“The valuable space around the bed is good for nothing, except access to the bed.”
Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language
When fulfilling one of our essential needs, shelter, we usually pay money to temporarily (rent) or permanently (buy) use a structure to store our stuff and find a place to sleep away from the elements and creatures of the night
The spaciousness of a building is usually measured in the number of bedrooms. In most cases more bedrooms also equal a more expensive living situation. Australian houses are the second biggest in the world. We just recently had to concede defeat to the “America First” policy …
With families becoming smaller and smaller, what is this fetish with bedrooms about? And what is the point of a bedroom anyway?
Bed Bath & Beyond (Car) ?
First of all, Australia uses British and American mattress sizes (Queen, King etc.). While a double mattress (137 cm x 188 cm) is wide enough for a couple to sleep in, it’s unfortunately not really long enough for the average Australian male who is 175 cm tall (stretch your feet and you’re 15 cm longer). So, if you are average or slightly above in height, you need to automatically go for a queen size bed or sleep diagonally, which your spouse is going to LOVE…
Now, a queen mattress (153 cm x 203 cm) is long enough, but also quite wide (I wonder what those 3 extra cm are about). A bedroom (or a so-called “Master bedroom”) rarely fits much more than one of those beds and a wardrobe, while maintaining access to the bed itself. That’s a whole big room, which gets used only to fall unconscious for a few hours and maybe get dressed and undressed.
Solution: More rooms
That is a huge waste of space. The solution seems to be to add a few more of these rooms to the average house. The Victorian planning authority had to increase the impervious fraction (the impervious fraction is the % of land where water cannot infiltrate into the soil, because it is concrete, roof etc.) for residential land uses because houses are now larger and occupy the majority of the housing lot with their massive roof space. This is increasing the amount of rainfall that runs off into the stormwater drains.
Because I think water should stay in the landscape and not be channelled into the ocean as quickly as possible, I don’t believe in bedrooms.
The real solution: Alcoves
The function of sleeping can easily be achieved by additions of alcoves to existing functional rooms. Dressing, working or sitting are much better done in a room where there isn’t a huge bed located in the middle of it.
Privacy needs to be achieved through a curtain or maybe a nice screen door.
The bed still needs to be spacious enough to make it easy to make the bed.
A window adds some nice ventilation and helps with relaxing and enjoying the view.
Especially with the background of building smaller or even tiny housing, bedrooms are a thing of the past.
Here are some photos of nice bed alcoves to get your creative juices flowing.
Bedroom photo by Tim Collins.