A Winter’s Snuggery, Make Your Bed and Layer It!
Greetings, my lovelies!
What a glorious snow day! And, what a perfect day for sharing over a hot cuppa and a ‘bickie’ while Mother Nature has thrown some of her heaviest ‘snow sheets’ over our corner of the world. Speaking of sheets, won’t you indulge me a little, while I tell you all about what inspired me to write today’s post…
As soon as she arrived, excited to see our barely-weeks-old bathroom makeover, my co-worker Joan, who had come for lunch along with a group of five office fellows, hurriedly removed her coat and dashed ahead of the rest down the hallway to view the much-talked about transformation. After much “oohing” and “aahing” over the results, she took a quick right turn into the bedroom. “Do you actually sleep in this bed?!” she quipped. “I do!”, I assured her. I think she must have thought it looked too picture-perfect. My goal in this post is to convince you, and my friend Joan, that without too much fussing (and even if you focus solely on the bed), you can have a sumptuous winter snuggery! About now, you’re probably asking, “What in the world is a snuggery?!” I first came upon the term many years ago in an issue of Victoria magazine (an all-time favourite); it has influenced me in many aspects of my life. (My grandniece is even named Victoria!)
A tiny public room in a British pub or inn is sometimes called a ‘SNUG’. The term ‘SNUGGERY’ in Britain often refers to a small private room or den, essentially a place to cocoon. In larger homes, a snuggery is often set apart from the rest of the house; but you can turn any room in your home (or, for that matter, any corner of a room) into a snuggery of your very own and make it a place where you visit and re-visit to spend quiet time to read, write or even dream…
CUE TO COZY Bedrooms are the perhaps most personal of all the spaces in our homes, n’est ce pas? In the depths of winter, while the wind howls outside whipping up the snows, this room speaks to me of snuggling in under the eaves with a good book and a steaming cup of herbal tea. The diverse fabrics that dress the bed (and even the varied furniture surfaces of pine, iron and marble; including hand-hooked rugs on hardwood and walls), seem to wrap the entire room in a kind of welcoming and homey snug-as-a-bug comfort.
ADVENTURE BETWEEN THE SHEETS
The key to creating this look is to, “Make your bed and layer it!” Here, I tend to forget the ‘decorating rule-of-thumb’ not to use more than three patterns in a single space. You really cant’ go wrong mixing three patterns in any room; but I love colour and am a textile fiend so I’ve opted instead to indulge in a ‘seasonal flurry’ of motifs and textures.
The ‘star’ in this room is a handsome black plaid (I share this room with my hubby afterall), and the ‘supporting cast members’ all carry a unifying thread of red, with one or two exceptions; all set against an accommodating backdrop of snowy white walls (Mountain Peak by Benjamin Moore).
Thick flannel sheets and pillowcases in ochre-maize-and-sage florals; flannel duvet cover and shams in a black-and-red-and-wheat-plaid; creamy cotton percale with cranberry polka-dot sprinkles for fun; and smoke-gray ticking all combine to spell C-O-Z-Y. The ticking used on the European shams at the head of the bed is in crisp contrast to the dominant, more subdued bunk-down flannels and is repeated peeping out from under the puffy black- plaid duvet at the bed’s feet. See photo below.
A flax-coloured linen bed skirt, when paired with the understated bed clothing; balances the opulent comfort of velvet, taffeta and fur throw pillows; and introduces a kind of casual practicality to the room. The toasty combination offers up an invitation to savour a rare afternoon of quietude and settle in for a a few idyll hours under the snows.
UP TO ONE’S NECK IN FLANNEL Flannel is a long-time favourite of mine in winter and easily cued to a cozy theme. Whenever I think of a time to sleep in, I think flannel sheets up to the chin! In this room, one has to resist the urge to hibernate for too long…
BLACK-BERRY PLAID As a general rule, I am not partial to plaid. Most times, if I happen to glance it on a store shelf, I don’t give it the time of day. Yet, as the cold weather sets in and Christmastime draws nearer, I am curiously drawn to all manner of ‘plaid tidings’ from tiny gifty tins and covered boxes to ribbonry and trims. I am especially attracted, like a fly to the firelight, to red-and-black plaid pillows and bed linens. I just can’t help myself! The seasons seem to affect my decorating decisions. And, during the holidays, I love my beds to be robed like a well-dressed Scotsman! I usually like to pair plaids with romantic touches of snowy white eyelet, linen and lace to keep the look fresh and energetic. When artfully composed, I think plaids can ground a room and, at the same time, introduce notes of playfulness and a cheerful sophistication. Remarkably at Christmas, plaid just makes my rooms sing!
A glorious mix of throw pillows brings instant romance to the bed and this is the trick to making it a worthy focal point.
Imaginatively fashioned in an array of materials – butterscotch faux fur, scarlet felt ‘rose petals’; ‘diamond’ embroidered taffeta, smooth camel velvet, exquisite needlepoint and oatmeal feedsacks – they also provide abundant textural interest. A myriad of trims include fringes, tassels, sparkly beading, wooden buttons and even tiny rustic jingle bells; and are the icing on the cake, or rather, the bed! What could be easier?! Hint: Look at the pillows that call your sofa ‘home’ and see how they look on your bed. Ya never know…
THE ‘TICKING OF TIME’ I am head-over-heels about ticking! What’s that, you say?! Well, if you’ve never heard the term until now, or are unsure about its meaning, you’re probably not alone. It is likely, though, that you’ve seen ticking fashioned into all manner of things; and you possibly didn’t know the proper name for it.
Ticking is typically a handsomely striped, old-fashioned bedding reinterpreted
for modern times. For centuries in Europe, ticking was a utilitarian, tightly-woven material that was commonly used to encase pillows and mattresses – you can still buy ticking mattresses. The word ‘ticking’ is derived from ‘tika’ which means case in Latin. Who knew?! Ticking is most popular in blue and white, and likely less heavy than its predecessor in ancient European times.
Today, I think, ticking evokes a kind of cool, casual chic – like a pair of great jeans for the bed! And, it’s manufactured in a seemingly endless array of colours – darker hues (browns, blacks, smoky grays and mustards) for a strong, masculine appeal; a softer palette (blues, reds, pinks, taupes) for a more feminine theme. Pair ticking with wool, flannel, velvet and fur for a warm and cozy theme. On its own, ticking is crisp, clean and summer fresh.
I’m currently on a quest to find the perfect black-and-white ticking to sew into Roman blinds for the corner windows of my bedroom. The neutrality of black-and-white will allow me to continue to combine – and change – patterns and textures to my heart’s content, no matter the season!
FROM SHAMS AND SHEETS TO CURTAINS, CARPETS AND MORE Ticking has spilled over into upholstered furnishings, wallpapers, rugs, bath towels, shower curtains; and even clothing, bags, footwear and pottery. I’ve even seen toothbrushes in ticking and they are cute! If you can think of it, chances are it’s been made into ticking. Ralph Lauren, for example, has designed entire collections around this lovely, yet practical, fabric. Pottery Barn stores carry a line of very affordable bed dressings in ticking. Even though they have stores across the country (four in Toronto alone), they do not ship to Canada from their on-line catalogue, www.potterybarn.com. That’s unfortunate! You can always try calling a PB store location nearest you and ask if they’ll ship to you. Ya never know!
1) DEJA VU Repeating a fabric in a room gives it a subtle flow. The smoke ticking used on the Euro pillow shams peeps out over the top of the duvet and from beneath at the foot of the bed. Check out how patterns are repeated in the photo at left.
2) REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT Repetition in pattern creates a feeling of continuity in a space. Mixing many different patterns in any room can be a little overwhelming at times. The eye does not remember colour, at least accurately, which is why it is so important to carry a fabric swatch with us when we’re shopping for companion patterns or paint colours.
3) KICK THE HABIT Suppress any habit to hide your sheets – fold them back over top of your duvet or bedspread to create visible layers of pattern.
2) SPRING FLING As the seasons change, my rooms change! As the weather warms up, I shed the beds of ‘THE THROWS OF WINTER’ and swap them out for a lighter, airier approach (in addition to my wall decor). And, so I don’t have to store my ticking ‘spring duvet’ cover in the linen closet where space is at a premium (I collect textile remnants, remember); I use it as an additional sheeting layer beneath my winter duvet. I love the look and it lets me enjoy it all year. Watch for a future blog to see the transformation of this cozy winter bower into a light and airy, yet restful, summer repose.
3) CONNECT THE DOTS A tuck of creamy white and red-polka-dot percale peeping out from the underside of the plaid duvet is not a sheet at all! It is actually two standard pillow cases, folded and placed on either side of the centre pillow on the bed! The pokey pillow cases just masquerade as a sheet! How easy is that?!
UNIQUE AND ANTIQUE Believe it or not, up until a few years ago, I had never owned a proper headboard. I could never seem to find just the right one. I yearned for something different from the cookie-cutter versions I’d seen in department stores. I had thought about hanging an old door with tons of character and attaching it directly onto the wall behind the bed, but it seemed too much work at the time to paint it and distress it. I chose instead to hang an oversized, beautifully framed-and-matted print as a substitute for a headboard. It did the job for more years than I care to think about. Time goes by so fast!
When my friend Lois opened an antiques shop in the downtown, I sought her out. At the very moment I walked into her beautiful shop, I spied the headboard of my dreams. There it was, inconspicuously propped up behind the shop’s counter; a bunch of cardboard boxes piled up in front of it. It was love at first sight! The search was at long last over. A tiny parchment tag dangled from the tip of one of its slim, seven-foot tall posts. I could feel my pulse start to race. Had it already been sold?! A flood of relief came over me to find that it had only just come to the shop earlier that same morning and was for sale. I just had to have it! Talk about serendipity! Lois openly relayed to me that she had kept the headboard in her garage for years and had never gotten around to doing anything with it. Until she opened the shop a few weeks before, she had actually been thinking of installing it in her garden as a trellis for her vining plants! I am so glad she made the decision not to plant it in her garden soil and to put it in her shop instead! She is delighted, too, that it has been given, finally, an appreciative and loving home.
The exceptional lines and frosting-like scrollwork of this magnificent headboard look as though they could have been piped by a champion cake artist! (I had read a similar analogy in my favourite mag, ‘Victoria’, many years ago and have never forgotten it!) And since wedding cakes are a passion of mine, I knew the instant I saw this intricate iron-and-enamelled work of art, that I had found what I’d been looking for all this time.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE In creating a winter’s snuggery of one’s own, do what your heart tells you. Style your bedroom retreat as you would a wonderful layer cake and pile on the frostings!
Read on for more hints and plenty of pics of another of my favourite snuggeries…
A CHILD’S OWN SNUGGERY To a child, there is perhaps nothing more wondrous than the very spectacle of all that is Christmas. And, the anticipation of the ‘big night’ is just more than some children can ‘bear’. (I just couldn’t resist the pun. Tee hee.) I reminisce about my childhood at Christmastime perhaps more than at any other time of the year. These rooms bring out my inner child and, it seems, also so for others who visit at at Christmastime. There is, indeed, an inner child in all of us. Some of us have more inner child than others! And that’s a beautiful thing!
This next bedroom is a favourite of my grandniece’s and another of mine! I love coming home to these rooms! It has a demure chandelier that I bought at Bombay Company for a mere $50! It was a clumsy plug-in and its original heavy, rope-like chain was much too long for the ceiling height. My extremely-skilled-electrician- brother-in-law, Dave, adapted it for me to work with the space. I love you, Dave!
The vibrant red-and-pink patterned peonies that bloom all over this ‘organic’ duvet cover (Pottery Barn) radiate Christmas cheer into every recess of this tiny guest room. Up until Lady Diana daringly wore the two colours in a single ensemble, I had always thought they would never “go together!” Was I ever wrong?! Not only is it restful to the eye, it adds a tall touch of elegance to this eensy bedroom.
The curvy antique single bed, complete with side rails and posts, was a serendipitous find at Treasure Cove Antiques in Torbay; as was the petite dresser (formerly a utilitarian washstand) more than a year later. The ‘washstand-turned-dresser’ hints of having had a hard-working life and has been beautifully restored to its present-day glory. I removed the backsplash (I have a feeling I’ll make creative use of it elsewhere in the house) to make it look more the part for this room. A contemporary, inexpensive mirror that I found at HomeSense was hung for more practical purposes and “Voila!”
Oh, my! Where has the time gone?! I hope you found the hints to be helpful and that you were inspired by the photos. Thanks for stopping by! And to all a good night…