I recently worked with a client, a mother of four, who broke the mold for the way most busy families approach their homes. She wanted to design the master bedroom FIRST!
Not the family room. Not the kitchen or a bathroom—the rooms most commonly at the top of the list—but the master bedroom, the place where, at least in theory, she and her husband can escape, connect, and recharge for the next day. I loved it!
Whether you are ready for a full makeover or want to enhance your bedroom over time, here are some considerations and ideas to get you started.
Set the Tone
Think about how you want the room to feel and how you use it. Do you want it to feel warm and cozy, elegant, sensual, streamlined and simple? Is this space all about sound sleep, quiet music and reading time, or do you want it serve as a private lounge space to catch up on your favorite shows? Maybe it’s a little of each.
Whatever the case, considering the desired tone and function before you buy, paint, or re-arrange a single piece will save time, money, and produce better results in the end.
Start With the Bed
The best starting point for setting the tone is the bed and surrounding wall since this is usually the focal point of the room.
Maybe you need a new headboard? Or if you don’t have one, maybe it’s time. Headboards create structure for the bed space and can change up the feeling of your room in a snap.
For a traditional look, try dark wood or a tufted, upholstered frame.
Photo Source: Houzz
Photo Source: Park Avenue Princess
For a more modern look, consider a classic shape with a twist, a contrasting fabric, or a pop of color.
Photo Source: Lauren Conrad
Photo Source: Lonny
For a contemporary yet rustic look, I’m wild about this wood plank wall created with one of my all-time favorite products, Stikwood.
Photo Source: Stikwood
The privacy of bedrooms make them a great place to display photographs and personal effects. How sweet to sleep with a gallery of beautifully framed, meaningful photographs above your head!
Do you and your partner have different tastes? Don’t be afraid to mix and match, like this photo on the right featuring the whimsy of a bold, patterned wallpaper along with traditional wood and clean lines.
Photo Source: Apartment Therapy
Photo Source: Tizzi Lish
Don’t forget about the ceiling! Whether it’s to add a burst of color in an otherwise neutral room or to set the mood for dreamy sleep, the bedroom ceiling deserves a second look.
Photo Source: 6th Street Design School
Go for Form and Function in Furniture
Because bedrooms are more private than other rooms in the house, bedroom furniture is often over-looked. But I think just because this is where you start and end every day, bedroom furniture should provide optimal function as well as delight.
Before you buy or replace anything, consider both form and function. How much and what kind of storage do you need? What about placement in the room for optimal flow? What kind of style works for the feeling you want to create?
Dressers offer great storage and keep clothes neatly out of sight. They can also be pricey, so I like to work through creative alternatives first if my client doesn’t have a dresser they totally love.
Photo Source: Running From The Law
Photo Source: Emily Henderson
Maybe a large nightstand is all the storage you need. Or you might find that a non-traditional bedroom piece, like a sideboard, credenza, or shoe cabinet, suits your space and needs just fine.
Photo Source: I Heart Organizing
Photo Source: Hunted Interior
Nightstands are mandatory in my book. They are the natural place for reading material and a light, they help balance the bed, and are also a good spot to infuse personality.
These 3-drawer Malm dressers from IKEA look great, are inexpensive, and hold a ton of stuff! Below is the same dresser shown three ways. It looks great on it’s own, but a great option is to add embellishments from PANYL or O’verlays to dress them up, like the ones in the middle and on the right.
Photo Source: IKEA Spotting
Photo Source: Work, Play, Etc
Photo Source: Dawna Jones Design
Pro Tip: For a balanced bedroom set-up that isn’t too matchy-matchy, I like to mix-up either the nightstands or lamps like this bedroom below. Matching lamps with different but complementary nightstands make this room really dynamic and reflect the personality of the couple.
Photo Source: Pursuit of Handyness
Be Smart About Seating
If you’re short on space, a pair of ottomans or a small bench work nicely at the foot of the bed. Choose one with hidden storage to stash shoes, linens, or off-season items.
Photo Source: Name 5 Things
Photo Source: Upcycled Treasures
If you are lucky to have space for chairs or a chaise, by all means go for it. It can be nice to have a space to read or catch up on the laptop without getting into bed. Just be warned that chairs and chaises can just as easily become a dumping ground for clothes and clutter.
Photo Source: My Chic Nest
Photo Source: Houzz
To TV or not to TV?
Not sold on having a TV in the bedroom but your husband won’t budge? Try one of these tricks to minimize the impact so it doesn’t become the focal point.
Create a gallery wall around it.
Photo Sources: Style Me Pretty, A Thoughtful Place
Add a large piece of art behind it to steal the show.
Photo Source: Gorgeous Shiny Things
Photo Source: PB&J Stories
Light the Way
Like everything else in your bedroom, lighting should be a happy marriage of form and function. You need enough light as well as the right kind of light to cast the desired tone and mood.
The main, overhead light can be a focal point and a powerful way to amplify the tone of your room. Going for tranquility? A soft chandelier can be lovely. Want something with a little more wow factor or edge? Consider wrought iron or something a little more sculptural.
Photo Source: Style Estate
Photo Source: Houzz
Be sure to consider the interplay of the main light fixture, if you have one, and nightstand lamps. If you are going bold in one place, consider something more understated in the other. You want to maximize style but not with chaotic or competing elements.
The photo below is a great example of style and balance. The main fixture is dramatic with side lamps that are different enough to be interesting but not disruptive or overdone.
Photo Source: West Elm
I was thinking. This thing about starting with your master bedroom instead of, say, the playroom is kind of like the notion of putting the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. By creating a bedroom space you love first, you may find that the rest of the house, and even your attitude about it, starts to feel different with half the effort.