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A boudoir is a private room set aside for the use of a lady. In addition to engaging in various activities in private in a boudoir, a woman may also choose to entertain guests in her boudoir, with some boudoirs becoming social hubs. Many people associate the boudoir specifically with intimate entertaining, which explains the term “boudoir photography” to refer to a style of very stylized sensual photography, but a boudoir need not be a necessarily sultry or alluring space.
This term comes from the word bouder, which means “sulk” in French. A woman who might be feeling sulky or a bit out of sorts at a social event could retire to her boudoir or “sulking room” until she felt fit to entertain, marking the room out as a private space which other people could only enter by invitation.
Classically, the boudoir is part of a suite of rooms set aside for the use of a lady. A boudoir might simply be a sitting room, with space for entertaining guests and performing on musical instruments or working on various crafts projects, in which case the boudoir is often used for entertaining guests. Boudoirs can also take the form of dressing rooms, in which case they are laid out with the various accouterments a woman might require for dressing, ranging from a makeup table to a mirror, or a boudoir could specifically be a bedroom.
It is common to see people referring to “boudoir style” when talking about a particular style of interior decoration. Boudoir style rooms tend to be very feminine and fussy, and they often create a cluttered look and feel. While it is true that boudoirs were decorated in this style in the 17th century, this style is by no means required, and a boudoir can have any sort of interior design, from the clean lines of modern design to a classically-inspired style.
Many modern homes no longer have a space which could be considered a boudoir. Some women lament the passing of the boudoir from home design, arguing that a designated private space can be incredibly valuable to have. In some homes, people have designated a second bedroom or office as a sort of boudoir, using it as a private space to retreat to. In some cultures, the term “boudoir” has become a bit corrupted, coming to refer to a social parlor or sitting room where a woman entertains guests on a regular basis.