Mastering the Perfect Bedroom

By Martha Uniacke Breen

According to Tary Roossien, founder of Urban Rustic Living in Huntsville, creating the cottage bedroom of your dreams is easier than you think—it’s all about following a few simple rules, and layering on the luxury.

It’s a well-worn cliché that we spend a third of our lives sleeping. But at the cottage, often our bedrooms are the locale for other activities as well: reading, watching the sunset (or sunrise, or the stars), or simply retreating for a few minutes of quiet away from a houseful of family or friends.

Tary Roossien, decorator and founder of Urban Rustic Living in Huntsville, has lots of great ideas for bedrooms made for sweet cottage dreams. The store has one of the region’s largest collection of bedding essentials – from custom and in-stock furnishings and rugs, to quilts, bedding, pillows, and a fabulous assortment of accessories and other finishing touches. 

Tary and her team of designers also offer complete design and decorating services, whether for one room or your whole home. Recently, we sat down and asked her to tell us what goes into creating a great bedroom.

Setting the Stage

Choosing a wall colour is a great place to start. Tary often recommends soothing, calm neutrals, especially for cottage bedrooms. “Often the most important feature in the room is the view,” she points out, “and a soft wall colour is a beautiful backdrop.” 

Some of her go-to favourites (all from Benjamin Moore Canada, which the store carries) are Silver Satin (OC-26), a wintry pale grey; Wickham Gray (HC-171), a cool grey that’s beautiful with white trim or natural woods; or Pale Oak (OC-20), a warm, taupey beige.

“I’ve also been seeing a resurgence of accent walls, especially for the headboard wall,” she adds. “Darks like Gentleman’s Gray (2062-20) – really, a rich navy – or Charcoal Slate (HC-178) look great with clean whites or grey or dark woods.”

Cast Some Light

“Layering” your room lighting gives you a range of moods and options for different activities and times of day. For overhead lighting, placing a chandelier or pendant over the bed rather than in the centre of the room immediately ups the glamour quotient, and illuminates the room just as well as a centred ceiling light. You’ll want to supplement it with more focused light sources – twin bedside lamps (or, if space is an issue, wall-mounted sconces or plug-in articulated lamps), and perhaps a floor lamp or two if the room is large. 

And So to Bed

The bed is the star player in most bedrooms, so it’s worth investing in the best bedlinens and other bedding essentials you can afford. Urban Rustic Living prides itself on having just about the largest collection of bedding in Muskoka: everything you need, including custom headboards and other bedroom furnishings, and a positively vast selection of pillows.

As an alternative to a wood or metal bed frame, a headboard is essential as a place to prop pillows, rest your head, and to act as a visual anchor for the bed. The store can custom-design your headboard in the perfect size for your needs, in your choice of fabric, shape and style, and finishing touches such as tufting, buttons, nailheads and other detailing. 

Now it’s on to the most luxurious part: your bedding. “Linen is huge right now,” observes Tary. “It may be an investment, but once you’ve slept on linen sheets, you can never go back.” Linen is hypoallergenic, cool on warm nights, machine washable (in fact, it gets softer with repeated washing), and feels wonderful against your skin.

If you’ve been skeptical of “faux feather” pillows and duvets in the past, you’ll be amazed at how the technology has advanced. Today’s versions have all the luxury and comfort of natural goosedown, with none of the drawbacks: they’re hypoallergenic, never absorb moisture or mildew (a consideration in Muskoka’s damp waterside environment), and easy to clean – not to mention vegan and cruelty-free.

Finishing touches

Tary says no bedroom should be without a rug underfoot, even if the floors in the rest of the cottage are bare. It pulls the room together visually and adds coziness. Make sure it’s big enough to extend several feet out from the sides of your bed, to give your toes something soft and warm to land on when you rise in the morning!

If space allows, add a reading nook. A comfy chair with a side table and a table or floor lamp gives you a perch to decompress and read, have a cup of tea, or just be quiet for a while. A bench at the foot of the bed not only gives you a place to sit to put on shoes, but makes a great landing spot for a suitcase or to stash extra pillows when you go to bed.

Lastly, don’t forget to add some of your own personality! Urban Rustic has a wealth of wonderful accessories, art and other objects, to place alongside your own treasures found while travelling, antiquing, or exploring Muskoka’s great local art galleries.

“Especially at the cottage, and particularly if you entertain or have family visit a lot,” says Tary, “it’s really worthwhile to take some time to invest in making your bedroom a wonderful cocoon you can get away to.”

Subtle texture abounds in this elegant bedroom. To keep the feeling restful, colours were kept within a muted palette of white, grey and soft griege. But look more closely, and you’ll see plenty of understated contrast, to keep things visually interesting: a traditional nailed headboard in a classic shape, paired with the contemporary look of chrome bedside lamps and a lucite chandelier; chevron detailing on the accent wall and the strong diamond pattern of the duvet; a vaulted ceiling set off by crown moulding at standard ceiling height, adding a cozy human scale while keeping things airy and light.

Making a large room feel cozy without sacrificing openness can be challenging. Tary and her team started by painting the headboard wall a dramatic navy, bringing out the subtle texture of the shiplap detail. The colour repeats in the upholstery of the loveseat, which does double duty: it substitutes for a bench at the foot of the bed, and also anchors a comfortable seating area under the window. At one corner of the room is a fireplace, the other a bookcase, complete with the Old World touch of a library ladder. Supporting players – the rug, which defines the seating area and breaks up the expanse of this big room; the chandelier, which illuminates both bed and seating; and wonderful oversize accessories like the mirror and trio of wooden candlesticks add both personality and scale.

Bringing a ’70s-era cottage up to date really centres on bringing in light and colour, as shown in this irresistible cottage bedroom. The team started by painting out all the pine board panelling in Simply White (OC-117), flooding the room with sunshine. Then they laid on fresh, pretty colour: turquoise bedding and matching pineapple lamps; pillows in turquoise, cream and cranberry, with a bit of texture in patterned lumbar pillows. The starburst-patterned wooden bed was too pretty to cover up with a bench at its foot, so a comfy armchair in one corner (not shown) provides a practical substitute. The design was finished with artwork that has a touch of turquoise, and a farmhouse-chic wood beaded chandelier, completing the artistic, laid-back vibe.

Layering the perfect bed

Tary Roossien’s tips for a perfectly dressed bed

Step 1: A Good Foundation 

Start with a good base: a high-quality mattress and foundation. Modern foam and foam/coil styles offer a range of comfort and firmness that will last for years if properly cared for. For extra softness, you might want to add a “feather bed” – actually a mattress topper that creates the effect of sleeping on a cloud.

Step 2: The Head of the Bed

A headboard creates a foundation for pillows and anchors the bed, especially if you forego a bedframe, or have a frame that doesn’t feature one.

Step 3: Sheet Music

Choose good quality, preferably white sheets (it’s a classic you’ll never tire of). Natural linen, cotton, or high-quality synthetic blends are all good. Always make your bed with the finished side of your flat sheet face down, so that when you fold back the top you see the pretty edging or pattern. 

A duvet is key to making your bed look plush and inviting. Fold it in thirds either once or twice to get that lofty, layered look. The classic choice is a white or natural duvet cover – this is where linen really works
its magic.

For extra warmth, add a coverlet or quilt, folded and draped across the lower third of the bed. Another option is placing it the full length of the bed, then folded down to half; many coverlets are double-sided, offering a contrasting pattern to complement the front.

Step 4: The Pillow Effect

The sleeping pillows are your foundation – use king size pillows for a king bed, and queen size for a queen. The fill is up to you, but Tary finds the hypoallergenic faux-feather pillow is the best way to go. Layer two or more decorative shams and/or pillows in front of your sleeping pillows, stuffed with full inserts for a crisp look. 

Step 5: The Toss-Up

Pile on the toss cushions! Oodles of pillows not only make your bed look ready to dive into, but add colour and pattern. Minimum recommendation: for a king-size, three Euros (26” x 26”) and one lumbar (18” x 48”); for queen-size, two Euros and one 14” x 23” lumbar.

Step 6 Throw Away

Add a textured throw, placed casually on one side of the end of the bed – great for pulling over yourself if you’re stretching out for a read or a nap after lunch.

Step 7: Bench Press

For a final touch, add a bench or ottoman at the end of the bed. It creates a finished look and makes everything come together. But more importantly, it’s a space to place all those toss cushions when sleeping. 

An extra tip: For a seasonal changeover, create a neutral foundation through sheets and duvet covers. Then changing out pillows, throws and the coverlet can give you a fresh summer and cozy winter look.