I've read way too many articles over the years on how to make your bedroom your sanctuary, and have pretty much come to the conclusion that not a single one has ever been written by a parent. Or truthfully written by a parent. As a mother to a four year old and a six year old, I gave up trying to find a quiet and peaceful place in my home a long time ago. Six years and four months ago, to be precise (my eldest is an October baby). To conclude, children and Zen don't really mix.
However, that doesn't mean you should throw all hope of having a cool and calm(ish) space out of the window. You can still have an almost sanctuary-like room even if you're never quite sure if you'll start or end the night with two wriggly children snoring in your bed. It's not always easy but here are my tried and tested five ways to turn your bedroom in to a sanctuary ... when you're a parent.
1. Simple décor
For me, simplicity is key. In fact, it's essential. With a house full of toys, noise and children running around at speed, it's sometimes sensory overload. Our bedroom used to be a multi-coloured eyesore with badly mis-matched furniture - through circumstances, not choice, please believe me (the photos are here if your can bear to look).
Bidding farewell to the magnolia was a joyous moment and the room feels a whole lot lovelier with its freshly painted white walls and beautiful blue and mint accessories.
If you're worried about so much white making a room feel cold, it doesn't. Our bedroom feels calm but not stark - probably because of the additional colour and texture that the accessories provide.
2. The biggest bed you can afford
We were so lucky to be given a moving and shopping allowance when I transferred to the Swiss office of the company I was working for before the boys were born. One of the first things that we bought was a super king size bed, and many years on, that investment has paid off tenfold. Having children who are like magnets to our bed has proved to be a lot less problematic than if it was a simple double. They can be in with us but we still have enough space left to sleep relatively soundly. I normally have quite pared-down tastes but when it comes to beds, I insist that you buy BIG!
3. Tardis-like bedside tables
A good bedside table is not as easy to find as you'd imagine. And when you're a parent, you can't have a sanctuary-like room without the queen of bedside tables. We'd been living with side tables from our Zürich apartment until we stumbled across the Kartell Componibili 3 tier version on the Houseology website. And they kindly sent me two so I could have a closer look and see whether they would work for us.
For starters, the Componibili is a design classic (it has been added to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and can be found on display in the Pompidou Centre in Paris) but unlike most classics, at £100, it's not prohibitively expensive.
The fact that it's made from plastic may not appeal to some but I LOVE it! At first we tried to find tables to match our beloved bed but nothing came close. Opting for something vastly different works amazingly well. The bed and bedside tables have nothing in common and yet the sit so sweetly next to one another. And plastic? Wipe clean! Which is brilliant because? Calpol! Yes, no room can be a sanctuary with pink medicine marks everywhere. 3am Calpol top ups are not fun and are not done with a steady hand. But with the Componibilis the damage is minimal.
The three storage compartments also allow you space to have lots of said Calpol to hand. And wipes, and dummies, and spare night lights, and a plethora of plastic cups (you never know which colour will have magic healing powers in the middle of the night ... children might be sick but they still have extreme opinions about which colour of cup they can drink from at any given moment in time).
So the Kartell Componibil? Sleek, stylish and tardis-like! Thanks, Houseology. They're perfect!
4. Even more storage
However, if you have children like mine, whenever they enter your bedroom, it's with a trail of books, soft toys, cars, random bit of train tracks, and the odd gold coin behind them, so a handy basket or two is a necessity if you want to keep your floor clutter-free and your room relatively serene-like.
I tend to pop all of their bits and pieces in to the two baskets that we keep either side of our bed and then have the boys put everything away in their rooms at the weekends. Our bedroom stays tidy and none of us feel like we're constantly cleaning up.
5. Single duvets and the softest covers (and extra blankets)
This is probably the most important one for me ... single duvets, and extra blanket or two, and high quality cotton bedding. It might not sound overly romantic, but if your children have a tendency to sneak in to your bed at night, there's no way a double duvet is going to keep you all covered. In our house, with potentially four bodies wriggling around, the only way we can get a warm night's sleep is with two single duvets and a 'just in case' blanket at the end of the bed.
And the bedding. Oh, the bedding! I want mine to be chic but colourful, and super soft without being staggeringly expensive. I've recommended Secret Linen Store in the past after having bought bedding from there for the boys (which Paul and I subsequently stole for our bed) and they were lovely enough to send us our very own set - a teal cotton bedding set with a cute teasels design. It's a fun but grown-up print ... colourful but still quite restful - I find blue hues are brilliant for that. It works really well in the room.
So those are my tips for parents who want to turn their bedrooms in to something more sanctuary-like. It's not easy but, with some clever shopping, it's doable. Just. Now, go forth and rest!