How bedrooms are changing for modern life

The pressures of modern life are changing our habits in the bedroom, says Maria Fitzpatrick .


Is it just me, or is everyone having problems in the bedroom these days? It used to be easy: bathe it in cool, restful colours and remove any daytime distractions that might jump between you and your full eight hours’ sleep. Now, that vision of the bedroom as a pared-back haven of calm is out of kilter with the way we live. With space at such a premium, bedrooms have to wear many hats, only one of which is a nightcap.

I know this dilemma well. In a cosy Victorian terraced house, my bedroom has become more of a secondary living room and an office. Blame Wi-Fi, too; now we can “plug in” to the internet anywhere in the house, day-to-day life, with all its paraphernalia, has sprawled with it.

Charlie Marshall, who set up the Sleep Room furnishing company in 2008, says that since then, our view of the bedroom has fundamentally changed.

“People are looking at it as a place for loafing and lounging and working; they are spending more on it, but every inch of space has to work harder.”

Clever entertainment solutions with no surface clutter are emerging all the time – such as the “Sound Asleep” headboard with built-in, invisible speakers (single, double, king; from £100;

The “store” bed, the Sleep Room’s bestseller (from £1,240;has a mattress that lifts up on a hinge, leaving the whole hollow base for DVDs, work files and laptop leads. Ikea has some great out-of-sight solutions, too – namely the Malm headboard (£110;  where shelves slide in and out of the sides.

Or there’s the option to make your bed disappear altogether by day. Wall beds are now unrecognisable from the precarious, spring-loaded slapstick affairs of the past.

Clei UK has a staggering range of pull-down beds with permutations of shelves, sofas, desks on the undersides. Its “Ulisse” bed has a fold-out dining table on it – genius (£1,900;

Decadrages, a French brand, has a remarkable design called “Bed Up”, bottom left, where the whole unit packs away into the ceiling and imitators are bound to follow (from£2,500;
The adage of buying the best you can afford rings louder than ever, says Mikael Berryman, Ikea UK’s interior expert: “As we spend more time on the bed – using our laptops, watching television, working – it is becoming a focal feature. Rather than spending money on cushions and throws, people are spending more on quality mattresses and the bed itself.”

It’s really important for our health to get it right. As someone with a back injury, getting comfortably to sleep is an exhausting nightly ordeal. Any time I do by some miracle achieve a good night’s rest, my long-suffering husband practically takes notes so we can try to recreate the ideal conditions; he’s been known to photograph the labels on hotel pillows so we can find them online.

The most comfortable night I’ve ever had was in a bed at the Boundary Hotel in Shoreditch (handmade by Savoir Beds, you can buy the “Boundary” bed – mattress, sprung base, headboard and mattress topper – bespoke to your own requirements (from £3,000; It was much firmer than I’m used to, preventing the jarring I feel at the slightest movement; it supported my back so well I slept like a dream. Not cheap, but a small price to pay for a blissful night’s rest.

For all of us, back problems or not, reading or using a laptop semi-propped with pillows is deadly; physiotherapists wring their hands at the thought of the neck-compression going on in every home; the cervical spine has to work really hard to hold that unnatural angle. If for this reason alone, hotel-style bedroom chairs, wherever they can fit, should be welcomed. The message is lie in your bed, but lounge on a chaise or chair with a decent back on it. Even a beanbag chair is better than curving your neck against a headboard.

If you’re really committed to wellbeing, there’s an adjustable “Bounty” two-mattress double bed from Dreams (£899; 0844 225 9259; the head-ends move up and down independently for reading or television-watching; it’s not romantic, but you won’t be achey and grumpy in the morning.

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