Turn a boring bedroom into a comfy retreat

Vicki Payne
Charlotte Observer

We spend about 10 hours a day on average in the bedroom. That’s a good part of the day, so why not make this retreat one of the best rooms in the house?

To do the job well, it’s important to understand that bedrooms aren’t just for sleeping. They serve many purposes. Televisions and Internet connections make this room well-suited for a secondary TV monitor and maybe a home office.

With just a few adjustments you can turn a drab bedroom into a haven. A new furniture arrangement could give you extra space for a small desk or comfortable reading chair.

Most of us think the bed has to go on the largest wall in the room, but that arrangement can limit versatility. Instead, put the bed in front of the windows, leaving about a foot of space open to allow window treatments to move freely and to create a look of spaciousness.

Bedside tables don’t have to match. If you’re cramped for space, use a smaller accent table on one side of the bed. If you need lighting on both sides, use a floor lamp. This could free up floor space for an attractive upholstered side chair.

Bedroom chairs should be a smaller scale than upholstered chairs in your family room. If space allows, add a pair of matching chairs.

The space at the foot of the bed can be used for a small writing desk, upholstered bench or armless settee. I adore using diminutive sofas in bedrooms. It’s much more comfortable to watch TV sitting up rather than lying in bed.

Design the bed

Start with matching sheets. Choose a style that either matches the bedding exactly or matches another design element in the room, such as the wall paint or upholstered furniture.

Next, build the bedding layers. A pretty quilt, lovely throw and fluffy duvet cover make a stylish ensemble. Ditch the dust ruffle. Nothing dates a room like bed skirting. A bed without it makes the room look more spacious. If your box springs show, add an extra matching flat sheet. If you have to store items under your bed, use handsome baskets that do their job discreetly.

Avoid clutter. A messy dresser top and untidy nightstand can completely destroy a well-decorated bedroom. A nightstand should only accommodate a clock, lamp, books and fresh flowers or a single-framed photo.

Bedroom lamps are smaller than lights for other parts of the house. Select lamps that are less than 25 inches tall and shades that are 16 inches in diameter to keep them from overpowering the space.

Artwork can transform a simple bedroom. Go with well-sized art, and choose it with the same care you would give your dining room or foyer.

Rethink the rugs

Rugs are also essential to warm the surface under your feet as you step out of bed. Don’t think you have to buy a huge rug that covers the entire floor; it doesn’t have to extend under the bed entirely.

Play with the placement. Try it on an angle or use a couple of rugs, one on top of the other, to add interest. If you plan to replace your bedroom carpet, choose a product with a shorter nap. A neutral, berber looped carpet can be a good option.

If you want to have fun with some of the newer shag looks, buy it in a rug. When shag cycles out of style you can simply remove the rug.

Tonight, while you are in bed watching TV, take a good look around the room and ask yourself: Could it be better? Your answer can help you decide where to start making changes.

Designer and home improvement expert Vicki Payne is host and producer of “For Your Home,” available on PBS, Create TV and in national and international syndication. Reach her at ForYourHome.com.