The decorator's den

The Bedroom

1:22 PM

When it comes to interior decor, what most people want for their bedroom is a 5 star hotel look, a decor that spells comfort and luxury. The good new is that it’s not that hard to achieve if you follow a few simple pointers.

The first mistake many do when they approach bedroom furnishing is trying to cram too much into the space: a bed, a desk, the unfolded laundry, all the family pictures, the wardrobes, possibly a drawer unit and then toss all the things you plan to organize later but need out of sight because you are having guest over. The result is often a chaotic mess that will make the place un-inviting and suffocating.
To achieve a nice luxurious cosy feel you don’t need expensive things, you just need to be practical in your approach:

1) When it comes to furniture, only put the strict essentials in that room: the bed, bedside tables, and a wardrobe to store your clothes. And if, and only if your room is big enough, consider storing something else such as a bookshelf, or a make up dresser. They key element to achieve the plush luxury feel is space. The room should breathe.
I’ve seen it too many time, packing all you can in the bedroom because “it’s out of visitor’s sight is tempting. But at the end of the day, it is your home, not your guest’s one and you as an individual deserve comfort in your room.

2) Still in the furniture department, do no pick oversized ones. Most apartments in India are small, rooms are usually given less importance than the living room for the reason that it’s a personal place rather than a social one, so as much as you may want a King size bed, first ask yourself the question of whether it will fit in the space without dwarfing the room. If you find that the room is a bit small, opt for a Queen, the difference in width between the two is 20 cm, so unless both you and your partner are plus sized, you will do just fine in a Queen size. While 20cm doesn’t make a significant difference while sleeping, it does make one fitting the size of the room. If you really need a king size bed and your room is small, opt for one without a big head board, these tend to give a nasty optical illusion and make the bed far more imposing than it is. Opt for a smaller bedframe and dress the space above it hanging a tapestry or a painting on the wall.
When it comes to wardrobes opt for one that isn’t too deep but is wide enough to accommodate your clothes, plus extra room for all the other things you tend to store in your room. If you live in a rental home, chances are you won’t have much of a say in the wardrobe department if the flat is semi furnished, but otherwise do pick a wardrobe unit that has some simple minimalistic lines in a colour that matches the bed if possible, you do not want the wardrobe or any storage unit to stand out in a 5 star type of decor.

2) To achieve that look you need a focal point, close your eyes and picture a nice hotel room, what is the first thing you will notice? The bed. A bedroom is a place you rest, this is the BED room, the bed is the most important thing, so place it in such a way that it takes center stage. Centred in the middle of a big wall is usually the way to go, with the bedside tables placed on each side. I have seen too many instance of beds tucked away in a corner, done so with the idea that it would free space in the room for something else, but the point is that the bedroom is not to be a multipurpose room, that ideally should be saved for the living room. The bedroom is that place you retreat to at the end of the day to unwind and get ready to sleep and get into the right state of mind to do so. It should be a soothing room, not one you dread entering.

3) Dress your bed. Now that you moved it to be a focal point, it needs the best possible “outfit”. The first thing that comes to people’s mind when describing a cosy bed is lots of cushions. I say go for them only if you can keep up with arranging them in the morning. A load of decorative cushion might not be practical if you have kids and pets in the house.
The other thing that comes to people’s mind is a comfy soft good looking quilt, or bedspread. Again the bedcover is not something that is suitable for all, because that actually implies more work to make the bed presentable in the morning, with you first smoothing the comforter and bed sheets and then throwing the cover on top.  What is becoming more and more popular is the letting the quilt do the talking. Quilts come in many colours and have the double advantage of looking good, and being comfy to sleep with. In the morning it’s just a matter of straightening the quilt over the bed, place the pillow in a nice manner and voila…you have a nice bed.
Frankly I am a huge fan of the method, and have been for decades, my bedroom looks like this:


All I have to do in the morning is shake the quilt, fold the top and prop the pillows, it takes 30 seconds max. With a dog that loves to bite decorative cushions, buying any for the bed has been out of question as you can imagine.

4) The colour palette does matter a lot when you decorate your bedroom, and I am going to dispel a myth here that wants that you only keep pastel or cold hues in the blue or neutral range. The picture above is probably not the right one to prove that myth wrong, bear with me I love blue. But I can tell you that any colour will do in your bedroom, even the so called “exiting” ones such as orange and reds, provided you follow a simple rule : no harsh contrast.
The bedroom is the soothing room, and you can be soothed in red hues, provided you do not pair that hue with a clashing colour. In the art world that would mean keep away from the complimentary colour. In the case of red, do not pair it with green, in the case of yellow it will not do well with a purple if what you want to achieve is a non-contrast look, and in the case of blue, keep orange off the palette. what you want is stick to one family of colours, red can be paired with various degrees of reds, pinks, oranges and yellow and create a feeling of unity, pick darker shades for the bed furnishing and curtains, lighter shades of it for the walls since as stated you want the bed to be the focal point.

5) Prints or solid colours? It depends your style entirely, but if you live in a place where things get dirty fast, resulting in the bedding spending more time in the washing machine, you might want to stick to small prints or solid colours, simply because frequent washes tend to damage prints fast and make your linen look old much faster. I prefer keeping the bed sheets and pillow case as simple as possible for that very reason. Fortunately big furnishing stores in India are finally catching on with that concept and after years of finding it though to get my hands on simple basics they now have a range of solid, simple no frill solid colours cotton sheets. Keep the prints for the quilt and the curtains, and leave everything else in a minimalistic state to achieve the luxurious feel. it is also worth to mention that the curtains and quilt do not need to match, just pick them in colours that blend. Currently I have polka dots curtains in teal in my bedroom in the previous flat it was velvet turquoise and lilac panels:


6) Do keep the space neat…I could not emphasize on that one more. Clutter is your enemy in the bedroom. Which is why I mentioned getting wide enough wardrobes, you can toss that shopping bag full of gifts at the bottom of the wardrobe far more easily. Choose bedside tables that come with a drawer in which you can hide your knick knack easily: you need your glasses, lotions, mosquito repellent cream within reach, but that doesn't;t mean they need to stay in full sight on the table. make it a rule not to bring office work in the bedroom…ever. there are plenty of other options for study and work corners that I will approach later, but the bedroom really should not be the place to pay your bills.

7) Wall art. If your bed has no imposing headboard, you can place bigger paintings above the bed, go for something soothing that you feel confortable having in your room and confortable looking at. It can be a painting, but hanging an interesting tapestry, or creating a mini canopy with curtains is also something to take into consideration. If your bed has a big headboard, do not crowd the space above it with wall art unless the room is really big and imposing.
family pictures often find their space in the bedroom, and personally i prefer seeing them on the wall opposite the bed and not above the bed. You would probably enjoy seeing your loved ones and happy memories first thing in the morning getting out of bed.

8) Personal touches, are small trinkets that will give a little more personality to your place setting it apart from a 5 star hotel bedroom: Candles, a nice jewellery box, that carving you bought on your last exotic trip, family pictures, your favourite books. A plush carpet or throw to step on while getting out of bed…By all means do keep some of these, but make sure that they do not crowd the place, and if you don’t have too much time on your hands to clean and dust, do not keep more than a few.

9) Lighting. This will be a recurrent thing, and I might as well state it here, the one thing I HATE are tube lights…I could not stress that enough, and that has been my pet peeve since moving to India. I get it, they are cheap, but seriously, nothing scream “sterile” and “impersonal” more than these. They are the things I associate with office spaces and hospitals, not a home. The only room I will tolerate having one on is the kitchen. They have no place in a cosy decor in any other rooms…period. In the bedroom you want a soothing light at night, something that will tell your body that you are transitioning to go to sleep, so no harsh light. Choose bedside tables with bulbs in a “warm white” light (electrical shops store these special CFLs, supermarkets don’t), it should be confortable enough to read a book, but not give a harsh blinding light. keep an additional mural or ceiling lamp in a higher wattage for when you need to see better (as in packing a suitcase late at night)

All in all, you’ll know you achieved the right decor for your bedroom if the first feeling you get entering it is a feeling of relaxation and being home.


  1. I'm a complete slacker when it comes to decor but, here in the US we have these wall stickers that won't damage paint and I've really taken a liking to those lately. I also love the quilt tip you posted. I have this super soft, thin blanket that I use year round. I don't have to do anything to it but throw it over the bed. It's wrinkle free and makes me happy every time I look at it.

    I look forward to more decorator posts!

  2. Arunesh9:25 PM

    Sorry to dig this up so late, Cyn, but for some reason this post sprung up in my mind recently.

    For the past few weeks -- maybe even months -- I have had trouble sleeping on time; bed time often dragged to 2 - 3 AM on more than a few days and the lack of sleep rendered me zombie-like during the day.

    I strongly believed that this had something to do with the lighting in my bedroom. At night, I would read, use the PC or lie down -- all with the tube light turned on with its bright, devious light invading the privacy of even the darkest corners of my room.

    So last week, I bought a soothing white light bedside lamp (wish I could send you a photograph!) and got rid of the tube light altogether and voila! The room is much calmer and its ambiance sleep inducing. Thanks to your input, my daily routine is back on track! Now, I plan on changing the lighting of all the rooms of my house with the consent of its other inhabitants :-).

    You should dedicate a post to lighting and how one should design the ambiance of each room (bar the kitchen, of course). I would be very interested in understanding that further!

  3. I am planning on doing a post on lighting, I just have no time to sit down long enough to write it and I still need to take pictures.
    But yes the light you use has a direct influence on your body and sleep cycle. I actually hate tubelights because being insomnia prone myself the last thing I need around bedtime is a bright light stimulant. I switched to bedside tables with warm white CFL bulbs a couple of years ago, and quickly moved to having the same bulbs all over the flat, I also prefer low lying lights over ceiling ones, but that is personnal, the eye level or below lights seem to make me feel it's the evening and time to switch into a night routine much easier than one light fixture above my head.

  4. Anonymous11:21 AM

    I was searching this post for ages. Dinally found it. Yay!
    I'll definitely keep this in mind when i move into my own place. I know you did a post on lights fhe othed day, but i still can't help wondering how a couple of lamps at eye level can suffice for an entire living room? Isn't it darker? Also do you have a dressing table in the bedroom? I do not like dressing up in the living room, so any tips to manage on that front would be immensely useful. Thanks.

    1. If you are used to super bright lights, yes it will seem darker to you, but it is far better for your circadian cycle to have smaller lights all around your room. Think about it, our definition of cozy, intimate, homey generally evoque pictures of fireplaces, bone fires, and candles. The less harsh light helps one transition into sleep mode too.

      On the dressing table, no I don't have one. I keep most of my toiletries in the bathroom or in my wardrobe. I keep my jewellery in the wardrobe as well, hung on stick on hooks inside the door. I much prefer having my bookcase in my bedroom :-)


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