We spend almost a third of our day sleeping (or trying to sleep!) so if you’re not one of those fortunate people who can sleep anywhere/anytime, you might want to put ‘a good night’s sleep’ on your New Year’s Resolution list. To help you create the optimum environment where you can relax, unwind and disengage, here are a few things to consider if a bedroom update is on your list of things to do in 2012.  

At the Threshold
You open the door to your bedroom and you see …???  You feel …??? If your current bedroom doesn’t invite you to relax, be healed and re-energized, then it’s time to make changes. Some of those changes, such as re-organizing the room or adding new bed linens and curtains, can be very simple and do not require that you throw out everything and start over. Some bedrooms, however, might need more intense remodeling and if that’s the case, you will want to seek a professional to guide you. Whatever route you choose, it’s important to remember that your bedroom is ‘your personal real estate’ and you’re the one who must feel good, relaxed and calm in it, no matter the style. 
What’s Happening with Bedroom Design?
Where new construction is concerned, Americans are downsizing their homes in order to keep pace with the economy. David Barista, editor-in-chief of Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines said in recent years the trend definitely is pointing in the direction of smaller homes. In fact, the median size of new U.S. homes fell from 2,277 square feet in 2007 to 2,135 square feet in 2009, according to the National Association of Home Builders. This doesn’t mean the number of rooms are being cut, but it does mean that the size of those rooms is growing smaller by ten to fifteen percent. Despite that shrinkage, some basic wish list items remain the same. 
That being said, if you don’t intend to buy a new home but want to make an addition to your current home, the popularity of adding first floor master suites is a growing trend, especially as baby boomers age and find it easier to navigate a single-story home.  While a master suite addition is one of the most expensive home improvements you can make, you can expect to recoup about 63 percent of your investment on a midrange master suite addition, and 53 percent for a high-end job, based on national averages. Payback depends more on how it compares with other houses on the block. If your neighborhood is filled with empty nesters with two-bedroom houses, you probably won’t recoup your investment in a luxury master suite. But if master suites additions are common in your area, you’ll recoup more.
If you add a master suite onto your first floor, you’ll spend a good portion of your budget on site excavation and foundation pouring. If you can take advantage of existing space—such as building over a garage or converting an unfinished attic or basement—you can save between 20 percent and 60 percent on construction, and increase your return.  A good rule of thumb is only do the work if you plan to stay in your home for at least three to five years.
Eco-Friendly Rooms
New trends in bedroom design often echo those of the fashion world, incorporating eclectic, eco-friendly surroundings that combine a sense of serenity with more lively adaptations of traditional design style.  Many homeowners are mixing it up, blending different periods and styles to reflect their personal taste.  This adds character and individuality to the room. You don’t have to have matching beds and dressers any more. Eclectic style enlivens the bedroom and adds interest. This is a trend that will last because you can always switch pieces out or add new pieces when the urge strikes you or the styles change. There are a number of shops in Charlottesville and surrounding areas that are virtual treasure troves for unique pieces that speak to you.
An eco-friendly bedroom is a trend that won’t go out of style any time soon. Eco-friendly home products are becoming more widely available. From paint and flooring to energy-conscious lighting and resource-saving furnishings, many manufacturers are doing their part to bring environmentally aware products into the home.
As a matter of fact, several have made calm, healthy environments for sleep part of their life’s work. At Savvy Rest ( makers of quality organic mattresses, toppers, and pillows in Ivy Commons, Michael Penny discussed the importance of mattress selection. Penny has been involved with yoga and other healthy disciplines for years and started educating about, and selling, organic mattresses as an extension of this lifestyle approximately eight years ago. Knowing the body’s physiology, he sees that having the correct mattress to match your body’s needs is the first step toward quality sleep. Clients may come with physical problems that need special attention on mattress construction, or as couples who have dissimilar mattress needs. Penny helps you choose a mattress that is custom made to your specifications – even on different sides of the same bed – and one that will have a 20-year warranty, triple the usual mattress life.
Also, being a proponent of clean indoor air quality, Penny said that the more he learned about ‘off-gassing’ of toxic chemicals and pesticide residues in traditional mattresses, the more it became, “… my life’s work to create a healthy, comfortable alternative.” For persons who are not ready to buy a new mattress, Savvy Rest has certified organic wool toppers that are a pleasure to lie upon and will give your body more of the support and comfort it needs, as well as organic custom pillows.
Walking around the Savvy Rest showroom, one feels a sense of calm and peace transmitted by the soft wall colors and bed selections made of natural woods and other materials. Penny says he does not ‘decorate’ with a design philosophy per se but wants clients to feel safe and welcome both at the showroom and at home.
Incorporating Feng Shui
We all know the experience of walking into a room and feeling that something’s not quite right; it’s a little off-kilter. In the last 20 years or so, some Western interior designers have turned to Feng Shui (fung shwai) for guidance in design and decor. This is an ancient Chinese system of siting a home and placing objects. Its purpose is to have the ch’i (loosely translated as life’s energy) circulate easily, thereby promoting good health, happiness and, subsequently, good fortune. At first glance, some people may be deterred by Feng Shui’s seemingly endless injunctions and hard-and-fast rules, but in a broad and elemental sense it can be compared to our Western concept of ergonomics—systems designed for simplicity of movement and functional utility. 
Sally Fretwell is an expert in color selection and Feng Shui and gives a more ‘design and decorating’ organic take on the subject. To create healthy as well as beautiful spaces, she developed her own paints and primers that contain no VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Her color palette is created from nature photographs and, as a Feng Shui expert, she agrees that the important element in design is for the homeowner’s energy to flow smoothly. 
However, Fretwell’s design philosophy on bedroom color does not differ from other rooms, since she is absolutely clear (and her clients agree) that it almost doesn’t matter which color you choose as long as it has warm tones added to it. Warm tones, even in blues, whites, and grays, will pull color and light in, as opposed to reflecting, and allow you to feel as if you’re enveloped by color. 
Fretwell strongly advises to consider the ceiling as the 5th wall of the room. If your ceiling is the typical flat white, it can destroy the ambiance of the whole room, defeating the purpose of remodeling. Off-white tones with warm hues are better for ceilings, while there are special times when the color of the ceiling can be a lighter shade of the walls, continuing the design upward. But the ‘must’ is a warm tone so that the ceiling is not reflected down onto the room and “…shouting back at you!”
As for light or dark, soft or hard colors in the bedroom, Fretwell feels that contrary to popular belief, dark colors are very appropriate for bedrooms and they will not make the room look smaller. A deep color can actually make it feel larger because it pulls warmth in and absorbs light, giving depth to the room, while light colors are not necessarily ‘softer’ and more relaxing that dark colors. All shades can be ‘relaxing’–even the energizing ones of yellow and orange. And sometimes, as Sally says, “… people who have difficulty getting moving in the morning may need more of an energy boost than calm and serenity. So, one size does not fit all in bedroom color.”
Fretwell’s website,, contains information to help you get started to create your own safe haven.
You Can Do It
Overall, there are numerous ways to update your bedroom and the new trends in bedroom design make it easy. Bring in new accessories. Install new lighting fixtures. Reupholster traditional chairs in a contemporary fabric for a bit of eclectic punch. Paint a piece of garage sale furniture. Put new eco-friendly linens on the bed. Paint the walls a soothing modern color or give the room a punch with a bright color on one wall. 
Bringing your room up to date doesn’t have to cost a small fortune.  However you decide to employ today’s bedroom trends, finding peace and relaxation under your roof is something everyone can do. 
A cursory look at decorating books and websites dedicated to color impact, gives an overall view of the ‘right’ color for your bedroom, with variations that can be adjusted to personal preferences and styles. All paint companies have their “Trends for 2012” colors and “Searchers-on-the-Quest” for the perfect night’s sleep can visit the websites below to get started on their New Year’s resolution. Good luck and good night!
Francesca Toscani (Interior Editions) specializes in reworking and remodeling difficult kitchen, bath and other interior spaces to unlock their potential.
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  • Behr Paints:
  • Benjamin Moore:
  • Farrow & Ball:
  • Pratt and Lambert:
  • Sherwin Williams:
  • Valspar-Eddie Bauer Series: (strong, bold, nature-oriented)
  • Easy Feng Shui:
  • (sums up the general feeling for colors to enhance a good night’s sleep)