Room-inations: The Bedroom

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

Room-inations: The Bedroom

This is the second post in a three-part series about rooms around the house. You can read the first post, on bathrooms, here.


What do watching Goddard movies, knitting an infinity scarf, reading scandalous Jackie Collins novels, performing yoga stretches and writing a small business plan have in common?

They are all activities you can do in your bedroom!

As a child, private bedrooms, like eating candy for dinner or the Platonic theory of Forms, were regarded as both conceptual myths and something that sounded enviably cool. This was especially so for siblings with large families living in tight quarters. But as an adult you can now politely decline in sharing this vital living space, and in fact, demand to have a room of your own.

And why not? A bedroom shouldn't be shared if you don’t want to, or need to. Neither should a bedroom merely be a sleeping chamber in which you partake in a very literal journey to the end of the night. If that were the case, any old drafty room would suffice. Rather, bedrooms should soothe, should absolve, should deliver you from what Philip Larkin, in his lovely poem “Aubade,” calls “the uncaring/Intricate rented world.”

Stripped to its core etymologies, the term bedroom evokes the weirdly macabre. The Welsh cognate for bed means grave, after all; the Old English meaning of room is space. Somehow, I doubt hearing the word gravespace elicits the same feelings of warmth and comfort that the word bedroom possesses. Nevertheless, they both signify one very important (and inescapable) activity: They are places one ideally goes to rest in peace. That is, if you subscribe to the lovely Hadyn cannon, which proclaims:

"Death is a long sleep/Sleep is a short death."


But this isn't a blog post about death. This is a blog post about bedrooms. This is, in fact, a blog post about how profoundly terrific and essential a private bedroom is to the well-being of all individuals. There is the joy of privacy, for one thing; no amount of people-filled, bacchanalian revelry is going to match the satisfaction you glean from shutting your door behind it all when you are exhausted. There is also the autonomy of personal aesthetics: here is one place you can hang your Sabrina the Teenage Witch poster without one shred of feigned irony. Unlike a living room or a foyer, there is no need to keep up with appearances in the bedroom. Finally, and obviously, is the beautiful act of sleep. I don't know about you, but I regard sleep as reverentially as Paula Deen regards the act of applying butter in every dish: We take these activities very seriously.

Still, inevitable things do happen in the bedroom: REM cycles, witnessing the savage loneliness exemplified in Last Tango in Paris, dancing alone to the Rolling Stones. And because so many inevitable things happen in this space, you might as well take utmost care in making it as inviting and comfortable as possible. Heck, Virginia Woolf wrote an entire feminist treatise based on the thesis of how essential it is to have A Room of One’s Own. Take it from the aforementioned work written by the Grand Mistress of stream-of-conscious literature:

“Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.”

There is no gate, no lock, no bolt on the freedom of how amazing your bedroom can be, either. Like calculus, you should take it to the limit.

Here are some books in our collection to assist you in achieving the room of your dreams:
-- Story and photography by My Nguyen