Help me create a lovely little bedroom!
October 6, 2009 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I need advice on how to make more warm and inviting my tiny little bedroom.

It's dominated by a mahogany finish queen bed with black and white linen, which I absolutely love; there's about a foot of clearance to one side of the bed and about two feet at the foot. A mirrored built-in wardrobe faces the foot of the bed. The only other furniture is a little nightstand tucked up alongside the bed.

The walls are white; the light is bright, and the cumulative effect is depressingly Spartan. How best can I make this functional sleep venue in into a cosy retreat?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Can you paint the walls a lovely earth-tone shade? Dim the lighting, maybe with a new lampshade or lower-wattage bulbs?
posted by cooker girl at 11:32 AM on October 6, 2009

With no concept of your budget, here are the things I have found work well (although I find lots of baubles and pictures very cozy and comforting, you might find them cluttery):

- A nice, shaded lamp on a bedside table makes any room feel instantly cozy to me. The bright overhead light is far too harsh. Use a lamp with a beige shade, and your room will suddenly feel ten times warmer with a yellow glow instead of a bright white overhead one.
- Framed pictures of loved ones
- Mirrors: They fill up the wall without making the room feel small or claustrophobic. One full length mirror hanging over the door, and a mirror on the wall opposite will make the room feel much bigger without feeling sparse.
- Fabric wall hangings instead of pictures feel very cozy and comfy to me. You like black and white so something like this might be WAY too colorful - or it might be just right.
- You could try something like a mosquito net over the bed, but that might add to the smallness of the space instead of helping it.
- Candles -- even unlit, they lend some warmth and "hominess" to a space. A wall sconce for candles can be lovely. If you're using them just for display, be sure to burn the wick for a moment and let some wax drip so it doesn't look weird.
- Books - a small shelf somewhere, or some books on a surface. I have two night tables with an opening for them, they're perfect for the books and magazines I accumulate. I like having them in my room, it reminds me that it's mine, all mine.
posted by pazazygeek at 11:32 AM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

A plant or two by the window, if you have one.
And at least two lamps instead of the overhead. You can buy insanely cheap lamps at Ikea and dress them up with shades of your own choosing. A room is transformed by pools of cozy lamplight.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:37 AM on October 6, 2009

I think even a little gesture toward an overhead bed drape is cozy. I agree with pazazygeek that a full-out mosquito netting could be too much - think more like one of those window scarves that drapes down long on both sides, except over your bed instead of a window. A lamp that hangs down from the ceiling over the head of the bed could be nice, too, especially if you fit it with a dimmer switch.

Is there room for a chair? Maybe a little fabric-upholstered slipper chair.
posted by lakeroon at 11:41 AM on October 6, 2009

Can you paint? Screw things into the walls? Are there windows? What do the wardrobe and nightstand look like, are they wooden too?

-If you can paint, choose a calm hue that will compliment the mahogany finish of your bed. This could be something warm like a rose or a peachy buttery color, or something fresh and cool like a sage green or a soft blue.
-If you can put all sorts of stuff into your walls, hang shelves and accessorize. Books make me feel comfortable, you might like other things, but make sure they are clustered together in groups of similar things. Be sure to hang some pictures; a tapestry of some sort will definitely add to the warmth. Be sure that the frames of your pictures all feel similar, but aren't exact. So they can all be black wood frames, but not all the same texture, finish, or width, for example.
-If you have windows, curtains are a must. If you don't have any windows, consider hanging curtains behind your headboard.
-You can put a cloth over your nightstand, and drape the side of your wardrobe to coordinate, if they don't go together nicely with the bed.
-Put cream shades on your lights, but get more of them. Try having one reading light, one overhead light, and at least one other small light. This lets you adjust the lighting to your needs at the time.
-Plants definitely help. Can you hang a plant from the ceiling, rest one on a window sill, or find a corner to place one on a stand? Consider the top of your wardrobe and a trailing plant, if you think watering it wouldn't be a hassle.
-A floor rug, even on already carpeted floors, is good for warmth and to add some texture or color.
posted by Mizu at 11:50 AM on October 6, 2009

Response by poster: Wardrobe is integrated into the wall. Nightstand is white. There's a window, with a simple beige linen Roman blind over it right now. It's a rental property, so screwing things, possibly; but I doubt the landlord will let us paint.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 11:54 AM on October 6, 2009

The first thing I would do would be to hang a translucent curtain over the door to the wardrobe. If you can do a white fabric, or a white fabric with black detailing to relate with your linen, that would be nice. Otherwise, choose a friendly accent colour -- some warm shade in the red/orange area. You could put a throw on the end of the bed or a couple of pillows to match.

Is the bright light from the window or your ceiling fixture? Turn that sucker off, unless you're cleaning. A nice lamp with a warm coloured shade on your bedside table, or a floor lamp behind it if it is too small, will be cozy.

If your nightstand has legs, you could set a low-wattage accent light on the floor under it. I like the colour thrown by a salt lamp, even if it looks a little yoga beansprout.
posted by Sallyfur at 12:17 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Things I've done to warm up my little white-walled cube of a dorm room:
-hung colorful pictures
-put up curtains instead of the generic shade we're provided with (easy to do with a cheap spring curtain rod).
-a rug
-I only use the overhead fluorescent light if I absolutely have to- instead I use a small lamp I bought at Target for about 15 bucks (including shade).
-I hung some loops of white string lights flat on the walls and hung a yellow sheet over that. When I turn on the lights, I have a little warm corner of light that makes me think of fireflies and summer.
posted by MadamM at 12:28 PM on October 6, 2009

I was going to suggest painting the wall behind your headboard blue. A navy or dark blue would look great with black and white bedding. (Blue paint color swatch.) Hang three black and white photographs in matte black frames with white mats above the bed.

Since you can't paint, and the room is small, leaving it white wouldn't be such a bad thing. Bring some color in with art and accessories. Buy one hardy houseplant and place it in a cobalt blue glazed pot. Plants are an inexpensive way to make a room look more inviting. If black and white photos are too cold, add paintings or prints. Hang white sheer drapes if you don't have curtains. Fold your quilt or comforter, along with the top sheet, down a bit (7 or 8 inches) Add two or three European square pillows with white cases to the back and place two or three king sized pillows in front of those. Place a cobalt, royal, or navy blue throw, or sari, at the foot of the bed for some pizazz. If you don't like blue, go for another color that looks great with black and white: red, bright yellow, kelly green, hot pink, etc. Then accessorize with your chosen color. Red lampshade, red art, red flower pot, red jewelry box, etc.

If you don't want to screw in curtain rods add 1.5 inch grosgrain ribbon to the sides of your beige linen roman blind with fabric glue, or sew if you have a machine. You could set the ribbon in a bit, like this, or just place it on the very edge along the sides and bottom.

If you have colorful jewelry use it as art and hang on jewelry trees or handmade jewelry hooks.
posted by Fairchild at 12:59 PM on October 6, 2009

light fabric like silk can be attached to the wall with pins, and do very little damage to them. a few meters of a beautiful colourful fabric hung on the wall over the bed could really brighten the room up, and even give it a bit of an exotic bedouin tent feel. You could also drape some of the same fabric around the window, and add a few matching throw pillows. Also, lighting with small shaded lamps will make it feel a lot cosier.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:20 PM on October 6, 2009

Response by poster: Love the ribbon on roman blind idea, and am thinking how best to pull off a fabric pseudo feature wall. Would prefer something a little more matte than silk, but a dark blue would look excellent.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 2:26 PM on October 6, 2009

Pick up a china ball that has a dimswitch and screw a simple hook into the ceiling. China balls are fantastic glowy, paper hanging lamps that cast a diffused light throughout the room. When placed in a far corner, and accented with warm-tone fabric blinds, the room will cosy up. They gotta be dimmed, though, for full effect.

I run my home lights on memory dim switches from Home Depot (~40 bucks) and it is so nice.

If you want a natural look go to your local tea shop and bring a digital camera. Pick the "best looking" tea leaf mixture and copy the color scheme :)

I like the idea of floor light(s) like Sallyfur recommended. Sconces are cheap and if you place them properly (i.e. not on the floor re: fire hazard) you can light up the corners of your room.
posted by Khazk at 5:58 PM on October 6, 2009

Plants. One houseplant will transform a room.
posted by ixohoxi at 6:59 PM on October 6, 2009

Definitely a rug or two. Maybe balance out any dark, straight lines with something in warmer colors (reds, oranges, browns) or mixed patterns (a Persian-esque rug or a mixed-fabric rag rug).

One really easy way to add fabric without much hardware or expense is to drape a length of fabric along a pole. In this link (apologies if you're not a woman!), scroll down to "easy drape swags." You can use some pretty cheap fabric, maybe even old sheets.

If you're willing to spend a bit more, try something like this. I loooove Marimekko and hope to get some for my own bedroom (same kind of situation), but if none of those float your boat, you can just get some other kind of fabric and staple it up. Has the potential to be cheaper but much larger (and lighter for hanging!) than framed art.
posted by Madamina at 7:24 PM on October 6, 2009

Is there a Japantown or equivalent near you? I am addicted to Japanese rice paper lanterns, which give a gorgeously warm glow even with CFL bulbs. Amazon has a few around the $50 mark; they're cheaper in my local Japanese hardware store. I have two in my bedroom and a bigger one, with leaves embedded in the rice paper, in my living room.

Then you could get your matte blue fabric wall treatment from something like a furoshiki.
posted by rdc at 9:49 AM on October 7, 2009

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