Sleep dreams: a designer’s recipe for beautiful bedrooms

Dream BedroomInterior designer Shellee Gordoun is a woman who knows a thing or two about beds and bedrooms, even though she reluctantly admits that she doesn’t make her own bed.

“I make so many beds for the showroom and for my clients but I just don’t have time to make my own bed,” she says, aghast at being caught out.

Shellee and her husband Gavejn own Zest Lifestyle Bedroom Gallery and Shellee spends most of her time working with architects, designing interiors and bedrooms, sourcing homewares and styling.

The self-taught interiors expert has personally designed more than 100 bedrooms across Sydney and estimates there may be more than 1000 bedrooms that have a Zest touch somewhere.

Shellee’s unique style uses liberal doses of soft furnishings, curtains, cushions, throws and upholstered headboards to create a bedroom that is a sanctuary from the busy world.

“We started Zest because we thought there was just so much emphasis on people’s living space and outdoor entertaining space, but no-one was paying attention to the space that people weren’t showing off – the bedroom,” she says.

“A bedroom is about pampering yourself and creating your own sanctuary.”


With most houses and apartments squeezed for space, the bedroom has been rapidly shrinking in the last ten years.

“The old houses have those huge bedrooms with fireplaces and space for armoires and chests of drawers and large rugs, but modern bedrooms don’t usually have a lot of space at all,” Shellee says.

“That makes it harder for designers because you somehow have to fit everything that people want in a room but also make it appear large.”

Shellee’s recipe for successfully using small space involves lowering the bed to make it look sleek and removing any hint of flounce, frill or frippery.

“A lot of people don’t like curtains because they think they are frilly and drapey but the way I use them is a lot more contemporary and really finishes a space,” she says.

Shellee designs curtains with recessed tracks and uses a sheer fabric in front of a heavyweight lined fabric – the exact opposite to most curtains which have a privacy sheer across the window and a heavier fabric in front for opening and closing.

She also insists on dressing a bed with cushions and throws, even though many clients fear it makes it too difficult to make the bed in the morning.

“I have to tell them that it is easier to make a bed look good if you have the right tools and accessories – it’s quicker to put the cushions on the bed than spend 15 minutes trying to fluff up just two pillows to get them to look right,” she says.

With a low upholstered bed set against a mirrored wall reflecting harbour views and wide leather side tables, Shellee’s own bedroom has a contemporary, spacious feel.

“This is not really my dream bedroom, simply because of the size. I’ve done my best with the space and I like it, but I’ve created better bedrooms for my clients than I have for myself,” she says.


Shellee’s biggest bedroom no-no is computers in the bedroom.

“No matter how little space you have, it really is better to move a computer out of a bedroom,” she says.

“It creates bad energy to combine work with relaxation. At the very least the computers should be covered, but it’s better to move them out of the sleeping space altogether.”

Shellee – who has studied numerology and incorporates Feng Shui into her designs – has changed the spelling of her name by deed poll to create a better life energy.

“I firmly believe in the principals of energy flow, especially in bedrooms,” she says.

“Often I have to get architects to change their drawings if they have an exit door with a bed in front of it – that would create an energy drain from the room.”

Shellee’s own bedroom has a hideaway cupboard for a television, which means the “energy draining” appliance can be put away to allow for a better night’s sleep.

“When I ask people who have computers or televisions in their room how they sleep, they always tell me that they are terrible sleepers – you are not meant to have these things in bedrooms,” she says.

Shellee transforms the showroom of Zest Lifestyle Bedroom Gallery in the HomeMakers SupaCenta Moore Park every eight weeks to keep the energy flowing.

“I style and merchandise the showroom every eight weeks – the only constant in this world is change and I think you have to embrace change,” she says.

Zest offers a range of beds, mattresses, linens, bedroom furniture, small homewares and also exhibits original art.

“I think original artwork is just so much nicer than things like posters or prints,” she says.



  • Select interesting side tables – “think Chinese, leather, Japanese or stools – there is a huge range out there”.
  • Use lamps to create a mood, not just a reading light.
  • Put a dimmer switch on the general overhead lighting.
  • Dress up the bed with cushions and throws with contrasting textures.
  • Use a day bed or chaise lounge in the bedroom to make it a place to escape in the daytime without getting into your bed


  • Buy “matchy matchy” bedroom suites, choose individual pieces that go together rather than plain old storage.
  • Place computers or televisions in bedrooms, they drain energy.
  • Clutter up your side table with rubbish – find another place to store the clutter and keep the side table for books, lamps and water only.
  • Use harsh Roman blinds as window treatments when curtains look better.
  • Have a high bed in a small bedroom – beds that are closer to the ground create a bigger sense of space.


This article was first published in Central magazine.