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dark bedroom wall with pink and sofa grey bedding in coastal theme and sheer curtains

Decorating a Small Bedroom: 8 Design Hacks to Make it Feel Large & Lovely

You know what grinds my gears? Websites that give tips around decorating a small bedroom when the writer has never, in fact, decorated a small bedroom. And the advice is always the same; so boring and repetitive. Not to mention incorrect, at times. Or at the very least uninspiring.

We’ve heard it all before, haven’t we? Paint the room white, ensure theres an ensemble bed, and place a mirror in the room to bounce light around it. It’s decorating 101 kinda stuff and I say it’s time to set the record straight. No more decorating by numbers. Truth is, you can have an amazing bedroom even if it is small. It doesn’t have to be boring, and it doesn’t have to be white. Alert the presses!

Today I’m going to take you through how I decorate small bedrooms, so you too can make the most of your cosy boudoir. Because when it comes to your master, size does not matter! 😉

domayne peony pink bed

1. Choose a Low Bed, with Minimal Bells and Whistles

Ok, so a lot of the time you’ll be told to put an ensemble bed into a small bedroom. And I understand the theory. People assume an ensemble bed is smaller due to the lack of bed frame, and therefore it will create less visual impact. This can be true in some cases, but it can also look like a large box in the room that goes all the way to the floor. Certainly not roomy in look and feel.

Besides, how unexciting is an ensemble bed on its own? As I showcased on the blog here, bedheads are amazing and I feel you deserve one!

The key when it comes to beds for small rooms is to think about the height of the bed. And the height of the mattress. I’ve gone into client bedrooms with ensemble beds in them and they dominate the room because they’re so high.

west elm mod upholstered bed for small bedroom

2. Low to the Ground, but off the Ground!

Treat yourself to a bed frame, just make sure its low to the ground, yet is still raised off the ground. The image above is a good example (shop the bed here). It’s a bed that has really clean and simple lines, it’s low to the ground but it’s still raised on thin legs. This sort of bed ticks all the boxes for a small space.

You also want to consider the thickness of your mattress. In a small room you wouldn’t want to bed and mattress height combined to be higher than about 60cm.

And also notice the headboard: it’s streamlined and simple. You want to avoid fluid shapes on the headboard or too much detail (like tufted buttons). In a small room you want to indulge in a designer feel, by all means, but you do wanna keep it looking clean.

Not keen on an upholstered headboard? I hear you! The good news is you can go for another option, like a timber bed, but do try your best to keep the headboard design quite simple. And when it comes to the height of your headboard, this is where you need to decide if the bed is going to be the focal point in the space, or the supporting player. I’ll explain what I mean below.

kyal and kara renovation bedroom with teal timber panelling and coastal wall art

3. Choose one Focal Point and Run with it

OK, so every room needs a focal point: the wow moment in the space. The design element that captures your eye when you walk into the room. The furniture or decor that commands attention.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your bedroom, living room, bathroom, kitchen or dining room; every room needs one focal point. All of the other elements in the space should support the focal point. What I mean by that is, the focal point is the one ‘loud’ moment in the room, and the other pieces should be quieter. If you have more than one loud piece in a room, then the space starts to feel a little chaotic and overstimulating.

In a small bedroom, it’s even more crucial to ensure you only have one focal point going on. The space is already quite cramped, so anything loud is going to be amplified because there’s less negative space in the room for the eye to rest on. Does that make sense?

So before you go shopping…

Have a think about what your focal point is going to be. Is it the headboard? Do you want that to be in a gorgeous velvet pink or blue? If so, go for it (I love the idea), but keep in mind that your quilt cover and art in the space should not compete with the headboard for attention. A pink headboard with a hectic patterned bedspread is going to feel quite overbearing in a small space, so choose one or the other.

Of course, you might be a fiend for colourful abstract are like I am (here’s a list of my fave abstract artists). If so, let that be the wow moment in the room and choose a headboard that’s far simpler in shape and colour.

The block 2016 kim and chris guest bedroom reveal 3

4. If you’ve Chosen a Headboard, Ditch Art on that Wall

When you’re decorating a small bedroom, you need to spread the ‘moments’ around the room. It’s all in the name of not overwhelming the eye when you walk in. So if you’ve chosen a headboard that goes halfway up the wall, for example, it’s a step too far to then put art above the bed.

Doing this is going to make that wall feel really heavy. In a larger room, the wall could take it, because you’d balance out the artwork above the bed with something else across from it. But in a smaller space, you should forgo art above the bed.

If you have gone with an ensemble bed (no headboard), you’re good to place some art above it (here are some cool ideas for art above beds). The reason for this is that it’ll act as a headboard. Not literally, of course, but visually it will ground the ensemble bed on that wall and make it feel more purposeful in the space.

And if you have chosen a bed frame with a headboard on it, hang art on one of the other walls in the room. It will make the room feel less cluttered.

kmart furniture hack kmart square side table as bedside table in bedroom

5. Besides Should be Visually Light

When I say ‘visually light’ I mean that the bedsides shouldn’t look bulky. You don’t want a big three-drawer bedside table that is both deep and tall. You want the bedside tables to complement the bed nicely but more often than not, you don’t want them to dominate.

A really good option is to go for a round bedside table. A round shape in a small bedroom can work wonders because pieces with corners do feel larger. A round bedside table is a nice idea, but do make sure it doesn’t feel too thin and flimsy. If you choose a bedside that doesn’t take up most of the space bedside the bed (the width), it can almost feel like an apology.

If you want to check out a list of amazing side tables without drawers, this post has you covered. Also ensure when looking online for bedside tables for a small room, that you look in the ‘side table’ section of the site. There’s nothing wrong with using a side table deemed for a living room in your master bedroom.

When it comes to the height of the bedsides, avoid getting them taller than the top of the mattress. You want it to be at the same height as the top of the bed, or lower.

In a super small bedroom? Consider taking your bedside tables off the ground. Use a wall-mounted shelf like these ones to get more space back.

LUUM Simply Side Table alternative bedside table ideas on the life creative

6. Don’t Clutter the Tops of Bedsides

In a small room you want to keep clutter to a minimum, so when styling your bedsides, keep it to three of four objects. You do want to include a lamp and some other pieces like flowers or a plant, a photo frame, an ornament or a personal keepsake. This post gives you some ideas on how to style bedside tables, so do check it out if you get stuck.

In a small space the worst thing you can do is clutter bedside tables with lots of little items. It’s far better to have three larger items that take up most of the bedside, than seven smaller items that fill the same space. This is all about making the room feel enticing but visually light. And the best way to do that is to make sure pieces are larger and have space to breathe, and avoid small trinkets crammed in.

Whitney and Andy Master Bedroom on The Blocktagon

Lighting on Bedsides

When it comes to lighting on your bedside, I’d go back to thinking about focal point. Choose a lamp that speaks to the style of room you’re going for, but don’t go too large. You don’t want it to be taller than the bed, nor do you want the base of it to take up the entire top of the bedside. A round shade is a nice idea here too, as is a simple globe; keep the shape fluid and the room will feel less sharp and imposing.

If you’re in a super-small space, consider installing a wall sconce, which takes the light off the bedside altogether and attaches it to the wall. In a tight bedroom I’d avoid hanging pendants, as the long cords can make the space feel too visually chaotic.

white bedroom with grey bedding and white horse art by sheridan
Image via Sheridan

7. Keep Art to One Main Piece

As mentioned above, when decorating a small bedroom with art, keep it off the same wall as the headboard. Look to use an adjacent wall to display something glorious instead. You don’t need to sweat this part of it too much either. Just keep the rules around focal point in mind.

Art in a slimline glass frame is going to be less visually bulky then a canvas print. So do keep that in mind when selecting pieces. In a small bedroom I’d also avoid a gallery wall, or displaying more than a few frames together. Two frames side-by-side is nicer than one giant piece of art, because they give you some breathing space between them.

When it comes to the style, this is a really personal choice. In a small space you’d want to avoid crazy patterns or anything too bright (especially in a bedroom made for relaxing). Instead, try something moody. Here is a collection of my fave moody artworks. They’re priced really well and won’t overwhelm you too much when you’re lying in bed.

lorraine lea nook white bedding in all white room with coastal bedside table lamp

8. Keep Bedding Simple

This pains me to say it, because I am obsessed with bedding, but small rooms require less bedding. In a cramped space, a bed with oodles of pillows and blankets and throws is going to feel so full. Instead of making the space feel serene, it’s going to make it feel cluttered and suffocating.

Instead, consider something soothing but still luxe, like a gorgeous organic linen quilt set in a subtle shade. Still have pillows at the head of the bed and a gorgeous throw at the end of it. But consider ditching the Euro pillows, and gravitate toward a throw that’s not super chunky.

decorating a small bedroom small bedroom decorating ideas pink throw

Are you a Pro at Decorating a Small Bedroom now?

Hopefully these ideas have made decorating a small bedroom a bit easier for you. Forget getting bogged down in colour (paint it any colour you like – within reason!).

Instead, think more about what pieces you’ll bring in, what size they are, and what shape they feature. Patterns are important to keep an eye on too, but experiment and enjoy the journey. Half the fun is trying and learning along the way!

Drop me a comment below if you need any more help. Otherwise, happy decorating!

This post includes images and/or videos of Metricon display homes and events, reproduced with permission.  © Metricon Homes Pty Ltd 2016.


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Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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10 Responses

  1. Thanks for the ‘real’ advice, most designers/sites give you superficial advice. I love your work! If you’re ever keen to come out to South Africa, there’s a house waiting for your magic touch!

  2. Thanks for the ideas, I am getting some of the underbed cases for my bed and am going to clear out some of the bric brac off my side tables. Thanks again

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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