Experiments in home decorating, DIYing, and vintage furniture collecting.

Five easy ways to update your bedroom

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June 02, 2015
So, I've been on a roll designing rooms in our new (old) house and wanted to share some ideas that I picked up about creating a cool bedroom and applied to my new space. Read below for five easy tips that I've learned!

#1 Create a reading nook. 

It's simple (and free, if you already have a chair or two handy to introduce to the room). Clear out a corner, add a chair or two plus a small side table, a lamp, and a cozy pillow and blanket (in my case, a soft Turkish towel). I love this little nook in our bedroom. It's where I can find some quiet time to call my mom, enjoy a glass of wine, or read my Kindle. I've been hunting for a small footstool to complete it.

#2 Take everything out except the essentials 

Trust me, I am the queen of clutter and have a collection of things that would have gravitated into this bedroom had I not made a commitment to myself to keep it minimalist. The effect is a simple, serene space that helps me to relax and fall asleep. Wes and I love this house particularly because the 'master bedroom' is really two separate rooms: we keep our things (desk, clothing, crazy mannequin, etc.) in the den and front bedroom so that we can preserve this simple corner of our house!

#3 Add a rug

It's the easiest way to add some texture and dimension to a room, not to mention warmth if you have hardwoods. I found this cream and navy striped tassel rug at Pier One and have moved it around to a few rooms in this house. When I brought it into this bedroom, it was perfect! It plays well with the bedding and paint, and lightens up the floor. True confession: I have rolls of rugs stored in my house that have no place to lay out, but I keep them around because every once in awhile I like to change it up, introduce a new pattern or color, etc. I'm currently on the hunt for the perfect sisal rug for our dining room, and a red silk Persian rug just because.

#4 Paint it in a soft, neutral color.

This room was originally a deep maroon with terrible carpet. I talked the landlord into pulling up the carpet and staining the original hardwoods underneath it, and then painted the room a soft blue-gray that makes the room feel calm and comforting. I picked out a few shades and painted test patches on the wall before settling on this one.

If you need help settling on a color, visit a paint store and ask to speak to a color consultant. (There are people who pick out perfect paint color for a living, believe it or not!) I'd bring along pictures of the room in natural light (e.g. mid-day with no lights turned on) along with pictures without natural light, and some of the pieces you plan on including in the room (furniture, artwork, etc.) and an open mind. If you're in the D.C. area, there's a great new resource for expert advice (and, of course, cans of paint) in Friendship Heights: check out Farrow & Ball at 5221 Wisconsin Ave and tour their showroom for all the color inspiration you'll need to get started! (If you're not in D.C., perusing their website will give you some amazing ideas for color and room design anyway.)

#5 Stick to simple bedding

Cut it back to the basics and you'll be amazed how much prettier the room looks (and how frequently your bed gets made). Clean white bedding is one of those small luxuries that makes a big difference to me and makes the bedroom feel fresh and inviting. I buy nice white sheet sets and snap up high thread count sheets (800 or above) when I find them on sale.

 I wash sheet sets together and keep sets together either on the bed or in the linen closet so that everything always matches. It's simple but makes a noticeable difference in the comfort of your bed! For summer, we've been using our new collection of white Egyptian cotton sheets with a simple cream coverlet from Ralph Lauren. For winter, I've been using the same white cotton duvet and shams for years, and upgraded to a larger down comforter once I got married.

Other ideas that did not make the top five:

Add familiar artwork to the walls (like a big Alaska poster that my dad picked up decades ago following a hiking trip to our northernmost state that was hanging on the wall of my parents' living room for my entire life until I convinced them to give it to me.); Add scented candles (no explanation needed here); Remove overhead lighting in favor of accent lighting (no really, I actually take the bulbs out of overhead lights in rentals so they can never go on. Why do you need general lighting in a bedroom? #lampscreateambiance)

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