Aimee Wedlake Lange on dressing up your bedroom | Home Front

Jun 19, 2014

Aimee Wedlake Lange is owner of Valerianne's in Vienna. The shop, which Lange opened in 2008, features high-end bed and bath linens, accessories and more. The shop has also added salvaged and vintage furniture and accessories.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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Aimee Wedlake Lange owns the popular Valerianne shop in Vienna that sells high end bed, bath and table linens plus accessories and vintage pieces. She's an expert on putting together a great looking bedroom and topping the bed with great combinations of colors and textures. She's part of my story today Destination Design: Vienna that highlights home stores. Let's begin.

Good morning! Thank you Jura for inviting me to participate in your great chat this morning. I am excited to be a part of this fun conversation and my brain is ready to be picked! :) 

What is the best way to brighten bathroom hand towels? Sometimes mine don't look clean in the area where I use them most even after they are washed. It tends to always be just above the monogram where it accentuates the dingy area it even more. Why does that happen even though my hands are clean? Dry skin?

Best way to keep linens (towels)  bright is with white vinegar. 1/4 cup in the wash does wonders. Build up from hard water, soap etc. effects the nap of the towels and makes them look dingy. Stay away from dryer sheets and fabric softeners too. 

I am having the hardest time finding comfortable pillows. I seem to be a flopper in bed,side, stomach and back. What kind of pillows do you recommend and the best place to buy them.

Pillows are so important an so personal. I have seen everything! I am a fan of down - a true believer. It needs to be good quality down (clean and hypo allergenic) from a reputable source. At Valerianne we are VERY particular. I have ton a ton of research and narrowed it down to specifics as to what will work where - best fill for pillows, duvet, hot sleepers...

If you come to the shop I am more than happy to share with you what we offer. 

How would you go about updating a bedroom that was decorated about 15 years ago. If you could only do it in stages what would you do?

Freshening and updating the bedding really does wonders. (I know I am bias) But a beautiful bed really brings a space together. We work most often in rooms where there are existing pieces (drapes etc) We work within those components to update space. It is amazing what a few little tweaks will do. Be careful though...once you get started... I have seen a big domino effect take place ;) 

What is your view of doing one full curtain wall in a bedroom behind the headboard? Do you like this look, or is an unstylish dustcatcher? A designer recommended it to me because I have an asymmetrical window, but I'm undecided. Example 1: Example 2:

That can be a really fun look! I have seen it done with a real statement making textile. You have to be careful of construction and installation. A textile behind bed can move, bunch - pick something with some weight and texture. Great way to bring pattern and color into the space 

What are the latest trends for updating a bedroom, in particular bed linens?

Less is more. I am keeping things simple. Less pillows. Focusing on the items that you are using and sleeping with. We encourage our clients to think about how they sleep and use layers that they will use. We don't want anyone to have to completely undress their bed before climbing in. I am using large scale pillows to fill out back of bed and picking textiles that are comfortable to lean one and use. 

I know you have covered this before but I can't find the answer: how can I find a designer to help us with our new house, mainly using what we already own but helping with arrangement, filling in a few pieces, choosing colors, etc. Thank you.

We work with plenty of clients this way! It is incredible what a fresh eye can bring to a space. We like to use pieces that are existing as this is YOUR home and most of the time you have acquired a piece of furniture because you lied it or it has some meaning. I really like to make those things work in the space. Sometime a little paint, or new hardware goes along way. We just finished a master bedroom in which we used the client's grandmother's bedroom set. After moving a few things around, raising the headboard, adding draperies, and new bedding the client commented that she felt like she was staying in a hip NYC boutique hotel now... :) 

What's the key to successfully blending furniture styles? I struggle with pieces I have a sentimental attachment to, so i'm not ready to get all new, yet i want to update, freshen, and "lighten up" my space. I'm very interested in salvage, vintage furniture and am trying to figure out if it will work in a traditional or modern space. Are there any "rule"?

Mo only rule is to not over clutter. I LOVE mixing and usually throw in pieces that are really unexpected and out of comfort zones. Once everything  is in place it is those elements that give the space personality. 

My small bedroom has no windows. It's In a basement apartment. It's basically a jail cell! Any help appreciated.

Use light and bright textiles. Textures, light colors and then layer with small hits of a bright color that you like in pillows, art, or accessories. Make sure you don't crowd the space. Think about function and then edit and only use pieces you are using while keeping it bright and light. I hope that makes sense. 

I would like to redecorate my bedroom but am having trouble picking colors that won't make my husband want to sleep on the couch.I want it to have a soft yet masculine feel but brown doesn't seem fun. Suggestions please.

Grey...I use it again and again in all the varying shades and hues. I find it is a really great color that sets off anything else you are doing in the space. My retail space is painted Ben Moore WISH - people are really attracted to it and it really works with the every changing collections of things that come and go. 

What are the components necessary to make a 5 Star Luxury Bed? Mattress covers, mattress toppers, cotton sheets? Also, I know pillows are a personal preference, but I find myself with my head resting on a deflated sack or a hard brick.

Sheets are key. There is SO much bad info out there about thread count, is important that you educate yourself or ask questions before making a purchase. At Valerianne we talk to out clients a lot about how they sleep and then make best recommendations to their personal preferences. We only over the FINEST in true Egyptian cotton for sheeting and focus more on the quality of cotton than the thread count. With the pillows you have be sure that you select a good quality lively down. The good quality will keep it doing what it should be doing longer and the lively (or the fill power) keeps it springing back and staying lofted. Put your pillows in the dryer with tennis balls. This sometimes helps them puff up again. :) 

I've been wanting to repaint our master bedroom, but I'm hesitating on color. It's currently a bright apple green from the previous owners -- kinda fun, but not restful, and not me. We don't spend much time there in the daytime. I'm thinking of going to a deep color -- either a darkish teal or a medium-dark grayish blue. I'm aiming for a sophisticated look, but my fear is that it will be too dark. It's quite a large room, with white trim, tan carpet, and mostly white bedding. I've looked at some pictures online and liked them, but I guess I need someone else's opinion to help me disregard my mother's. (Yes, I'm a grownup, but I do typically trust her taste, and she's highly doubtful of the idea.) If you think this could work, do you have any suggestions for particular paint colors?

I LOVE a deep dark rich color on the walls. Especially in a larger space, especially when the textiles, trim, upholstery, and flooring are lighter. I like the richness and the intimacy that the deep color creates.

We have a queen-sized mattress and a sleigh bed. My husband picked out a great comforter, but it is just a little short on the sides and you can see the bare box spring. It is driving me crazy. Bedskirts are just too short, as the bed is quite high, and besides, they don't seem to work over or under the wide side rails of the sleigh bed. Do you have any suggestions, other than to ditch the comforter?

You can get a coverlet or blanket that will cover the sides of the bed to the side rails and fold the comforter or duvet at the foot. This is an easy fix, gives you two different weights of blanket to sleep with and creates are really aesthetically pleasing and approachable bed. We never sell prefabricated bed skirts - they never work as every bed is different. We construct to specific drops, side rails, and foot boards - this makes sure that nothing interferes with the way the bed skirt lays. 

I've noticed gray has become a very popular color, but I have difficulty knowing how to pick the right shade for a master bath. One looked too muddy, one looked like almost no color---is there a trick to using gray on the walls? is there a shade of gray you recommend?

As I said before - I love grey. It is tough though as there are many shades that are too blue, brown...

WISH by Ben Moore is a color that many of my clients really like. It does have a touch of  lavender in it but it is a great shade. 

I have seen jewelry trees, bowls, and mint julep cups in shelter magazines that hold chunky necklaces and bracelets (statement jewerly). The trend seems to be to store jewerly out in the open, instead of in a jewerly box. But what about fine (thin) gold chain necklaces? It seems to me like they would get tangled if they were hung on a jewelry tree or stored in bowls or cups.

I love the look of chunky necklaces and bracelets stores in beautiful Oriental bowls or antique trays. For delicate earrings and chains, go to the Container Store and buy the felt-lined storage trays - they have small compartments that let you organize everything.

What type of accessories do you recommend to bring a pop of color, flair, and a little fun to a room?

I look for furniture or accessories with personality. I think it is important to bring a connection of you (or the client) into the space. So I pay attention to what the client is all about. For example a wonderful client I have worked with for a while is a geologist. We just replaced hardware on her bedroom furniture with rose quartz drawer pulls - this brought interest, an unexpected hit of the color pink, and it was something that connected her to her space. 

Hi Jura, I'm planning on putting wood countertop in the kitchen. Can you offer suggestions on type of wood, durability and upkeep? Thanks.

Hardwood countertops are usually made of oak, maple, cherry, walnut and sometimes teak. You can also install counters made of butcher block, made up of glued pieces of wood. Wood takes on a nice patina as the months and years go by. You do have to have it sealed annually and scrub it well if you cut raw meat on it.

Everyone usually feels strongly one way or the other, but what do you think of a ceiling fan in a bedroom? Is it practical or out-of-place?

Ceiling fans, while most of the time they are not so great looking, are important - especially here where bedrooms are upstairs and we have to live through swampy summers. Air movement makes sleep a bit sweeter. I love beautiful spaces but I always want to be sure my clients are living in them and they are comfortable and functioning. Just yesterday I met with a client and she wants a chandelier in the bedroom but is nervous of giving up the fan so I am not looking for a good looking floor fan for the space. :)  

Hopefully this isn't too off-topic, but now that winter is over, what's the best way to wash my sweaters? I can do a hand-wash cycle on my washing machine, but how should I dry them? It seems too humid to let them just air dry, but I don't know if I can throw them in the dryer. Thanks!

Warning: Do not throw sweaters in your dryer. The best way to dry them is to lay flat and air dry.

How do you recommend clients take care of a duvet cover - if you do not use a top sheet in between - how do you wash and iron a queen size cover weekly? In Europe where we are traveling - they have great laundries that handle this task but in the US seems like I avoid it by using a top sheet and my husband would prefer just the duvet. Please advise.

This is how I sleep  - no top sheet and just a duvet - with a light weight cover on it. Laundering a good quality cotton duvet cover is easy - low dry time - take it out of dryer when just damp and either fold or put back on the bed. A single ply good quality cotton will dry quickly and not really crease. 

I'm going for an airy, romantic feel in my master bedroom. I have a neutral (ivory) wool rug, and a metal bed (the Quatrefoil from Restoration Hardware). I've painted the walls a light blue, which I like but don't love, and am thinking about raffia wallpaper instead. What do you think, good idea or not-so-good idea? Thank you!

I love textured wall coverings. I usually use on a feature wall - maybe behind the bed? 

Do you have any suggestions for window coverings in my bedroom? There are two windows on opposite walls, one small and one large. I would love to hang curtains high to make the window seem larger and have a layered look, but I have a terrible allergy to dust mites so I avoid fabric. I also need to block light and outside noise as much as possible. Would cellular shades be a good option?

I am not familiar with cellular shades. You are right by hanging the drapery high you will make the space seem bigger. I keep my construction simple and the textiles natural and have not have issue with dust... ? 

I've been on a "declutter" kick recently. As I begin really evaluating our "stuff" is there a process or a methodology you'd recommend to successfully edit for a cleaner, simpler, brighter living space that reflects our personality.

I always start with thinking about function. When I work with a client I ask a lot of questions about how they use the space. Figure out the things they need to accomplish those uses and go from there. Identify the pieces of furniture that get the most action and edit from there. 

I love pumpkin orange. How do I incorporate that color into an otherwise restful space? I think orange walls or bedding would probably be too much considering that orange is such a warm and energizing color normally.

I love orange myself but I agree - on the walls or on all the bedding it could get a little much. When I was MUCH younger I painted the walls of my bedroom red...oops. I love orange - especially pumpkin - in upholstery. A chair in the room - an ottoman. Maybe one large pillow in the center of the bed? Less is has more impact  in my opinion. 

I see Turkish towels popping up in online stores and decor magazines all the time but I do not know anyone who owns some. Also, they look really thin in the pictures I've seen. Are these towels worth getting?

Futas or Turkish towels are great! They are light weight and do take some getting used to but they are very absorbent and the lighter weight is great in the summer. I actually have a large one that I use as my shower towels and it is really great as I can tie it up and use it as a wrap or cover up as I am getting ready. 

What would be a good paint color for a little boy's room? He's five and we have a lot of eclectic folk art in his room, which he loves. Should we just look for one unifying color? Or just stick with white?

I think when you have a lot of brightly colored or interesting art in a space a unifying color is best. Something with some depth though - a rich color that will set off what I am thinking are more primary colors in the art? 

I just bought a bunch of these felt-lined trays at Target (I think the brand is called Threshold). They are fabulous and work really well.

Thanks for the tip.

We have cellular shades in our bedroom and they are fabulous. They block the light, but still have a soft look to them. I'm a big fan. (They're spendy, though.)

Spendy. I like that word.

My comforter is turquoise with crewel accents in pink, green, and yellow. For summer, I lighten everything up by using just the white duvet folded at the bottom of the bed with the sheets and white pillowcases. The rug is Persian in raspberry with turquoise and other colors. I'm looking for a wall color - maybe a light turquoise or a gray that isn't too yellow or brown. And I don't want it to be to girly - a man should feel comfortable sleeping there. What do you recommend? Would also like a chandelier in lieu of old ceiling fan but don't want it to be too bordello looking. Any resources or suggestions for that? Thank you.

Sounds like a really great space!! I do not think a chandelier would make it feel too "bordello looking" 

Look for something that is not so traditional - not crystally. I work with a lot of FOUND or salvaged pieces and I have come across some really cool chandeliers that mix mirrors and wood beads or rock crystal...

How would I go about getting a design consultation? I don't want to go whole-hog and hire an interior designer for a large project -- too $$$. Just want someone to have a look (1-BR condo) and give me color/design ideas and I'll take it from there. Do places offer this type of service? Thank you!

We certainly do!! Come visit the shop and we can have a chat (real time). 

Our bedroom is very narrow and very long. We can fit a queen bed and very small bedside tables and that is it. Can you please recommend a bed that is very, very low profile ... think platform but not 70's?

With something a specific as this I like to work with upholstery as it is a great way to be able to dictate exact measurements and style. Choose a textile that has some great texture. 

Are there pillow fabrics or styles you'd recommend which can withstand heavy traffic in a family room? These are pillows that would actually be used daily!

Definitely!! Many of the textiles I use for living space decorative pillow are comfortable and able to with stand use. I have a one, three, and eight year old so I get what with stand use means... :) 

I have used outdoor (sunbrella) textiles and they work well and there is a good variation of color and pattern available. 

We always have a great assortment in the shop.

Sweet dreams for all tonight thanks to all this great advice from Aimee. We appreciate your being on the chat. Next week, I will have Sarah Cole from Farrow & Ball as my chat guest. Sarah is the creative director of the well known British paint company and will be discussing how to rejuvenate flea market finds with paint and other painting queries.

Thanks Jura! This was great fun!!

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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Aimee Wedlake Lange
Aimee Wedlake Lange is owner of Valerianne's in Vienna. The shop, which Lange opened in 2008, features high-end bed and bath linens, accessories and more. The shop has also added salvaged and vintage furniture and accessories.
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