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How to Decorate a Small Bedroom (8 Step Architect’s Guide)

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  • This article has been written and researched by Andrei Vasilief – a professional architect and interior designer – for maximum factual accuracy and to provide unique insights.

With real estate getting more and more expensive, we have reached a point where you have to become adaptable to living in smaller spaces if you wish to live in an urban environment, especially if it’s a large or important city.

Apartments and residential units, such as individual houses and even Airbnbs – especially the ones in capitals or large cities – are becoming increasingly space-efficient.

So knowing how to decorate and make maximum use of space is a key component of making a good home – with small bedrooms often requiring some extra thought due to the amount of time spent sleeping and relaxing in this space.

So how do you decorate a small bedroom effectively?

To decorate a small bedroom effectively, start by evaluating the available space; then save space by installing a floor-to-ceiling wardrobe, a minimalist bed area, a bedside bench, hanging bedside lights, and spotlights. Style by matching the carpet with centralized artwork.

In the rest of this article, I will walk you through the 8 key steps of how to decorate a small bedroom by expanding on the above points in extensive detail.

We will be looking at this topic from two different perspectives: firstly from the perspective of efficiency – making every square meter count and integrating all the amenities required to live comfortably.

Secondly, we will be looking at it from the perspective of decoration, as functionality is not the only component that matters and it is very important to create some beauty in your home as well, especially in smaller spaces.

I will be walking you through this based on my personal and professional experience – as an architect and interior designer – who has had a large number of clients who wanted to transform their small spaces into beautiful homes.

Related: click here for 20 relaxing decor ideas for small bedrooms.

How to Decorate a Small Bedroom in 8 Steps

Follow the 8 steps below to plan, design, and decorate your small bedroom from scratch:

1: Define Your Space to Plan Better

Small Bedroom
An Empty Small Bedroom Starting Space

Before you do any actual decorating, you should think about the amount of space in your bedroom and how you want to use it – creating a floor plan can help you plan better.

You will see the word ‘’space’’ used a lot in this article, so let’s take a bit of time to define it.

‘’Space’’ is a technical term used primarily by architects, but also by interior designers when we have a predefined area in a building.

So a ‘’space’’ can be a room, but it can also be the area of a room.

For example, an open living room will have a kitchen space as well as a living space, even though they are in the same room.

I explain this to my clients so they better understand the approach and what we want to accomplish with a design.

I’ve also found that it’s a very good way to approach a project, as it opens up more possibilities with the different rooms.

Because we aim to be as efficient as possible with our area, we want to integrate as much functionality as possible.

So we will be looking to integrate more spaces into a single room, such as a sleeping space, storage space, etc.

Once you start to think about your bedroom in terms of space, rather than a room, many opportunities open up.

So let’s look at the room that we will use to walk you through the process:

Small Bedroom With Windows

We will use a somewhat small bedroom, at 14 square meters or around 150 square feet.

The room we will use has two particularities. 

Firstly, it has windows on two sides, which is somewhat atypical.

Normally in smaller units, you will see windows on a single side.

In my opinion, this adds to the complexity of the design, because we have fewer free walls to work with.

Secondly, it has an L-shaped balcony, which you won’t always see, but it is very useful for this exercise so that we can look at how we can extend a small bedroom outside, as well as inside.

From the point of view of design, it has three defining elements:

A dark wooden parquet floor, black-framed windows, and a light wooden plinth.

We will keep all this in mind as we move through the design.

Click here for 8 low-cost small bedroom decorating ideas.

2: Save Space With a Floor-to-Ceiling Wardrobe

Small Bedroom With Floor to Ceiling Wardrobe
Small Bedroom With Floor-to-Ceiling Wardrobe

Adding a floor-to-ceiling wardrobe is an excellent way to reduce clutter and save space in a small bedroom.

Clutter can make any space feel claustrophobic, no matter the size.

So you want to have a single storage space that caters to all your needs, instead of adding various storage pieces along the way.

So that is what we will focus on.

To maximize usability, we add a single unit, that goes from the floor to the ceiling.

My recommendation is to spend some time going over all the clothes and accessories you own and design your wardrobe accordingly.

Think of what you want to store now and in the future, as well as what type of doors you wish (sliding vs hinged).

A mirror can make the room feel much more spacious, so it is recommended when working with a small bedroom.

Design-wise, a good idea is to have the storage unit use a similar color and texture to the floor.

This creates a feeling of continuity and – coupled with the mirrors – adds to making the room feel bigger.

Click here for 8 ways to decorate a small bedroom with a high ceiling.

3: Choose a Minimalist Bed Area to Reduce Visual Clutter

Small Bedroom With Small Headboard
Small Bedroom With Small Headboard

A sleeping space has three main components: the bed and two bedside tables.

There are other variations as well.

But this is the most efficient and straightforward approach that tends to work in the majority of situations.

We pick a bed with a small headboard.

In small rooms, this approach works best, as large headboards tend to make the room feel smaller.

The bedside tables should be identical.

There are some design situations where you can use asymmetrical bedside tables, but unless you create something atypical, you should keep the symmetry.

Click here to see the best mattress for small bedrooms.

Match the Tones of the Bedside Tables and the Wardrobe

Regarding materials, once you add the storage space you will notice that you start to have a palette in the room, both for colors and style.

In this case, we implemented a dark wooden texture wardrobe in a contemporary style, we will do the same for the bedside table.

We choose a contemporary style with a wooden finish.

There is no need to synchronize the tones too much, as it can become both boring and it is quite difficult to do.

Click here to see the 9 best colors that go with dark wood bedroom furniture.

4: Deploy a Bedside Bench to Add Style and Functionality

Small Bedroom With Bedside Bench
Small Bedroom With Bedside Bench

Adding a well-thought-out seating area to a small room can increase the functionality and stylistic appeal.

There are two general types of seating areas that work in bedrooms: a bedside bench or a detached seating area (which can be a sofa or chairs combination).

A bedside bench is more practical as it’s used in getting dressed, while a detached seating area is more for multipurpose rooms (like hotel rooms).

In this bedroom, we will add a bedside bench as it will fit better and be more useful.

We opt for a bench that is in the same color tone as the rest of the room.

In my experience, if you are not very knowledgeable about color theory, then don’t go to too much trouble to find and coordinate the colors, as the odds of getting it right are slim.

As long as the colors are similar, then it will be ok.

Regarding the style of the bench, you can opt for one with a backseat but a simple option will work much better for smaller bedrooms.

Click here to discover the difference between a sofa bed and a futon.

5: Implement a Balcony Seating Area For Added Versatility

Small Apartment With Extended Balcony Seating Area
Small Apartment With Extended Balcony Seating Area

If you live in a small apartment then there’s a fair possibility that you have a balcony area that you can make use of to extend the functionality of your smaller interior space.

From my experience, people rarely use their balconies in a meaningful way – even though they are great features – especially in apartment buildings.

For this reason, I wanted to showcase a balcony as well in this design, to give you some ideas of how to use it.

The way you approach a balcony design is the same as a room:

We look at the layout, decide on the functionality and pick appropriate pieces.

It is easier than a room, in the sense that the space is smaller and there are fewer elements to integrate.

Here we have an L-shaped balcony, which poses a bit of a challenge when it comes to creating a balanced look.

If we put a seating area on one side, then the other one will look out of balance, so we need to create a balance between the two.

So we will introduce two arrangements on the balcony: a relaxed seating area and a dining area.

This is a bit of overkill, but it will be a good way to exemplify the possibility that a balcony presents.

For the dining area, we use a high table and chairs, as it takes less space and is easier to fit.

With this inclusion we have created a nice dining corner, that can be quite intimate.

For the seating area, we use an exterior sofa with a side table.

Because there is another balcony opposite, we integrate some greenery to add privacy.

Click here to discover 9 ways to make your small bedroom look bigger with furniture.

6: Match the Carpet With Centered Black and White Wall Art

Small Bedroom With Coordinated Carpet and Wall Art.
Small Bedroom With Coordinated Carpet and Wall Art

Let’s move forward and start adding decor to the bedroom.

There are two large components here: textiles and various decoration pieces.

Textiles generally refer to carpets, rugs, and curtains.

Decor refers to artwork, plants, and other various decoration pieces.

In my experience, the best piece of advice here is to use fewer and larger pieces.

So, if we wish to have a carpet, then it should ideally be a single larger carpet, with the same principle applied to wall art and other pieces.

For our example, we will add a carpet and artwork above the bed.

We opt for a simple black and white wall art.

The space above the bed is a really good area to add decor.

We opt for a narrow piece so that it will fit in well with the lighting system (that we will go into further detail at the next step).

For the carpet, we opt for a large carpet, in the same color as the wall art.

This coordination with the artwork makes the bedroom feel more premium and provides some needed contrast to break up the dark textures.

This helps us integrate a secondary color in the decor to counterbalance the dominant tones.

Using carpets and artwork to add variety can work amazingly well in my experience and it is a tool that anyone can use, irrespective of design experience.

Click here for the 7 best dark and daring paint colors for small bedrooms.

7: Free Up Space With Hanging Lights and Spotlights

Small Bedroom With Hanging Lights and Spotlights
Small Bedroom With Hanging Lights and Spotlights

It might seem illogical to speak of lighting at the end, seeing that it’s one of the first things that get installed when you begin construction.

But from a design point of view, it is something we choose at the end, as its style is heavily dependent on the rest of the design.

The hierarchy of design is to go from the large (and dominant) to the smaller (which accentuates).

Here we have two types of lights: bedside lights and ceiling lights.

Because we don’t have a lot of space on the bedside tables, for the bedside light we will choose hanging lights.

We will go with a brass finish, to add a final accent color to the dominant dark and secondary grey.

This is where the artwork choice from earlier comes into play, as we use the lights to frame and integrate it with the bed.

Hanging Lights Save Space on the Bedside Tables

Using hanging lights allows us to free up space on the tables as well as looking more premium than standard bedside lamps.

They are a bit trickier to install, but the payoff at the end is worth the additional hassle.

Spotlights Don’t Encroach and Provide a Softer Light That Covers the Room

For the ceiling lights, we opt to spread out four spotlights.

These have a few advantages compared to traditional ceiling lights.

Firstly, they don’t hang down, which avoids making the ceiling feel lower.

And the light distribution with four spread-out spotlights is much better than a single bright light, providing much softer light that covers the whole room.

Click here to discover the 7 best and worst places to put bedroom shelves.

8: Add Coordinated Translucent Curtains and Off-White Drapes

Small Bedroom With Translucent Curtains and Off-White Drapes
Small Bedroom With Translucent Curtains and Off-White Drapes

So we reach the final point, the curtains.

We will use curtain and drape combinations, but you can also use just one of the two, depending on your preferences and level of privacy.

Here, we will use both to exemplify.

We will use translucent curtains and off-white drapes, to keep in theme with the existing color palette.

This makes everything feel coherent and completes the design.

Just as the curtains and drapes should fit in with the rest of the palette, so too should the railing.

So, we choose a contemporary dark railing that works well with the spotlights.

We leave the walls white for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, in my opinion, it is the most versatile and homely option in the majority of cases.

Painting walls in a different color is difficult and can end up looking quite off.

So we keep the walls white and rely exclusively on decoration and furniture to achieve the look and style.

Click here for 8 design ideas for decorating the wall opposite your bed.

5 Small Bedroom Decorating Design Ideas

Now that we have gone through the process of designing a small bedroom together, let’s look at a few more examples so that you can broaden your horizons and see what else is possible.

The example you just saw is in a single style, but there are many more opportunities and options. 

We will go through five of them and I will explain what they do right, and give you some insight on how to copy the look for yourself.

1: Two-Tone Interior With Dominant White and Natural Wood

Two Tone Small Bedroom With White Walls and Wood Tones
Small Bedroom With White Walls and Wood Tones (#1: Getty Images)

Here we have a two-tone interior, with white and natural wood being dominant.

The room is quite small as we can see, with an asymmetrical approach to bedside tables, one being a proper bedside and the other being a decorative ladder used as storage.

The bed is quite well proportioned compared to the room, leaving enough access space for the wardrobe.

The doors of the wardrobe are painted white, fitting in with the walls.

Further detail is added using white curtains that – just like the wardrobe doors – make everything blend in.

In my opinion, this is a very good approach, as it keeps the whole room looking both coherent and airy.

The bed is in a classic style and quite large for the room.

To make it appear smaller, they chose a white bed, which fits in very well with the whole ensemble.

This usage of white is what gives the room a lot of personality in my opinion.

Beyond this, we can see that most colors, while not being identical, fit very well together.

How to Replicate This Design:

Use white wardrobe doors in conjunction with white drapes, white curtains, and white painted walls.

If the room is too small, consider a white bed as well with white linens, to further enhance the feeling of spaciousness.

Finally, use similar tones for the floor and bedside table, to add some diversity.

2: Classic Bed Paired With White and Gray

Small Bedroom With Classic Bed
Small Bedroom With Classic Bed (#2: Pixabay)

Another white example, this time paired with grey.

Because the bedroom is quite small, they went with a more classic style of bed, which is also lighter.

The white linen choice is then extended to the seating and bedside table.

White can be difficult to maintain in a bedroom, as it is quite easy to get dirt on and also, quite difficult to integrate design-wise.

But if it can be achieved, you then have a potentially amazing look.

A very nice touch is the use of a white curtain behind the bed, which further completes the ensemble.

But the most important piece, by far, is the black door.

That black door is the reason the white design works so well, as it creates such a good contrast between the two.

The final touch, the two-round carpets on the floor, each in dark and light grey, respectively.

This contributes to the contrast we spoke about earlier, taking this design from great to fantastic.

Click here for 19 ways to style your bedroom door.

How to Replicate This Design:

This will be a little difficult to copy, but given how good it looks, it’s worth trying.

First of all, start with a dark piece of decor, which should preferably be large.

This can be either wall art, or a sculpture, or a large plant.

Then you can start adding white around it: white bed with white linens, white bedside table, white drapes, etc.

Finally, add a grey carpet beneath it, to achieve a strong contrast and finalize the look.

3: Classy Design With Dark Wood Tones

Classic Small Bedroom Design With Wood Tones
Classic Small Bedroom Design With Wood Tones (#3: Pixabay)

We’re going to look at something more classic now.

All the examples we have shown until now are quite contemporary, the reason being that they tend to work better in the smaller bedrooms as they are lighter and easier to integrate.

But if you like classic design, then it is also possible to create it in a small space.

The way they pull it off here is by keeping the floor and the bed in the same tones.

We have a dark plank floor and they complement it with a dark wooden bed with a mid-high headboard.

This works quite well.

One thing to notice is that the height of the room is above average and, because of this, it works well with the bed, which is quite large.

They take things further and keep the bedside table in the same set and style as the bed.

This is something that can only work in classically designed rooms, where the bed and tables come as a set. 

An interesting option is painting the wall in a light beige while keeping the floor plinth and door frames white.

This creates contrast and breaks up the wall color, prohibiting it from becoming dull.

Finally, the bedside lamps are in a color similar to the walls, to integrate nicely.

How to Replicate This Design:

Firstly, make sure the height of the room can accommodate a large bed, and also, a wooden floor is pretty much a prerequisite for such a design. 

The way to accomplish this design is to buy a classical bed set and fit it in the room as centrally as possible.

They organize everything around it, keeping everything in the same theme.

This means classically inspired lamps, carpet, etc.

On the topic of painting the walls, you can also achieve this look without it.

But if you wish to change the color, keep the new color in the same palette as the bed set, to ensure that everything looks put together.

4: Contemporary Style With Integrated Lighting and Seating

Contemporary Small Bedroom With Integrated Lighting and Seating
Contemporary Small Bedroom With Integrated Lighting and Seating (#4: Imaginesia)

Let’s look at another contemporary example, this time with a few custom features.

The first thing we notice is the integrated lighting above the bed.

This is a nice design feature that has to be built-in.

I will however suggest some simple and easy-to-integrate solutions to achieve it.

The cool thing is that the light points upwards on the textured wall, turning the wall into artwork.

Another really interesting feature is the built-in seating area on the sill of the window.

This can work if the window has the necessary proportions and it is quite a nice look to implement. 

When looking at the bed, we notice the use of grays, both for the bed, as well as for the bedside bench and carpet.

We also notice that they are all quite disparate, not necessarily being the same color.

The reason this contrast works so well is that it creates a balance between the light part of the room and the dark.

How to Replicate This Design:

Firstly, to integrate a dark bed, make sure that the rest of the room is in light colors, towards white preferably.

Have the following pieces in grey: the bed, the bedside table, and the carpet. 

Now, regarding the light, the simplest way would be to integrate an LED strip into the headboard.

It can be integrated directly, if you are comfortable using tools, placed between the top part of the headboard and the wall, to generate a light feature.

Regarding the seating area built in the window sill, if the window proportions allow it, simply place some pillows to cover the sill as much as possible, preferably in the same color as the bed ensemble.

5: Three-Tone Wooden Inspired Design

Three Tone Small Bedroom Design
Three Tone Small Bedroom Design

Finally, we have a wooden-inspired design, with most pieces in similar colors of brown.

If we look more closely, we see that there are three tones in the room: wooden (for the floor and most of the furniture), white (for the wall), and dark beige (for the textiles).

This color combination represents the key to achieving the design.

The furniture is kept in the same style as the floor, which can be difficult to pull off as it can look a bit dull.

To prevent this from happening, they use the bed cover, linens, and carpet to inject a secondary color.

This dual-color approach is quite difficult because it can look off.

In this case, they use the back wall by covering it with panels to give it some depth.

How to Replicate This Design:

I don’t recommend this design if you don’t have experience with interiors.

Speaking from experience, I’ve seen some designs done this way, and the results were not pretty!

So tread lightly.

But if you wish to pursue it, keep the color structure.

Use white walls exclusively, with every part of the wall white: from the paint to the door, to the plinth, to the wardrobe to the curtains and drapes.

Next, keep all the furniture in the same tone as the floor, or as close as possible to it.

Finally, add textile decor which is in a shade slightly different from the furniture.

Click here to see the best colors that go with cherrywood bedroom furniture.


Image Attribution and Licencing

Mockups provided by Animo Regis and used with permission.

All other images used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement, individual attribution as follows:

Main image: ‘Small Bedroom Interior’ by TheItern (Getty Images).

Image #1: ‘Stylish Decor for Small Bedrooms’ by JR-Stock (Getty Images).

Image #2: ‘Bedroom Interior’ by Hencyx (Pixabay).

Image #3: ‘Bedroom Interior’ by Shadowfirearts (Pixabay).

Image #4: ‘Modern Bedroom Design’ by Imaginesia.

Image #5: ‘Modern Bedroom Design’ by Imaginesia.

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