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How To Make Your Bedroom Better (And Cozier)

Welcome to the next installment of “How to Make Your *insert room* Better”. The concept started out a little as a joke with our first living room post but it turned out to be pretty popular so we thought let’s keep these good times rolling! But we also get it. As a deep lover of checklists, these posts would be a dream for me. Sure there are always going things that could be added but knowing that if I did these # of things and I would have a nicer-looking bedroom… heaven.

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about my bedroom lately, despite it likely being the last room on my MOTO list. But I think a lot of people tend to put their bedroom design on the back burner because it’s mostly just where we sleep and it’s not a room that usually gets a lot of foot traffic from our guests. And if they do, phrases like “I’m so sorry, it’s such a mess” or “please don’t judge it, I’m not done decorating it yet” come tumbling out of our mouths. Well, we deseve better, no? We should have a bedroom that when we walk into it we immediately are greeted with a sense of calm. So let’s get into the 12 ways to make that happen.

1. Add A Bed Blanket (Textured Or Patterned)

Just to be clear this isn’t your average-sized throw blanket. It’s bigger and we like to style them as the top layer at the foot of a bed. They just make your bed more inviting, cozy and are an extra layer for those chilly nights. Let me show you what I mean.

Left Blanket (similar) | Right Blanket

Here we have two different neutral yet textured options. I love how in the mountain house bedroom, the green blanket is a nice bold contrast to the greige bedding. Then in Suzanne’s bedroom, the cream knit bed blanket complements the rest of the bedding but its visual texture adds so much. Plus it just looks cozy, right?!

Left Blanket | Right Blanket

But maybe you’re a pattern person in which here are two great examples. In Julie’s bedroom on the left, she went for that awesome embroidered blanket. The pattern is bold but the colors are more muted working perfectly with the general color palette and vibe of the room. Then in Emily’s old basement guest room, she used her favorite large throw blanket/coverlet. It adds another layer of pattern that breaks up the solid blue quilt underneath. All in all, they add a ton of personality to these rooms.

2. Try The Single Long Pillow

Emily has been raving about this bedding hack for years! She (and most of us) love a bedding setup that only takes a minute to create and even less to destroy. So if you spend more time than you’d like with your decorative pillows (I always think of that scene in Along Came Polly, IYKYK) then this one is for you. Let’s keep our knives in our kitchens and make life easier and a little more modern with the single long lumbar decorative pillow.

Look at these beds and tell me that your bed-making stress level didn’t just go down 7 points. Simple and can truly translate to any style.

Faux Leather Lumbar Pillow

And in terms of color and texture mixing rules it’s always the same. Keep it within the room’s color palette and then decide if you want to play with a contrasting or complementing color to the bedding. Then you can decide if you’d prefer a pattern or a solid with a fun texture like Em did with this faux leather lumbar in her mountain house bedroom.

3. The Right Sized Rug

Ha. Did you think we wouldn’t bring this up again? We did because again it’s important. Here is our mostly official bedroom rug size rule:

RULE: Ideally your rug should have at least 24″ on all three sides of your bed. Our typical sizing rules are: for a Twin go for a 5’x8′, a Full 6’x9′, a Queen 8’x10′ and a King 9’x12′.

But of course, you also want to consider the size of your room. That’s why I’m a very big fan of taping things like rugs out before you buy.

We like rugs to be on the larger side because you don’t want most of your beautiful rug hiding under the bed. We recommend placing at having at least half if not two-thirds under the bed. That way when you get out of bed your feet are landing on the rug and not the cold floor.

Hot Tip

If you have a rug you LOVE but it's not quite large enough, an affordable way to remedy that is by getting a large jute rug and layering them like Julie did in her old bedroom.

photo by tessa neustadt | design by ginny macdonald and melanie burstin for ehd | from: griffith park primary bedroom

If you plan on having a bench at the end of your bed make sure that your rug is large enough to be able to go high enough under your bed AND clear all four legs of the bench with some room in front. At least 12″.

I promise that getting a rug that is the right size will make your bedroom look well designed and easier on the eyes:)

4. Get A Functional Nightstand

We get the draw of a beautiful pedestal nightstand. They are elegant and super pretty. But you know what they aren’t??? Functional. Most of us are “collectors”. Collectors of hair ties, books, magazines, electronics, and if you don’t have a least one drawer you will have a nightstand full of clutter. None of us want that.

Left Nightstand | Right Nightstand (unavailable)

Above are nightstands that have drawers only. They are beautiful, simple, and give you enough storage to keep that nightstand clutter-free thus stress-free.

Left Nightstand | Right Nightstand

Here we have two nightstands that have a drawer and a little cubby/shelf. These are great if you love books and/or a styling moment. You can keep the essentials on the top and then throw a cute stack of books naked or in a tray with a bowl on top to collect any other little bedside essentials.

5. Don’t Skip The Window Treatments

You might be thinking to yourself, “Come on Jess, everyone has window treatments in their bedroom.” I am here to tell you that is sadly not the case. And look, if you hate the look of a curtain or a shade then to each their own. But if you are just rocking the metal or plastic blinds that came in your rental or just haven’t gotten around to picking a window treatment out of lack of time or indecisiveness then this is your sign to change that. Every time I have put up curtains, it transformed the room. All of a sudden the room got tall and so much cozier. They are SUCH a room game-changer.

However, curtains are not the only option. Roman shades are such a pretty way to give you privacy, add texture (and a pattern if you want) but be a little less visually heavy than a curtain. 

But remember that if you want blackout shades they are going to need to be lined and there will likely still be “light leak” from the sides. Just a little food for thought.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the new (luxury) bed in a bag with brooklinen

So yes, curtains bring a bit more “drama” (which I kinda love) but they are also much easier to buy “off the rack” if you are needing or wanting to be more on the budget-conscious side. Oh and come back tomorrow afternoon for an updated version of our “Hanging Curtains All Wrong” post.

6. Always Have 2 Different Types Of Light Sources (Ideally Warm Light)

Lighting is SO important for ambiance and you are going to want to have at least two options so that you can create whatever mood you want. Also, DIMMERS! Install them if you don’t have them (and make sure your bulbs are dimmer compatible).

So when I say two light sources I’m talking a pendant and a table lamp, or a table lamp and a floor lamp, or a pendant and a sconce, etc, etc. Of course, if you want more get yourself more! But something I’d highly recommend is for the majority of them to be “warm”. That means the actual type of lightbulb. We don’t love a “bright white” or “cool white” because they’re normally very harsh. It also means to have that light be filtered by some kind of shade or covering. Here is a post I wrote about it last year. But let’s get into these examples:

Example A: Two table lamps on nightstands with white shades for a nice glow by the bed, one floor lamp with a tall white shade for a nice glow near the seating area, and one large chandelier. Lots of options for any mood you could be in!

Example B: This room doesn’t have a ceiling light so Brady made sure to give himself FOUR different light options. One large and one small sconce, one table lamp, and one floor lamp. Most of his lighting is task/directional which can definitely give off a cool sexy vibe when it’s nighttime.

7. A Mirror To Bounce Light Around

So easy and so effective. It will make your room feel bigger, brighter, and can be pretty useful when you need to check out that face or outfit before heading out. Plus there are a bunch of ways to style them…

Left Mirror | Right Mirror

Let’s first take about the full-length mirror. This isn’t just beautiful and functional but having a large-scale “art piece” like this will help to give more dimension to your space. To free up floor space, you can hang it on your wall or simply lean it if space is less of an issue. If you are leaning it, make sure you secure it. This is coming from someone who deals with earthquakes but accidents also happen and a broken mirror and/or person would be a very big bummer.

Left Mirror (vintage) | Right Mirror

Now maybe you don’t have space or just want something on the smaller size. Great! Hang a wall mirror over a dresser (or lean it on top), do something fun like Em did in her old basement and hang one in front of a bookshelf, or even just in a gallery wall. Dealer’s choice, my friends. It’s basically functional art. But now let’s get to the more traditional type of art.

8. Personalize With Some Art

I think art should be in absolutely every room. Art is such an easy way to really make your home unique to you. But in a bedroom, I would just make sure that the art you pick is on the calm and soothing side. Whatever that means to you. We love landscapes, simple line drawings, botanicals, you get it. Also really consider the colors. Ask yourself what’s going to bring you a sense of peace and relaxation.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: emily bowser’s multipurpose room reveal

Here is Bowser’s beautiful guest room and she chose this really pretty and serene diptych from Minted. We really love a diptych or triptych (3 pieces) because they look great, give symmetry to a wall and make picking out multiple pieces of art a lot easier.

And here’s more! You can use your art as a second headboard (those are very cool and vintage) or create a cool tonal gallery wall like Mel did in her last place.

The possibilities are endless, just make sure you do it… I’m serious. Here’s a post to help some more.

9. A Place To Sit Is Really Nice

This one is definitely a luxury. Having enough space for a bench or chair has only happened a couple of times in my life (and am VERY excited that one of those times is now). So I get if you don’t. For those of you lucky enough to have a little extra room to maybe have a reading chair or a bench to be able to sit on to tie your shoes, let’s get into it!

Let’s first start with benches since so many of them can also double as extra storage (YES!). First, let’s talk about Emily’s old bedroom on the right. Since she had enough space, she placed her bench at the end of her bed (remember the rule about the rug) and with the fun patterned fabric added some great dimension, and of course, storage. Now in Emily Bowser’s bedroom, it would have been a bit tight for her bench to be at the end of her bed so she basically created a bench seat on an empty wall giving her (and her cat Puck) a place to sit and store things. So yes, bedroom benches don’t always been to be at the foot of the bed.

My other ultimate bedroom seat is a plush reading chair. I had one in high school and it was the best. Bedroom corners are made for reading nooks so just make sure the chair is comfy and the coziness will be overwhelming.

10. Plant(s) Are Important

I accidentally left out plants in the living room post so I was NOT going to make that mistake twice because of course plants make every space better.

We are big real tree fans and don’t turn our noses up to faux ones. So whatever kind you prefer go treat yourself if you can. They just bring in life and happiness and a little bit of nature is good for the soul. Plus they look GREAT as you can see in these photos. But if a tree isn’t possible due to space or budget, a small plant is just as wonderful. Pick a pretty planter and I promise seeing that little guy will make you and your room feel better.

11. Make Things Prettier With A Tray

Another EHD styling go-to is a tray. Grab one for the top of your dresser and then corral a few of your beautiful things. It just looks like you are put together and have great style;)

They can be more on the functional side like both Emilys did in the photos above, corraling things like candles, reed diffusers, jewelry, etc. See how much more intentional it looks than if they just had those items sitting on the dresser??

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: 14 rules for how we style the perfect bedroom (+ 3 new reveals)

But maybe you don’t have a lot that you want on your dresser but using a tray for a couple of vases and cute boxes again just gives your space that little extra something. Plus it’s a great way to add another material and/or pattern which will make it feel more layered and yes, cozy.

12. Yes, A Candle

Warmth, light, AND good smells. It’s wildly simple but can completely change the air in your room.

Candles and even reed diffusers are the superstars of “cozy” to me and when I finally finish my bedroom in the future or get a safe surface you bet I am getting a great candle. Of course, be careful and if you are reading in bed maybe set an alarm to make sure you don’t sleep with it burning all night.

Honorable Mention: Fresh Sheets and Pillow Covers

This way one Em thought was kind of a no-brainer but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be mentioned…honorably. We don’t support tossing away your sheets and pillow covers if you still like them. But if you are in need of a fresh set, we can’t tell you enough how you will feel absolutely brand new. You will 100% feel like your bedroom looks better.

Hope this was at minimum a helpful reminder that even doing a couple of things on this list will make you feel better in your bedroom (that is if you don’t already love it:)) Let me know if you have any quick, easy fixes of your own!

Love you, mean it.

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Mountain House Primary Bedroom

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2 years ago

Maybe you’ll address this in tomorrow’s “Hanging Curtains All Wrong” post, but I would love to know how to hang curtains when you’ve got baseboard heaters below the windows (or if you even should!) I’ve got some nice accordion shades up, but for the bedroom I would love to have the extra coziness of curtains. But I worry about the safety of it, especially because of our two cats who would almost definitely mess with the curtains.

2 years ago
Reply to  Michaela

Another challenging curtain situation I’d love for you to discuss: the high, wide windows popular in home built during the 1960’s and 70’s. Pretending they are full size windows is inefficient since there’s a lot of wall useful for furniture and can look silly, but it’s so rare to see examples of dressing them. (like this: home-design.jpg)

2 years ago
Reply to  Erin

I second this AND the baseboard heater issue! My house was built in the 1920s, but I have a similar window situation in my bedroom (bungalow-ish house)- I don’t know what to do besides roman shades, but I need a cord because the top of the window meets the ceiling and is too high for me to reach to pull down shades. Almost all of the ready-made roman shades in my budget no longer come with cords (which I get is a safety thing, but the cordless ones just aren’t going to work). AND I have baseboard heaters below the window too! So it’s quite the design conundrum!

2 years ago
Reply to  Beth

DIY Swedish blinds! They’re surprisingly cheap and easy to make using whatever fabric you prefer, and you can make the cord as long as you need. I also like that they don’t block half the window when they’re pulled all the way up, which really bugs me with Roman shades.

Here’s a good tutorial:

2 years ago
Reply to  Erin

I second Erin’s question? What type of curtains look best for windows that are high and wide? Our 1980 home bedroom windows are 56” wide and 38” tall. Floor length curtains just don’t look right. Neither do ones that are shorter. What would you do?

2 years ago

This post made me so so so happy! 🤗
I’ve got everything covered for the Safe House Room Makeover, except for a chair (coz I couldn’t afford the IKEA Poang chair I wanted to get) and the lumbar pillow (coz I couldn’t find one!).
I’m wah-really excited to execute the design now! Super-pumped!!

2 years ago

Love it! For choosing a rug size – what would you advise if your bed has to go the “long way” in the room? Placing an 8×10 (for a queen) so that the “10” side runs the length of the bed? This is keeping me up at night!! xoAmanda

2 years ago
Reply to  Amanda

I would love to hear advice on this, too. Our primary bedroom is very long and narrow.

Faith Echtermeyer
2 years ago

I always seemed to have a little persistent cough, especially in the morning. A friend remarked on it. I went on a cleaning frenzy and actually went to a laundromat to use their giant washer to launder my feather pillows. What a difference that made. Even though I always had fresh pillow cases and pillow protectors.
Try it ! Better bedroom environment.

2 years ago

Are the end-of-bed blankets the same size as the bed? Like if you have one at the end of a queen bed, would a queen blanket be best?

2 years ago

Thank you! So nicely done. I will bookmark this for future reference. And yes, it did lower my stress level quite a bit to look at these lovely bedrooms. Eating salted caramel ice cream out of the carton while reading also helped. Plus, I finally know what size rug to buy to put under a king size bed!!

2 years ago

This is good. I still have quite a few things to add.