The ideal room
Make a list of what you want from a bedroom. Do you need a room you can escape to, watch TV, work or just sleep in? Do you want a really big bed or lots of storage? Do you like a particular look? Be realistic about what you can achieve in the space you have.
Start by sketching a plan of the structural elements, like the chimney breast, windows and doors - basically the things that can't be moved. Then experiment with the position of the key pieces - the bed, wardrobes, chests, remembering that you need space for drawers to open and to walk around the bed.
Go for the biggest bed you can. Disturbance from a partner is one of the commonest cause of sleep complaints. As to where to position it, most choose the obvious and put the headboard up against a wall, but a little lateral thinking might free up valuable wall space. Try moving your bed into the centre of the room and using the wall behind for a wardrobe with sliding doors. Even if you don't believe in feng shui, it's better to plan your room so your bed isn't right behind the door as it can make the room feel quite closed in.
The built-in option
As fitted bedroom furniture goes from the floor to the ceiling, there are no gaps. This means less dusting and makes the most of awkward areas like sloping ceilings. Also when you use the full height of a wall you can create useful high cupboards for storing little used items like hats and extra bedding. What many people like about fitted bedrooms is the opportunity to choose their own co-ordinated scheme.
The freestanding option
If you like the look(and portability) of freestanding wardobes and chests, check they have the internal fittings you'll need. Look at your clothes and decide what will be useful - drawers for folding jumpers, shelves for shoes and full-length hanging space for party dresses and winter coats. Take advantage of the trend for customising pieces to get the exact combination and look you want. For instance, BoConcept not only sells different-sized chests and wardrobes, you can also choose handles, legs and wood finish.
The inside of your wardrobe
Whether you go for a fitted or freestanding option, the secret to a relaxing bedroom can lie behind the cupboard doors. So devote as much time to planning the inside as you do to choosing the wardrobe itself. You'll be amazed how many more closes you can fit in with double-height hanging rails, drawers with dividers and fully extendable drawers that mean you can get to things right at the back. Ikea and The Holding Company sell great space-saving accessories.
As your bedroom gets much less traffic than other rooms, you can have more textured carpets - like a loop-pile - and choose paler shades than you might use downstairs. Wood floors - either solid or engineered - and laminates are becoming more popular in the bedroom and can be combined with underfloor heating. If you're unsure about the minimalist look, add comfort by having a deep-pile rug next to the bed.
Don't leave the lighting to the end - particularly if you are going to need extra sockets or want to fit wall lights. The basic rule is that bedrooms need to be bright in the morning and atmospheric at night. Fitting a dimmer switch and having bedside lamps helps achieve this balance. You can also use lighting to highlight features, for instance, line the front of your wardrobes with discreet low-voltage downlighters.
Your bedroom is one room in which you can give your personality full rein, so don't be afraid to try out a scheme that might be a bit much in the living room. Glamour looks work well, with daring colour schemes and glam elements, like mirrored furniture, metallics and white leather. Or opt for dark woods for smart, grown-up luxury.
Don't forget that your bedroom should be a room in which you feel truly relaxed. That way you have much more chance of getting a good night's sleep. If you must have a television or computer in your bedroom, create as much separation space between them and your sleeping area as you can. Ideally, it's best to have them built in, so that they can be hidden away when not in use.