Optimize Your Small Bedroom Design

Your bedroom is a haven. Plan for space and style to make it work both by day and night.
Coastal Master Bedroom

Coastal Master Bedroom

Photography by Maria Alexandra Vettese; styling by Hilary Horvath

Photography by Maria Alexandra Vettese; styling by Hilary Horvath

By: Barbara Ballinger

Your master bedroom should be a place to close the door at the end of a day, shut out the world and unwind in private. But it’s also a place where you want to wake up energized and refreshed with everything you need at hand.

How you decorate this room, even when small, can make a huge difference in your mood. Every bedroom isn’t just about being beautiful and inspiring relaxation. It should provide good storage, though that can prove tough once you carve out space for a bed, nightstands, a chest of drawers and a comfortable reading chair.

There's another challenge. Many homeowners spend most of their money outfitting the living room, dining room and kitchen. "I think it’s practically impossible to waste money on creating the perfect bedroom because it affects you more than any other room in your house," says Karen Carter, author of Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect and Happiness.

Many design experts suggest starting with this room, maximizing the layout and dressing it up to suit your mood.

Extreme Small Space Videos

See All Videos

10 Small Bedroom Designs

See All Photos

Vibrant Patterns

For a client not afraid to live with lively color and pattern, homeowners got a strong dose with a robin’s egg blue and red pattern for the bed and its curtains; the bare floor makes it stand out more. Design by Mary Douglas Drysdale; photography by Ron Blunt

Space-Saving Murphy Bed

When a peninsula-style desk is moved to its left and a closet is opened, voila. The homeowner can pull down a Murphy bed to put up overnight guests in a comfy queen size bed. Design by EMI Interior Design; photography by David Young-Wolff

Open and Airy

To convey a romantic spirit and larger sense of space, Mary Douglas Drysdale went straight to a creamy palette to envelop the room, except for one leopard print that gives it some sizzle. Photography by Ron Blunt

Photo By: Ron Blunt

Black, White and Bold

Forget the idea that a small bedroom can only be enveloped in pastels or white; Barbara Elliott and Jennifer Ward-Woods of Decorating Den Interiors show how bold but coordinated black and white patterns and a large mirror add energy and a feeling of more space. Photography by Jeff Sanders

Cozy Color Scheme

Because she’s surrounded by color all day, designer Susan Brunstrum of Sweet Pea Design gave her cozy bedroom a neutral palette but lots of textures. "It had to be quiet, peaceful, and serene, so I enveloped it in neutrals but with textures for interest," she says. Photography by Jerry Kalyniuk

Luxurious Charm

You can unleash the size limits of a small bedroom by adding the right luxe accents. This bedroom got a major upgrade with its walls papered in a sophisticated floral print and sparkling light fixtures. Photography by Kenneth James’ Belgian Luxe Raymond Waiters from Brewster Home Fashions.

More Room: Floor-to-Ceiling

By building storage into closets, raising the ceiling to 11’ and using glass walls to face wooded views, a small 10’ by 16’ bedroom seems roomier for builder and homeowner Peter Englander.

Rich Approach

Some think red makes a bedroom look smaller; depends on the shade says Claudia Juestel who custom colored the hue to a rich, yet tranquil oxblood for a Victorian house. Photography by Adeeni Design Group

Warm Accent Wall

To add both architectural interest and texture to this attic bedroom, interior designer Alexandra Hernandez created a custom headboard made up of individual, burlap-upholstered plywood cubes. In a small space an accent wall pulls the eye through the room and visually enlarges the proportions.

Pops of Color

Walls, bedding and upholstered surfaces in clean, crisp white add to the room’s sense of serenity. Small doses of color make a strong statement, such as the rust-colored Greek key border on the duvet and shams. Design by Vern Yip

Photo By: EP

Begin with your bed. For comfort, purchase a queen- or king-sized bed, and be sure you have at least 2” on three sides to make it up. Unless it's a platform style, consider raising it up 7” or so to gain room for storage bins or baskets underneath as college kids do, says New York designer Libby Langdon.

Instead of positioning your bed against the wall closest to the door when you enter the room, Langdon suggests arranging your headboard against the opposite wall, so you view the entire bed right away, which will make your room look larger.

If there's an undesirable view, you might want to use your bed and a high enough headboard to block the sight.

Optimize storage. Rather than squeezing a chair and matching ottoman into your limited space, Langdon recommends a bench or ottomans for sitting, which often open up to include storage.

Because a small bedroom may not have room for a chest, many designers recommend hiring a professional closet organizer to maximize this space, no matter how small. Designer and author Marianne Cusato suggests getting as much “stuff” out of your bedroom and into the closet as possible to make the space look bigger.

Choose practical tables. When looking for bedside tables, go for a matching pair that fit the scale of your bed and room. Choose a flat surface on top for books, a water glass and lamp.

Black and White Studio Bedroom

Black and White Studio Bedroom

"Because your space is limited, you want the minimum amount of furniture with the maximum function," says Marcia Harris of Itsy Bitsy Ritzy. She outfitted this 12’ x 18’ studio with an ottoman that opens for storage, a nightstand/file cabinet combo and pullout drawers under the bed. Photography by Leonard Lampel

"Because your space is limited, you want the minimum amount of furniture with the maximum function," says Marcia Harris of Itsy Bitsy Ritzy. She outfitted this 12’ x 18’ studio with an ottoman that opens for storage, a nightstand/file cabinet combo and pullout drawers under the bed. Photography by Leonard Lampel

Find comfortable flooring. Lay wall-to-wall carpet for a warmer effect. If you have nice wood floors and want to show them off, consider placing an area rug on top, but one that covers the majority of the floor space, so you have 6” of surrounding bare floor.

Add colors and patterns. Whether you use paint or wallpaper, a soft palette is best on walls for a tranquil mood that inspires good sleep. Los Angeles designer Erica Islas of EMI Interior Design likes to use wallpaper to keep the eye moving all around the space.

You might paint one wall a rich color or use a darker tone near the ceiling to make the room seem a bit bigger, says designer Barbara Elliot of Decorating Den Interiors.

Light the right areas. Good lighting should come from multiple sources. If you like to read in bed, Langdon suggests installing swing-arm lamps on either side of the bed for better task lighting. Islas always includes one overhead source that provides illumination in all directions, and makes it dimmable for different light levels.

Accessorize. Mirrors do wonders in small rooms to magnify dimensions, particularly in bedrooms where they offer a way to check clothing and makeup in private.

Including a TV remains a matter of debate. Although you may find nothing more comfy than getting under the covers to catch an episode of of your favorite show, many designers suggest leaving a TV out of the bedroom for the same reason they suggest keeping your computer from this space. They’re better suited for a home office or other living space, says Sally Morse, director of creative services for Hunter Douglas. But if you insist, at least place it behind an armoire’s doors to conceal it.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Live and Work in a Small Space

Living rooms are no longer reserved just for company. Think about your everyday needs.
More from:

Smart Small Spaces

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.