No matter its size, there’s no reason why a small bedroom can’t be characterful and individual. It’s important to find the right balance in a bedroom, incorporating a comfortable space to sleep and relax, while making sure there’s still ample storage to house clothing, books and other treasured possessions.
Take inspiration from these eight simple ideas for making the most of the space while adding decorative flair:
1. Pattern clash
There can be a tendency to strip small spaces of decoration in an attempt to create something that feels expansive, but that can also strip a space of cosiness and personality.
An eclectic mix of prints can work to great effect in a small space with surprising results. On the left, an unusual collection of patterns, from a vibrant oriental floral velvet (Liberty), a contemporary geometric hexagonal printed linen (Rapture & Wright) to a classic wool plaid (Voyage Decoration) has created a bold and charming focal point, and the rich colours of ochre, plum and navy blue have a cocooning effect.
2. All-over colour
Paint is a clever way to change the perception of space in a room. Painting a small bedroom – including the ceiling – in an all-over uniform colour blurs its edges and boundaries giving the impression of space. Choose something pale and light-reflecting, like a soft pink or cream with a slight sheen. This is particularly effective if you paint woodwork, doorframes, and radiators, too.
3. Clever details
A small space requires a bit of ingenuity – which in fact can lead to some original and creative solutions. On the left, an occasional chair has been used as a bedside table, and we love the addition of an oversized lamp – note that not all objects in a small bedroom have to be miniaturised, and in fact a couple of statement pieces that draw the eye are a good idea.
On the right, a DIY headboard has been fashioned from ticking fabric that highlights the height of the room, whilst allowing the bed to be totally tucked up against the back wall – every little helps when floorspace is limited.
4. Decorate vertically
One of the most effective design tricks in small bedrooms is to utilise vertical space to create the illusion of height.
“Use a focal point to draw the eye upwards, along the eyeline or above,” say the design experts at Instrument Furniture. “The reason this makes the space feel bigger is because it pulls the attention away from the floor space (or lack thereof), and upwards onto the ceiling. Accent walls, artwork, floor-to-ceiling curtains and vertical stripes will help to achieve this effect.”
Wallpaper and fabric are both great options in this instance – here, botanical wallpaper used in a small bedroom draws the eye upwards to the double height ceilings, and hanging fabric has been used so cleverly to zone and heighten the silhouette of the bed.
5. Bespoke storage
Bespoke open shelving, contained to one wall, has been used in this fabulous blue bedroom to great effect – doubling as discreet storage space and a bedside unit.
“Ingenuity is key, with careful storage elements and creative thinking, you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve even in the smallest of spaces,” say Jen & Mar founders of Interior Fox. “Consider opting for bespoke cabinetry to create something truly unique, perhaps an occasional seat, storage cupboard or desk.”
By choosing a bespoke option, you can tailor-make wall storage to suit your style or space, to include all the practical elements you require, from a wardrobe or desk to shoe racks. Try James Mayor and Neville Johnson for made-to-measure ideas.
6. Lightweight accents
Consider the visual weight of the furniture you use in a small bedroom – slim bedside tables, chairs and beds with spindly legs, a lot of glass and mirrored surfaces, and an absence of cumbersome storage units and plump upholstery makes all the difference.
“Visually lightweight furniture will help draw attention away from the floor,” say the design experts at Instrument Furniture. “A bed with raised legs will allow you to see more floor space and keep the visual weight off of the lower half of the room by ensuring that nothing bulky is sitting on the floor. Transparent materials such as glass or acrylic will also help to make the space feel larger as it reduces the visual weight.”
7. Cocoon with dark colours
There is a design argument for dark colours in small bedrooms, as long as they are well executed.
“There is a misconception that painting a small room with dark colours will shrink the room – this is not true,” says Michael Rolland, DIY expert at The Paint Shed. “Dark colours don’t always lead to small, dark spaces. Dark colours can be a good idea for poorly lit rooms and smaller rooms because you are playing to the limitations of natural light rather than fighting it. Combined with the right textures and finishes, opting for dark paint in a small room can often create a cosy, calm space with a moody undertone.”
8. Try sheer fabrics
Much like bulky furniture, heavy fabrics will block the light flowing through a bedroom, and interrupt the natural line of vision. Lightweight voile fabrics, airy linens or anything semi-sheer introduces a sense of breeziness – even in this tiny attic bedroom with an imposing slanted ceiling.
“Sheer fabrics allow light to pass through curtains, bedskirts and table coverings, creating the illusion of taking up less space,” says Sarah Lloyd, paint and interiors expert at Valspar. “Lighter colours such as ivory and cream will seem almost translucent in a sheer material, and accentuate the room without overpowering it.”
Opening up a small bedroom to a view outside and maximising the amount of natural light available will make all the difference in a cramped space.
“Drapes and curtains block views of the outside and make rooms seem more insular – even if they only cover part of the window,” says Sarah. “Installing blinds or shutters guarantees privacy without seeming too imposing, and if curtains are a must then choose a pole that extends far beyond the edges of the window so the view isn’t blocked.”