"Light" is an apt theme for this time of year.
The days are staying lighter longer, we're switching to lighter clothing, and it's a tempting season to introduce a lighter look at home.
As the weather becomes milder, you can give your bedroom a fresh look without changing your paint, furniture or window treatments.
Instead, focus on dressing the top of your bed in lighter layers.
Overall, home styles tend to be less seasonal than clothing. But let's face it, snuggling under a down comforter loses its appeal as the mercury rises, and the eye begins to crave paler hues thanks to increased sunlight.
It's time to pack up the Frette chinchilla throw that you may have treated yourself to with your holiday bonus, and dress your bed for the brighter days ahead in lightweight luxe of silk, bamboo, linen and high-quality cotton.
As the largest piece of furniture in the room, the bed automatically becomes the focal point that draws the eye.
Just as switching accessories can give new life to a familiar outfit, luxurious top-of-bed dressing with throws, bed scarves, coverlets and pillow shams can spark up the whole bedroom.
The "McMansion look" is out, says Scott Howard of
JLA Home, the licensee for the new line of luxury bedding created by designer Josie Natori. "The big trend had been upholstery-weight jacquard fabric for the top of bed," he says. "It was overstyled, very formal, a poofy, big look. A refined, sleek look is the trend now."
Among the hot elements for cool bed dressing are quilted coverlets; duvets filled with silk fiber rather than down; fringed or tasseled throws, bed scarves and bed runners in a variety of shapes and sizes; steamer blankets, such as you might drape across your lap while lounging on the deck of a luxury ship; and narrow, rectangular limousine quilts.
Jane Berk of
ABC Home views a layered bed as three-dimensional art.
The store's designers pile lacy textures or ethnic Chinese or Indian fabrics on the beds on display and "people love the presentation so much that they buy the bed and everything that's on it," Berk says.
The most important factor in decorating the bedroom, regardless of the season, is creating a look that you find comfortable and inviting.
Surround yourself with inviting colors and fabrics that you love to touch, and they'll add up to a sensual and relaxing atmosphere that will practically guarantee pleasant dreams.
"There are easy steps to make the room look more put together, more designed," says Normin Taylor, owner of
Home Boutique in Greenwich, Conn., which carries bedding by
Anchini and other high-end manufacturers.
Among her tips are using similarly colored elements at the bed's head (say, pillows) and foot (for example, a narrow throw) and using contrasting colors in between. "The two end items in a similar pattern or color create a nice frame," she says. "I'm seeing blue and chocolate combinations -- that's very trendy, also ivory and brown."
Some of these top-of-bed pieces are completely decorative, Howard points out. "They're jewelry for the bed. You could start with a solid-color quilted comforter, then toss a 60-by-60 inch silk, tasseled bed scarf on top," he says. "Next, add a bed runner. We're showing them draped horizontally across the foot of the bed. It's purely an accessory."
Alison Newman, marketing manager of Frette, says the luxury bedding manufacturer specializes in "consistent, classic styles. We focus on layers to achieve a rich look based on colors and textures. It can be added to or stripped down according to seasons."
Frette introduces two new collections each year, each featuring floral, romantic and geometric patterns. Textures, too, are important elements. Embroidery, jacquard and rich silks and satins are featured, along with exotic materials like
python, which is used for pale-colored pillow shams and as trim on lightweight cashmere throws.
When it comes to pillows, pile them high. Choose from bolsters, rectangles, squares and circles, and consider adding less-typical silhouettes like hearts, stars or scallops. Pillows that stand out from the crowd can be ornamented with decorative trim including medallions, Chinese coins, braided cords, quilting stitches and hand embroidery.
Taylor favors layering on the pillows, proportioned to the height of the headboard. With a low headboard, she recommends starting with king-size pillows, adding several standard-size shams and finishing with smaller boudoir pillows. A high headboard gets the same treatment, except that the king-size pillows are replaced with taller, square European shams.
If you already own bedding that you love, consider adding to your current collection.
Custom fabricators can make new pieces from scratch to bring a fresh look to existing pieces or to create a coordinated look that's not too matchy-matchy. "Some people don't want to invest in whole bedding ensembles," says Gail Secular, president of
Archipelago in Manhattan. "We offer a choice of 170 fabrics. The studio is set up to tell a color story that builds on what the client already has."
Of course, these luxury products require attentive care, so don't even think about stuffing them in the washer -- march straight to an experienced dry cleaner.
"Frette produces couture for the home," Newman says, so "treat it as you would a clothing article of that material, for example, a silk couture gown."
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Elzy Kolb is a freelance writer living in White Plains, N.Y. In addition to writing the monthly JazzWomen! column in Hot House magazine, her articles on the arts, travel, interior design and other topics have appeared in the New York Times, Interior Design magazine and The Stamford Advocate.