By Bryan O’Sullivan
When thinking about adding character to a bedroom — or indeed any room — it’s important not to stick too rigidly to a theme. Instead, try to find the perfect blend of a range of periods and styles.
Whether I’m working on a hotel or residential project, I want the bedrooms I design to feel like a jewellery box — there should be details that catch your eye while the overall effect remains calm and serene. The main bedroom in this rather fabulous pied-à-terre in Sicily’s beautiful, baroque Ortigia — on the market for €1.8mn — has a lot working in its favour. I love the pendant light and the sea views are to die for, but the overall feeling is a little drab. The classical proportions of the architecture are a great launching pad for new ideas, however, and here I’ll show you how to create a bedroom that is elegant and welcoming — as well as set up for a good night’s sleep.
Make a statement
The bed is obviously the most important piece of furniture in any bedroom and I think it should make a statement. Firstly in terms of size: contrary to what you might think, larger furniture makes a room feel bigger and you want a bed to be generous and spacious.
Secondly, the headboard. We design bespoke beds for all our projects because I believe beds can bring so much character into a space and shouldn’t be purely functional. Curves are king (or queen!) in my eyes and in the past I have matched a fabric headboard to the walls. In this apartment, however, I’d opt for this Latro bed by Dmitriy & Co. I love the texture and neutral colour of the fabric against the dark wood — and I can’t resist those curves.
Small bedside tables are one of my pet peeves. You want to make sure you have enough space for everything you need. I like to pile mine with a bedside lamp, books, phone charger and a glass for water. As with the bed, a sense of generosity is key.
I love these solid oak bedside tables by Pierre Yovanovitch. They’re a great size with an unexpected silhouette; statement pieces that don’t dominate the space. They’re simple — the concealed drawer and cupboard are genius — and I love how they celebrate the natural grain of the oak. The clean, modern lines would make a beautiful juxtaposition with the more decorative, historical elements of this bedroom.
Roll out the carpet
This bedroom is crying out for some texture and a gorgeous rug under and around the bed will add warmth and bring the space to life. Don’t scrimp on the size of the rug — you want it to fill the room to make it feel larger. I often look at F J Hakimian, which is an excellent resource for antique and vintage rugs, and found this one from 1920s France. I love how it would bring the Sicilian sunshine into the bedroom and would soften the more modern bed and bedside tables. Don’t worry about mixing different eras and styles, which will add a sense of timelessness to the room.
It’s often thought that you should err towards neutrals for a bedroom but here I would turn to Pompadour by Edward Bulmer, a rich reddish tone that feels befitting of the historical setting of Ortigia. There’s an earthiness to it and it would certainly add drama. Edward Bulmer’s plant-based paints work perfectly in period properties and the sustainability credentials are impressive.
Light it up
Getting the lighting right is important in any room, but particularly in a bedroom. The existing pendant is already rather fabulous so I would dot the room with table lamps that allow you to adjust the lighting level at different times of the day. Bedside lamps are vital and I am drawn to this rare Italian pair by Max Ingrand for Fontana Arte that date back to the 1950s. The brass bases would work beautifully with the other materials in the room and the fact that they’re from a different era to the apartment is a good thing. It would make the room feel more curated and I love the way that design can let you travel through time.
Photography: Mark Cocksedge; Italy Sotheby’s International Realty; Rachael Smith/Edward Bulmer