The “master” in front of “bedroom” should signify the room’s importance in your life, but too often, we pour energy (and money!) into decorating shared spaces, reasoning that nobody sees the master bedroom but the people who sleep there. Use your move as a catalyst for change and put your room first! Make the master more than a place to catch some ZZZs; follow our pros’ tips and turn that empty room into your custom sanctuary.
Stage 1: Bring In the Basics
Start off by getting the room’s most essential elements in place.
If you’ve already selected a bed, you’re a step ahead! But if you took advantage of the pre-move purge and ditched your old mattress, it’s time to buy new. Thinking about switching to memory foam? Test it out now. Always wanted to upgrade to a king-size? Now’s the time. Seize the fresh start and update your linens, too: Introduce new sheets, blankets and pillows, and consider mixing and matching patterns to create visual interest. “You could do a playful pattern for the bedskirt, and pillows with a solid duvet and coverlet, and complementary sheets,” suggests Angie Gardeck, an interior designer who owns New Perspective Design, in Algonquin, Illinois. And remember, this is your relaxation zone: If an animal-print throw catches your eye, scoop it up!
Next, evaluate your closet space. If it can’t contain your entire wardrobe, you’ll need storage in the forms of dressers or armoires. But what worked in your old bedroom may not work in your new space; don’t load your bedroom up with furniture just because you already own it. Organize your new closet first, then evaluate what still needs a home and bring in a storage piece to house it. And don’t neglect “hidden” storage areas like the space under your bed; shallow storage bins under the mattress may be a better solution than another dresser.
With your bed and furniture in place, it’s a great time to consider window treatments; you’ll know just when the sun will hit the space, and whether you need to minimize or increase daylight. Gardeck often recommends drapes instead of blinds in a bedroom. “They add a vertical element to a room that has a lot of horizontals,” she says. They also add softness, which will make the environment a soothing setting to come home to.
Stage 2: Add (Useful) Detail
Layer in a little something extra.
You’ve got the basics down; now add some polish. For spot-on sophistication, try an ottoman or bench made of leather or upholstery in a color that complements or contrasts the palette already established. Some have storage capacity — it’s like having a secret closet! — and give you a place to put extra sheets and blankets.
Placing a nightstand on either side of the bed creates symmetry and balance (and a place to park that morning cappuccino). For a modern take, use a pair of small end tables in a style that works with the room’s other furniture but doesn’t match too perfectly.
Think about additional lighting next. While overhead beams are critical for helping you find that earring you dropped while getting dressed, ambient lighting, in the form of table lamps and sconces, makes a room — and you! — glow, underscoring the relaxing vibe. “While lamps don’t have to be identical,” says Gardeck, “they should visually line up, with the bottom of the shade about 45 inches from the floor.”
If you’ve been checking yourself out in the bathroom mirror, now’s your opportunity to upgrade to a full-length version. Besides providing another vertical shape, it serves a design purpose: It adds a reflection, which instantly makes the room feel bigger.
Stage 3: Make it a Masterpiece
Load your master bedroom with items that take it to the next level.
One of bedroom design’s biggest trends is the upholstered headboard. One part cozy, many parts chic, a headboard is super comfortable when you’re up late reading the latest Stephen King novel. It also breaks up the dated look of matched furniture, says Gardeck. Shop for one in a durable, neutral fabric, or put the project on your DIY list.
Another trend worthy of the master: wallpaper in big, bold patterns. It gives walls an opulence that paint can’t match. Pick an elegant design with textural appeal, or a graphic pattern with look-at-me personality. But to keep the look upscale, balance a vibrant wallpaper with neutral furnishings. A dramatic take: “Do only the wall that your bed rests against with wallpaper and paint the others,” says Leah Gomberg, owner of Sweet Life By Design, an interior design/home staging company, in Maplewood, New Jersey. “It’ll really pop.”
Everyone loves the idea of having a TV in their bedroom, but a 55-inch screen dominating a wall can kill a luxe design aesthetic faster than you can say “Netflix.” Easy solution: Hide it in a wall-mounted cabinet or a framed reverse mirror, and binge-watch without sacrificing high design.
And a true sanctuary is more than just four walls and a bed; it’s a space where you can truly exist in a relaxed state. Bring in a comfy couch or elegant chaise lounge for long reading sessions; roll out a comfy carpet for morning yoga or meditation. Complete the space with a warm, glowing fireplace. Gardeck prefers a vented gas version for a practical reason: “It comes with a remote control and timer, so you don’t have to worry about putting the fire out when you get sleepy, like with a wood-burning fireplace.”