Preppy bedroom ideas – how to embrace fun choices for a spirited space

A preppy style lends itself perfectly to a bedroom. These designers share their best tips on how to achieve it

A green bedroom and bed with red and white spotted bedding, and a photo wall above the headboard
(Image credit: Laura Reoch of September Days Photography)

There's more to a preppy interior design style than nautical stripes and plaid patterns. Fun and youthful yet chic and sophisticated, a preppy aesthetic introduces color and boldness to our homes - and what better place to embrace such qualities than a modern bedroom

This tailored style allows for a lot of creative freedom. Although it typically embraces color and a maximalist approach to design, you can easily add your own personal flair to introduce a preppy look to your room without seeming overly garish. Think patterned feature walls and colorful rugs paired with a more neutral scheme on the rest of the walls. 

As Chelsea Clark at I Love Wallpaper summarises: 'With bright colors set against muted tones, the preppy aesthetic is all about dainty details and bringing a myriad of elements together whilst maintaining a polished look.' 

Although the preppy aesthetic has its roots tied to prep schools and old money, interior design puts a more contemporary twist on these traditional styles. And while playful, it doesn't have to lack maturity either. From checkered patterns to statement headboards, here's how you can create a preppy bedroom to add boldness to your space. 

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She's committed to sharing articles that help readers keep up-to-date with changing styles and embrace emerging trends. For this piece, she spoke with designers to gather their best tips for creating a bold preppy bedroom with looks to inspire

1. Add a bold touch with oversized stripes

Take your wall stripes to new levels by placing them on the fifth wall

(Image credit: Roselind Wilson Design)

Another way to add a preppy style to your walls is with the help of a bold wallpaper. Chinoiserie prints or animal motifs are great examples if you're looking for a classic feel. Likewise, plaid or striped wallpaper in muted greens, reds and blues is quintessentially preppy. 

'Wallpaper is the perfect way to experiment with multiple patterns at once,' says Chelsea Clark, head of brand at I Love Wallpaper. 'When it comes to incorporating the preppy aesthetic into a bedroom, wallpaper is an easy way to add some personality and color.'

Funky designs work especially well in bedrooms as they're the perfect place to experiment with bold patterns and they add a touch of character you wouldn't necessarily display elsewhere in the home. And, of course, if you're considering going down the stripe route, you could do so with paint by learning how to paint stripes on a wall

2. Embrace pattern with your bedding 

Double bed with a blue patterned bedhead, with mixed patterned cushions and striped sidetable and bed covers in red and blue.

(Image credit: John Day Photography)

If you hadn't caught on by now, patterns are an intrinsic part of the preppy aesthetic. It's simple to make traditional patterns feel modern, and there is a multitude of places to embrace them in a bedroom, be it a rug, curtains, cushions or wallpaper. The most versatile way to do so however, is your bedding. 

'One of the best ways to achieve this fun and spirited style is through bedding,; says Chelsea. 'Choose simple patterns like stripes, checks or gingham in bright colors for a traditional preppy vibe, but pair with more muted tones on your walls for a more contemporary and sophisticated edge.' 

The best part about embracing design through your bedding is that you can switch it up depending on your mood, too. 'Your bedroom is a private space that is well and truly yours, so it’s only right that you incorporate your personality into the decor,' says Lucy Ackroyd, head of design at Christy. 'Choose a duvet set that reflects your personality through colors, prints and patterns.'

If you want to go for a maximalist theme, choose bedding in a contrasting pattern to your curtains or rug. For a cohesive element, choose patterns with a color that ties them both together, or a motif that runs throughout. 'If you’re more of a minimalist, go for a classic white duvet or a more subtle design and accessorize with bolder cushions and throws,' says Lucy. 

3. Don't compromise on style for functionality 

A cerise pink velvet winged headboard with studded details

(Image credit: Button & Sprung)

It's easy to overlook functional furniture pieces, so much so that we often end up building designs around them. When trying to achieve a preppy style in the bedroom - or any interior scheme for that matter - it's best to incorporate every detail of a room into your design. 

Furniture items like our bed, headboard or desk chairs don't have to be plain and simple. 'The preppy look sees traditionally styled furnishings paired with fun fabrics and accessories,' explains Chelsea. Invest in a bespoke, upholstered chair customized in a print of your choice, or opt for a bright and decorative chest of drawers to really embrace a vibrant preppy vibe. 

'A bold headboard design can be the perfect choice for those who want to create an eye-catching space with classical charm,' says Adam Black, co-founder of Button & Sprung

He suggests choosing a textured headboard to add an element of luxury to your room, while  a winged or French-style design can also feel more decorative. 'An elegant velvet headboard exudes comfort and style,' Adam adds. 'A powerful patterned wallpaper can make the perfect backdrop, helping the bed to stand out and become the focal point of the room.'

A green bedroom and bed with red and white spotted bedding, and a photo wall above the headboard

(Image credit: Laura Reoch of September Days Photography)

Nothing pairs classic and fun like a gallery wall. While uniform framed art has a traditional feel about it, a mix-match of frames, photos and wall art hung asymmetrically on a wall can help introduce a playful preppiness to your bedroom while also adding personality. 

You don't need to cover an entire wall, either. The bedroom of interior designer PR Nicole Balin above is a perfect example of a photo wall segment where each photo or art feature tells a unique story. As well as creating a perfect focal point with the help of the four-poster bed, the gallery adds visual intrigue that will draw the attention of any guest. 

If you're wondering how to create a gallery wall, start with a few of your favorite photos and find individual frames that make a statement. Next, incorporate some fun and colorful art prints in various sizes, choosing styles that reflect your personality. Experiment with orientation, too: a gallery that combines landscape, portrait and square prints can have a quirky effect. 

Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.