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Color inspiration for Glenda Rowland's bedroom came from the rich reds and burgundies of the Mediterranean.
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Glenda Rowland, of Athens, Tenn., won the Times Free Press most romantic bedroom contest.

When we asked Times Free Press readers in our first design contest what made their bedrooms romantic, a recurring theme quickly developed in their responses: Escape.

Entries described bedrooms that were serene retreats from everyday stress. Rooms where they could slip away to pursue special interests such as reading. Rooms where they surrounded themselves with family photos and vacation mementos to indulge in happy memories.

"Our quaint bedroom is adorned with trinkets of affection: cards exchanged through the year, old photos, framed poetry, picked seashells, a book written as a gift. They remind us of memories made, experiences shared and promises kept," wrote Manisohn Geddie in her entry.

"Sharing stories, adventures, humor and ideas from reading stimulates our conversations and our imaginations," said Annette Reynolds of her "cozy, romantic retreat."

For Glenda Rowland of Athens, Tenn., her bedroom captured the exotic atmosphere she discovered on a trip to Mediterranean. Her Moroccan escape won the newspaper's romantic getaway contest prize of a free night's stay at The Chattanoogan.

"It sweeps you away to the Mediterranean," she described.

Rowland, an Athens native, returned to her hometown eight years ago from Atlanta. The retired accountant says she has traveled extensively, visiting Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Africa, Germany, Austria and several Caribbean Islands.

But it was the exotic allure of Morocco that captured her imagination and inspired a new bedroom decor.

"I have picked up furniture over the years with the idea of putting it together myself," she says.

Upon returning to Athens, she purchased a 95-year-old home and immediately began renovating the white, ranch-style house. The home had a master bedroom/bath addition that had been completed only a year before her purchase, and that became the focus of her Moroccan escape.

"The bedroom had no closets!" she says, still incredulous at that omission. So her first order of business was having a row wall of closets built along the length of one wall.

She put in Brazilian cherry hardwood flooring and painted the walls a deep, rich brick red. She created a tented bed by purchasing a sheer net canopy from Pier I. She suspended it above the king-size bed so the filmy burgundy netting falls evenly around the four sides of the bed -- no easy trick since the ceiling is vaulted. She says hanging the canopy required precision measuring to ensure the canopy on the lower end of the ceiling hung level with the end suspended from the highest point.

Once the four corners of the canopy were screwed into the ceiling, she reinforced its flowing panels by attaching fishing line to the top center of each side. The invisible filament line is also screwed into the ceiling to hold panels taut.

Rowland transformed her former entertainment center into a headboard for her canopy bed. After clearing the glass shelves out of three sections within wooden piece, she filled the middle section with a mirror she took from her living room.

Two silk Indian saris she had purchased on trips were hung in the spaces to the left and right of the mirror. Taking two substantial brass candlestick holders, she had them wired and welded to hold glass globes. She placed one in front of each sari on either side of the mirror.

She dressed the bed in Egyptian cotton sheets and bedskirt, with an elegant embroidered silk duvet in eggplant and burgundy. Coordinating shams are stacked at the headboard.

She found that an antique mantle she had already purchased in 2000 fit between the wall's two windows "as if it had been made for the space," she says, which inspired the addition of an electric fireplace.

She transformed tablecloths into curtain panels and topped them with valances made from embroidered silk table runners that are banded in satin.

"You don't have to do anything but open the sides and insert rods," she explains of sewing the valances.

To complete the exotic look she wanted, she accessorized with two ceiling fans, armoire, lots of gold and burgundy silk tassels, five oil paintings she'd bought in Greece, an Egyptian parchment and potted orchids.