How to Design a Small Bedroom Like a Pro
Whether you live in a high-rise apartment in the city, a tiny house, or a spacious ranch-style home in the backcountry, odds are you have at least one small bedroom to contend with.
Experienced interior designers know how to make even the tiniest bedrooms feel larger. Let’s explore some of the tips and tricks they use to create the illusion of space.
Choose space-saving furniture.
There are so many clever furniture options today, from stackable beds (great for a kid’s room) to benches and beds with built-in storage, to wall-mounted drop-leaf tables that provide an instant writing surface. Investing in a few pieces that help you skillfully use space can make a huge difference in a small room.
Install mirror closet doors.
Mirrors instantly make a small room appear larger, and mirrored closet doors have the added advantage of eliminating the need for a space-hogging vanity mirror. Sliding doors are your best bet since they don’t swing out and take up precious floor space.
Take advantage of vertical space.
When floor area is limited, go vertical. Choose a tall dresser that takes up less floor space. Use wall space to your advantage with tall shelving. If you have tall ceilings, consider propping up your sleeping area on a platform and using the area underneath for storage. This will make the bed the focal point of the room (and make you feel like royalty every time you climb into bed).
Play up the room’s ceiling.
The idea here is to draw the eye upward, which automatically makes the room feel larger. Adorning the ceiling is especially effective in rooms with sloped or odd-shaped ceilings (common in converted attics and older buildings). Your options are unlimited. Use distressed tin ceiling tiles, LED light projectors, hung linens, or an interesting pattern to give depth to the space.
Use mounted or recessed lighting.
When you have little surface space to work with, mounted lighting is a lifesaver. Mount lights on the headboard or on the wall behind the bed for easy reach; use mounted lighting to highlight wall art; or mount lights above a table to maximize desk space.
Consider a Murphy bed.
Legend has it William Lawrence Murphy (after whom the Murphy bed is named) created the clever hideaway bed while wooing your friends and guests. The bed allowed him to quickly convert his one-room San Francisco apartment into an entertainment parlor. Little did Murphy know his invention would become a hit with urban dwellers and tiny house owners everywhere.
A Murphy bed is ideal for studios and small bedrooms, allowing you to create a living and sleeping area in one space.
Go with light-colored walls.
You don’t have to settle for white or off-white walls, but light colors create an airier, more spacious look. Dark colors make even a cavernous room look smaller. Pastels are a great choice. They add softness while still preserving character, and they pair well with glossy or matte floorboards and crown molding. If you have your heart set on a dark color, use it for an accent wall.
Or go for bold prints.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, incorporating a bold print into a small space—whether it’s a floral design, leaf motif, or geometric pattern—can help detract from the smallness of the room. If you decide to use a busy print, just make sure to tone down other design elements—choose solid colors for accent rugs, bedding, and pillows.
Consider two words: floating shelves.
These sleek and inexpensive slabs of wood, glass, or metal can be arranged in a variety of ways to help you make the most of the space you have. Use them as:
- An entry table
- A bookcase
- A nightstand
- A place to showcase treasures
- A laptop desk (just make sure the shelf is properly reinforced)
Use your headboard for storage.
Using a storage headboard just makes sense in small spaces. When items are thoughtfully arranged, the headboard becomes a decorative feature of the room. Open shelving makes it easier for some people to keep track of things, but, if clutter makes you crazy, opt for a headboard with concealed storage cabinets.
Bounce light with mirrors.
Mirrors create the illusion of a larger space by reflecting light. The best way to use a mirror in a small room is to position it so that it reflects the light of a window. Even if that’s not possible, a mirror will still make the room feel larger. There are many ways to use mirrors. Stick-on mirror tiles create an interesting mosaic look. A full-length mirror gives a room depth. A striking metallic beveled mirror adds glam.
Create a wall niche or alcove.
If some construction is in the budget or you’re already planning renovations, creating a wall niche above the bed is a great way to create an interesting focal point and showcase decorative items. An alternative is to add built-in floor-to-ceiling adjustable shelves on either side of the bed. This will help you get the most out of every vertical inch.
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