I TOOK the opportunity, earlier this year, to search out furniture and interior design/decoration shops in Dorset. I was heartily disappointed! Although each small town does have a service of sorts, the larger towns seem to be filled with uninspired furniture shops, sadly lacking in accessories, or lots of small accessory shops that do not sell furniture, let alone fabrics.
OK, I was in the provinces, but the Dorset countryside does boast many huge mansions and more than its fair share of castles. Beautifully manicured chocolate box cottages and large country residences abound, without taking into consideration the multi million pound properties around Poole harbour and the Sandbanks peninsular. A strange situation indeed!
So, I think we should consider ourselves privileged with the plethora of interior decoration shops here in Portugal. We have at our fingertips a wealth of furniture, fabrics and accessories that any heart can desire, all up to the minute, state of the art stuff, and to suit every budget.
We are not only spoiled for choice, but have parking that is usually easy and free, huge shops staffed by experienced and informed employees, with designers on hand, thus making life easy for the new property owner. Having made your selections, all the hard work can be done for you, even in your absence!
I have noticed recently that in both local UK papers and national and international magazines, there seems to be quite a focus on bedrooms. At last, the most important room in the house is taking priority. For far too long, the lounge, sitting-room, call-it-what-you-will room has taken centre stage.
The general public is now being reminded constantly, it seems to me, that the need for a good, restful night’s sleep is of ultimate importance. It is of vital importance to our general health and wellbeing because, on average, one third of our lives is spent in bed and, therefore, it does make sense to have a clean, tidy, simply furnished bedroom…totally devoid of any clutter!
When furnishing or re-furnishing a property, the most important items of furniture to consider should be, without a doubt, the beds. They should preferably be the largest size the space allotted will comfortably allow, whether it is a single or a double bed. Pocket sprung with a sprung base is probably the best option for Portugal because the structure will allow it to breathe.
Many mattresses here have a summer (verão) side and a winter (inverno) side. The difference is merely in the thickness of the padding in the upper layer on each side, the thickest being the winter (inverno) side. Turning mattresses top-to-bottom and head-to-toe should be part of regular bed maintenance anyway! Just as separating the mattress from the bed base and standing it on its side to air should be too. Preferably on a warm windy day with the windows wide open. After all, we lose litres of water each night through perspiration while we sleep, all absorbed by the bed linen, pillows and the mattress alike. Just laundering the bed linen is not really sufficient to keep what should be your largest investment, after the property itself, clean, fresh and sweet smelling – especially in this climate!
There can be nothing finer than, after a hard day’s work or an afternoon spent laying in the sun, and having enjoyed an alfresco dinner, collapsing onto a really comfortable bed. Although people’s needs, likes and dislikes differ, a king size bed can accommodate two completely different mattress requirements – by having two different types of mattress that zip together.
Most large/king size bed bases come in two sections because the bases themselves are not flexible. Mattresses, however, are and can be squeezed and encouraged round the tightest, twisting staircases and through low doors. However, it is worth taking delivery access into consideration when buying beds.
At last, the need for valances, frilly or otherwise, to hide the hideous fabric that used to be used to cover bed bases, is becoming a thing of the past. Many bed bases nowadays are upholstered in single coloured suede-type fabric that will blend with just about any colour scheme.
Simplicity is the key to design. A bed freshly made with pure white linen, a fleecy throw for the chilly hours just before dawn…there can be nothing more relaxing.
Remember, when buying pure cotton bed linen, it will come from the factory with a gum dressing on the threads that makes the folded linen crease resistant, but hardly irresistible. But do not be put off by the feel because the dressing washes out easily to reveal the unique feel of pure cotton. Egyptian cotton is considered the finest and produces the softest bed linen and towels.
Of course, pure cotton does need ironing before use, unless you really do like the ruffled just-got-out-of-bed look taken to extremes. However, 50/50 poly-cotton can be a good compromise that simplifies the laundering process. As most villas rented out during the high season have both bed linen and towels laundered at professional laundries, pure cotton is by far the best choice. Go on…spoil yourself!