If a shoestring budget has always been your go-to excuse for not giving your small bedroom the decorative overhaul it truly deserves, your time has run out. Now it is easier than ever to make a boring, small bedroom look and feel like a million dollars, without bankrupting yourself.
Whether you rent or own a newly built home, whether you are into a minimal or more colorful small bedroom aesthetic, your options are no longer limited, and less square footage or budget means nothing in the decor game. Trust us, we asked a bunch of designers.
How to makeover a small bedroom on a budget
You've probably pondered a few of the following suggestions already, but these come with subtle, nonetheless, exciting twists for styling a small bedroom. Plus, either I or the experts have tried them out IRL, so we know their potential and we have every faith that they could work wonders in your small space too.
1. Paint just a select portion of a small bedroom
We know that paint is transformative, and even if you don't want to (or cannot) paint your entire bedroom, you can still use it to enhance the space.
"When you want to make your bedroom feel like a whole new world, but don’t have a designer budget, your best friend is going to be a new coat of paint," says Nicole Cullum, Interior Designer and Founder of Color Caravan. "It always amazes me what a fresh coat of paint can do to transform a space."
"Try a pretty neutral color or paint a bold accent wall if you don’t want to go all out and redo your entire room," continues Cullum. Whether this means designing an accent wall like this DIY polka dot wall design, or painting trim like the above bedroom with Benjamin Moore Springtime Peach on the walls and beautiful Adam Green detail, using even a little paint will bring a new burst of decorative energy to a small space — without a huge cost.
"Instead of buying an expensive new headboard, paint a cute shape of one behind your bed and hang your favorite artwork above it to complete the look."
Nicole Cullum is an interior designer in Taos, New Mexico, and Founder of Color Caravan, a charming hand-painted line of wallpaper, textiles, bedding, and home decor.
2. Accent blank spaces with wallpaper
"A can of paint often becomes the go-to for a budget room makeover, and while a splash of a new color can bring a lease of new life to a room it’s often a wallpaper that can bring the most texture or personality through design and color," says James Greenwood at Graham & Brown.
Nowadays, wallpaper is simpler to install, however, some may still be put off by the effort, and cost of wallpapering all four walls. Greenwood tells us how to accent a small space, without covering all the walls (or spending all the design funds.)
"For a cost-friendly approach, you can add wallpaper into alcoves of a room or limit to a feature wall with a full complement of coordinating paint to finish the look." Rent? There are no excuses to hold back your makeover, now that peel-and-stick wallpaper options are donning the shelves, everywhere.
James has spent over 8 years living and breathing wallpaper and interior design. Joining Graham & Brown in 2015 working through the marketing and product teams before spending time in the field developing our Graham & Brown partner network. 2021 saw Greenwood’s return to his passion for delivering exceptional product and design.
3. Refresh bedding
Second to paint and wall coverings, the sheets you dress your bed with will make such a big impact in a small bedroom space. Choose wisely from the best bedding brands that won't break the bank so that your initial investment will stay with you through the years. For more impact, don't skimp clashing patterns and bright colors. It can bring so much energy to a small space, in all the right ways, just as Candice does so well in this small bedroom space.
Contrasting trim detail
Price: From $131
4. Make your own decorative objects
With the uptick in ceramic love, we could spend hundreds on pottery, and bespoke-looking accessories. To save some cash but still bring a sense of custom-made elegance into a small space, try your hand at making your own with something like this Sculpd Pottery Kit, Air Dry Clay Kit you can find on Amazon.
I made a few more items with this kit, including a cute pot to store my makeup brushes in and other items to accent my home office.
"To make it even more luxurious but on a budget, add style with a preferred color or unique decor item," advises Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight. I chose white to make this a more minimal addition, as I didn't want to make the space feel cluttered, just thoughtfully curated.
Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York.
5. Swap out the old (and bulky) with new, pre-loved items
When you're on a budget, we often feel obliged to hang on tightly to our furniture, and other decorative items, especially if we initially spent a healthy amount on them. But if you feel like they are making your space feel tired or cramped, or if they simply aren't inspiring you anymore, we can move on.
Bulky furniture especially is something that designers never keep in small bedrooms anyhow. So there is no reason why you can't sell a big dresser that is no longer making you smile to a home that will love it as much as you first did.
"Opt for multipurpose furniture such as beds with storage or a foldable desk to take care of your needs while keeping your rooms clutter-free," advises Kropovinsky.
Instead, look to eBay, or a local thrift store to find cheaper gems that work better in your small space and bring it more life, and functionality.
6. Focus on diffusing and bouncing light around
A small space wants all the natural light it can get. Mirrors are essential to both this and nailing OOTD, every darn day. A cute design will not cost the earth, and a well-placed mirror in your small bedroom (think blank spaces or directly above a nightstand) will shape your sleeping space, effortlessly.
Cullum let us in on another clever trick with drapes. "Pretty patterned curtains can diffuse the light in your room while providing a luxurious, textural layer to your walls that makes your bedroom look finished and sophisticated."
Kropovinsky notes how using a variety of mirrors and lighting will help create a homely environment. What else could we wish for?
Available in four colors
Hang with metal fittings
7. Love all the lamps
From the natural to the artificial. Experiment with cool designs for interest, like mushroom lamps and even bigger sculptural picks like Corinette of @ma_vie_lala does in this small bedroom space to bring a sense of grandeur that looks more expensive than it actually is.
Choose designs that do not need extra wiring or anything that might eat into a deposit when you move out – ideal if you're renting. "Lighting is an easy place for an instant glow-up that won’t upset your landlord," says Cullum.
"A beautiful set of bedside lamps can add a whole new vibe to your boudoir. A chic, modern floor lamp can make a dark corner come to life. Pair that floor lamp with an accent chair and a small side table and you have a special, cozy reading corner to enjoy."
8. Use houseplants to curate and not overcrowd
Using height is essential in a small bedroom, and anything on display in general should look completely beautiful and curated, just like Sarah Ashely of @mylittlebohospace does here with open tall shelving and a stunning mix of houseplants.
Use open shelving to keep a select few items on show for aesthetic purposes but then consider thrifted cabinets to stow away items that are less cute, but essential to your space. Floating shelves can work too if you want to add more character. "Introduce some personalization into the room and include a few impactful pieces," recommends Kropovinsky. Even though we are here for maximalism, in a small space, think about cocooning rather than cluttering your surroundings.
9. Bring lavish drama with wall decor
Using wall space is your friend in a small bedroom, and they make the perfect opportunity to bring elegance to the space, without a huge budget. "Make your walls shine with artwork. Amazon has tons of beautiful, affordable frames and shadow boxes that will elevate your most prized posters, trinkets, drawings, and doodles," says Cullum. "Create an interesting gallery wall or have one extra large piece of artwork that complements your color scheme and pulls the room together."
A statement rug, or wall art might add just the right amount of design interest without going overboard or buying unnecessarily. "Small spaces need a delicate touch," adds Cullum. "Throwing too many colors, patterns, and decor into one space can make it feel visually chaotic."
Think cozy minimal, or along the lines of. "Pick one main color on either your wall, in your bedding, or in your decor, then complement that with two accent colors for a cohesive look. For example, if you paint your walls a soothing neutral color, it’s okay to have a bold bedding color and use the wall color as an accent in your pillows and decor."
What changes will give the most impact in a small bedroom space?
Cullum highlights the things we can edit that will have a major impact on our surroundings:
"If you have a small budget, the three things that will make the biggest impact on your money are bedding, lighting, and wall decor,"
"Invest in a beautiful bed set that complements the color palette and style you’re going for."
Mood boards and Pinterest can all serve as inspiration."You’ll begin to see a recurrent theme among your top Pins," adds Cullum. See what looks and trends you gravitate towards. This will influence lighting styles and wall decor too, all of which with bring your small space to life without a huge financial investment. "A new set of bedside lamps can add a whole new vibe to your boudoir. A chic, modern floor lamp can make a dark corner come to life. Pair that floor lamp with an accent chair and a small side table and you have a new reading corner to enjoy."
What colors are too much in a small bedroom?
A neutral base is often best to build upon in particularly small bedroom spaces. Cullum tells us to steer clear of overwhelming colors like bright reds, oranges, and even yellows. Use these in smaller doses instead.
"These can be fun accent colors in pillows and artwork, but on walls they are too exciting to our nervous system and can make it hard to relax and get good sleep."
Colors that are closer to nature will, naturally, help calm the senses. "Cooler tones like neutrals, blues, and greens, even in deep, saturated tones, signal rest and are more calming in bedroom areas."
How can I upgrade my small rental bedroom on a buget?
Renters needn't be disheartened when working with a small bedroom, on a shoestring budget. Look at everything your space does have and see how you can enhance it with good lighting and accent, temporary decor, all whilst refining your bedroom by removing anything that doesn't serve.
"When you are renting, it can be hard to personalize your space, but not impossible. Instead of swapping out overhead light fixtures, or tearing down walls, think about surface-level items that can upgrade your quality of life," adds Cullum.
"One of my favorite renter upgrades is textiles. A new rug under your bed adds a soft, textural layer for you to step on each time you climb out of bed. It’s a wonderful way to start the day."
From thrifting new lighting to brighten up gloomy corners of a small space, to swapping out bedding for something more calming, there are plenty of ways to give your small bedroom a facelift, without a huge pricetag to go with it.