The place women go to find inner peace

March 02, 1997|By SUSAN REIMER

A FRIEND bought a larger house so she could have a room where she could go to escape from her children, who, like all children, are only annoying when they are sure they have an audience.

But she found that the only refuge for her was the same refuge that existed in her much smaller house.

Her bedroom.

For any woman, there is no room like the bedroom.

It is not just where she sleeps, it is where she retreats. It is not just the place of unconsciousness, it is the set for her fantasy life.

"It offers us the promise of relaxation, romance, passion and inner peace," writes Diane Berger in her picture book, "The Bedroom."

A woman can dress her bedroom up like an Easter bonnet or dress it down like a bare stage, because visitors need never see it and the man she shares it with generally does not get a vote.

For a woman, the bedroom is a haven, a refuge from the world of work, housework and homework. It looms like an oasis at the end of the day, just beyond the car pools and the commutes, dinner dishes and bedtime rituals.

"Bedrooms have become the focal point of the home," says Michelle Lamb, who charts home-furnishing trends for the Trend Curve. "It is the room you decorate not for your company, but for you."

"One of the trends in building is much larger bedrooms," said Nancy High, of the American Furniture Manufacturers Association. "Bedrooms are getting so much larger, they are like a suite. They have become a haven for the adults in the family."

Trend-spotter Faith Popcorn calls this "cocooning." American Demographics magazine says bedrooms are a place to achieve "healthy de-stressing," part of a trend toward a slower-paced life.

Big beds dominate these big bedrooms, some costing thousands of dollars. Queen and king-size mattress sales have shot up by more than a third. The bed linens to cover them can be as expensive as a designer dress, made as they are by Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein and out of the same fabrics used in fashion lines. Can you imagine the luxury of a cashmere duvet cover?

Furniture from other rooms in the house -- not just televisions and exercise equipment -- is finding its way into this newly spacious space. Recliners, chaise lounges, coffee tables and sofas, TTC breakfast tables and chairs.

Computers are still barred from the bedroom, says Nancy High, but she sees a time when juice bars will be there.

"It is a living environment," she says, not just a sleeping place. "When we go there, we want to be pampered. We want it to be calming."

How do we create this place?

"With plushness," she said.

What does plushness look like?

Every woman has her own ideas, and often those ideas are not shared by the man who shares her bed. A friend's husband raised a typically vague objection to her plans for the bedroom and she demanded of him, "Have you had dreams about how this room should be? Well, I have."

"The very privacy of the bedroom allows us the decorative freedom to transform our dreams into visual reality, giving expression to our innermost selves," writes Berger.

I have these dreams, too, and in them my bedroom is a light-filled suite with vaulted ceilings. There is an upholstered chaise draped with a fringed shawl that covers me while I browse the coffee-table picture books piled next to me.

A breakfast table and two upholstered chairs sit by the French doors that open up onto a balcony. There are vases of tulips and bowls of fruit, a bone china tea set and a stack of decorated hatboxes.

The room is a riot of plaid, striped and floral fabrics that still manage to match because a decorator has chosen them for me.

I brush my hair 100 strokes at a skirted dressing table, using a silver-backed brush. In front of me are antique perfume bottles and pictures of my children in small, silver frames. Nearby, a stand is crowned with my collection of summer hats.

But all of these appointments are dwarfed and diminished by the bed, the centerpiece.

It is a huge four-poster that grazes the 9-foot ceilings. The gauzy bed hangings puddle generously on the floor around it. It is always dressed in antique linens, and I keep the extra sets, each tied with a satin ribbon, in an armoire lined with scented paper. A down comforter is rolled at the foot of the bed, and it is piled with chintz boudoir pillows fringed with satin tassels.

The bed is a room within the room. It is my innermost self.

And there are no children allowed.

Pub Date: 3/02/97

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