How to Design the Bedroom – Without Making These Common Mistakes

Toronto Life
Beige Bedroom by jinkazamah
Beige Bedroom by jinkazamah

Bedrooms are the most overlooked design area. Compared to kitchens and bathrooms, bedroom design seems pretty straightforward. Most people see their bedroom as a blank canvas that can be put together rather simply. A large bed, decent colour scheme, curtains, some furniture, and voilà — a new bedroom design. Despite this simplicity, however, there are still quite a few places where you can easily go wrong when you decorate your bedroom.

Did you know that we spend approximately one quarter of our life sleeping? This makes bedroom design very important. When designing a bedroom, think about the specific needs of the person sleeping there and what you can do to give them the ultimate relaxing space to enjoy much of their day.

If you're planning a new bedroom, here are several design mistakes that you should do your best to avoid.

Don't Let the Cat Out of the Bag

Lack of privacy is a nightmare for any bedroom and should therefore be your number one concern. You can never get a good rest knowing that you sleep in an open space. Although some people may not mind the wide open space of merging two or more rooms, over time this can become a problem, and you should discuss these preferences with all parties involved.

Some bedrooms are now designed with en-suite bathrooms. While this can add a nice sparkle to your relationship if you have a bath placed directly in your bedroom or divided by simple blinds, en-suite bathrooms are only really practical for single rooms. If you plan on sharing your new bedroom with somebody on a regular basis, a little bit of privacy is essential.

Bedroom by Mazzali
Bedroom by Mazzali

Too Much of a Good Thing

A very common bedroom design mistake is to stuff in too much furniture. If you're furnishing a small bedroom, keep in mind that too many wardrobes and tables will result in cramped space that you can’t really take advantage of.

There is one rule that can help you: don’t use over-sized furniture for small rooms or tiny furniture for large rooms. Allow for the design of the bedroom just as you would any other room in the home; make sure the room fits its furniture and function. Never add a piece of furniture to a bedroom without first asking yourself whether it’s really necessary.

The bed is naturally a focal point of the room, and it should stay that way unless you happen to live in a large and spacious bedroom where more focal points are allowed. If the bed is too big, it can make the entire room look out of sync. It’s also worth noting that if your bedroom is a little on the small side, an oversized bed will make the room feel cramped.

Jonathan Baron from the American Society of Interior Designers explains,

The most common design mistake to avoid is not to carefully pre-plan any space before making any purchased of furnishings, fixtures or equipment. I have been hired more than once when people had purchased furnishings because they loved it, like sofas, armories, tables, chairs, wall units, but then got the items home and could not figure out why they don't work. Usually it is the size, shape or scale. That is why pre-planning is the most important.

Are You Hiding Elephants in the Bedroom?

Bedroom and living room area by Mazzali
Bedroom and study room by Mazzali

One thing you don’t want to skimp on when designing a bedroom is storage space. If you don’t think about storage at the very beginning, you will never have enough space to organize your things, and this oversight will result in a room full of clutter. As we know, clutter tends to make people tense.

You should be able to find a way to store your belongings neatly in a bedroom of any size. Many people design their bedroom but don’t consider the amount of clothes and shoes they own. Everyone who has a large, fitted wardrobe or closet in their bedroom would swear by the piece. One large piece of furniture standing neatly by a wall is better than clusters of armoires, cupboards, and dressers. Small bedrooms benefit from large mirrors that you can install on one or both wardrobe doors.

Above and Below

It’s easy to get carried away with furniture and decorations, but don’t forget to look up to the ceiling and down to the floor when you're planning your bedroom design. You fall asleep each night and wake up every morning looking up to the ceiling, so make it worth staring at. Ceilings should be properly designed to accommodate ceiling fans or lighting needs, such as recessed lighting or large pendant lamps or chandeliers.

Bedroom lights by Mazzali 2
Bedroom lights by Mazzali

You shouldn't neglect bedroom flooring either. Hardwood floors are stylish and beautiful, but they tend to get pretty cold during winter. If you don’t have a floor heating system installed, carpet or several scattered rugs will save your warm, out-of-bed feet from touching a cold floor every morning. Don’t sacrifice comfort and warmth for style; it is possible to enjoy both!

Mix and Match

Even though the bedroom is considered a private sanctuary, it’s hard to imagine that no one will ever see it. Most bedrooms are visible and therefore should be designed, decorated, and furnished similarly to the other rooms in your house or apartment.

Bonnie Sachs from the American Society of Interior Designers advises,

Always use a cohesive design thread through your project. Whether using color, pattern or other design elements—this thread creates an instant sense of flow, calm and comfort.

Many people have a beautifully decorated living room and a kitchen to die for, but unfortunately, their bedrooms and guest rooms get away with four plainly decorated walls, simple furnishing, and a drab closet. It's uninspiring to walk into a space where everything is bland and seamless; it lacks warmth and character. Think about adding a precious heirloom piece you love or an original work of art into your bedroom and it will soon transcend from the ordinary to the great. And isn’t it how a space makes us feel that matters most?

Annette Phillips from the American Society of Interior Designers counsels,

Too carefully coordinating a room leaves it flat. It is the unexpected item that elevates and personalizes the room. The souvenir from your vacation, the special gift or the toss pillow that grabbed your attention, these are the things that make the room alive.

White Is a No-No

Teenager bedroom by Mazzali
Teens bedroom by Mazzali

Plain white walls make everything against the wall visually float in most cases, and steering clear of white is the best design advice you can follow. Try using mid tones or a neutral wall colour that unifies all the pieces in the bedroom. Only a conscious design decision using lots of texture and contrast can get the most out of white walls. Your bedroom should be inviting and comfortable, and stark white walls make the room uncomfortable and institutional.

Going colour-crazy is another extreme that won’t serve you well. Allow for the fact that if the room is dark coloured, it will look smaller, while ample borders at the top of the room shorten the space on the walls and affect height perception. It's a good idea to play around with colours a little. Effective bedroom design is limited to a maximum of two or three colours that you like.

Shannon Miranda from the Allied American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) says,

Never apply paint samples to a wall and always order full size swatches to move easily throughout the room at different times of the day. Use two samples in corners to show the intensity of a color reflected off itself — four painted walls can look much different than one.

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