Ready to embrace your small bedroom? Read on for tips on how to maximize your small bedroom with design, décor, and layout inspiration, complete with expert insights from Max.
1. Keep the Layout Simple
Max centered the bed in this space, leaving room to walk on either side.
Photo: Sarah Dorio for Max Humphrey Interior Design
There isn’t a magic trick to the layout of the small bedroom. “There’s usually an obvious main wall to put the bed, and I don’t like to get too clever as far as placement—like floating the bed frame in the middle of the room or at an angle in the corner,” says Max. The designer also suggests placing the bed in the center of the main wall, rather than pushing one side up against the adjacent wall. “Having room to walk on either side is key not only for room flow but also to give you space to make your bed, if you’re into that sorta thing,” he says.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Dark…
You’re not limited to whites or neutral color palettes when it comes to the walls of a small bedroom. “I don’t buy into that whole ‘Never paint a small room a dark color’ design dogma,” says Max. “I say embrace the size and moodiness of a small room and even play into it. Painting a room a charcoal gray or navy blue or olive green can be chic and sexy.”
3. But Bring In Plenty of Light
Catherine Kwong installed sconces above the nightstands in this San Francisco bedroom.
Photo: John Merkl Whether you go for a moody hue or stick to a crisp pale shade, adding plenty of light sources is key to keeping the room from feeling dark and claustrophobic. “Decorative overhead lighting like a pendant or chandelier (instead of ceiling cans), bedside table lamps, a floor lamp, and even reading sconces will add to the ambience,” he says. “Like Andy Warhol said, ‘I believe in low lights and trick mirrors.'”
4. Choose Accents That Add Color
Colorful artwork brightens up a bedroom designed by Max.
Photo: Sarah Dorio for Max Humphrey Interior Design
“I know people think it’s calming and minimalism is all the rage now, but I don’t think I could sleep in an all-white room,” says Max. “I generally like cooler colors in a bedroom—blues and grays as opposed to warm tones. Black-and-white always worksm and can be a good foundation—like in a patterned area rug—to layer in some color. I think everyone would be a little happier if they had some pops of color in their bedrooms.”
5. Ditch the Shrunken Nightstands
Designer Alicia Murphy placed an Arne Jacobsen Egg chair in the corner of her Montauk bedroom.
Photo: Morgan Ione Yeager
A smaller space doesn’t mean smaller furniture. “One of my pet peeves is miniature bedside tables. Especially next to a larger bed frame and mattress—tiny nightstands can look so dorky,” says Max, who advises his clients to buy normal-size furnishings for small spaces. “It can actually make a small room look bigger and will be more useful and functional,” he adds.
6. Create the Illusion of Space
Max added height with gingham curtains in this master bedroom.
Photo: Christopher Dibble for Max Humphrey Interior Design Another one of our favorite small bedroom ideas is to create the illusion of space. “Hanging drapery as close to the ceiling as possible is a design trick that actually works,” Max says. “It’ll bring the eye up. While we’re at it, a good trick for picking curtains is to match the fabric to the wall color. It’s modern and can be nice in a smaller space, because your eye won’t be distracted by contrasting colors.”
7. Cut Out Clutter
A Manhattan bedroom by Suchi Reddy of Reddymade Design is furnished with the essentials.
Photo: Ball & Albanese
All the square footage in the world won’t make a difference if it’s crowded with stuff. “Another trick that won’t cost you any money is to keep your room clean,” he says. “You can still accessorize like you would a larger room, but keeping out the unnecessary clutter is a no-brainer.”
8. It’s Possible to Go Big
Max used a canopy bed to play with scale in this small guest room.
Photo: Dusty Lu for Max Humphrey Interior Design
Max advocates mixing it up when it comes to scale. “I also like to use the largest area rug that will fit,” he says. “A canopy bed can be a cool juxtaposition in a small room. It’s unexpected, and playing with scale (big bed, small room) can be a fun way to stick it to the design purists.”
9. Bring the Outdoors In
In a Silicon Valley bedroom, interior designer Dan Fink added a touch of life to an otherwise quite neutral room with a potted ornamental cabbage.
COPYRIGHT ©2015 THE CONDÉ NAST PUBLICATIONS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Don’t forget to add some life to your space. “There’s no reason houseplants should be kept out of the bedroom—I’ve even used potted indoor trees in small rooms,” he says. “Having something vertical like a fig tree can bring the eye up. Plants can make a stuffy room feel fresh, too.”
10. Give Your Bed a Second Job
Between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m., your mattress is for sleeping. The rest of the time, arrange the pillows against the wall so it becomes a makeshift daybed for lounging and working on your laptop. If you happen to have some room, a small-scale coffee table makes this setup even more convincing.
11. Choose Mounted Lights Instead of Table Lamps and Floor Lamps
The lamp in Matthew Stewart’s bedroom used to belong to his grandparents, but it still looks good and works great too.
Photo: Max Burkhalter
Just say no to table lamps and floor lamps. We know, this is turning into a Marie Kondo expedition, but those light fixtures are only going to take up the tiny bit of floor space you do have. Instead, choose a space-saving sconce to hang on the wall above your bed, ideally one with a
swinging arm that can be adjusted to direct light downward (for reading) or into the rest of the room (for dance parties, et cetera). If you’re partial to pendant lights, one of those would work too. 12. Go for Decor That Does Double Duty
See that mirror in the left corner of the photo? Along the bottom is a cute little shelf, just wide enough for keys, sunglasses, and your wallet. It’s basically a teeny-tiny console table for your bedroom.
Photo: Peter Pousard/Courtesy of Lundin Fastighetsbyrå
Max also picks pieces that can do double duty, and makes room for essential pieces. “In my own (small) bedroom I don’t have room for a dresser, so I have large nightstands with drawers that hold my clothes,” he says. “And even if it’s a tight fit, I always want at least a small chair in the corner (dining-size can work in a pinch) or a bench at the end of the bed as a catchall for clothes, pillows, or whatever garments get flung around before bed.”
Reference: architectural digest