We spend so much time, money and energy decorating the social spaces in our homes that often the private quarters fall by the wayside. Our bedrooms are meant to relax and rejuvenate us, but they can easily become a dumping ground for hand-me-down furniture sets and dated, floral-patterned duvets. To identify the five most common bedroom decorating mistakes and solutions for how to fix them, we turned to interior designers Sarah Barnard of Sarah Barnard Design and Dee Murphy of Murphy Deesign.
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1. Picking the wrong paint color for the mood you are trying to create
Photo: James Bombales, design by Karin Bennett
There are two schools of thought when it comes to choosing a paint color for the bedroom — those who believe bedrooms should be light and airy, and those who embrace dark and moody colors. “A well-designed bedroom encourages restoration and romance with soothing natural tones. Resist the urge to saturate your bedroom in vibrant colors,” says Barnard. “Energetic hues like magenta, marigold and mango are often best appreciated in transitory spaces. For my clients’ bedrooms, I suggest soft tones and luxurious materials that will add to their comfort and allow them to rest peacefully.”
Murphy offers another take, “Don’t be afraid to go dark and moody in the bedroom! I have had clients that are afraid to go with dark paint because they think it will make their room feel like a cave, but once I do it… they absolutely fall in love with how cozy it feels!”
2. Buying cheap bed linens made from scratchy, synthetic fibers
Photo: James Bombales, design by Nikki Fisher-Gigault
Who among us isn’t a sucker for a patterned duvet set? I’m constantly browsing the sites of retailers like Urban Outfitters and H&M Home for affordable bedding updates. But according to Barnard, the quality of your bed linens is far more important than the aesthetic. “Natural, organic fibers are more breathable than their synthetic counterparts and contribute to a better night’s sleep,” she explains. “To avoid synthetic fibers, take the time to read the content label before you get swept up in the cuteness of a fashion-forward print. Using natural bedding fabrics like silk, linen or cotton is especially important, as they are in close contact with our skin.”
3. Installing wall-to-wall carpet because you think it will be “cozy”
Photo: James Bombales, design by Jo Alcorn
We’re often fed this belief that wall-to-wall carpeting translates to warm and cozy. How could you possibly get out of bed on a cold winter morning with hardwood underfoot? But carpeting in the bedroom isn’t the right choice for everyone. “I recommend that my clients avoid wall-to-wall carpeting, particularly if they have children, pets, or allergies,” says Barnard. “Easy to clean hard surface flooring materials like wood, terrazzo and natural stone tiles help to keep our bedrooms dust and dander free.”
4. Choosing an area rug that’s too small for your space
Photo: James Bombales, design by Lisa Canning
“Area rugs are a lovely solution for creating plush underfoot islands that can be cleaned as needed,” says Barnard. But buyer beware — there are several things to keep in mind when shopping for an area rug, particularly the size. “This is a common mistake throughout the home — rugs that are too small for a space!” says Murphy. “In the bedroom, I like to see the rug placed horizontally (perpendicular to the direction of the bed), about half way underneath, so that the nightstands remain on the floor.” Murphy suggests an 8’x10’ or 9’x12’ area rug “if there is room” to allow the bed frame to rest (at least partially) on the area rug with 12- to 18-inches of overhang.
5. Failing to incorporate houseplants into your design
Photo: James Bombales
Houseplants can help to purify the air in your bedroom, resulting in a more restful sleep. “It’s important to consider house plants in the early phases of the design strategy and to be mindful of the size and locations we dedicate to living things,” notes Barnard. “Without a plan, plants can be forgotten, left out, or placed in unsuitable areas that do not provide adequate light or space.” Wondering which houseplants will thrive in your bedroom? Speak to a staff member at your local nursery, keeping in mind the light conditions and size restrictions. “Because our plant babies will get larger with time, we should give them the space they need to thrive. Witnessing their growth can be restorative and connects us to the natural world,” adds Barnard.