When you're aiming for a lot of romance on a little budget, accent and accessorize for bedroom alchemy. A setting is all about the lighting, textures, colors and sensual experience, so cast a critical eye on the bland wall behind the bed, the leftover holiday lights, a lovely silk scarf you haven't worn in years, all the unused real estate going to waste on the ceiling. Then start transforming. In a few hours, or minutes, you can have the fictional Pemberley in your own home.
Haunt white sales for new bedding and flea markets and country antique stores for old linens to upgrade your bed. Invest in a down duvet and a silk or flowered duvet cover. Add two European pillows and replace standard pillows with king or queen. Buy high-thread-count sheets for their softness and durability. Look for antique cutwork or embroidered pillow shams and top sheets -- you can repurpose imperfect embroidered sheets as a flat or gathered bedskirt with just a couple of hems. Stick to all-white bedding for pristine prettiness or mix pastels for the lacy look of an old-fashioned valentine. The sink-into-it bedding tops the list of modest moves you can make to inject a jolt of romance in your bedroom.
Small Outlay, Big Impact
Cover the wall behind the headboard in lushly romantic flowered or pictorial wallpaper. Since the area only involves a single wall, you can afford to splurge on reproduction antique paper or a paper-backed fabric wall covering, more luxurious than you might afford when papering the entire room. If a fabulous piece of wallpaper is too small for the entire wall, or if you get a bargain price on a remnant that won't stretch to fit the space, mount the paper squarely behind and over the bed so that it extends down past the top of the headboard -- at least a little way -- and paint a metallic gold faux frame around the "textile panel" that turns your bedroom into a royal chamber. Pick up the color or a pattern from the wallpaper in a silk throw for the bed -- less expensive than a bedspread but an opulent drift of color and design. A silk scarf tossed over a bedside lamp softens the light to a warm, romantic glow, but don't let it get too close to the bulb to avoid the risk of fire.
Hoist the Canopy
You don't need a real canopy bed to enjoy the theater of sweeping drapes of fabric surrounding your mattress. Position a swing-arm curtain rod on the ceiling on either side of the headboard, aligned with the length of the mattress. Drape a long drift of gauzy fabric over the two rods so it swoops down a bit over the bed and falls gracefully on either side. Cost: fabric and two small rods -- attach them to the ceiling joists so they stay up. Wait for a sale and raid the fabric store for a bolt or substantial remnant of a shiny, heavy fabric to coordinate with your decor colors. Inky violet or icy blush-pink are the stuff of 19th-century romance novels -- silk taffeta or a convincing synthetic with some body is your game here. Install a rod that stretches the width of the bed a few inches from the ceiling. Hang gathered drapes that fall behind the headboard and pool on the floor. Add another rod at ceiling height for a deep valance of inverted box pleats in the same material.
Sleep Amid the Stars
Fairy lights are your friends when your budget is tiny, but your heart is extravagantly aflutter. Hang white mosquito netting in columns at the four corners of the bed -- suspend small embroidery hoops from the ceiling, or just a handy large cup hook, for attaching gathered netting. Snake a string of white fairy lights down the inside of the netting; connect all four strings under the bed and plug in the lights for a starry night. Even simpler, just drape netting from the ceiling behind the headboard and hang a starfall of tiny lights behind the cloud of net.
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