Where to Put the Bed
Principles of feng shui, the ancient Asian art of fortuitous placement, advise setting the bed so your feet don't point toward the door when you're lying down. This is to avoid replicating the position a corpse takes when being removed from a room -- a sobering enough thought to give the bed placement some serious consideration. In general, the headboard or head of the bed feels most secure when it is backed by a solid wall, not a window. A shared bed needs ample room on both sides for nightstands and climbing in and out. The bed should easily clear the open closet or en suite bathroom doors when they're open, and you need enough space to fully open dresser drawers, cupboards or armoires.
Kids' rooms pose a challenge with several good solutions. Twin beds may be placed side-by-side with a bedside table -- and maybe a partial screen -- separating them. Or angle them into a perpendicular, wall-hugging corner layout with a low table in the corner where they meet. Bunk beds free a lot more floor space when they are built-ins against one wall, which maximizes the square footage and works with ceiling height. A loft bed with a play area or desk and bookshelves beneath it, gives a child a study or a playroom in addition to sleeping space. In a long, narrow bedroom, an attic conversion, for example, accommodate two or more children with custom storage beds hugging one wall -- mattress platforms with drawers below. Separate beds with tall partitions, playfully punctuated with pretend windows, portholes or star-shaped cutouts for air circulation and whispered late-night confidences.
Working With Windows
A window can be the scene of a mini-tableau with sweeping curtains, tied back by day, a small bistro table and two delicate chairs. The setting is convenient for writing personal notes, sipping a cafe au lait or late-night digestif, checking email or even putting on a better face with a magnifying makeup mirror. That daylight access also works for a reading corner with a comfortable chaise or enveloping wing chair. Consider building ceiling-high bookshelves to flank a window, and create a window seat between them with extra blanket storage underneath. Windows on either side of the bed need matching window treatments -- such as neat roman shades -- and matching nightstands to make the configuration look serenely symmetrical.
An odd alcove might house an armoire, or adaptable shelves for books, stuffed animals, a shoe collection or a group of antique globes or dolls. Fill the alcove with a desk, cork-tile side walls for bulletin boards, and an ergonomic desk chair on wheels. Mount three-way mirrors and screen the quirky space with a fancy folding screen, a Zen bamboo or shoji screen panel, or a colorful canvas drape on a curtain rod. Use the alcove to wall-mount the guitars, park the cello or the surfboard, add an extra clothing rack or tuck a narrow pier glass and a wide bench. A working fireplace is pure luxury and needs a couple of chairs. A decorative one can be filled with books, sports gear, a plant, or a music system with a low table and beanbags for chatty teens.