For the third installment in my Melrose House mini-series, it's bedroom talk...now get your minds out of the gutter, I simply mean talking about bedroom design.
The master bedroom was one of the rooms I fell in love with as soon as I viewed the property, a large proportioned rectangular room with two 6 ft windows flooding the room with light. Like the rest of the apartment, the room benefited from gorgeous 10 ft high ceilings, making the room free spacious and airy.
Similar to the other rooms within the apartment, the master bedroom was a blank canvas just waiting for my imagination to be unleashed. Bright white walls and the generic grey carpet just weren't going to cut the mustard.
I wanted the master bedroom to be a sanctuary; somewhere peaceful with minimal clutter. I decided quite early on that I didn't want any clothing storage pieces in the room (wardrobes or chest of drawers etc) so the second bedroom was to become the dressing room.
No bedroom will be peaceful if it is messy: design your room so that everything has its place. Kelly Hoppen
Many people questioned that maybe I should use the second bedroom as a guest room rather than creating a dressing area. I was reluctant for a room to be wasted on the very rare occasion that I had guests staying overnight, I wouldn't be using the rooms in my home to my way of living. In apartment living, space is somewhat limited and for me, a dedicated dressing space was of more importance than a spare bed gathering dust.
Once I'd figured out how I wanted to use the room, it was onto the fun part of creating its design and making sure it was in-keeping with the rest of the apartment by reflecting the buildings Victorian past.
During the Victorian era, especially the latter part, travel to the Orient was becoming increasingly popular for the upper class society, particularly to Japan, China and India. With the British Empire in full swing, influences from around the globe were starting to infiltrate back to life in Blighty.
A major contributor to these Eastern influences was the 'Great Exhibition of 1851', a giant trade fair built in London's Hyde Park under the guidance of Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert.
Unbelievably even by today's construction standards, the enormous iron and glass structure was purpose built and covered 19 acres of Hyde Park. In just five months the exhibit was visited by over six million people; a third of the British population at the time.
The exhibits included almost every marvel of the Victorian age, including pottery, porcelain, ironwork, furniture, perfumes, pianos, firearms, fabrics, steam hammers, hydraulic presses and even the odd house or two. Ben Johnson - Historic UK
Britain used the event to show off to the world their huge Empire and showcase them as the leaders in culture, art, industry and technology. Over half of the 100,000 objects on display were from Britain or the British Empire...show offs!
Other nations from around the globe were also invited to the exhibition to celebrate their culture and for the first time the influences from around the globe, especially the East, were seen by the British public.
Not long after this, fashion trends for interior design started to lean towards Oriental references. Furniture made from real or imitation bamboo, folding screens and wicker furniture made from woven Rattan were becoming extremely popular.
One of the most influential furniture designers around this time was Lamb of Manchester who adopted these Eastern styles into his pieces. He produced Cabinet (No. 299) and was celebrated as one of the main contributors to the Aesthetic Movement along with famous poets and artists such as Oscar Wilde.
I wanted to incorporate such a significant part of Victorian interior design with this Oriental/New World influence with the master bedroom, but do this with a little modern twist.
THE WALLS & FLOOR
When it came to what I envisioned for the walls, I toyed with the idea of dramatic wallpaper, fabrics and several paint ideas. Deep bold dramatic colours were popular with the Victorian's and I personally love the use of colour in period interiors. I felt the apartment could handle some strong shades but I was conscious that the hall was painted wall to ceiling in dark blue along with the bathroom in emerald green tiles. I didn't want the whole apartment to feel dark, confined or too overpowering.
Victorian style at a glance incorporated...rich dark colours such as ruby red, forest green, and dark blue The National Trust
I loved the idea of using the 'ruby red' shade popular with the Victorians' but for me a bedroom should be a relaxing and calming environment. I felt covering the whole walls in such a vivid colour may give me nightmares more than sweet dreams.
Dado rails (although more associated with the Georgian period) were common place in homes of the era, thought to have been originally designed to stop dining chairs from damaging the walls. I thought, why not use this theory but with a more modern approach and paint an imaginary dado rail with a dark shade to the bottom and a lighter shade to the top?
I turned to the trusty folks at Farrow and Ball with their Brinjal paint for the bottom section, a dark aubergine shade apposed to the harsh, almost theatre like, ruby red. I wanted the same colour painted along the skirting boards too, this helped to blur the harsh lines of where the walls met the floor. The finished effect creates the feeling of space, emphasises the height of the ceilings and ultimately gives a more cohesive look.
To compliment the dark shade and take advantage of the rooms bright aspect due to the large windows, I selected Farrow and Ball's Skimming Stone. This off white shade has a hint of grey and compliments the tones within the Brinjal.
I am personally useless with a paintbrush so there was no way I could be trusted to do a decent job with this. Using a laser level, my painters were able to create a perfect crisp line; the Skimming Stone paint colour was applied to the top section of the walls, the ceiling, window sills and also the traditional ceiling roses I had re-installed.
To finish the look I asked the painters to continue the line of the "dado rail" across the door and the architraves. Often doors are overlooked and usually just painted in one solid colour, usually white. I wanted the door to almost look like it had disappeared, continuing the line of the paintwork, creating a feeling of space and cohesion.