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There's no denying that apartment bedrooms can be tricky spaces to decorate. You are often aren't blessed with acres of space and even if you aren't at the mercy of a landlord, there are still limitations as to what you can do to the configuration. Most of the time you have to work with what you have got. And that's why decor is so important in apartment design, it's how you put a stamp on your home.
We're focusing first on apartment bedroom ideas. Bedrooms are where we spend so much of our time and they should feel like a sanctuary you can escape to. Now when decorating an apartment, there might be a few hurdles to overcome to achieve this, like limited square footage, noisy neighbors, odd layouts, or the fact your bedroom might also have to be your living room and your home office. But fear not we have plenty of stylish and practical bedroom ideas to make the most of your space. And we've asked our favorite interior designers for their top tips too.
Apartment bedroom ideas
1. Keep things simple
While not all apartment bedrooms are small, it's generally the case that if you live in a city, you aren't going to have tons of space to play with. So as with most tiny spaces, the less is more approach often applies. When considering the design of your apartment bedroom, think about the essentials – what can't you be without? Bedroom storage, lighting, and of course a bed.
This gorgeously simple small apartment in Brooklyn has the warmth you'd want from a bedroom with the layers of textures and comforting brown tones, but it still feels very clean and minimalist, without too much furniture or visual bulk.
'In an apartment, the goal is to always have enough storage – be it a walk-in closet with well-appointed shelving and drawers, a bed with storage underneath, or extra long dressers that can accommodate a couple's belongings.' explains Keren Richter, founder of White Arrow who designed this cozy bedroom.
'We like to bring in larger scale pieces and layer in texture, statement lamps, color, and artwork. We love using layered lighting too – sconces, a mix of lamps on dressers and nightstands, as well as floor lamps. If there is room for seating in an apartment bedroom, we'll bring in a bench at the foot of the bed or a nearby statement chair that adds another focal point and helps when getting dressed.'
2. Create links between spaces
A key part of designing a studio apartment, or even a small house, is to create a unity between all your rooms. You want each space to flow effortlessly from one to the other – these links, even if they are something subtle, are going to make the overall space you have feel larger. It might be you stick to one paint color throughout or pick a bold shade or pattern to feature in every room.
'Rather than designing bedrooms separately to the rest of the apartment, design them as one so that the rooms flow organically from one to the next.' explains designer Christian Bense. 'This is my master bedroom. The color palette was a continuation of the rest of the apartment so that this room and the living areas felt interconnected and the headboard fabric was an old sofa cover that we re-used.'
3. Maximize space with built in storage
If you can go built-in with your storage do, always. We could not recommend a better apartment storage solution than built-in cabinets. You can design something that fits your space perfectly and doesn't waste an inch - this is also ideal if you're going for a fold-up Murphy bed as the millwork hides the bed when it's hidden away. Plus you can make it a really subtle part of the room – so rather than lots of bulky freestanding pieces just have one wall or alcove filled with cupboards.
Case in point, this light and airy apartment designed by Colombe Studio. 'Placing built-in storage around the bed has become our hallmark,' explains Marta Chrapka, of Colombe Studio. 'I really like this method for several reasons. First of all, it makes the design of the bedroom layout much easier, we have no problems with access to the wardrobes or keep the space in front of the wardrobe clear so they can open.'
'Secondly, it creates a cozy niche for the bed and gives an easy opportunity for decor – a mirror, wallpaper, or pictures, all look great in this space. Plus, with this arrangement you avoid the bulky sides of the wardrobe being on show.'
If you are renting and going built-in isn't an option, check out freestanding modular storage options that create a similarly subtle bank of storage but you can pick up and take with you as you need.
4. Soften the clean lines of a modern apartment bedroom
Modern apartments of course have their positives but one drawback is the lack of... charm. So when designing your apartment's modern bedroom, try and consider what colors, patterns, decor, and layouts are going to move the space away from that clinical, standard apartment feel. Samuel Pye Creative Manager of Echlin explains it perfectly...
'When designing a modern apartment bedroom, we usually start with trying to bring as much human energy and personality as we can into the place, as large blocks of apartments can feel cold and out of scale with us as individuals.' says Samuel.
'Apartments are often well marketed with beautifully styled imagery but at the end of the day, you often start with a generic white box cut off from the street level. For us this is first about color, which for us is often gentle for the base and more lively in textiles and artwork, as in the city life is hectic; and lots of natural textures and handmade pieces. We like to use a lot of matt finishes that feel raw and tactile, and combine this with metallic elements if the space needs a lift.' he continues.
'Modern apartment bedrooms aren’t usually generous in proportion, so it's important to look carefully at the dimensions of everything you are ordering and make the most of the space available. King-size beds will fit in more spaces than you think if you use a divan or bed base where the mattress sits directly above the frame rather than inside one.'
5. Bring in pattern with soft furnishings
While we are of the opinion that even the smallest of space can handle the boldest of patterns, if you want to ensure your apartment bedroom feels light, airy, and yet still full of personality, sticking with smaller soft furnishings is your best bet. And if you are renting so bedroom wallpaper or hanging prints isn't an option you can rely on bedlinen, cushions, throws, and rugs to add the interest.
'My top tip for designing an apartment bedroom is to always layer texture, pattern, and color.' explains designer Brooke Copp-Barton. 'I like bedrooms to be a sanctuary, oozing comfort and relaxation. My go-tos are crisp white bed linen layered with colored throws and vintage cushions, with something that feels soft and luxurious underfoot for when you step out of bed!'
'In this bedroom it is all about layering colors, textures, and materials. Here we also introduced paneled walls for a cocooning feel together with touches of rattan.'
6. Expand space with strategically placed mirrors
'Mirrors are a marvelous way to enhance a sense of space. For example, hanging a large mirror next to a window reflects natural light and instantly makes a bijou apartment bedroom look bigger and brighter.' explains founder of Gunter & Co. Irene Gunter.
'Tip: when thinking about where to hang a bedroom mirror, carefully consider what it will be reflecting – the more beautiful, the better! Where possible, I like to reflect a garden. It’s a wonderful way to bring the outside in.'
'Don’t be tempted to skimp on the size of your mirror – so often, the tendency is to go too small. To find the perfect size, make mock-ups of different shapes and proportions from lining paper and stick them to the wall using removeable sticky tape to protect paintwork. This will help you visualize how different mirrors will look in your space. And a final tip on mirrors: less is more in a small space – a single mirror is more effective than a grouping of small ones.'
7. Create zones with in your space
'An apartment bedroom can have so many hats to wear all at once, so it’s really important that every inch is accounted for. With careful storage elements and creative thinking, you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve in even the smallest of spaces.' explains Jen and Mar, founders of Interior Fox. 'The best way to make the space feel larger is to zone the different areas. There are a few ways to do this, from the furniture, textured rugs or even art or painted walls.'
This studio bedroom in a Chelsea loft designed by Studio DB is the perfect example of how zoning can help to make a sleep space feel separate from the open plan living areas. The sofa acts as a 'wall', the bedroom rug helps define the dimensions of the room, and the feature wall above the bed distinguishes it from the rest of the studio.
8. Colordrench for a cocooning sleep space
If you haven't heard of color drenching yet, it started as a pretty out-there interior design trend that we are now seeing seep into the mainstream. It's essentially taking one shade across a whole room, and it may sound daring but it works wonders in small spaces.
If you want to dabble in the trend, take note from this London apartment and go bold with your bedroom color choice. Take it across all the walls (and ceiling if you want to fully commit) to blur the dimensions and instantly make a small bedroom look bigger.
'This color is Edward Bulmers Sang De Boeuf. It’s a browny red tone that is calm but serious and creates a statement.' says Camilla Clarke, Creative Director at Albion Nord. 'We decided to paint this room red as it could take this bold color with all the natural light that was flooding in from a balcony space on the right.'
'When choosing furniture to complement this red scheme, we looked at mixing foraged, pre-loved items and contemporary and bespoke pieces to sit alongside explosions of abstract color, not only does it look elegant and modern, but it feels incredibly comfortable, welcoming, and ultimately, liveable.'
9. Choose neutral colors and let texture be the focus
If you are a diehard neutral bedroom lover, so the whole bold color drenching thing perhaps isn't for you, let your love of creams and greys and whites reign. Instead bring texture into your apartment bedroom to add the interest. Not only will the simple color palette make the room feel larger, you're guaranteed to create a restful sleep space.
'We generally like to ensure the bedrooms are the ultimate sanctuary within a home. This is achieved through a focus on comfort, both visual and physical. Think soft rugs underfoot, tactile fabrics on the windows and cocooning materials on the bed.' suggests Sheena Murphy, founder of Nune.
'Keeping things restrained will also help when designing a bedroom in a small space. If you love color and pattern, maybe emphasize just one so the eye and mind can rest and you can create some cohesion and repetition which helps to ease the senses.
'In addition, investing in well-proportioned, interesting ceiling lighting can help bring ceilings down to a human scale and create a more enveloping experience in a bedroom. I love an upholstered bed platform or headboard and minimizing color and amping up the texture always helps to minimize visual clutter and increase physical comfort.'
10. Use symmetry for a hotel vibe
When it comes to laying out an apartment bedroom, you may not have a ton of choice. But whatever size or shaped space you are working with, we'd say symmetry always looks good. Symmetry is easy on the eye, it makes sense, it's not confusing or busy so perfect when you want to keep things simple.
Start with the biggest piece in the room – the bed – and work from there. As Jen points out 'The bed is the focal point of any bedroom, and the area above is the perfect spot for artwork and wall lights.' So look up and pick something, whether it's a statement headboard a piece of artwork, or a couple of wall lights, and make the bed even more of a centerpiece.
Jen's advice is to 'opt for larger pieces of art over the bed to bring the scheme together. If you’re stuck for what color or design to opt for, take this opportunity to pull in an accent color. Whether that’s black used in the furniture or a color from the soft furnishings, sticking to this rule will make the room flow and feel cohesive.'
Then look to the sides of the bed. Matching bedside tables to flank the focal point, and matching lamps or scones will give that luxe hotel feel to even the smallest of rooms.
11. Create a niche for extra seating and storage
'Our State Street project was anchored in a light and welcoming airiness. The homeowners travel often, so we wanted to create a space that felt easy, with everything at their fingertips. Just under 800 square feet, efficiency and simplicity were top of mind from a deceptively-deep built-in dresser in the primary bedroom and a secret cat corridor that links the upper bookshelves from room to room,' explains Sarah Zames, founder of General Assembly.
'The key to maximizing your small apartment is often duality – finding ways to create efficient spaces that can serve more than one purpose. We used dark colors in the primary bedroom of this project, in order to create a calm space to escape to. We also built a daybed with an additional futon mattress stored below for additional guests to stay in.'
How can you decorate a small bedroom apartment?
When decorating an apartment bedroom, 'keep it light and bright,' says Nicky Mudie founder of Violet & George. 'Light it beautifully, with lots of options for soft, gentle, warm lighting at night and strong lighting during the day.'
'Use an upholstered divan bed so that you’re not in danger of banging your legs while walking around the small space and if there's space opt for a storage bed, either with drawers underneath or a hinged, pull up bed to store your bed linen etc.' says Nicky.
'Have you got space for curtains? If not then fit Roman blinds and avoid wasting space with curtain fabric. And of course, storage is key. Make sure everything has space to be put away easily.'
Irene Gunter adds, 'Remember a few pieces of big, beautiful furniture are more space-enhancing than lots of smaller pieces of furniture. For a small room, make sure you look for a few pieces of furniture with legs. These allow more floor to be seen, which in turn opens the room up and gives the illusion of more space.'
How do you arrange furniture in an apartment bedroom?
'This goes without saying, but really use every inch. Don’t assume that having “free space” will make a room look bigger, so rather fill the spaces, particularly the space either side of the bed, so that a room feels considered and storage options aren’t lacking.' suggests Christian Bense.
Don't think you always have to push every piece of furniture up against a wall too. Nothing shrinks a room like a sea of floor, so try floating your furniture. Maybe pull the bed slightly away from the wall and create walkways within your space. Use a rug, bedside tables, and pendant lighting to recreate the dimensions for the bed instead of using the walls.
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Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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