How to update an outdated small bedroom — 5 easy wins designers love

Learn how to update an outdated small bedroom like an interior designer

Learning how to update an outdated small bedroom is very useful. Here is a bedroom with lavender wallpaper, a white bed with lavender pillows, and a wooden nightstand
(Image credit: Mary Beth Christopher)

If your room's a yawn-fest, learning how to update an outdated small bedroom will mean it's snoozy in there for all the right reasons. We're champion personal style, but some designs and colors are big no-nos in this space.

Interior designers have oodles of experience zhuzhing small bedrooms so we've picked their brains to find out how they go about updating these spaces. From splashes of paint, to furniture swaps, they reveal five tweaks you can make today.

When it comes to small bedroom ideas, finding out how to spruce up a room in need of TLC will give it a whole new lease of life.

How to update an outdated small bedroom

If you're organizing your small bedroom, removing out-of-date decor and revamping your place at the same time could help you transform the whole room.

Where our experts have recommended anything specific, we've found matching buys to help you get started.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

1. Add a new coat of paint

A bedroom with a white bed, light gray walls, and wooden flooring

(Image credit: French Bedroom)

Give your outdated small bedroom a fresh start by painting the walls and perhaps even the ceiling a whole new color.

“Trick the eye in a small outdated bedroom with a coat of fresh paint in a cool, dark color,” says Andrea May, interior designer and founder of Andrea May Design.

A picture of Andrea May, a blonde woman wearing a yellow shirt
Andrea May

Andrea May is a high-end residential interior design firm based in La Jolla, California. Working collaboratively with clients, architects, and craftsmen, Andrea creates spaces that are sophisticated and inspiring, including bedrooms.

She explains, “By doing this, the corners and shadows become blurred, the walls recede, and all the light, fresh, and colorful items in the space advance.”

For those looking to make their small bedrooms brighter, you could also go for a lighter shade.

“In one bedroom, we opted for a creamy white which felt bright and clean but definitely not sterile, and it immediately made the room feel twice as large,” says Mary Beth Christopher, principal designer and founder of MBC Interior Design.

A picture of Mary Beth Christopher, a blonde woman wearing a blue shirt in front of white bricks and a black door
Mary Beth Christopher

Mary Beth Christopher has been designing interiors for over 16 years.  She founded MBC Interior Design with a vision of creating timeless, beautiful spaces that are comfortable and functional. This included updating outdated small bedrooms.

Whether you go to the light side or the dark side, always be sure to place a paint sample on the wall and see what it looks like before going all the way as natural lighting and how it filters into your room will impact how the color appears.

2. Remove your bulky dresser

A white bedroom with a gray bed with a white duvet and a gray rug

(Image credit: Dorling Design Studio / Kara Mercer)

You might have inherited a dresser or feel your small bedroom needs one — but actually, you can wave goodbye to it.

“When it's time to give your room a refresh and your bedroom is short on space, consider eliminating the dresser — a notorious space hog,” says Jessica Dorling, principal designer and owner of Dorling Design Studio.

A picture of Jessica Dorling, a woman wearing a black dress with red checks in front of a white background
Jessica Dorling

Northwest native and ASID-affiliated designer Jessica Dorling has a passion for expressing clients’ intentions through thoughtful home design and construction. One way she does this is by renovating outdated small bedroom.

Instead, Jessica recommends opting for a dresser placed inside the bedroom closet or DIY-ing in a custom closet setup.

She adds, “Ensure the setup includes plenty of drawers to accommodate items like T-shirts, athletic clothes, underwear, pajamas, and more.” 

Doing this will help you achieve a streamlined and organized appearance in your bedroom without compromising on essential small bedroom storage.

3. Place wallpaper onto the walls

A bedroom with lavender wallpaper, a white bed with lavender pillows, and a wooden nightstand

(Image credit: Mary Beth Christopher)

While paint can be transformative, for a pop of texture and character we always love grabbing a roll of peel-and-stick wallpaper.

Mary explains, “Wallpaper is a fantastic way to add color and personality, and can instantly transform a previously dull, dated space.”

“A visually interesting pattern keeps the eye moving around, making a room look and feel larger,” she adds.

Not only this, but Mary says in a small space you don’t need very much, so inch for inch, wallpaper delivers a lot of style without a huge investment. 

If you're looking for wallpaper specifically, this LoveShackFancy ribbon trellis roll from Wayfair is an adorable choice.

Save those dollars and spend them on cute small bedroom decor, instead.

4. Make a piece multifunctional

A white bedroom with a blue and white bed, a gray rug, and a shelf with plants and decor on it

(Image credit: Mary Beth Christopher)

Giving your small bedroom a new look can not only go for its style but for its functionality, too.

Mary says, “When updating a small bedroom, we also love adding in pieces able to be used in more ways than one. In this case, we used a small writing desk as a nightstand so the space could also be used as a home office when needed.”

We've got our eyes on this Superjare nightstand from Amazon, to help us achieve the same look as Mary's room.

You may already have something like this in your home you aren’t using, and you could always upcycle a furniture piece to make it work better for your small bedroom. 

5. Refresh the bedding

A bedroom with pink and green wallpaper, a white bed with a pink throw, and a pink and bronze lamp

(Image credit: Divine Savages / @lance.gerber / @bustylush)

What’s the most important part of the bedroom? Yes — it’s the bed. This is why it’s a key area to focus on when giving your space a glow-up.

Andrea explains, “Sometimes, fresh bedding, a pair of Euro shams, plus a pretty decorative throw pillow are just the quick, inexpensive changes you need to update a bedroom.” 

This is an especially useful tip for renters who may not be able to paint their bedroom walls or change up any furniture. 


The bedroom is the place you spend most of your time relaxing and sleeping in, so it’s arguably the most important room to focus on when resetting your space. 

If you want to keep yours looking up-to-date and stylish in the future, it’s worth staying on top of small bedroom trends for the year.

Eve Smallman
Staff Writer

Hi there! I’m a staff writer at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. 

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