How to design a bedroom

Follow our ultimate guide to planning your bedroom design, from choosing paint colours to finding the best bedroom furniture and storage

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We spend an impressive third of our lives sleeping – so designing a comfortable and stylish bedroom is crucial to living well. Designing your perfect bedroom will take some planning, but you will be rewarded with a peaceful and relaxing space that fully accommodates your lifestyle needs and habits. Here's how. 

a panelled bedroom painted in grey

(Image: © Little Greene)

What to consider when designing a bedroom?

In this comprehensive guide, we consider everything from choosing bedroom furniture to the best bedroom flooring and bedroom storage

We also offer design tips on choosing a bedroom style, whether you prefer a traditional bedroom or a contemporary bedroom. Modern, Scandi-style bedrooms, romantic French-style bedrooms – we have every bedroom style covered. 

Designing your perfect bedroom is all about achieving a balance between practicality and style, so we also discuss how to choose the perfect mattress and gorgeous bedlinen.

Choose the best bedroom paint colour

Painting your bedroom should be one of your first considerations – and the first job to do before moving in. Choosing the best paint colour for a bedroom will ensure that you bring more natural light into the room, and that your colour scheme promotes rest and relaxation, rather than overstimulating you before bedtime. 

The choice of bedroom paint colours is vast, but consider veering on the side of caution and opting for a calm and muted colour palette. Grey is the trendiest bedroom paint colour for a reason: it is soothing and elegant, and a little bit more exciting than white. 

Small bedroom? Be inspired by our small bedroom decorating ideas to create a cosy, inviting space.

Driftwood Blues Paint by Valspar

Grey comes in many variations, so you can create a delicate neutral look with a dove grey or mid-tone blue-grey shade, such as Driftwood Blue by Valspar (shown here), or a richer, more dramatic colour scheme with a warmer, richer shade of grey, such as Worsted by Farrow & Ball

(Image: © Valspar)

Opt for a bedroom wallpaper design for a smart look

Modern wallpaper designs are an excellent – and often underrated – solution for bedroom walls. Wallpaper adds visual interest, texture, and warmth to any bedroom, and is a particularly useful trick for making small bedrooms look larger. Choose a wallpaper with a delicate pattern to add dimension, or a bold design to make a statement with your bedroom walls.

Abigail Edwards Bird Wallpaper Monochrome, £75

The Bird Wallpaper by Abigail Edwards creates a wonderful, tactile effect that instantly takes the bedroom to a new level of style

(Image: © Abigail Edwards. Photography by Alun Callender)

Colour blocking in bedrooms

(Image: © Argos)

Plan your bedroom's layout 

Deciding on the layout of your bedroom furniture is the single most important step in planning the perfect bedroom. You may have little flexibility, but it's worth drawing a layout on graph paper, paying attention to the direction natural light is coming from. 

Start with the position of your bed, organising all other furniture around it. It is best to position your bed lengthways in a rectangular room, while larger bedrooms will allow for more creativity, and you may well want to position the bed in the centre of the room. When planning the layout for small bedrooms, consider moving the bed into a corner to save floor space all round. 

Now consider how much room (and budget) you have for bedroom storage. Fitted bedroom furniture tends to be more expensive and formal-looking but will offer a more efficient use of space, especially in a small bedroom, or an awkwardly-shaped one, such as a loft bedroom. Unfitted furniture needn't match, but you should aim, at the least, for a wardrobe, dressing table and bedside tables. See below for more on choosing bedroom furniture.

If you are planning a loft conversion, consider the shape and height of your space, and whether it will fit any of your desired furniture and storage. 

If your bedroom is large and the nearest bathroom is on a different floor, you may want to consider adding an en suite. An en suite bathroom can be added without planning permission, although it will need to conform to building regulations

Alternatively, additional bedroom space can be transformed into a dressing room or walk-in wardrobe

Neptune Wardley four poster bed, Sophie bed linen, Larsson 3 Drawer Chest of Drawers, Larsson 2 Door Wardrobe

Neptune Wardley four poster bed, Sophie bed linen, Larsson three-drawer chest of drawers, Larsson two-door wardrobe

(Image: © Neptune)

How to choose the best bed for your space

Choosing the best bed isn't just about buying a good-looking bed frame. Rather, pick a bed frame that best suits your needs. For example, are you short on bedroom storage and would benefit from a divan with built-in drawers, or a bed that lifts up to reveal hidden storage in the base, or a bed with a storage headboard

Do you really need a king-sized bed frame, or could you save space with double bed instead? 

What about the bed's style? It should complement your overall scheme, but can be used to dictate it, too. For example, if your preference is for a streamlined, minimalist look with a Scandi edge, go for a simple, white-washed wooden frame; if you want to add a feeling of luxury or an injection of pattern or colour, a bed with an upholstered, padded headboard will be perfect.

Shalstone bedstead by Ercol

In this bedroom, the Shalstone Bedstead by Ercol contributes to a fresh, contemporary look, without overwhelming the space. Available at John Lewis

(Image: © Ercol)

How to choose the best mattress for your bedroom

Choosing a mattress from the dizzying array of options is a job that takes time and research. 

The best mattress for you should be a choice determined by your personal sleep habits and health considerations: do you mainly sleep on your back, in which case a memory foam mattress might be right for you; or you might want a mattress for side sleepers if you always end up in that position, while the best mattresses for back pain are on the firmer side. Whichever you choose, investing in a mattress protector or mattress topper will prolong the life your mattress.

How to pick the best bedlinen 

Crisp, good quality bedlinen is key to a comfortable bed, and to creating a finished look in your bedroom. To make sure that your bedlinen lasts, choose a high thread count (at least 300) if your preference is cotton, and linen bedding that fully discloses its manufacturing source. Linen is also great if you have no time, or don't want to iron your bedlinen, as it has a naturally distressed look. 

THE LINEN WORKS I Limited Edition Lario Collection - Reversible Stripe Bed Linen

Our favourite linen bedding is from The Linen Works (shown above), available in a range of colours and sizes. If you prefer a bedding set, head to Soak & Sleep for quality and value

(Image: © The Linen Works)

How to choose practical and stylish bedroom furniture

The first consideration in choosing bedroom furniture is whether to go for fitted units or freestanding units. The choice will partly be dictated by the shape of your bedroom: awkwardly shaped rooms (often the case in period properties) will benefit from a bespoke fitted solution. 

More standardised spaces in newer properties will work best with well chosen furniture sets or an eclectic mix of bedside tables, bedroom storage units, and a freestanding wardrobe. 

Freestanding options can be considerably cheaper than fitted units, and can be replaced every few years if you feel like restyling your bedroom. If you only have to follow one rule when choosing your bedroom furniture, pick pieces that double up as bedroom storage. Choosing items that have delicate or light-coloured frames will avoid overloading the space visually, and should make the bedroom feel larger, less formal and brighter, too.

ercol - Salina dressing table £599; Salina dressing table stool £199; Salina bedside table £265; Salina double bed £925

The Salina range from Ercol is robust but slim, allowing the bedroom to breathe

(Image: © Ercol)

For small bedrooms, a mirrored wardrobe is probably the best trick for visually enhancing the size of the room. 

Pax sliding wardrobe

We like the compact Pax wardrobe from Ikea

(Image: © Ikea)

Choose functional – and handsome – bedroom storage

Bedroom storage options should be easy on the eye as well as functional. Specifically-designed small bedroom storage ideas will help make stretch your space, while jewellery storage, makeup storage, clothes storage and shoe storage systems will all keep the room neat and organised – a must if you want the bedroom to be relaxing.

Angel & Boho Blanket Box

The Blanket Box from Angel & Boho is roomy and very pretty, and will instantly inject any bedroom with a touch of boho chic

(Image: © Angel & Boho)

Consider mixing and matching your bedroom storage, especially if you have a lot of stuff that needs sorting and tidying – and sufficient space for a variety of storage units. You can also choose a bedroom storage set, too, matching your bedside cabinets to your wardrobe and bed frame, and adding a bedroom storage bench or bedroom storage chest for maximum storage options.

Ikea Undreal bedroom

In this bedroom by Ikea, the storage potential of the bedroom has been maximised with a variety of storage units and a storage bench

(Image: © Ikea)

Bring in natural light while keeping out heat and cold

Bedrooms need plenty of natural light during the day, and the layout of your bedroom will largely depend on where the light is coming from. 

However, windows are the source not only of annoying light during the summer, but also of excessive heat on hot days (especially in south-facing rooms), and draughts in the winter. Installing double-glazing is a solution to the draught problem, while summer heat can be managed with blinds, curtains (including blackout curtains for those sensitive to external light) and even window shutters

California Shutters from £166 per sqm

Bedroom shutters by California Shutters

(Image: © California Shutters)

Explore bedroom lighting ideas to create an atmosphere

While natural light is important in a bedroom, most of us will spend more time in our bedroom when it is dark, so maximising the potential of artificial bedroom light with a clever lighting scheme is crucial to creating a cosy and relaxing space. 

Think soft, diffused light from dimmable bedside lamps or wall lights, or even a string of fairy lights arranged along your headboard. You may find that a ceiling light is unnecessary if you have integrated lighting in a wardrobe and good lighting around your dressing table, for example, but in a high-ceilinged room, a chandelier or over-sized lampshade will create a focal decorative point. 

Discover more lighting ideas for bedrooms

Ikea bedroom lighting

In this bedroom, the selection of bedroom lighting from Ikea is creating a calm ambience with the use of multiple options, from wall lights to headboard spot lights

(Image: © Ikea)

How to choose the best bedroom flooring

Choosing bedroom flooring is all about maximising comfort and warmth. Unsurprisingly, carpet is the most popular flooring option for bedrooms, but solid wood flooring is another great option, as it can still be warm underfoot, especially if you add a rug

Solid wood is an expensive option, however, so consider an engineered wood flooring instead, which will be durable and virtually indistinguishable from solid wood, although slightly more affordable in most cases. If you are on a tight budget, consider laminate and vinyl, with higher quality options replicating the appearance of wood quite convincingly, or paint pine floorboards.

Tile and real stone flooring can work in contemporary bedrooms, but consider installing underfloor heating to counteract the natural coolness of these materials. 

Carpetright Valentina Blue Plaid Carpet £29.99m2, Emily Metal Bed Frame £599

Carpetright Valentina Blue Plaid Carpet £29.99 per sqm, Emily Metal Bed Frame £599

(Image: © Carpetright)

Liven up your bedroom with accessories

In any bedroom, large or small, a few finishing touches can make all the difference. How to choose accessories for the bedroom entirely depends on your tastes and budget: invest in a quality rug and see your bedroom instantly look more elegant; layer cushions and throws to up the comfort factor; create a gallery wall to add interest and colour; display photos and pictures to personalise the bedroom; and use house plants to promote a healthy atmosphere.  

Khayma Pale Grey Rug from Modern Rugs

The Khayma Fairfield Pale Grey Rug adds a touch of exoticism to a bedroom while working with most popular colour schemes. Available from Modern Rugs

(Image: © Modern Rugs)

Style your accessories to create an attractive colour scheme and a variety of textures. Sheepskin, cotton, and satin do wonders for softening up the look and feel of bedrooms large and small.

The Vilma Wood and White Faux Fur Stool has been styled with bedspreads and cushions, all from Maisons du Monde

(Image: © Maisons du Monde)

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