When you drift off to sleep, it’s okay if your primary bedroom is dim, dark and boring. But when you switch on the light in the morning, wouldn’t you like to be cheered by what you see? If your bedroom looks the same as is did yesterday and the week before that and the month before that, maybe it’s time for a makeover.
Wait a minute, you say. You have bills, you have time commitments, you have a busy life. Here’s the good news: it doesn’t take a small fortune or weeks off from work to start coming home to a fresh and welcoming bedroom. Here are 25 inexpensive steps toward a more luxurious primary bedroom, and you can accomplish a few of these next weekend. And a couple more in the weeks after that.
Table of Contents
- 1. Paint
- 2. Pick a Theme Color
- 3. Don’t Forget the Ceiling
- 4. Think about Texture
- 5. Change the Lighting
- 6. Ceiling Fan
- 7. Light Switch and Outlet Covers
- 8. Crown Molding
- 9. Throw a Mural Party
- 10. Show Off Your Photography
- 11. Think Vertical
- 12. New Life for Old Furniture
- 13. New Headboard
- 14. At the Foot of the Bed
- 15. New Drawer Pulls and Door Handles
- 16. Top Those Surfaces
- 17. Another Seat
- 18. Alternative Nightstand
- 19. Floating Shelves
- 20. Area Rugs
- 21. Tapestry
- 22. Mirror, Mirror
- 23. Dress Up the Bed
- 24. Mattress Topper
- 25. Declutter
Sure, this one’s obvious, but it’s still a good idea. You’re not stuck with the color you have. Painting is an opportunity to decide what personality you want the room to have. Choose whites and creams for brightness, pastels for warmth or bright colors for playfulness. Dark accents create a mood. Don’t be afraid to do the doors and trim in an accent color. If you’re feeling adventurous you can use contrasting paint for an entire wall.
2. Pick a Theme Color
If you’re going to redo your primary bedroom a few changes at a time, it’s worth thinking about what look you’re ultimately aiming for. If you have a favorite color, here’s your chance to surround yourself with it in a place where you spend a lot of time. You can claim your fave for the primary color or use a neutral (white and beige are fine but gray is a little more contemporary), and bring in your special shade as an accent. Remember the 60-30-10 guideline. Including paint, ceiling, floor, furnishing, and decor, aim for 60 percent of your space to be the first color, 30 percent the second, and 10 percent a third. Don’t rule out black. It might be striking as that 10 percent color.
3. Don’t Forget the Ceiling
Some people will tell you to paint the ceiling the brightest white possible in order to bring the maximum amount of light into the room. That’s one way to look at it, but hardly the only one. Off-whites are fine. An interesting look is the monochromatic one where the wall color continues right up into the ceiling. A darker ceiling isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but if coziness is the primary bedroom look you’re after, consider paint that’s blue or matches a secondary color.
4. Think about Texture
Texture stands out the same way a contrasting accent color does. Most primary bedrooms are defined by smooth lines and surfaces, and texture breaks that up. Think fringed throw pillows, rough wool throw blankets, cowhide, and faux fur and braided rugs. You may have a forgotten blanket or quilt in a closet that can be folded and tossed across the foot of a bed or the back of a chair.
5. Change the Lighting
If your lighting consists of a single fixture in the middle of the ceiling plus a table lamp on a nightstand, a change can make a huge difference. Direct lighting tends to be harsh. On the other hand, layers of lighting are softer and warmer. Recessed corner lighting is great, but if you aren’t ready for that much effort, a few well-placed table and floor lamps give you a choice of how much light you’ll get and where it comes from. It’s okay to position them near the wall so the light comes into the room diffusely. Choose ones with multiple brightness selection, and think about a 3-way for your overhead light as well.
6. Ceiling Fan
If you already have an overhead fixture with a mounting box, even a so-so DIYer can follow the step-by-step instructions and replace it with a ceiling fan that’s better looking and more functional. Most up-to-date units have remote dimmer control and several fan speeds, and they’re quiet enough not to wake you even if you let them run all night.
7. Light Switch and Outlet Covers
Don’t overlook this chance to get a bang with the very little buck. You can replace your old covers with something newer but quiet and reserved, but where’s the fun in that? This is one of the most enjoyable changes a person can make with 10 minutes and a screwdriver. If you’ve browsed craft shows and gift shops you know the variety that’s available: nature scenes such as seashores and mountains, animals, cartoon characters or just bright colors and catching patterns.
8. Crown Molding
The original purpose of crown molding was to cover the gaps that tended to grow between the wall and the ceiling. These are less noticeable in modern construction, but the old practical use is still there. However, today’s crown moldings are primarily decorative. Plaster molding is fancy and expensive, wood is another option but composites are affordable and easy to work with.
9. Throw a Mural Party
Even if you’re not artistic you probably have a friend or two who is. Brainstorm ideas for a design. It’s a liberating feeling drawing outlines on your wall in anticipation of the bold act you’re about to undertake. If you don’t like the results, give it a week or two. If it still hasn’t grown on you, paint over it and leave it for archaeologists to find two hundred years in the future.
10. Show Off Your Photography
If you’ve ever looked at photos at a craft sale and thought, “My pictures are better than that,” here’s your chance to show it. If you don’t like your own snapshots surely you have a friend with photographic talent. Blow them up and pick up an inexpensive frame at a hobby shop (or make your own!) and you’ve got wall art that no one can copy. Nothing you can buy brings back beloved memories like places and people important to you.
11. Think Vertical
Maybe your books, trophies, and knickknacks are all over the place and you’d like to shelve them, but most of your wall space is occupied. Remember that your room has about eight feet of height in addition to its length and width, and that height is sitting there waiting to be used. A tall narrow bookcase can be the answer. Wood is nice, but you can use a metal one if you repaint it in a bedroom-friendly color and store heavy books or something else weighty on the bottom shelf.
12. New Life for Old Furniture
Change the finish on a dresser, nightstand or accent piece. Or paint it. You can use the same stain on everything or you can get a little eclectic. Imagine two pieces, such as a wooden chair and a nightstand, in a matching but unexpected bright color such as blue, red or green. Talk about bringing an eyepopper into your primary bedroom!
13. New Headboard
Most people buy the frame and the headboard at the same time, but there’s no law that says you have to do it that way. The bed in the focal point of the room and the headboard is the focus of the bed. Add a stylish wooden one or mix things up with a padded or textured headboard. You can even give yourself some extra storage with a bookcase headboard. Will you select a matching or complementary footboard as well? Maybe.
14. At the Foot of the Bed
Some primary bedrooms feature a chest at the foot, and that can add can add a homey or a rustic feel to the room. If you happen to have inherited one, great. Otherwise, what about a short flat table in its place? Or a bench? Or a couple of short stools or round tables or an ottoman? There are garage sale items that can be refinished to plug themselves in for this purpose.
15. New Drawer Pulls and Door Handles
Here’s another one that takes only a modestly priced trip to the store and short session with a screwdriver. If you bought your furniture at different times and the hardware doesn’t match, now it can. Make it all brushed nickel or chrome or whatever metallic and whichever style suits your fancy.
16. Top Those Surfaces
A dresser looks better when there’s something spread atop it. The lacy doily is never a bad choice, but why not think more broadly? How about a colorful table runner? If you don’t like anything you see in the store, make your own out of old curtains or dyed bedsheets. Or use two or three matching toppers such as table placemats. Jewelry boxes, bowls and family pictures all look new with something different underneath them. You can do the same thing with your nightstand.
17. Another Seat
Where do you sit when you put on your shoes and socks? On the edge of the bed? If you don’t have a chair, add one. To really bring a touch of style and comfort, make it a rocker. It’s amazing how much your perspective changes when you looking at a room from somewhere you’ve never sat before. Who knows, the perfect idea for completing your primary bedroom might strike you while you’re relaxing there. Especially if it’s a generous and comfortable seat.
18. Alternative Nightstand
It’s good to have something next to your bed, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional nightstand with a drawer and an underneath storage space. Put some finish on crate shelving or use a rolling bar cart. Or paint a couple of cable spools and set them one atop the other on their sides.
19. Floating Shelves
They appear to be sticking out unsupported from the wall, but they’re anchored. You can buy a kit that gives you everything you need and guides you through the process. Or use extra wood in the garage or pieces of throwaway furniture. The variations in which they can be installed are impressive: long shelves near the ceiling the length of a wall, short shelves running floor to ceiling, forming an L in a corner, staggered. A great place for books, bowls, vases, trophies, and other memorabilia.
20. Area Rugs
Replacing the carpet or the flooring is difficult and expensive, but that doesn’t mean having to look at the same old floor for years. A few area rugs will change the look without significantly changing your bank account. Have a thick one to step into when you roll out in the morning. A colorful one at the end of the bed, perhaps underneath the tables or bench you added. Choose one for the foot of your chair.
Photographs and paintings are nice enough wall art, but they don’t make the king-size statement a tapestry does. Depending on your available wall space, get one any size from 4×5 up to about 7×9. Cover a wall with an outdoor scene. Arrange two smaller one’s side by side or opposite one another. Hang one over your headboard.
22. Mirror, Mirror
If your dresser doesn’t have one, maybe it should. Or if it does, swap it out for a new look. A wall mirror adds depth to a room. Two interesting positioning techniques: on the wall opposite a window, and two mirrors facing each other across the room. It makes the room feel bigger and brighter, particularly if the mirrors have metal frames.
23. Dress Up the Bed
One of the quickest and most striking changes comes with a new bedspread. Think about how much eye space it takes up. And use as many or as few throw pillows as you like to adorn it. They can be all the same or different. They can be solid, patterned and have nature scenes. Think about mixing in a few with some texture. They’re good not only on the bed but also on a chair or on whatever’s at the foot of the bed. Don’t forget what a matching or contrasting throw blanket can add.
24. Mattress Topper
You might not see this change, but you sure will feel it. You don’t have to buy a brand new mattress to improve your night’s sleep; you can add a pad that goes right on top of what you have now. If you’ve wanted to try out memory foam or latex, here’s a way to do it without committing to a whole new sleep platform. Just don’t get too comfortable. In the morning you’ll want to get out of bed, flip the switch and admire your remade primary bedroom.
Space looks bigger, better and more luxurious when it’s free of clutter. Use baskets, trays, and bowl to keep change, keys, and miscellany from strewing itself about. Increase your closet storage space with hanging organizers and, if you have room, a small chest. It’s a good use for one that’s nearing the end of its days. Store clutter-makers under the bed if you have the clearance. There are plastic storage containers that slide right in with extra shoes, Christmas wrapping, and other occasionally used items.