Featured Image: Maldini Cattelan

Habitat once again focuses on sleep areas with a concentration on the integration of bedroom and bathroom into a holistic interior. As is our proven direction with FOCUS features, we include the opinions of those in the know.

Bedroom En Suite

When designing a master bedroom suite the paramount factors to consider are comfort and convenience. It’s a given that most of us humans spend a third of our lives within this space, thus no other interior is more personal. It’s therefore vital to integrate key elements: furniture, colour palette and lighting in order to create a coherent, functional and individual space.

Before embarking on the design of this very personal sanctuary, it’s important to carefully assess requirements so that the various necessary elements that contribute to rest and relaxation can be put in play.

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Sleep Central

An escalating trend in some of today’s master bedrooms is the necessity to cater to both partners, rather than create one common bed space. Actually, two beds are not uncommon. So delineation to accommodate the needs and style of each is key, particularly when it involves an adjoining bathroom. Some couples may prefer separate bathrooms – or at least a measure of privacy – but if space and budget are a consideration, twin basins and individual storage areas might suffice. Open shower / wet areas are an accepted element of bathroom layouts, but toilets and often bidets are screened or remain hidden.

The design of an open plan master bedroom / bathroom suite may include coordinated furnishings or a more personalised, eclectic signature. This allows the user to establish a look and feel that’s akin to his / her lifestyle. Yet selecting pieces that retain some common elements: flooring, wood colour and finish, painted surfaces, textures or accents will create the necessary harmony that should ideally continue into the bathroom. And sleep sanctuaries should not feature an interior palette that interferes with their primary purpose; the relaxation process prior to unbroken rest requires minimal eye stimulation. Jazzy geometrics don’t fit the bill.

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Illuminating Thoughts

Lighting is an integral element of 2017 / ’18 interior design and is particularly important in the master suite as a contribution to both function and aesthetics. Soft, warm lighting encourages relaxation, but in addition to overhead luminaires, task lighting is required for bedside tables, walk-in closets and desk / dressing table areas; dimmer systems can add ambiance here. As far as natural lighting, use shades, blinds, drapes or shutters to block early morning sunlight.

The chosen colour scheme is important for both mood and decorative appeal. Climate maybe a factor, yet a cool palette can encourage a sense of tranquillity, while warmer shades are more comfort-inducing. Neutral tones: whites, ivories, grey beiges and stone colours can serve both purposes. The style selected should however, not compete with the interior design / décor signature within the home. Appreciate that this is a personal space where it’s not necessary to please anyone but the regular user(s).

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Bedding Down

Today, in the second post-millennial decade, certain beds are works of high-tech art that have incorporated space-age R&D to create materials such as memory foam. And in 2017 / ’18 there are combos of memory foam, latex and pocket springs. So, a bed with the correct support, comfort and space will ensure that the sleeper wakes less, moves less and is less disturbed by his / her partner. The result is to wake-up without feeling fatigue or aches.

Replacing a mattress every seven years is recommended and pays dividends. Traditionally, the most popular type has been pocket sprung, in which the springs are sewn into individual fabric pockets. But there is more: foam and latex mattresses – whether pure foam or latex, memory foam, or a hybrid – are catching up fast. Many offer just as good support as pocket sprung, while moulding around the body in winter to keep the sleeper warmer. The user’s individual sleeping position will also influence the type of mattress best suited, the object being to discover the correct balance of support and comfort. Also consider that the mattress and base / frame need to work in tandem, i.e. which kinds of mattress will best synergise with the chosen bed base.

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Science of Sleep

So, the average adult will spend 36 percent of his / her life asleep; transitioning from a vibrant, thoughtful, active organism to power down into an inactive state of unconsciousness. Why is this process – usually occurring in the hours of darkness – so important and so restorative for bodies and minds, and how does it impact the waking hours?

Sleep serves multiple purposes that are essential to the human brain and body, the first being restoration. The brain accumulates metabolic waste as it affects its everyday neural activities. And, while this is completely normal, too much accumulation of these waste products has been linked to neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Recent research indicates that sleep plays a crucial role in cleaning out the brain each night; and while certain of these toxins can be flushed out during waking hours, clearance during sleep is up to twice as rapid.

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This process is fairly remarkable because during sleep brain cells actually shrink by 60 percent to better allow the brain’s waste-removal process (the glymphatic system) to essentially ‘take out the trash’ more easily. The result is brain restoration creating a refreshed wake up and a clear mind. Further, sleep is crucial for memory consolidation, which is the process that maintains and strengthens long-term memory. Insufficient or fragmented sleep can hamper the ability to form both concrete (facts and figures) and emotional memories.

Finally, sleep is paramount for metabolic health. Recent studies have shown that when we sleep 5.5 instead of 8.5 hours per night, a lower proportion of the energy burned comes from fat, while more evolves from carbohydrate and protein. This can accelerate both fat gain and muscle loss, while insufficient sleep and / or abnormal sleep cycles can lead to insulin insensitivity and metabolic syndrome – increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

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Sleep science indicates that better sleep is critical for mental and physical health. So sweet dreams are very much available; it’s all a matter of carrying out some personal R&D and making the right choices.

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