Greg Shugar was on a mission.
His wife put him in charge of decorating their house. While he had no interior design experience, he was the founder of a men’s accessories company, and she trusted him to have a good eye and a knack with fabrics. After selling the business, he had time to spare, so the job fell to him.
The biggest obstacle he encountered? The bedroom. “I started shopping for bedding,” he says, “and everything was floral. And … turquoise. I mean, I don’t need cowboy hats on my bed, but I’m a man. I don’t want to look at flowers every day. I just want something that appeals to my masculine aesthetic.”
The bedroom, it turns out, is an all-too-common stumbling block for couples trying to decorate together. Balancing the needs, wants and style sensibilities of two people in the most personal space in the house can be a delicate business. “There just needs to be some compromise,” says Shugar, who launched a new bedding company, The Thread Experiment, based on that revelation. With an aesthetic drawn from the way a stylish man might dress, he’s aiming for gender neutrality in bedding – and trying to end that stalemate for couples shopping for sheets.
We say why stop there? We’ve pulled together a recipe for a room of your own – one that suits both of you to a T.
For warmth, we like some combination of layered cotton or merino blankets and/or a lightweight down comforter. A duvet in a neutral or white, with a touch of colored or patterned blanket peeking out near the pillows, is our favorite. But an interesting, textural combo of two blankets slouching across the bed is another cool option that allows for a lot of flexibility in design and comfort.. The pick: Brahms’ Mount Herringbone Blanket from Serena & Lily in blue ($288).
The table – mixable modern
Your bedside table is private territory, even in a shared bedroom. Think individuality – two partners will have varying needs when it comes to what’s kept at bedside. Chances are you will not be buying two of the same table. Which is a good thing – a mix is more interesting and intentional, and individual tables also allow you to nod to style differences. The picks: How about CB2’s City Slicker ($199), a sleek, white, modern cube that contrasts, but doesn’t compete with, a table on the opposite side with a bit more detail.
Space for two
This bedroom from CB2 offers a good mix of details a couple might love, including a graphic rug and easy-to-love white bedding.
Follow the same approach you took with tables – to each his (or her) own. Bedtime readers, ideally, need light that can be aimed onto the page, so look for an adjustable desk lamp style. Keep it industrial and simple, or go for a style with a bit more detail – a hit of shine or color, maybe. If it’s simple illumination you’re after, choose a lamp that complements your style statement. Make sure the switch is accessible once you’re tucked under the covers, and don’t forget that floor lamps, pendants or sconces can make great bedside lamps that don’t steal any space from your bedside table. The pick: Tom Dixon’s Beat floor lamp from Dwell Studio is a design-forward option that adds richness and a crisp black line to the room ($1,450.). OK, so few of us are going to spend that kind of dough on a bedroom floor lamp. There are many great-looking models and looks out there for a fraction of the cost.
Sheets are about comfort, so buy the best you can afford in the fabric you love most. White linen sheets are always our pick, because you can invest in them with confidence that they will complement anything else you decide to add to the room. But if you’re inclined to go with color, there are plenty of great solids, including linen in wonderfully moody colors. Want just a hit of color or pattern? Try buying a set of pillowcases in a contrasting fabric – they’re the least expensive way to keep your design fluid. The pick: Restoration Hardware’s Stonewashed Belgian Linen sheets ($269) in white. With an extra set of pillowcases in Fog.
The rug should serve to soften a bedroom – it instantly makes things a touch more quiet, for starters. But it also adds a great style opportunity. We say go for a pattern, but keep things fairly neutral – add a little graphic energy but don’t overwhelm a room that is meant to be restful. On the other hand, if you’ve got a love of color, the rug might be a great opportunity. Peeking out from under a bed, a statement rug isn’t overbearing, and a partner who shies away from bold pattern won’t feel so intimidated. The pick: The Rug Company’s Ellora Black flat weave ($595 and up).
The table – smart and stylish
If you’re charged with doing the decorating, look at your partner’s side of the bed to see what’s there before choosing a nightstand. Does he work in bed, needing space for his laptop and files or other papers to sprawl? Does she need space for just her iPad and an occasional cup of tea? Look for tables with a drawer or other storage if there’s stuff to be contained, look for a lower shelf if a stack of books tends to build up by the bed, look for surface area if you’ve got a roommate who works in bed. The pick: Room & Board’s Bailey table ($499), in a pale finish with brass legs, is modern, but with decorative flourish.
The bed will dominate the space. Go sleek, but go comfortable. Choose a modern shape with an upholstered headboard in a menswear-inspired fabric such as herringbone or tweed. “If a fabric works in men’s fashion,” says Shugar, “when you throw it on a bed, it just generally looks right.” A touch of texture or subtle pattern keeps it interesting and adds detail, but has longevity and can still adapt to changes you might want to make later. The padded headboard offers comfort for those who like to prop up in bed and read, without the bulk and maintenance of extra pillows. We love beds based on updated wing chairs for the sense of cozy enclosure.