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Mastering the master bedroom


I recently worked with a client, a mother of four, who broke the mold for the way most busy families approach their homes. She wanted to design the master bedroom first. Not the family room. Not the kitchen or a bathroom—the rooms most commonly at the top of the list—but the master bedroom, the place where, at least in theory, she and her husband can escape, connect and recharge for the next day. I loved it. Whether you are ready for a full makeover or want to enhance your bedroom over time, here are some considerations and ideas to get you started.


Set the Tone

Think about how you want the room to feel and how you use it.  Do you want it to feel warm and cozy, elegant, sensual, streamlined and simple? Is this space all about sound sleep, quiet music and reading time, or do you want it serve as a private lounge space to catch up on your favorite shows? Maybe it’s a little of each. Whatever the case, considering the desired tone and function before you buy, paint, or re-arrange a single piece will save time, money and produce better results in the end.


Start With the Bed

The best starting point for setting the tone is the bed and surrounding wall since this is usually the focal point of the room. Maybe you need a new headboard? Or if you don’t have one, maybe it’s time. Headboards create  structure for the bed space and can change up the feeling of your room in a snap. For a traditional look, try dark wood or a tufted, upholstered frame.  


headboard traditional.jpg

Photo Sources: Houzz


For a more modern look, consider a classic shape with a twist, a contrasting fabric, or a pop of color.


headboard gray velvet.jpg

Photo Sources: Lauren Conrad


For a contemporary yet rustic look, I’m wild about this wood plank wall created with one of my all-time favorite products, Stikwood.


accebt wall wood.jpg

Photo Source: Stikwood


The privacy of bedrooms make them a great place to display photographs and personal effects. How sweet to sleep with a gallery of beautifully framed, meaningful photographs above your head! Do you and your partner have different tastes? Don’t be afraid to mix and match, like this photo featuring the whimsy of a bold, patterned wallpaper along with traditional wood and clean lines.


accent wall and end of bed storage.jpg

Photo Sources: Tizzi Lish


Don’t forget about the ceiling! Whether it’s to add a burst of color in an otherwise neutral room or to set the mood for dreamy sleep, the bedroom ceiling deserves a second look.


ceilling coral.jpg

Photo Source: 6th Street Design School


Go for Form and Function in Furniture

Because bedrooms are more private than other rooms in the house, bedroom furniture is often over-looked. But I think just because this is where you start and end every day, bedroom furniture should provide optimal function as well as delight. Before you buy or replace anything, consider both form and function. How much and what kind of storage do you need? What about placement in the room for optimal flow? What kind of style works for the feeling you want to create? Dressers offer great storage and keep clothes neatly out of sight. They can also be pricey, so I like to work through creative alternatives first if my client doesn’t have a dresser they totally love.



Photo Sources: Running From The Law


Maybe a large nightstand is all the storage you need. Or you might find that a non-traditional bedroom piece, like a sideboard, credenza, or shoe cabinet suits your space and needs just fine.



Photo Sources: Hunted Interior


Nightstands are mandatory in my book. They are the natural place for reading material and a light, they help balance the bed and are also a good spot to infuse personality. These three drawer Malm dressers from IKEA look great, are inexpensive and hold a ton of stuff! Below is the same dresser shown three ways. It looks nice on its own, but a great option is to add embellishments from PANYL or O’verlays to dress them up.


ikea malm.jpg

Photo Sources: IKEA Spotting


Pro Tip: For a balanced bedroom set-up that isn’t too matchy-matchy, I like to mix-up either the nightstands or lamps like this bedroom below. Matching lamps with different but complementary nightstands make this room really dynamic and reflect the personality of the couple.


bedside table mismatch.jpg

Photo Source: Pursuit of Handynes


Be Smart About Seating

If you’re short on space, a pair of ottomans or a small bench work nicely at the foot of the bed. Choose one with hidden storage to stash shoes, linens or off-season items.


end of bed ottomans.jpg

Photo Sources: Name 5 Things


If you are lucky to have space for chairs or a chaise, by all means go for it. It can be nice to have a space to read or catch up on the laptop without getting into bed. But be warned that chairs and chaises can just as easily become a dumping ground for clothes and clutter.  


seating area chairs.jpg

Photo Sources: Houzz

To TV or not to TV?

Not sold on having a TV in the bedroom but your partner won’t budge? Try a of trick to minimize the impact so it doesn’t become the focal point. Create a gallery wall around it.


tv gallery 2.jpg

Photo Sources: Style Me Pretty


Add a large piece of art behind it to steal the show.


tv with art.jpg

Photo Source: Gorgeous Shiny Things


Light the Way

Like everything else in your bedroom, lighting should be a happy marriage of form and function. You need enough light as well as the right kind of light to cast the desired tone and mood. The main, overhead light can be a focal point and a powerful way to amplify the tone of your room. Going for tranquility? A soft chandelier can be lovely. 


lighting shell chandelier.jpg


Photo Sources: Style Estate


Be sure to consider the interplay of the main light fixture, if you have one, and nightstand lamps. If you are going bold in one place, consider something more understated in the other. You want to maximize style but not with chaotic or competing elements.


The photo below is a great example of style and balance. The main fixture is dramatic with side lamps that are different enough to be interesting but not disruptive or overdone.  


west elm.jpg

Photo Source: West Elm

I was thinking. This thing about starting with your master bedroom instead of, say, the playroom is kind of like the notion of putting the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. By creating a bedroom space you love first, you may find that the rest of the house, and even your attitude about it, starts to feel different with half the effort.

Sara Eizen is a Seattle-based interior designer and home organizer with a passion for helping busy families reclaim style and space in their homes on any budget. In a bi-weekly column for Seattle's Child, Sara shares creative, fun, affordable tips and tricks for clearing clutter, sprucing up rooms with minimal effort, creating systems that simplify family life, and much more.

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