This article has been written and researched by Andrei Vasilief (a professional architect and interior designer) for maximum factual accuracy and to provide unique content.
‘Indie’ is short for the term ‘independent’ and has cultural roots dating back to the ’70s but is more commonly associated with the ’90s onward.
The main characteristic of indie in interior design is that of personal expression – meaning that it reflects your own ‘independent style’ and doesn’t fit neatly into any clearly defined category of decor.
This loose definition means that it can be quite difficult to come up with a true indie-style bedroom.
So how do you successfully make your bedroom look indie?
To make your bedroom look indie: define and express your individual taste (personality, style, interests); create a wallpaper accent wall; use a clothes rack instead of a wardrobe; add patterned rugs, textured seating, hanging lights, a photo wall, vinyl covers, and plants.
The rest of this article expands upon these points in more detail and gives you 12 detailed steps that show you how to make your bedroom look indie starting from scratch.
There are also 5 indie bedroom design ideas in the second half of this article to give you some visual inspiration.
How to Make Your Bedroom Look Indie in 12 Steps
Before following the 12 steps below to make your bedroom look indie, it’s crucial to first understand the basic principles of an indie decor design which are as follows:
Indie is a Design Approach – Not a Style
An indie decor is more of an approach than a style – driven by personality rather than rules.
It involves giving the space the personality of the inhabitant.
Because of this, there are no set rules – unlike the traditional style.
While in the case of a traditional style, we will have specific rules for doing something, here, it is entirely up to the creator.
This is why it’s an approach for everyone, rather than interior designers, to create something very personal.
Indie Designs Are Best Suited to Single Rooms – Not Entire Living Spaces
You can’t design the interior of a whole house indie because you will have a series of interesting rooms rather anything coherent.
It’s very much an approach that works for individual rooms.
More specifically, the improvisational approach that can do wonders for a room becomes a problem when there are many rooms.
Decoration is Key – Focus on Colors, Textures, Patterns, and Pieces
Indie is less about particular finishes and more about decoration; using various pieces, colors, textures, and patterns to achieve a feeling and atmosphere.
Because of this, even in our examples, we will not focus on finishes but show you how to use decoration in the best possible way, even to the point of alleviating the effect of ugly finishes.
Take a DIY Approach to Inject Character
To go ‘full indie’ in interior design means to repurpose and embrace a do-it-yourself approach to decoration.
You will see this in our examples, but the idea of indie interior design is reliant on DIY rather than just buying pieces off the shelf and putting them inside.
Repurpose, improvisation, and creation are your best tools for achieving a fantastic indie interior.
Your Taste is Your Style
When going for a specific style, the concept of following stylistic rules over personal taste is the way most interior designers go, and it’s a good route in general.
But for indie, your taste is the style.
Principles Still Matter
Whilst the very spirit of indie decor is that of breaking the rules, you still need to follow the basic principles of interior design in order to create a stylish look rather than a chaotic mess.
Apply the 12 steps below to follow the principles and create your own unique indie bedroom:
1: Define Your Taste
The first step to successfully making your bedroom look indie is to clearly define your taste by deciding on which aspects of your personality, style, and interests you wish to express in order to create a look that’s independent.
For example, if you appreciate nature and tranquility, you can decide to create a ‘natural’ indie look that focuses on an earthy palette, natural materials (wood, wicker, natural textures, etc).
In the worked example below, I have created an indie bedroom design for someone who is young, passionate about music, plays guitar, and loves traveling – but you can adapt the details to suit your own narrative as you see fit.
2: Use Wallpaper to Create an Accent Wall
As you can see, the room is quite bland and generic, so we want to bring in something that will add vibrancy.
So we decide to use some wallpaper – but we want to keep the DIY spirit, so we opt to apply wallpaper only on one wall, with the smallest applicable surface.
This is your accent wall.
We choose to go for wallpaper with green undertones to create some color.
If you wish to go even further, you can opt to paint the wall and create a large piece of wall art.
This would be ideal, but we will stick to straightforward solutions for this article.
3: Place the Bed Away From the Accent Wall
Place the bed away from the accent wall to avoid making the room feel small; whilst also adding functionality by allowing you to access both sides of the bed.
We also added a slight personal touch and chose pillow covers and a duvet that is also green, keeping it in the same tone as the wallpaper.
When going for a DIY approach, it is always good to have special touches like this, as they subtly tie together the room and keep it looking as a whole rather than a collection of parts.
4: Opt for a Clothes Rack Instead of a Wardrobe
Choose an open clothes rack over a closed wardrobe if you’d like to save space and display your fashion taste – giving the room detail and interest.
It’s these types of small touches that will make your bedroom look indie.
5: Add Patterned Carpets or Rugs
Adding a patterned carpet or rug can make your bedroom look indie by adding detail that departs from conventional flooring.
For example, the simple plank floor in the previous pictures is dull and boring.
So we decide to add two patterned carpet pieces in the form of rugs – one in front of the bed and one to the side of the bed – although a single large carpet is typically the best option for most bedrooms if you want to completely cover the floor.
There are a few things you should remember about this approach to carpets.
As previously stated, one large carpet is ideal.
If that is not doable, then one smaller carpet placed strategically is the next best thing.
But if that is also not doable (as is this case, where the covered floor is L-shaped), then always buy identical pieces – either as identical items or identical patterns.
Never use two completely different carpets in one room.
While it is possible to do so, the two pieces require excellent coordination, and it is very easy to get wrong.
6: Add Two-Textured Seating
Now that we have placed the significant pieces, let’s get into the decoration and more personal touches.
We want to touch three points: furnish the room, decorate the walls, and decorate the ceiling.
We start by creating a seating arrangement in front of the open wardrobe.
As we have already stated, the clothes rack acts both as storage and as decoration, so we use it to create a comfortable seating space in front of it.
We choose a chair with two textures.
There is a wooden texture, as there are quite a few of these in the room already, and green fabric to go with the wallpaper and bed details.
This is to tie the room together, as the clothing rack is a visible complex visual element, leading to clutter.
7: Fit a Wall-Mounted Desk
Because we want this to be a multipurpose room, we also want to find space for a dedicated desk.
Since we don’t want to clutter the room, we go with a wall-mounted desk.
To keep it simple, we choose to use a pouf rather than a full desk chair.
A pouf can be potentially be used as a desk chair, but you need to keep in mind that it is only practical in certain situations.
If your work requires long periods in front of a computer (3+ hours in one sitting), without doing anything else, then a desk chair is the best way to go.
Also, if you have posture issues, then again, I do not recommend this option.
On the other hand, if your work consists primarily of calls, email, and writing, this is a good choice.
To explain, when you do these types of activities, you are more likely to move your body around.
But if your work requires focusing on a single task for a few hours in one sitting, you are more likely to be in one position, and a pouf is not going to help with this.
Alternatively, you can buy a Murphy bed with a desk to save even more space – click here to see the best-priced Murphy beds now.
8: Attach Hanging Lights Around the Ceiling
Now that we have created our zones let’s look at the ceiling.
Usually, we will have a single light fixture, but we will opt to try something different.
Instead of just a single light source, we will use hanging lights around the entire ceiling to light it up and create a fantastic effect.
To make it look even more amazing, we go with a yellow warm light.
This creates a warm, homey sensation that calms and soothes, relaxing the body at the end of a long day.
This is a solid stylistic choice that resonates with the person who will inhabit the space.
9: Create a Photo Wall
We create a photo wall arrangement that spans the whole of one wall next to the clothes rack.
We use many images, all black and white, with black frames to create a coherent installation.
To achieve this, we want to keep all the images in the same style: they are all black and white, they are all placed centrally in the frame with a white background, and they all have the same black frame.
We align the top of the frames with the top of the clothes rack to look neatly placed.
We also want to frame the window, so we place three images on each side of the window, one on top of the other.
These images will use different frames though.
The reason for this is that we want to keep the DIY feeling.
Having a certain level of coordination is essential, but having too much can become a buzz kill.
An indie approach should be more concerned with personality rather than having everything work together.
In the corner, we place a guitar, because as we have discussed, the person living here is musically inclined.
10: Place Vinyl Covers On the Wall Next to the Bed
Above the bed, we do something similar, but instead of photos, we will use vinyl covers.
This is an excellent personal touch and adds personality to the room.
This is a unique way of approaching artwork, bringing to life the DIY aspect of creating an indie design.
11: Use a Stool Instead of a Bedside Table
Now that everything is set, we have one final look and see if anything else needs to be added.
We notice that there is no bedside table and that there is no table next to the chair.
We will use two stools and place one next to the bed and one next to the chair.
As such, we have both improvised and created a unique touch.
12: Put Plants on the Window Sill
As a last touch, we will also add some plants on the window sill.
This is the final touch that ties everything together by introducing a final green element beyond the bed and chair.
We can now see the result, a room with very personal touches, expressed through atypical and creative touches unique to this room.
5 Indie Bedroom Design Ideas
Now that we have walked through the process, let’s look at five examples of indie bedrooms.
Because this is quite a personal way of approaching a bedroom, seeing other examples is very useful when you wish to tackle a project.
We will go through each and discuss how they implement the indie approach and how they succeed.
This is an excellent example of an indie approach.
The bed is very minimalistic, consisting only of a mattress (click here to see how to design a minimalist bedroom on a budget) and basic furniture.
The bench in front of the bed is also an example of improvisation.
Everywhere we look, we can see the personal touches of the person who uses this room.
From the plants to the painting, every corner of the room has small details.
Another great feature here is the room divider, which can separate large bedrooms into zones.
Combined with the dominant wooden tones, the plants tie everything together, even though it’s mostly an improvised design.
The real success of this design is that you can see the personality of the one who created the design.
You can see what their interests are and what they like, and that is the ultimate goal of indie; creating a room with a great personality.
2: Crisp White
This example is not simply indie, but more a combination of white minimalism with indie influence.
There is a clear dominant color, white, contrasted with the lamps and decorations.
The lamps are coordinated with the carpet and wall decor, but they are different tones, even though only subtly.
We can see improvisation in the use of stools for bedside tables and in the usage of plants.
The majority of plants are placed in one area, but a single plant is placed on top of the wardrobe.
This is what we mean when we say an indie is an approach rather than a style.
You can have a style but go your own way, which is where the indie influences come into play.
3: Organised Chaos
Here, we have a bed with a table placed behind it, acting as a plant stand.
Just like the previous example, plants are placed through the room, tying everything together.
This is very useful in this case where we have multiple different elements.
The personal touch here is how everything is placed apparently at random, but at the same time in an organized manner.
This form of controlled chaos can be quite a lot of fun to implement.
This is also a great example of mixing indie with various other styles, such as boho, and how it takes influences from everywhere rather than sticking to a classic look.
It’s an approach that evolves as you are creating it.
This is a smaller room, but there are numerous personal touches.
First, we have the bed cover in the same tone and texture as the artworks, and both have a similar dominant color to the wall.
There is an antique wooden cupboard added with a boat on top, an interesting choice.
This is an excellent example of an indie approach, as we can already guess a little bit of the personality of the people who use this room.
There is a lot of expressiveness here, and it is done with just a few pieces, making it brilliant.
This is an excellent example of indie design while keeping it classy and not going overboard, which can be very easy to do in these cases.
Finally, we have our most improvised example.
At first glance, almost nothing in this room goes together, but it makes sense.
This is where fine coordination comes into play.
The bedside table has the same frame as the shelves and is similar to the two hanging lights.
All the plants are in the same style and are placed throughout the room.
And finally, the fabric of the chair is identical in color with one of the hanging lights.
Beyond this, the artwork and carpet have an almost identical color.
The room has a lot of personalities; it looks serene but chaotic at the same time.
This is why coordination is essential when dealing with an indie approach, as it allows you to express anything you wish.
Image Attribution and Licencing
The following images are used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement:
Main image: ‘Modern Bedroom Design’ by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz (Getty Images).
Image #1: ‘Bedroom Area With No People Inside Building’ by Dmitry Zvolskiy (Pexels).
Image #2: ‘Scandi-Boho Style Bedroom’ by Artjafara (Getty Images Pro).
Image #3: ‘Natural Bedroom With Plants’ by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz (Getty Images Pro).
Image #4: ‘Green Vintage Bedroom Interior’ by Artjafara (Getty Images Pro).
Image #5: ‘Spacious Bedroom With Armchair’ by Katarzyna Bialasiewicz (Getty Images Pro).
All other images are custom made by Animo Regis and used with permission.
Dan is the founder and head content creator at Bedroom Style Reviews.
He has been working as a professional online product reviewer since 2015 and was inspired to start this website when he ended up sleeping on a memory foam mattress that was too soft and gave him backache.
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