Decorating a long, narrow bedroom
January 5, 2019 7:20 AM   Subscribe

My master bedroom is really awkward - long and narrow. I'm really stuck on furniture placement. I don't have any furniture, so at least I'm starting from scratch.

The room is is 9 1/2 feet by 16 1/2 feet (roughly 3 x 5 metres).

One of the short ends is is mostly window, but it's way off to one side of the wall, not centered, and a bit inset (about 2 inches). The other short end is taken up by a large closet with bifold doors. The entrance is on one of the long walls, near the closet end.

Everything I see online for long, narrow bedrooms has the bed at one end and then a furniture grouping (loveseat or reading chairs) at the other end. I don't want to buy a bunch of furniture I'll never use. I really just need a bed, dresser, and a couple of night tables and lamps.

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posted by Frenchy67 to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Lean into the open space! Put the dresser near the closet, the bed in the center, up against the wall opposite the door, with a night table and lamp next to it. Then just large potted plants around the areas to break it up if you like. Or small tables with mementos or art pieces on them. You can also hang sheets of various fabrics (ex: 1, 2, 3, 4) to break up the space.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:36 AM on January 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I would place a shoe-lacing chair near the dresser, then start with bedside table, bed, table.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:40 AM on January 5, 2019

I'd do this:

- put one night stand in the upper right corner of the little diagram you gave us - make it flush in the corner (if I'm following correctly then this is a corner with all wall, no window).

- Put the bed to the left of the nightstand with the head of the bed flush against the top of the diagram. This should create a long narrow space between the right wall of the diagram because of the nightstand.

- put second nightstand to the right of the bed with its back flush against top of diagram.

- put dresser in the middle of the bottom wall between door and window flush against that wall OR to the right of the second nightstand if you can still open the closet

You will now have a ton of open space for a nice easy chair or couch with plants and a nice rug! Yay!
posted by floweredfish at 7:45 AM on January 5, 2019

What is the color scheme/what are your color preferences?

I'd be tempted to put a dresser and chair-drobe to the right of the door (looking inward). Put your bed centered on the far wall with a nightstand next to it. (Or reverse the walls if you're someone who likes a window shining on your bed). Create a reading nook by the window with a comfy chair and small bookcases.

My bedroom growing up was long and incredibly narrow and I just sort of leaned into a nautical/galley theme with it (blue and white furnishings, everything facing each other).
posted by TwoStride at 7:46 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bed in the middle and dresser by the closet. Then use the far end by the windows as an exercise and/or hobby (do you see, knit, etc)/reading space.
posted by she's not there at 7:48 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'd get a huge foam mattress and put it on a slat foundation under the window and turn it into a giant nest full of pillows and blankets. The rest of the room then becomes a dressing-room / chill room / den / quiet hang out space.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:49 AM on January 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

How much bed do you need? Some alternatives for a mid-room bed would be a futon/sofa bed; a bunk bed with either a lower as a desk area or an open lower that you can "walk through" depending on the ceiling height; raising a twin/full bed set along the wall and using the space beneath for storage.
In other words, establish where the largest piece of furniture will be and build from there.

I also like the end platform idea. Build from a large object in a soft zippered mattress cover (washable). Lots of pillows and objects in zippered body pillows (also washable). Some wall treatment -- curtain rods on the wall with filmy fabric or fabric art. Lighting just for that area to increase the special feeling.
Again, the space can be built over low shelving for storage and to get the "bed island" off the ground.
posted by TrishaU at 8:19 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have a friend with a bedroom like this; she put a (queen) bed in the middle of the room, facing the window, with just a couple of feet between the foot of the bed and the wall. At the head of the bed she put a tall cubicle shelving unit, which by design lets light through, but otherwise creates a sort of divide between the bed and the dressing area. She says not being able to see the dressing area creates sort of a luxurious bed-only area where she is able to focus and relax.

If you were to go that route but it limits your space for a dresser, you could use the bottom cubbies as a substitute for dresser storage space.
posted by vignettist at 9:15 AM on January 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Start with a focal point. That is probably your bed, as the biggest item in the room. However it could be a piece of art or a fancy headboard or a shelving unit.

This item will go in the centre of the back wall or the centre of the side wall. This will divide the room in half, one half with the cupboard and one half with the window.

If the focal point is your bed that solves where to put it. If your focal point is something else then what that is will determine where you put your bed. If the focal point is the art on the wall or the headboard then the bed goes under in front of it. However if the focal point is a shelving unit or fancy dresser with mirrors, or your pair of department store manniquins that you use to store costumes you will need a different placement for your bed. In that case it goes in the centre of the other wall

The side of the room that is by the cupboard is where the dresser and clothing stuff will go. That side of the room is your "dressing room" The side of the room with the window is your cozy area.

Observe the patterns of light in the room. How much light do you get and when? The window corner should be set up to make a use of this light that makes you feel cozy. You might want to leave the space in front of the window open so you can approach the window and open it. Or you might want to put an enormous tropical plant or tree in that corner blocking approach but not light. If you like the idea of the plant but want more storage space get a draw unit that is the exact same height as the widow sill or slightly lower and get plants to put on that. If the unit is lower you will want to consider the height of your pots in relation to the difference in height. dish gardens can be the same height as the difference but collections of pots probably should be twice the difference. If not plants you might want to set up a seating area designed to entice any cats or people who want to curl up in the sun. A small armchair is good for this, but it needn't have soft arms if you are saving space. Hard wooden arms and a throw will give the cozy effect. A footstool will add to the cozy effect if you find using one comfortable or helpful, and can be used for getting at stuff on the top shelf in the cupboard without having to drag you cozy chair over across the room.

If you decorate the wall to the right or place furniture you may want to divide it into three parts. A central bigger portion and two equal sized portions on the sides. The top corner should be the same size as the window. So if your corner window is two and three quarter feet wide from side of frame to side of frame then you need something in the top corner that is the same widthe and height. You want to match it with colour and intensity. So if you have a sheer curtain on the window then something like a white bookcase, or a poster or print that is very light in colour is the balance. If you get no damn light from the window anyway and have covered it with an opaque curtain the top corner needs to match that curtain. You can even hang a matching curtain there if they cover the frame. If you divide this wall and the bed is not the focal point it is stuck with the big section between these two. In that case I would recommend that you use a day bed or futon with the long side against the wall. You would end up with a short thing between two tall things and the entire wall covered.

[]----[] this is a diagram of the wall with the window. It could be bed between two small bedside tables, one below a framed picture and one below the window, or it could be a low shelving unit between two curtains, or it could be a bed between a white book case and a reading nook.

The reading nook cozy seating area will probably want an accessory such as a very small table to put your laptop on when it is not on your lap, or a small bookcase full of old children's books or your quilting frame or a sewing chest with room on top for a tea tray - what ever cozy type of thing you will do there. This item will probably go to the left of the chair with its back to the wall that has the door.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:30 AM on January 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The hardest thing about the window wall if you want to make it a low platform area/bed is the inset of the window. You can try and fill this inset with something solid, the same hight as or a fraction higher than the bed/platform area. If the inset is the same depth as a standard plank you are good to go and can just make a frame like a bookcase with out back or shelves to go in it. It will make a shelf below the window It can be the spot where you put your glasses and alarm clock. If it's not the same depth as a standard plank you can buy at the lumberyard you will have to get wood cut to the right size. Alternatively you may want to fill your inset with something custom made or carefully measured and selected that fills the inset to the same height as the window sill giving an effect of having very thick walls.

Because of the placement of the window you will probably want to do something about lighting and not rely on the sun. your window is there because of the building code not so much because it is going to be useful for ventilation and light. You are going to have a dark corner beside it. That may make it the ideal placement for a bed, or it may mean that that you need to do something like install some track lighting on the wall at the top of your diagram, or have three lamps that are quite bright on the same switch.

There is a good chance you will want to install a curtain above the window embrasure even if that means hanging it from the ceiling, rather than installing the curtain on the window frame in the embrasure

One thing you haven't shown in your diagram is the outlets and the radiators or vents. Where I live the radiators usually dictate the placement of everything in the room. Keep in mind that you may need to run extension cords, or that you can't put a dresser in that place because there is a radiator in half of it and that placing your bed directly on top of a vent may be a bad idea.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:45 AM on January 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Having extra space in a bedroom is luxurious. I would put the headboard against the long wall, roughly centered in the room. Depending on how much dresser space you need (and whether you want to put the dresser inside the closet), you could use a long low dresser to the closet side of the bed, which could double as a nightstand on that side. Near the window, I would put a simple comfortable chair and ottoman and a small bookshelf.
posted by pinochiette at 9:46 AM on January 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a 12x20 foot bedroom, and my bed is smack in the middle of the long wall opposite the door. Nightstand on either side, dresser on one end, bookcase on the other. In your arrangement, I’d put the dresser on the end of the room near the window. Also consider putting a lamp near the closet, so you don’t have a dark corner when you’re trying to look in the closet at night.

I just pretty much let the room be roomy. I have room for a “conversation area” and may one day put a nice chair there, but currently it’s where I set up my ironing board when I have to iron. There’s a yoga mat in case I want to do any stretching before bed. The room looks spacious but not under-furnished. Your room is shorter and less wide, so it should be even less of an issue for you.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:46 AM on January 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

As for the Windows: I have two, and one is inset while the other is not. I hung curtain rods about 4” above the windows so that they were visually level, so the windows look symmetrical even though they’re kinda not. It sounds like you only have one window installation and don’t have to worry about symmetry, but if the window doesn’t go all the way to the ceiling, then a curtain rod will solve that problem.
posted by Autumnheart at 9:55 AM on January 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

There are so many good ideas here! I agree, rock the space and fill it with beautiful fabric--rugs & hangings--and pics. If you like plants, go for it. I have to have plants, without it, a room feels sterile.

And then will you please post a pic of it when you're done? (she asked plaintively)
posted by BlueHorse at 9:58 AM on January 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think it'll be just fine with just the bed in the middle of the wall opposite the door, the dresser next to the window, and nightstands and lamps on each side of the bed. All research says you will sleep better with less clutter. But you can use color and curtains for a cosier feel. Try painting the wall behind the bed a contrasting color. Maybe light colors for the other walls and a deep color for the wall behind the bed, and then a lighter version of that for the curtains (and headboard and bedspread). White for ceiling and moldings. It could be light brown walls + one dark blue wall + light blue curtains and headboard and bedspread. Or pale yellow + a strong classic ochre mixed with gold + light gold curtains + headboard and bedspread. You haven't mentioned the floor? Rugs to match the overall color-scheme could give a lot.
I had a room like that, but where I had to keep a small bookshelf and a reading chair, because it was my only private space for a while. They were fine, and I loved sitting and reading in my chair near the window, but the books were dust-magnets, which probably wasn't the best for the air in the room.
posted by mumimor at 4:31 AM on January 6, 2019

Oh, if you can afford it, get a professional to do your curtains. I did that for my current home, and it's just a daily pleasure. It makes everthing seem much more together.
posted by mumimor at 4:33 AM on January 6, 2019

Response by poster: Wow, so many great ideas here! The ones marked favourite are a bit more practical for my set up. For those who asked, the floors are hardwood (old and beaten up, but still), the window lets in almost no light (and I need blackout curtains anyway). My colour scheme will be light blues/greys. My style is simple and modern but with some rustic light wood elements. The inspiration is a piece of old birch bark that we found between the walls of my grandparents' farm house. Apparently they used bark for insulation when they built it (brrrrr!).

Yesterday a friend offered to lend me an adorable little blue and white reading chair.

So I think it will be (queen or double) bed centred on the long wall across from the door with two nightstands, the dresser near/in the closet (or maybe a closet "system"), with the reading chair and small table and lamp also near the closet for shoe-lacing and extra light.

I'll put a tall bookcase on the short wall beside the window to visually balance out the weird window placement. Or another possibility -- I may splurge on custom ceiling-to-floor curtains to cover the whole window wall. I'll have to see what that costs.

I'm so grateful for the generosity of this community!

I will gladly send pictures if you memail me but I don't like to post online because I'm concerned about anonymity.
posted by Frenchy67 at 7:41 AM on January 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

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