Master bedrooms: planning your space

Design advice from interiors expert Julia Kendell to plan a comforting and luxurious master bedroom

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For a luxurious look, the super king Zinc TV bed, with padded headboard and a cushioned frame, conceals an LG HD and Freeview-ready LED 26-inch TV in the foot of the bed, (H)127x(W)187x (L)231cm, to keep wall space free, £2,999, Dreams

Having a well-planned, restful bedroom should be a high priority, especially as many of us seem to be leading increasingly busy lives. Your bedroom should be a reflection of you – it’s the one place in your home where you don’t have to consider how the space will work for the rest of the family. Whether you have a small area or a large master suite, a beautiful room is always achievable with careful thought. 

Spaceslide sliding door wardrobes

ABOVE: Consider sliding wardrobe doors to maintain valuable space around your bedroom furniture. Premium Midi Doors; Vertical split, using Grey mirror and Tortona chestnut panels, Spaceslide

Start by creating a working brief. Note how you want the room to feel at various times, the light levels required and the overall style. Use these notes throughout the project to keep your ideas on track.

Planning the space

ABOVE: To form a separate dressing area within your existing bedroom, try dividing the space with a stud wall. Light-reflective Verve fitted wardrobes in Sienna oak veneer and Vanilla gloss, from £3,500, Hammonds

Use Computer Aided Design (CAD) modelling software or squared paper to plot the room properly. This will help you plan the options that are available for your space. Think about essential points, such as the distances required to move around a bed comfortably, or to open wardrobe doors and drawers fully, and the maximum sizes of furniture that will work in the space. If a large radiator is preventing your preferred layout, think about moving it to a different part of the room.

Bedroom space is often compromised because of the need for clothes storage. By removing your main storage unit, such as a wardrobe, from the room, and freeing up valuable floor space, you will create the potential to design a calm, elegant space.

Of course, you’ll still need plenty of storage elsewhere, so think about the layout of your house carefully – would it be possible to create a walk-in wardrobe in a box room? Or could you use part of another room adjacent to the master bedroom? A space measuring just 1.8 square metres is all that is required for a useful dressing room. Many houses have stud walls on the first floor, and removing them can be fairly straightforward. However, always ask a builder or structural engineer to check whether your walls are structural before you start removing them.

If creating separate wardrobe space isn’t an option, there are clever ways to include interesting storage solutions in your design. In long rooms, measuring a minimum of 3.2 by six metres, why not consider building a full-height stud wall with openings at either end to create a dressing area? As the eye is drawn through the openings you won’t feel as if you’ve lost any space. To rebalance the shape of the room, place the head of the bed against the newly built stud wall.

You can use a similar trick in large bedrooms, where furniture is often pushed against the walls, taking up valuable floor space. To make better use of the room, construct a mid-height wall (a little higher than the headboard) towards the centre of the room against which you can position the bed, helping to create a real focal point in a spacious layout. You can then build useful, low-level storage into the rear of this new stud wall.

Small bedrooms

ABOVE: Left Free up valuable floor space that might otherwise be taken up by drawers or a wardrobe by choosing furniture with built-in storage. Brimnes bed frame with storage units, (H)47x(W)160x (L)206cm, £200; Brimnes headboard with side storage compartments, (H)111x(W)160x (D)28cm, £95; Brimnes wall cabinet with sliding door, (H)30x (W)78x(D)27cm, £26, all Ikea

In terms of furniture placement, there will not be as many options available in a small bedroom as in a large one, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise on design.

Don’t be tempted to place the bed with the headboard underneath a window – it rarely works aesthetically, plus sleeping facing away from a window could create an uncomfortable feeling. If the room has windows and doors on each of the walls, furniture placement can become tricky. To help resolve this, you may want to consider moving a doorway to gain extra wall space, or to raise the height of a windowsill slightly to make room for storage beneath. This way you will still have plenty of natural light, plus high-level windows provide all-important privacy, which is vital for any bedroom.

To enhance the feeling of space, a good trick is to use opaque glass doors for your wardrobes, or alternatively paint them the same colour as the walls. Be wary of using textures or heavy patterns on the walls if you want a bright, airy feeling. Similarly, a lot of fabric at the windows, and thick-pile carpet, will absorb natural light.