Dressing the Dressing Room
Did you know that the term boudoir comes form the French verb bouder – to pout or sulk – so a boudoir is literally a “pouting room” or more metaphorically a room “where a lady may retire to be alone”. In the UK, the term was most often used in the Victorian era and early 20th century and referred to a lady's evening sitting room, which was separate from her morning room, and her dressing room. As this multiplicity of rooms with overlapping functions suggests, boudoirs were generally only found in grand houses. In the United States, in the same era, boudoir was an alternative term for dressing room, favored by those who felt that French terms evoked more prestige.
Today, a dressing room can be anything from a fully customized walk-in space, with built-in storage and hanging solutions to a dedicated corner in the bedroom, or even an armoire that's been optimized to house a wardrobe. Whatever the available space or solution, to have your own private space to get ready each morning and store your personal belongings is a luxury that will help to make starting each day a pleasure rather than a stressful rush. For this very reason, I feel this particular nook in your house should only feature things that make you happy, delighted and comfortable. I'm talking about truly personalized design elements that really speak to who you are, and what you want to project to the outside world, as you are getting ready to tackle it. Here are a few examples.
If space allows, a comfortable piece of upholstery is a must: a slipper chair, a bergère, a bench or even a small stool are all excellent choices. Since this piece will get little wear and tear (no dogs or kids allowed), go ahead and splurge! Think plush velvets, lush damasks, even faux fur...
Powdery pinks colors are universally flattering and look good in any light. If you are among those that have a tough time waking up, these shades will ease you into the new day with kindness and care. Offset these colors with touches of black and simple furnishings to keep your decor from becoming to fussy.
In many cases your dressing room may have to do double duty, so think outside of the box about combining functions: a dressing room/guest room or a study/dressing room. I know someone who created a dressing area on her upstairs landing, and why not? It was a little-used space with great light, a small oasis of calm in a busy house.
When it comes to actual storage solutions, think outside of the box as well. I once found the best shelving system in the IKEA kitchen department. And I love the idea of hanging a week's worth of wardrobe choices on hooks. This may not work for everyone, but you get the idea.
Whoever said that large patterns don't work in small spaces? If anything, these pretty chinoiserie murals may be too overwhelming elsewhere in the house, but they will turn your walk-in closet into a veritable jewel box. You will smile every time you set foot into this dreamy little room.
The same can be said for novelty prints and patterns. Think retro forties and fifties motifs, foil prints (gold or silver), calligraphy and writing patterns, maps, animal prints...
While painting such a small space black – or a very dark shade of blue, green or purple – may seem counter-intuitive, it is actually a great way to make its contents stand out, and it will only enhance the feeling of a chic cozy retreat – away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house.
Last but not least, a word about jewelry and accessories, the fun non-essentials that will make or break your outfit. They need to be on display at all times, so you can experiment and get creative. Cover a plain cork board with your favorite fabric and hang your necklaces and bracelets on pretty pushpins. Do the same with scarves and belts. Keep rings and earrings in a collection of vintage porcelain teacups. Have fun!