only by a reading lamp arched overhead.

In the traditional bedroom we show here, the bay window does the anchoring. Headboard and all. This imposing bedstead (from Broyhill Furniture's "King's Crossing" Collection) angles into the window niche as if it were planned all along. Feng Shui practitioners might argue against the placement - better, they say, to position the bed where you can look out of the window - but there are compensations, such as the morning's fresh breezes blowing over your pillow.


Just remember to provide for the two most important amenities: a nightstand or table within easy reach of each side of the bed, and good light for reading. This can come from the usual bedside lamp (a swing-arm can even be attached to the headboard), from a floor lamp positioned behind the bed head or from ceiling-hung fixtures that shed a gentle glow over each side of the bed (a translucent shade is essential).

Q: How do you suggest we redo a very small guest room and bathroom to make them less claustrophobic? The bedroom measures 9-foot-3-inches square and has a 7-foot-1-inch ceiling. There is a double set of windows on the east wall, another on the south wall. With a double bed (without headboard) and two tables with lamps, there is just enough room to walk around the bed to the closet and bath. I would like to change the wallpaper and perhaps change the sliding doors on the closet to mirrored doors to make the room appear larger. Any suggestions as to paint, wallpaper, anything?

A: Good move, the mirrored doors, because they do create the illusion of more space. You might also consider a good-sized mirror on the opposite wall (hang it over a narrow shelf to make a mini-dressing table for your guests).

Another illusion-maker is an allover pattern. Look for wallpaper that has coordinating fabric and match your bed dress to the walls. The bed won't actually shrink, but it will look as if it has. Carry the same pattern - for the same effect - into your bath for walls and shower curtain. Keep the bedroom floor dark - dark colors recede in the mind's eye - and use gloss paint in a light color on your ceiling. The play of light off the shiny surface will make the ceiling look higher.

I'd also lose one of your bed tables. Symmetrical balance takes more visual room than a free-form arrangement. Instead, station a small bench or ceramic garden seat at bedside, under a sconce mounted on the wall to free-up floor space. Translucent lamp shades only, please. They help flood the room with light, making it feel more spacious and gracious.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Hampton Style" and associate editor of Country Decorating Ideas. Please send your questions to her at Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112-0190, or online at

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