The established designer created a calm, restorative sleep space with added details throughout.
After positions as a special events director at Ralph Lauren and a finance firm, Ashley Whittaker found her true calling as a designer. Her initial entry into the industry was working under legendary decorator Markham Roberts. Soon, she was ready to go out on her own and has been busy ever since creating interiors for homes in and around Manhattan, the Hamptons, Connecticut, and Florida.
Her spaces are characterized by tailored lines, modern charm, and pops of color and pattern. Even her most subdued designs ooze with interesting detail and depth.
Case in point: This serene, chic master bedroom Whittaker dreamed up for a family apartment on New York City’s Upper East Side. We had to ask her how she pulled it off with such effortless elan, as it was no small feat given the couple has four busy children. “They really wanted their master bedroom to serve as a serene escape from their busy family life,” says Whittaker. Mission accomplished.
Below the designer reveals the inspiration and elements that unified the space, and shares some thoughtful advice for achieving a pulled-together bedroom look.
If this bedroom had a name, what would it be?
Cool, calm, and collected.
This room has a calm, subdued vibe without being boring or forgettable. How did you do it?
"With bedrooms, you don't have ample opportunity for decoration. You’re limited to one or two fabrics and a couple of pieces of furniture so when choosing those few things, you need to be mindful that they feel interesting and have a presence. I created this calm and comfortable look through my choice of blue and neutral tone fabrics, the grasscloth walls, and the cozy white wool rug which offered softness underfoot. Creating an interesting, beautiful bedroom while also maintaining that tranquil vibe is a challenge, but you can make it happen by incorporating lots of texture within a tight color palette. For example, the juxtaposition between the wool carpet, sleek bedside table, and a chalky white finished lamp creates a great amount of contrast without throwing off the clean, simple look of the room.”
What are the other key elements here that led to the final design?
"I think the variety of shapes and styles incorporated into the room are essential components of the overall style. The round metal Liz O’Brien mirror, the shape of the tufted headboard, the Louis VIV style bench, and the Chinoiserie garden stool all come together to make the room feel finished yet personal and collected.”
How important are color and pattern here? How do you strike a balance?
"I think it's very important that a master bedroom has a soothing aesthetic, so we really do rely on the different patterns and shades of neutrals and blues to create that calm feeling. The different shades of blue create contrast and add to the collected feeling of the room. A throw is always something we like to add in for another variety of texture.”
Any traditional bedroom design rules you like to follow or break?
"I always follow the rules of keeping it simple in the master bedroom. It’s not a space to have a plethora of color and incessant pattern. You want to keep it serene. On the other hand, I do like to bend the rules with my choice of bedding. I don’t think it is all about a matched set. I enjoy mixing and matching with pillows and shams while keeping the rest of the room tonal and within one color palette to make the room feel personal and collected.”
Can you give us 3-4 tips to keep in mind when trying to achieve this look?
“Decide on a palette and stick with it!”
"You don’t want a matched set of anything. You want the room to feel interesting and collected.”
Comfort and Functionality…
"A space needs to be functional...a nice sized bedside table for glasses, water, a book, etc. An end of bed bench is not only beautiful but a great place to store decorative pillows before turning in for the night.”
Tell us about the Matouk Bedding you used in this bedroom?
"We started with a matching bespoke Alhambra embroidered set for the duvet cover and shams. A matelassé looks crisp on a day-to-day basis. Then we added a little fun with the Lulu DK for Matouk Poppy shams. It made the room feel more interesting. I think a matching set is an excellent way to have the bedroom feel clean and finished, but you also need a little variety by adding in some pillows to give the room personality and charm. Matouk has such great variety. You can select a set or customize bedding with monograms, thread colors, and borders. I also appreciate that Matouk products are easy to wash and always look great, perfect for guest rooms and kids’ rooms. The bed holds such a significant presence in the room, so it’s important that the bedding has a finished, pressed look.”