What is a boudoir?
First things first. Pronounced “boo-dwahr,” a boudoir is basically a bougie (or cheeky) way of calling a woman’s dressing room, bedroom or private sitting room. Derived from a French adjective that literally translates to “sulking,” the room was meant to be a place to sulk or withdraw to. (We’ve all had those days, amiright?)
The term “boudoir” led to the idea behind “boudoir photography,” best exemplified by those gorgeous, sultry black and white photos of Old Hollywood screen legends and sex symbols like Jean Harlow, Mae West and more.
These days, when someone says “boudoir,” we generally visualize a dramatic yet sensual room inspired by a lingerie photoshoot à la Agent Provocateur. But how do you create a modern, sophisticated boudoir without looking like you walked onto the set of Moulin Rouge?
These days, searches for boudoir furniture will churn out images of opulent and heavy pieces from the Italian Renaissance or French Louis XVI era. For my guest room, I chose a black lacquered rococo-style bed from Fabulous & Baroque, and this has become a focal point of the room and the inspiration throughout. (Alternatively, I would suggest a tall, tufted or channeled headboard.)
The open nightstand was also a rococo inspired piece found on Craigslist as was the oversized armchair. Note how these pieces look like they’re from the same family as the bed. However, the ornate details and paint finishes are actually all different. This provides a nice contrast, especially when lined up next to each other.
**Pro tips: To modernize ANY bedroom, stay away from purchasing matching bedroom sets. These make a room less visually appealing and more dated. Choose pieces that are a mix of bulky (with drawers) and open (just legs). If you have furniture that’s all bulky, it will crowd the room and make it look smaller.
Because the guest room is meant to be a calming sanctuary for sleep, I used mostly muted tones. The paint colors for the walls are Imagine at 75% (a purple grey) and the ceiling is Hush White at 75% (a dusty pink white), both from Sherwin Williams.
We then allowed a vintage dresser (also a Craigslist find) to be the only pop of color in this room. It was refinished by a good friend at Pink Cloud Décor in Benjamin Moore’s Vintage Claret in a gloss finish.
Step 3: Make it dramatic
Wallpaper is having its day! Adding wallpaper to any space ALWAYS creates more visual drama. I chose a dark and moody floral print from Etsy, inspired by Ellie Cashman.
Next, what is a boudoir without a giant mirror to see yourself in and send sexy selfies to your lover? This ornate piece was a vintage find and refinished in Gold Leaf from Rub n Buff. The black bench below it echoes the other furniture pieces and was another vintage find from Urban Americana in Long Beach.
Step 4: Get seductive by adding texture
This is actually a good tip for any room: adding texture will not only make things interesting for your eyes, but also for your hands to touch. This is especially important for a boudoir when you’re getting, um, handsy.
In this room, we added a short black and grey pile rug from Safavieh and offset it with a dusty pink faux fur throw from West Elm. The Euro shams are also faux fur and provide a nice cushion against the wood headboard, while other black and white throw pillows feature varying stitching methods and textures.
One of my favorite things in this room are the fringe table lamps from the Emily & Meritt collection at Pottery Barn Teen. Fringe always makes me think of burlesque dancers and strip teases, wink wink.
Step 5: Turn down the lights
Lighting is KEY in a boudoir. The lights are all on dimmers to set the mood, and we added sheer chiffon-y ruffled curtains that my mom sewed from a roll of fabric purchased from LA’s fashion district. Because the room’s windows are right next to the neighboring building, direct sunlight is very minimal but we added opaque window clings for privacy from Peeping Toms.
Finally, what we’ve all been waiting for: nudes. The artwork on the walls include framed prints of Marilyn Monroe between the sheets and Horst’s famed “Mainbocher Corset.” I love anything by Jonathan Adler and this boob jar is from his Muse collection. (This collection was naturally inspired by Georgia O’Keefe, queen of the hoo-ha paintings, hehe.) Titillating, non?