If you are up to your neck in clutter or if your living space is chaotic and unsoothing, the place to start is the master bedroom. Given that we spend a third of our lives asleep, this room merits all the investment you give it. Before any other room in the house, tackle this one. It all starts by making clear to yourself what the function of this room is for you. Sleep, rest, repair and intimacy are the roles of the master bedroom. Cells are repaired here, tired minds are soothed and key relationships are nourished. A deeper awareness of the room’s function acts as a guiding light in the work that follows. The aim is to enjoy the space and let that enjoyment, and the replenishment you get from it, encourage you to spread the technique to other areas of your home.
Step 1: Remove. Remove. Remove.
Remove the story
Allow the changes that need to happen in, by getting your old story out of the way.
Many people have blocks on giving themselves a serene space, or are subconsciously ‘counter-invested’ in chaos or mess. If you don’t believe me, just look at the mess some people create in hotel rooms or holiday homes that were immaculate 48 hours previously. If you were brought up in chaos you may believe that a clean, peaceful bedroom is impossible to attain. You may run the mantra that busy/successful/hip/whatever people (like me) don’t have clean bedrooms as they don’t have the time. But it could easily be the opposite – that only successful people (not me) have beautiful bedrooms. There is rarely any factual basis to the story. This is why two different people can run entirely opposing stories and both still end up with the same result! In this example, that result would be a messy bedroom. By shining the light of awareness on the story you tell yourself about your bedroom (or anything else), you will be able to immediately re-adjust when your particular storyline rattles around your head and attempts to sabotage the process.
Remove the stuff
If you have children, do not allow any toys in this room. Absolutely none. Operate a zero tolerance policy. The children can come in – but do not allow them to bring in their toys. In school, the children are not allowed to put their stuff wherever they want and the same goes here. The bedroom is where you nourish yourself with deep restful sleep, where you repair your body or give time to your relationship. I don’t see where a Peppa Pig, random bits of Lego or Crayola crayons fit into this picture.
Wailing images on the news, people from Wolverhampton on quiz shows and adverts for budget sausages. Is this really what you want in your sanctuary?
But “I need to be informed”
I hear this all the time. You don’t work for Barack Obama. You don’t need to have a finger on the pulse of all the world’s madness up to the minute you fall asleep. The news is full of the world’s most unconscious people blowing others up. Let’s face it, too often it’s the crazy people who make the headlines. Why do you want to bring this into your sanctuary? As author and broadcaster Iyanla Vanzant says, ‘When you see crazy coming, cross the street.’ Don’t stare at it for hours in your bedroom.
‘It helps me relax/switch off”
TV is a pre-sleep disaster. As neuroscientist Dr Jack Lewis in his book Sort your Brain Out explains, “If you watch television in bed, you are making your brain active at exactly the time it should be passive.”
Exposing your eyes to screens before bedtime interferes with the sleep hormone melatonin. Long before TV and other electronic devices, we went to sleep at sunset and rose with the dawn of the new day. This is such an inherent part of us that we have an anatomical ‘night time’ pathway for light that is entirely different from the one we use to see images. To see an image, light enters our eyes through the retina and travels to the occipital lobe at the back of the head. The ‘night time’ pathway however, leads down to the hypothalamus where it stimulates the pineal gland to release the potent sleep neurotransmitter melatonin. It is stimulated to do this by darkness. TV and other screens emit white/blue light and don’t allow melatonin levels to rise, wrecking your internal clock resulting in restless sleep.
As if feeling awful all day long is not bad enough, sleep deprivation plays havoc with hunger and weight loss hormones. Research carried out at the University of Chicago showed that lack of sleep makes you ‘metabolically groggy’. Your ‘I’ll take another slice please’ hunger hormone ghrelin goes up, your ‘I’ve had enough thank you’ hormone leptin goes down and the ‘pile all the fat right here Jim’ (pointing to your stomach) hormone insulin goes into overdrive. This creates the perfect storm for fatter bodily portions. That TV show/eBay purchase is not looking so smart now.
I train. Believe me, I train. I don’t think fitness equipment has any place in the bedroom. If you don’t use it, it serves as an (expensive) reminder that you are not getting the real job done which is so depleting, in what is supposed to be a restorative space. What’s worse, it can quickly gather more clothes than the sale rail at Debenhams. What I learnt in the process of losing four stone of fat was how little equipment you need and the tiny amount of room it takes up.
Work Related Material
It’s not the place. I repeat, it’s not the place. It has to go. Last minute emails begone. I don’t expect replies from anyone when sane people are asleep or winding down. If you have to email someone, write it down on your pad – but don’t shut down the melatonin. No email is worth the love handles. No boss should expect that.
Excessive Reading Material
Boy does this mount up. Edit. Edit. Edit. I love reading but no-one can have 25 books on the go at the same time. Keep a little supply. Read. Finish or discard if it’s boring and then replenish with new material. Give yourself permission to not finish the book if it’s not doing it for you. The main thing is not to hoard or hole yourself up “Miss Haversham” style. If your bedroom looks like the sale bin at Waterstones – pick three books and a couple of magazines to have on your bedside table. Never use a small pile of books as bedroom furniture. Books are meant to be read and enjoyed. Even using massive coffee table size books it’s going to take £300 worth of them to fashion a usable bedside table. A pile of fusty old dog-eared books in the corner of a bedroom with a lamp balanced on them is not chic.
Clutter Under The Bed
Do everything you can to remove stuff from under your bed. I like mine to be completely clear. I know divan drawers are practical, but I love the idea of a continual flow of nourishing and sensual energy around the bed, rather than having it congealed in a drawer full of questionable knitwear and mismatched pillow cases.
Remove the Behaviour
Lengthy, in depth discussions about money, children or what kitchen floor tiles to buy are not for the bedroom. At best they stimulate and rev up cortisol, at worse they end up in a full blown row. Think of the wrinkles, think of the lack of human growth hormone – the elixir of youth given to you for free, (either during exercise or during deep sleep at 3am) ruthlessly snatched away from you by excessive cortisol. This keeps you awake and does not allow you to fall deeply asleep early enough. Fat calves are a sign of deficiency. Fat calves or an immediate decision on mortgage interest rates? The choice is yours.
Throwing Clothes on the Floor
Dealing with clothes is easy. They have one of two places to go – put them away or put them in the laundry basket. If you want your bedroom to look like a jumble sale after a gorilla attack, then throw your clothes all over the floor, chairs and bed. Make a small clearing for yourself and curl up like a squirrel in it. If you want a more successful, pulled together bedroom hang them or put them in the laundry.
Step 2: Clean.
This makes a huge difference so no half jobs here. You would not entertain a filthy hotel room for a New York minute so why is a dirty bedroom OK? If you look at your bills plus your mortgage or rent, believe me you are paying more for it than any hotel room.
Strip the bed. Assess the condition of everything. Pillows, mattress, duvet – the lot. Is anything stained or just limp and worn out? Throw it out. Wash the mattress protector, duvet and pillows if you are not replacing them. Make a list of what you need to replace. Order it all today if you can afford it, if not order what you can afford today. You cannot spend a third of your life on a dud pillow or lumpy mattress. Many of us can spend £80 a month on coffee, so you need to divert funds to where they really will make the most difference and it’s not more latte.
Essential Bed Kit
- Pocket sprung mattress
- Mattress protector
- Pillows that are supportive and fresh
- Pillow protectors
- Natural duvet
- Matching bed linen – it’s too student digs to have a random selection.
‘You’re not 15 any more, make your bed’.
Step 3: Dress the Space.
Making The Bed
Always air the bed. When you get up – open the window and pull the duvet down to take the temperature of the bedding down. Mites adore moist warm conditions. When you launder your bed linen, wash at 60C to ensure any mites are killed.
The “sheeple” effect is clear with seemingly every stylist now presenting beds unmade for linen companies. If you went into a hotel room and found unmade beds you’d complain straightaway. These beds are hours in the styling, the rest of the room is immaculate and many still look very unappealing. If you try to do that at home, it will just look a mess. Two words sum up this look for me – moist sheets. If a bed looks as though someone has just climbed out of it – it doesn’t really inspire me to buy the linen.
Upgrade Your Nightwear
“If you are a woman, wear something feminine or elegant as nightwear,” advises Marie Kondo author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. “The worst thing you can wear is a sloppy sweat suit. I occasionally meet people who dress like that all the time. If sweat pants are your everyday attire, you’ll end up looking like you belong in them, which is not very attractive. What you wear in the house does impact on your self image.”
Turn Down Service
When I ran a small hotel, people would love the turn down service. What I realised is that, it takes minutes and yet for most people they only ever experience it when they stay at a hotel. You can easily give yourself a five star hotel type experience every day rather than only occasionally when you stay in a hotel.
I do this before dinner so when I am tired and ready to go to bed, it’s extra delicious.
If you have not already done so, clear any clothes away. Once you are in the habit of doing this, the turn down is even quicker.
- Draw blinds or curtains
- Put on bedside lamps
- Plump up pillows and make your bed look beautiful
- Make sure you have your book/water
Join The Movement – tweet your before and after photos #mybeautifulbedroom
This is an excerpt from Issue 1 of Amanda Magazine. Read the full article by ordering your copy now.