11 Simple Rules That Make a Small Bedroom Feel Like a Master

Updated 04/03/19
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small bedroom ideas
Sara Tramp ; DESIGN: Emily Henderson Design

If you are a metropolitan city dweller you probably know space is a luxury—but in the age of the tiny home, thriving in small abodes aren’t a colossal concern to design lovers. In fact, it’s often an opportunity to show off just how innovative one can get. Is it just me or is there something charming about a quaint room? Like a cocoon, it can become your retreat from hectic modern life, a place with no space for the extra clutter (minimalists rejoice), and a breeze to clean up (read on for Mari Kondo approved tips).

In a way, downsizing your belongings to the necessities and making purposeful design decisions that are not only beautiful but functional sounds almost therapeutic. Using unpredictable hacks, and a few tricks fit for an illusionist, you can turn you small sleeping arrangement from pint size to downright productive.
If you’re still not convinced that small sleeping spaces are awesome just look to the French. It’s common practice for young Parisian’s to live in a studio and even sleep in a twin bed and look at all the beauty rest they seem to be getting? But French sleeping habits aside, we enlisted the help of interior design experts to share their tips and tricks for making a small bedroom feel bigger.

small bedroom tips
Mary Costa; DESIGN: Jennifer Wallenstein

It’s Lit
Interior designer Jennifer Wallenstein of September Workshop guides us towards the light, showing us that the key to opening up a small space is in the fixtures: “Opt for accent lighting scattered around the space in lieu of one large overhead light or recessed cans.” she says. “This will draw your eye around the room, creating depth and shadow, whereas one bright light source will bathe the space in a uniform glow.”

Smoke and Mirrors
For our next magic trick, we present a bit of a trompe l'oeil. Playing up the optical illusions at your disposal a mirror or lucite bedside tables can be your saving grace for giving the suggestion of grandeur. Home staging expert Meridith Baer suggests “a large mirror mounted on the wall adds architectural interest while also adding light to the space—it works especially well if it reflects a window or large opening into the room to give the illusion of more space.”
Taking it to the next level Meredith goes for lucite and glass when choosing bedside furniture. “It’s a crisp modern look that doesn't visually weigh down the space—by adding the right airy accessories on top you can add height to the space along with dramatic impact.”

It’s Lit
Interior designer Jennifer Wallenstein of September Workshop guides us towards the light, showing us that the key to opening up a small space is in the fixtures: “Opt for accent lighting scattered around the space in lieu of one large overhead light or recessed cans.” she says. “This will draw your eye around the room, creating depth and shadow, whereas one bright light source will bathe the space in a uniform glow.”

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Small bedroom tips —Shannon Wollack
Stephen Busken ; DESIGN: Shannon Wollack

Stay Neutral
“Make a small space look bigger by filling it with whites and neutrals.” Shannon Wollack of Studio Life.Style talks us out of bold prints and colors in order to save visual space. “Mix up the neutral palette with textured pillows and throws to add depth to your space.”

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Small bedroom tips—Julie Van Daele
Julie Van Daele ; DESIGN: Julie Van Daele

Hide and Seek
Sleep easy knowing everything has its place when storage is built in. Designer Julie Van Daele guides us to “find furniture pieces that have subtle drawers so you can have a place for everything.” Beds with storage beneath are a godsend with built-in stow-away spots. Extra bedding, clothing, and books are easy-access when needed, but not taking up valuable floor space. 

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Small bedroom tips—Abbe Fenimore
Heather Hawkins ; DESIGN: Abbe Fenimore

Get High
The higher the better when it comes to hanging drapery to make your room feel larger. “Always hang drapery panels as high and wide as possible to give the illusion of higher ceilings and a larger window," she says. "I like to have the drapery panels extend at least 10" on either side of the window if the space is available,” advises Abbe Fenimore, interior designer & founder of Studio Ten 25. Opt for simple white drapes that carry the eyes up.

But Does it Spark Joy?
Marie Kondo’s philosophies of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up are sweeping the nation and we’re purging our closets at a rapid rate. But what does one do once they’ve successfully disposed of? Systemize. When it comes to making your small sleeping space appear bigger organization is a do or die factor. Certified KonMarie specialist Lisa Tselebidis teaches us that to optimize one must organize.

Get High
The higher the better when it comes to hanging drapery to make your room feel larger. “Always hang drapery panels as high and wide as possible to give the illusion of higher ceilings and a larger window," she says. "I like to have the drapery panels extend at least 10" on either side of the window if the space is available,” advises Abbe Fenimore, interior designer & founder of Studio Ten 25. Opt for simple white drapes that carry the eyes up.

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Small bedroom design ideas
Stephen Busken ; DESIGN: Brittany Zwickl

Murphy’s Law
Another way to use the wall instead of floor space is to be creative with your bed placing. Brittany Zwickl of Studio Life.Style recommends a Murphy bed to maximize the space you have. Once you're up for the day, tuck your mattress away and the room transforms into something else entirely. William Lawrence Murphy himself would be proud.

Pick with Purpose
It’s a common thread when decking out your pint-sized bedroom to be very purposeful with what makes the cut. “You do not want lots of little things, as it will clutter the space and make it feel even smaller," shares designer Emily Henderson. "When it comes to decorating small spaces go for large-scale accessories, but fewer of them.”

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Small bedroom tips—Max Humphrey
Christopher Dibble ; DESIGN: Max Humphrey

Color Play
Small bedrooms can feel like you’re being closed in by four walls but this tip will use those walls to your advantage. Decorist celebrity designer Max Humphrey sends us to the paint store. “A little paint can go a long way to make a room feel bigger," he says. "When the walls and ceilings are painted the same color the room goes from feeling like a closed-in shoebox to a bright and open space. I recommend using soft neutral and lighter colors.” His go-to is this light, cool gray for walls and ceiling.

Build Up
Erin Hiemstra of Apartment34 teaches us that when square footage is limited, build up. “Look for storage solutions that can be wall mounted," she says. "From bedside tables to desk solutions, keeping things off the floor gives the impression of more floor space."

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small bedroom design
Julia Sperling ; DESIGN: Jessica McCarthy

Pièce de Résistance
Creating an accent wall can add a playfulness that attracts the eye and makes a room feel polished. “Try wallpaper in a small bedroom," says Decorist Creative Director Jessica McCarthy. "You don't need to wallpaper all the walls. As a matter of fact, for a small room focus on one accent wall to create a focal point." She also urges us not to be afraid of a bold pattern which will give it that maximalist effect and make the room feel thoughtful and designed.

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