The amount of space you need for a good night’s rest and other self-care rituals is a matter of preference — for some. For many of us limited by rent costs, small bedrooms must suffice, despite it being the spot where experts say we’re likely to spend as many as nine-and-a-half hours on average each day.
Although furniture staples like sofas and side chairs have gotten more streamlined (read: smaller and, in some cases, convertible, while still managing to appeal to a wide range of styles), bedroom essentials have yet to follow suit. You’re either a twin, a queen, or a king, with a few extra inches on the side to stretch out or luxuriate in the extra storage capacity of a nightstand, if you’re lucky.
The most common bed size — a queen — measures 60 inches wide and 80 inches long. But some can also come in an 84-inch or 7-foot length, which in some places (like New York City) could actually be the size of your entire bedroom. Downgrading to a full-size bed (coming in at 54 inches wide by 75 inches long) might carve out a little more space, but can be a snug fit for two people with a taller, wider build. On the other hand, a 39-inch wide, 75-inch long twin, which is the mattress size used for most daybeds, might be a better bet for guests only crashing for a night or two.
Luckily, where square footage may be lacking, brilliant ways to create a stylish sleep sanctuary abound — no matter what your decor style. Here are ways to design a small bedroom for the traditionalist, the maximalist, and everyone in between.
For The Minimalist: Keep The Palette Light
Cali-cool vibes permeate this laid-back apartment of two Los Angeles roommates. In one of the small bedrooms, an ultra-neutral palette of white and pink — characteristic of that SoCal style — plays up the home’s ample natural light and works wonders to make the tiny space feel larger.
A rustic wood headboard and matching nightstand keep the white-on-white room from feeling too stark or sterile. Design pros also recommend layering the textures of all-white accessories for a hint of drama. Here, a shaggy rug does the trick in two ways: keeping with the room’s airy palette and adding a touch of warmth underfoot on chilly days.
Additionally, a full-size mirror in the corner is a great way to not only provide you a spot to check out your outfit before heading out the door, but it also serves as a tool to make the space feel larger. Mirrors are definitely a designer go-to when it comes to opening up a small room.
For The Maximalist: Wallpaper It All
Even the subtle pattern of a batik-inspired wallpaper makes the walls of this tiny bedroom virtually disappear. The dark, indigo colorway heightens the cocoon effect and provides a surprisingly neutral backdrop to layer on all the cozy elements you’d want in a sleep sanctuary: hotel-like white bedding, a brass lamp for reading, and accessories in varying shades of blue, which is known for its sleep-inducing qualities.
We recommend choosing a wallpaper with a barely-there pattern or a large-scale one, both of which tend to fade into the background and give the eyes a place to rest. Alternatively, an accent wall can create an equally stylish effect, and may even take the place of a headboard if space is limited in a small bedroom.
Just be sure to prep your walls properly beforehand. There’s nothing like a bumpy, peeling decor mishap like sloppy wallpaper to keep you up at night.
For The Traditionalist: Turn The Headboard Into Storage
Headboards tend to serve one purpose in bedroom design: looking pretty. But rethinking the way you utilize the top end of your bed can go a long way in maximizing space (particularly when it is limited).
Case in point: an airy guest small bedroom inside the Brooklyn home of model and culinary pro Elettra Wiedemann, where a carved wood headboard serves as a perch for books and other accessories, practically eliminating the need for nightstands altogether.
The cleverly-designed space offers both a modern twist to the home’s otherwise traditional bones and a provides a bonus, space-saving tip: utilizing the wall space between the windows as a spot to display art. A thin photo frame keeps the look sleek and mimics the frame of the windows without distracting from the view.
For The Modernist: Use Every Corner
Not having two nightstands may take some getting used to, but gaining a few extra inches for a larger bed feels like a worthwhile trade-off. It will just require thinking beyond the traditional bedroom layout and utilizing every corner of your room, perhaps even tucking your bed into a corner instead of centering it along a wall.
Such is life inside this Bay Area bedroom, where a slatted bed cozies up to a soft-yellow wall. The black-and-white combination of the bed frame and bedding become more of a focal point than the layout of the furniture. A graphic piece of art hung from a picture rail above offers another point of distraction and makes the corner vignette feel complete — the key to avoiding dorm-room vibes.
For The Eclectic: Make The Ceiling Disappear
Adding a splash of color to a wall may seem counterintuitive if the goal is to make it disappear. But there is one exception, and that is the fifth wall, aka the ceiling. Painted in a dark hue and set against a crisp white wall beneath, the ceiling seems to fade away as it does in this mid-century small bedroom in Austin.
Alongside vibrant English blue bedding, the ceiling color, Benjamin Moore’s Chimichurri, warms the space by day — thanks to a flood of light from a wall of sliding doors — and creates the effect of a nighttime sky come sundown when the room’s recessed lighting is on. In spaces where the ceilings are high or lofty, using a color on the ceiling can create a cozier, grounding effect.