Sleep talking: where the magic happens

Vanessa Arbuthnott

I talk to the experts to reveal the latest trends for bedrooms and how to achieve the perfect sanctuary




The bedroom is one of our most private rooms and it is often the place in the house where many of us express our personality the most. A personal sanctuary, it is a space where we can retreat to and relax at the end of a busy day. To create the ultimate modern bedroom, blend a few key trends with timeless pieces of furniture, adding in a few cherished items, which have special meaning for you. Whether you veer towards a Nordic cool sensibility or a boutique boudoir look, comfort and cosiness is important, so choose fine linens, sumptuous bed covers and luxury window treatments to fit your chosen decor.

Vanessa Arbuthnot

A one-stop shop for a pulled-together, yet unique, finish is Sandra Jane at Home, one of Cambridge’s leading interior design companies. As well as advice on how to create your theme, with complimentary fabrics, wallpapers and accessories on offer, the company can also commission original, crafted furniture to match your style.

A-Norwalk1_WhiteBedroom_0117_Proposal_AF-260 copy
Benjamin Moore Paints

A neutral colour palette often works well in the bedroom. Iced Mauve, Pashmina and Lavender Mist are all pretty, pared-back paint shades available at Benjamin Moore Paints. These are ideal base colours from which to add layers of interest – paint a bolder statement wall, mix-match prints and textiles and use contrasting accessories to lift the scheme.

Leica S
Paint & Paper Library

Alternatively, suggests Ruth Mottershead, marketing director at Paint & Paper Library, darker hues can often give a cocooning feel: “Clutter-free bedrooms are the key to a good night’s sleep for me – so painting walls, skirting boards and doors the same colour in our Architect’s Matt (the mattest paint on the market) helps create an oasis of tranquillity. I choose darker, more serious colours for the bedroom so that, even in the lighter summer evenings, I am sure of a restful sleep and feel cosseted in the richness of the colour.”

Swedish  Collection 8- Hi Res
Vanessa Arbuthnot

Textile designer Vanessa Arbuthnott reveals how to bring this idea to life: “Layer colour and pattern in a gentle manner in the bedroom for the ultimate in pared-down luxury living. Make this room a haven from the busy world outside the door. Made-to-measure quilts and padded headboards are the ultimate in bedroom luxury – and perfect for hunkering down to read the Sunday papers.”

Vanessa Arbuthnot

To complete the look, add in a few, well-chosen home accessories. Check out the affordable homeware collections at Sainsbury’s, currently causing a stir with interiors buffs due to their accessible take on high-end design. From the indigo-blue bed-linens to the relaxed, muted Coastal range, you’ll find a whole host of covetable pieces for a contemporary bedroom.

Sainsbury's Moroccan Blue Bedroom
Sainsbury’s Home

Rona Olds, head of buying for Sainsbury’s Home, comments: “Pattern on pattern is cool and there’s no doubt that patterned bed linen is having a renaissance. It is a brilliant way to bring a focal point to a bedroom scheme. Layering is key to the look, so team the Ditsy Geo linen set with a bold Moroccan style cushion and finish with a navy knitted throw for a bed that is bliss to sink into.”

Sandberg wallpaper

Wallpaper is also back in vogue. Sandberg designs combine flora and fauna while the new ‘trompe l’oeil’ effect wallpapers, such as Minehearts Panelling Wallpaper, which looks like Georgian wood paneling, is a contemporary update for bedroom walls.

Mine heart

David Mottershead, managing director of Little Greene, says:Waking up surrounded by a botanical print rejuvenated from a bygone era is like waking up in your own art gallery – and it’s a room we can afford the time to take in its beauty. Keep the look on-trend by painting the skirting boards and mouldings in a dark colour that has been inspired by the wallpaper.”

Little Greene



And So To Bed


Central to any bedroom is, of course, the bed you choose. Whether you go for a lavish, padded style, like those available at And So To Bed, or a practical, wooden French bed with storage, like those at Cambridge-based Direct Furniture, make sure you select a model that will stand the test of time.

interiors and still life images by kristy noble photography in london

Space is also an important consideration. Dwell’s felt Morrison storage bed is a practical choice, while Natuzzi’s Fenice model, completely lifts up to give extra storage space underneath, making it ideal for smaller rooms.

Natuzzi Italia Diamante (2)

Specialising in a range of beautifully romantic beds is Sweetpea & Willow and co-founder, Jacquie Dunton, agrees that the size of your room is the most important consideration: “It’s essential that a bed is both practical and beautiful. Before committing to your favourite design ensure that you’ve taken into account the size of the room and the measurements of the bed.

Sweetpea  Willow Laurent Bed from £1,190
Sweetpea and Willow

“Many homeowners don’t realise the size of a headboard or height of the bed and this can completely distort the feel of the room if not considered correctly. If storage is a necessity then an ottoman or drawer base bed is imperative. Look for beds with wide panelling which will give your mattress that even support and additional comfort – all important factors for achieving that perfect night’s sleep! A bed often can completely change the feel of a room and with an array of headboard options it is important to pick one which complements the rest of scheme.”

Arguably more important than the bed frame is your choice of mattress– after all, this will be where you will be resting your head for many years to come. Interior designer Nicola Sanders, at Parsons Gray in Cambridge, agrees: “When choosing a new bed and mattress, apply an approximate rule of one third of your budget on the bed base and two thirds on the mattress. It’s possible to pick up a decent base for under £200 if budget is really tight, but it’s well worth spending as much as you can afford on the mattress. Less glamorous, yes, but a really good mattress should last you 10-15 years and will improve the quality of your sleep tenfold, which is an invaluable asset. I prefer natural fillings – such as silk or wool – but it really comes down to personal preference.”


John Lewis Garda rug £225 Loafey hanging rail £300 Fintan Whelan Aerial drift framed print £275 Loafey bedstead £699

John Lewis

Jim Carlile, managing director of Cambridge-based Reeds Homestore, gives his expertise: “On average we spend a third of our lifetime sleeping, so choosing the right bed and mattresses is a very important decision. Reeds Homestore in Downham Market and Furniture & Bed Centre in Ely have a huge range of beds and mattresses to suit everyone. With so much choice, finding the right one can be daunting so, we have trained staff to help you choose the right bed for you. With the latest health advice being about the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, it is vital to create a serene environment in the bedroom. Make sure your pillows are technologically designed to do the best job to suit your sleep patterns (replace them every two years) and get some expert advice on the best mattress for you.”

John Lewis Croft bowmore log side table £160 House button bedstead £450 blend lined pencil pleat curtains £100 Flos tatou table lamp £215
John Lewis

Lastly, choose your pillows, duvets and bed-linen wisely. According to John Lewis, how your pillow feels is affected by how firm or soft your mattress is. It will perform at its best when there’s a match rather than a contrast, so avoid a firm pillow with a soft mattress, for example.

D Classic Tufted BED MONKEY 199567

Taibah Mazhar, brand director at Bedmonkey, a specialist in beds and mattresses, adds: “The bed is the main visual focus in any bedroom, so it’s worth choosing the right bedding to make your room look and feel as cosy and plush as possible. Invest in a feather duvet and layer with pillows, cushions and a throw to create the ultimate on-trend stylish bedroom retreat. Combine different kinds of luxurious materials and textures in your bedding, rugs and accessories too, for instance try layering textured linens with silk throws, knitted blankets and velvet cushions.”



Serenity is all-important in the place where we end and start the day, and lighting is key to achieving this. A stand-out ceiling fitting, such as a chandelier or modern pendant, will give the wow factor and fixing dimmer switches means you can create different moods.

Vita Copenhagen

Søren Ravn Christensen, chief creative developer at VITA Copenhagen, says: “A central, stunning pendant lamp is a key element to any interior design. Just like a piece of jewellery, it can create a powerful design statement. Consider style, shape, size and colour when choosing the centre-piece light in a room.”

Bert Frank

Adding in different layers of illumination, with bedside lamps or reading lights, are practical choices if there are two of you sharing the bed, and can also heighten the ambience. Smaller pendant lights, like the Cask model available at Bert Frank, hung either side of the bed are currently in vogue, while the Swiss Oak lamps, from MOS Furniture, have neon flock internal surfaces to create coloured circle patterns from the light giving a gentle glow to the room.

Flock collection Swiss lights group cropped
MOS Furniture


In the bedroom it is particularly important to choose several light sources for different functionalities,” says Sarah Lister, director at David Hunt Lighting.

David Hunt Lighting

“A bedside or wall light creates ambience and is perfect for reading, while an overhead light is bright enough for dressing. To create a cosy and intimate atmosphere, try placing reading lamps on either side of the bed. For table lamps, opt for tinted low-wattage bulb to mimic candlelight.”

John Lewis Gloria ceiling pendant £150 Marble house £12 Terracotta bowl £4 Loafey 1-Drawer bedside table £175 Lagoon duvet set £60
John Lewis

Revealing the latest trends in bedroom lighting is Diane Simpson, buyer for lighting at John Lewis: “We’ve seen some beautiful, ornate lighting using mixed materials and wonderful coloured and smoky glass finishes over the past few seasons. This year, we’ve seen a growing trend of customers wanting well-designed lighting made from natural materials such as raw wood and polished concrete. The emphasis has moved to a focus on using high-tech design techniques on raw base materials to create lighting that is well-produced and can work in any interior space, be it classic or modern. There is still very much a trend for using bold colours and pattern, but the quality of craftsmanship and beauty of using raw materials is at the forefront. This something we feel the market is moving towards and will be on trend and relevant to the customer for the coming season.”



Having ample storage is vital to creating a decluttered aesthetic and therefore a calm environment. Due to its practicality, fitted bedroom furniture is having a renaissance, and are perfect for rooms with alcoves or odd-shaped walls. Add personality by mix-matching quirky bedside tables or a vintage dressing table.

Law & Lewis Joinery of Cambridge Tulip Wood Wardrobes painted in Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue (8)
Law & Lewis

“It’s all about using every spare inch of space for storage,” says Mark Law, managing director at Law & Lewis of Cambridge Ltd.  “Clever fitted wardrobes including pull down hanging space to take advantage of full room heights, lighting fitted into wardrobes so you can see into dark corners and ingenious shoe and handbag shelving to keep everything in perfect condition with easy access.”

Beaumanor suede plover HR
Langtry Fitted Furniture

Another expert in fitted bedrooms is Langtry Fitted Furniture, also in the Cambridge area. The company offers a range of different styles, all made to fit individual bedrooms. Owner Tony Jones comments: “Our bedroom storage is fitted from floor to ceiling so it makes the most of a room’s space. Sleek designs are popular at the moment, with natural colours – cream and grey – our bestsellers. Another trend are designs that feature coloured glass in the doors.”

John Lewis of Hungerford

For more traditional, stand-alone cabinetry then turn to John Lewis of Hungerford. Its range of painted wardrobes and bedside cabinets means that everything has its place but, significantly, hidden from view.



Brintons Bell Twist carpet in Rosebud £ 39.99 per sq m from (2)

Finally, pulling a look together, are those all-important finishing touches. Source sumptuous carpets from Cambridge-based The Carpet Mill (an essential for warmth underfoot in the bedroom) or from leading specialists Brintons.

“Carpet is perfect for creating a cosy bedroom,” says Natalie Littlehales, consumer marketing manager at Brintons. “The texture of wool underfoot coupled with a warm colour or welcoming pattern makes it a great way to build a comfortable and inviting décor scheme. We have seen a surge in demand for our Bell Twist Rosebud carpet. A luxurious shade in a hardwearing weave, it pairs perfectly with grey furniture and accessories.”

Harlequin14_Artisan Embroideries 3_ER

Dress windows with luxurious fabrics made into flowing curtains, such as those available from Sandberg or Harlequin. If budget allows, fit wooden shutters or roller blinds underneath for a practical touch.

Cambridge Unblinds

Fiona Garwood, director at Cambridge Sunblinds, gives her insight: “White and cream wooden shutters are especially popular for bedroom windows. Giving a classic, and luxurious finish, they can be tilted to filter the light, but also give privacy. We also have a fabulous range of roman blinds. Printed designs, with birds and butterflies, in grey, natural and duck egg blue, are on-trend, too. These can be supplied with blackout lining to facilitate a good night’s sleep, and give a warm, cosy look to your room. If you don’t know where to start, we offer a free measuring and estimating service, where we bring the samples to your home, and can help find you the perfect choice.”

blue throw
Janie Knitted Textiles

Added touches, such as throws – the merino wool versions at Janie Knitted Textiles are super luxe – and fine bed-linen, like the Beadmore Egyptian cotton range by Sheridan, give a welcoming feel. Statement pieces of furniture also give personality. Visit Rachel Bates Interiors for inspiration.

Sheridan Beadmore Double Quilt Cover £179.00

“The Horatio carver chair makes a smart and very cosy addition to any bedroom space without taking over the room,” she says. “The world’s your oyster when choosing the upholstery, trims and wood finish. At Rachel Bates Interiors we can bespoke the chair to the customers requirements creating a statement piece for any scheme.”

Rachel Bates

Finally, keep an eye on up-to-the-minute trends for keeping the overall feel of your bedroom fresh and modern. Championing British design, Mineheart is a great source of eclectic finds.


John Mabhegede, Mineheart’s commercial director, comments: “One of the emerging trends for 2016 is the use of feathers for interior decoration and as motifs in pattern and textiles. The Mineheart Feather Table Lamp is the perfect way to introduce this new trend into a bedroom. These glamorous feather lamps feature luxurious black or white ostrich feathers held in place by a gold metal wire frame. Soft and delicate, the lights are reminiscent of the elegant feather boas and decadent hats of days gone by, but the design is totally contemporary.”


A version of this article is also in the June issue of The Cambridge Edition Magazine

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