AD: This blog is a paid partnership with Barker & Stonehouse, but my love for the Raul bed is very real and all opinions are my own.
My Spare Room “Before”: Not For The Fainthearted
We’ve been in our house now for almost exactly 9 years. People often merrily say to me “Well, it’s all finished now, isn’t it!”. I can tell you now, it is most certainly not finished. There’s a top floor. A top floor that rarely makes it on to my Instagram feed. It consists of 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. The smaller bedroom has been converted into a study, which was intended for me but, since the pandemic hit, has been completely taken over by my husband and his numerous, ugly, screens and other work paraphernalia. Woe is me. The larger bedroom and bathroom have not been given even so much as a lick of paint since we moved in.
We do often have friends and family to stay, and having the space to do so comfortably is one of the things I love most about living here. It’s not an ideal scenario for them, though. It’s all well and good when we’re downstairs, eating, drinking and merry-making but, at bedtime, they’re basically ushered up many flights of stairs to a storage facility. The room, with its ancient, manky blue carpet, is a great size, but was totally, utterly unloved and full of all the stuff that didn’t have a home anywhere else. Guests had to beat a path through out of season clothes, the kids’ old school books (what am I meant to do with them? I don’t want most of them but feel morally obliged to keep them!) and my husband’s collection of books and magazines from childhood to date, which Cannot Be Thrown Away. I’d give it one star on Trip Advisor (the one star is for the warm welcome, in spite of the facilities).
We recently had the loft space above the bedroom converted for storage, which has been a godsend, and it cleared a lot of space in the room. Goodbye, sacred copies of NME from 1991. When Barker & Stonehouse got in touch to ask if I’d like to work with them on a collaboration around their “Raul” bedframe, it felt like divine intervention. Project “Transform the Spare Room” was go!
Barker & Stonehouse: All You Need To Know
This year marks Barker & Stonehouse’s 75th anniversary! Happy diamond anniversary, lovely people! It’s a business with a long and interesting history, which always sparks my interest in a sea of faceless internet retailers. Charles Barker and Alex Stonehouse opened their first furniture store in Stockton on Tees in 1946, after serving in the RAF during the war.
They were very successful, very quickly and opened up more stores across my native North East over the next few decades, branching out to one of the first retail park showrooms in the late ’80s, where they had to convince their bankers at the time that this was the future of retail! They weren’t wrong, were they?
Further huge retail park stores opened in Yorkshire and the Midlands, including one just up the road from me in Knaresborough, which is one of the greenest retail stores in the UK (sustainability is at the heart of Barker & Stonehouse’s business – find out more about their Trees4Trees initiative and Carbon Neutral Plus status here). Then they hit the South to fulfil the demand from down there, and here we all are 75 years later!
The Raul Bedframe
I was already familiar with the Raul bedframe when Barker & Stonehouse got in touch, to be honest. I’d seen it on their website, and it’s one of those bedframes that’s so delicious, you can’t really help but notice it.
See what I mean? The curved, upholstered frame is ever so elegant. I love a bed to look (and be!) truly comfortable – after all, we spend around a third of our lives asleep and maximum comfort is high on my list of priorities. It’s also no secret that bed is one of my favourite places to hang out. I don’t often get the chance, much to my sorrow, but I love nothing more than hunkering down under a duvet with a pot of tea and a good book (or scrolling through my phone, in reality). Bed has always been my happy place.
What I particularly love about the Raul bedframe is the enormous, deep-buttoned, squishy cushion of a headboard. Perfection for sitting up in bed. The cushion is removable too, leaving a plain upholstered headboard behind it, should you fancy a change-up. The bed which we had in the spare room was our old one, a cast iron framed bed which, although lovely to look at, and very solid, couldn’t be said to be comfortable or supportive when sitting up, binge-watching Selling Sunset.
And now for the fun bit – you can customise your Raul bedframe to suit your own taste and decor! There are 6 velvets, and 4 wools to choose from, in really great colours. I dithered for ages – the Old Rose velvet in the image on the Barker & Stonehouse website is a dream. Turmeric is a great mustard velvet, and there’s a Teal, a Midnight Blue and two shades of grey. If you don’t fancy a pop of colour in plush velvet, there are 4 wool fabrics too, in classic Shetland Navy, Slate, Mercury and Pebble. It’s well worth ordering a sample pack to see the samples up close. Once I did, despite lengthy deliberations, I fell in love with the sophisticated, understated Shetland Navy wool. Decision made.
You can also customise the Raul’s feet, with a choice of different shades of wood, with or without caps in copper or brass. I went for weathered oak with a brass cap, which I thought complemented the navy wool beautifully. The Raul bedframe then became the foundation around which I built my spare room decor scheme.
Do you want to see him (I think Raul is a him)? I can’t wait to show you! Behold Raul taking centre stage in my all-new, guest-ready, non-storage-facility, spare room! Quite the transformation.
I couldn’t be happier with how the room turned out (full details will be on a forthcoming blog, for now I only have eyes for Raul). Barker & Stonehouse also sell tons of really, really nice bedroom furniture and accessories to complete your scheme, and I’ve used the fluted Lucia bedside table (which I LOVE – it opens outwards on hidden hinges, it’s very pleasing indeed) and a couple of vases in a deep blue (similar here in a neutral shade), to tie in with the navy wool of the bedframe.
A Great All-Rounder
The other great thing about the Raul, aside from its good looks and excellent comfort level, is its versatility. It will slot beautifully into pretty much any scheme you might set your heart on. You can choose your bed colour to fit with your existing decor or, as I did, choose your bed and build your decor scheme around it. I could bang on for ages about the many and various ways the bed could be used in different schemes but, instead, I thought I’d show you. Much better! I’m going to look at the Old Rose velvet bed in 3 completely different, but equally lovely, settings.
1. Old Rose: Chic, Minimal Tranquility
This is an image of the Raul from the Barker & Stonehouse website. And what an image! Divine. Despite being a lover of all things patterned, there is also a part of me that is a sucker for a pristine white wall. I need two houses, really. The styling here is immaculate. Matching furniture pieces, a few well-chosen gold accessories and pretty panelling allow the Raul to sing.
A room for wafting around in perfectly pressed white silk pyjamas, to the sound of tranquil music, with maybe an extended wistful gaze out of that whacking great bay window. When can I escape my chaotic life and move in?
2. Old Rose: A Riot of Pattern and Colour
A look not dissimilar to many in my own house, funny that! Here, I’ve used the Raul in a colourful, patterned scheme, with lots of gorgeous Barker & Stonehouse accessories. The pinks in the floral wallpaper echo the Old Rose velvet of the bedframe, and the blues and yellows in the paper bring in complementary colours which I’ve picked up in the tall blue vase and the ochre pompom throw and velvet table lamp. Rugs like the Harlow are a staple in lots of my rooms at home. They’re neutral, but interesting, and work really well as a foil to heavily patterned wallpaper. The Lucia bedside table, which I used in my spare room, works beautifully here too. Can I say again how much I love it? I just did. Finally, adding a couple of punchy green accessories, in the form of the cheetah cushion and the low green vase just shakes things up a bit and keeps the scheme interesting, with the starburst mirror bringing the glamour.
A happy, fun room for bundling up under the duvet in cosy PJs, with a hot chocolate (don’t spill it) and your Netflix marathon of choice.
3. Old Rose: Dark, Cocooning and Inviting
Here, I wanted to create a gentleman’s club vibe, but a distinctly unstuffy one, using rich colours and textures with the right blend of traditional and modern. Gentlewomen are, of course, equally welcome. I kept the backdrop to the Raul bedframe simple, with classic, dark blue panelling, extending the navy through to the Zadana rug, so the bedframe is cocooned in dark blue. See how the Old Rose velvet pops against the background? The colour is the reverse of the first, all white, scheme, but with the same wonderful effect. The Suraya bedside table maintains the dark and moody feeling, and then a few carefully chosen accessories add texture and interest. Burgundy is always a favourite of mine with pink, so this vase and luxe, wine faux fur throw keep that moody vibe while adding a subtle contrast to the blue. A few pops of gold in the form of the sleek arch leaner mirror, tonal jade marble clock and that incredible tiger wall light keep things sophisticated. Finally, a little bit of dark pattern from the Wild Flora cushion (this is me designing, after all!) makes a statement.
A room for sophisticated lounging, probably in a burgundy silk dressing gown, perhaps with a whisky, while reading a classic.
Which look is your favourite? Let me know in the comments, I can’t decide! For now, I’m thinking a mini break in my own guest room will be as good as any fancy hotel. I’ll even leave myself a chocolate on the pillow. Go on, let’s have one last look…… Welcome home, Raul!