A bedroom, big or small, is such an important room to get right. And even when square footage is limited you can create a relaxing retreat that looks lovely and functions well. Small modern bedroom ideas are an ideal place to start if you are feeling a bit stuck. Modern, by its very nature, is so well suited to smaller spaces. Its key design principles – sleek, minimalist, clutter-free – are perfect for creating tiny rooms that feel light and open.
The trick to designing a small bedroom is a combination of form and function. You want it to reflect your style but not be overcrowded. Scale is an important point to keep in mind – try not to choose decoratives that are larger than the furniture. Let the bed be the bulkiest element and keep the rest slimline. And don't over-clutter the walls – choose one wall as the statement feature and keep the rest neutral.
Cut the clutter – multipurpose furniture or hidden storage are key. Reflective surfaces help bring more light into the room. Highlight one big, eye-catching piece in a small room that will take the focus off the size of the room.
So along with those key top tips, we also sought the help of designers to take us through how they bring modern style into a small bedroom.
1. Be clever with your layouts
In small modern bedrooms, consider changing the traditional layout to get the most out of the small bedroom. Placing a bed in the center of the room may sound counterintuitive, but if you pull furniture away from the walls, it can actually make a small bedroom look bigger.
Another small bedroom layout idea is to place the bed on the wall directly opposite the closet and bring in a storage bench at the bottom of the bed. This opens up an entire wall for a long dresser, bookshelf, or desk.
Usually, all bedrooms do well with a bench, for seating or temporarily storing things. If you don't have enough room for one, try a stool instead. It'll give the room the polish it requires without bulking up its visuals.
If you love a cleaner look then minimize the amount of furniture within the space. Opt for multifunctional pieces that offer storage and reduce the clutter in the room. Finally, you could opt for a statement, carved, or a more ornamental bed and keep the rest of the elements sleek, straight-lined – modern doesn't always mean sleek and pared back.
2. Use neutral shades but bring in texture too
Neutral bedroom colors aren't vanilla – they can in fact make a bit of a statement if you use them right. Beiges, greys, and greiges not only follow that tried and tested rule of using lighter colors in a small space but if you pair them with on-trend paint effects like limewash paint they can add depth and texture too.
'For a small modern bedroom, neutral colors like beige, grey, and even shades of blues and greens are best. Stay away from high energy colors like red, orange, and yellow,' says Prashant Chauhan, founder of Zero9 (opens in new tab).
Martin Waller, founder of Andrew Martin (opens in new tab) agrees that 'Light walls help bring calm and serenity whilst dark colors can feel oppressive in a bedroom.'
If pure whites or greys aren't for you, then pink – which is always in the limelight – too could be considered. 'When it comes to colors, a lovely soft alternative to a neutral are pinks.' explains Natasha Bradley, Director of Interior Design at Lick (opens in new tab). 'Pinks are great for small spaces as they make the room feel warm and welcoming, and help reflect the light. Paint your walls, ceiling, and skirting all in the same color, as your eyes will get drawn to the corners of the room, creating the feeling of space.'
3. Ensure a small modern bedroom is well lit
A small space can easily become dark and dingy if not lit well. In a small bedroom, this is even more important because the darker a space looks, the smaller it seems. Plus, you need effective illumination to accomplish daily tasks. Choose an overhead light that can brighten up the entire room and smaller spotlights for focused areas like the dressing table.
'For small bedroom lighting ideas, choose ambient lighting by opening up the windows and bringing in as much natural light as possible. By night LED lighting works best,' says Noorein Kapoor, Creative Director, Noorein Kapoor Design (opens in new tab).
4. Introduce pattern via the headboard
Statement headboard ideas are a big bedroom trend at the moment. They are functional, and can also inject a great design dose in a space that is mostly understated. For small modern bedroom designs, a custom headboard can stand in for an accent piece or even wall art. Choose a thinner, shorter headboard that doesn't overwhelm.
'The great thing about a characterful headboard is that it’s a fairly low commitment in terms of color and pattern – it’s a great anchor for a pattern that might feel overwhelming if it covered your walls. It’s a great way to dip your toe into the world of pattern, and it’s a joyful thing to see as you walk into your bedroom.' says Ann Marie, founder, AMC Design (opens in new tab).
From scalloped, fluted shapes, to plush velvet or tufted designs, take your pick. A great small bedroom storage idea is to hide a built-in unit inside the headboard – the handy, hidden shelving can be useful for storing books, skincare, etc.
5. Ground a small modern bedroom with a rug
A bedroom rug is a great way to bring in instant color and personality to a main bedroom without overwhelming it, especially where wallpapers may not be possible. Think of your flooring as a fifth wall, and by adding a rug, you are decorating a much-neglected area of the room. Plus, a rug can surprisingly create an illusion of space.
When you layer a small bed frame on top of an oversized rug, it can amplify the proportions of the space. Streamlined furniture and a well-proportioned rug can help your space from seeming too cramped. 'If you have hardwood floors make sure you have an appropriately sized rug. If the rug is too small, it will throw the balance off and make the bed feel too large for the space,' says Jennifer Davis, founder, Davis Interiors (opens in new tab).
6. Experiment with layering prints
We know filling a small bedroom with pattern goes against all the design rules, but designer Ben Pentreath (opens in new tab)'s stunning creations for Morris & Co (opens in new tab) show how a print-heavy design can work in any space, if done cleverly.
The room expertly blends modern and traditional – a perfect example of how to make traditional prints feel modern. The vibrant walls, the bedding, and even the lamp are dressed in heavy prints but the cocooning of wood, on the floor and ceiling, including the bedframe help balance the explosion of patterns.
7. Introduce a mirror
Mirrors can set a mood as well as help to expand space. The mirror placed above the dressing table reflects the volume of the area and makes the small bedroom look bigger. Mirrors help reflect the artificial and natural light around the room, too making the interiors brighter. After all, fake space 'til you make space, right?
'When designing a small modern bedroom, it’s essential to make the most of the space. Mirrors make any room feel lighter, brighter, and more dramatic.' says Juliette Thomas, Founder & Director, Juliettes Interiors (opens in new tab). 'Fixed mirrors on a long wall double the illusion of space; the floor-standing ones can be moved around to create different moods within the room. In case of mirrors, the bigger, the better. However, one thing to note is that wall mirrors should never be wider than the piece of furniture below to ensure that the scheme remains balanced.'
8. Go for custom furniture to maximize space
If you choose the wrong kind of furniture, you can end up making your bedroom overcrowded and cramped. Customization is therefore important to give the room a stamp of your personality and to fit all elements into the dimensions of the room perfectly.
Bespoke furniture can go a long way in making your bedroom feel just right. Think small bedroom desks tailor-made for a corner, a customized bed that fits into an alcove, or a bed with a matching side table as can be seen in this space.
9. Hang symmetrical art
Symmetry helps create a space that looks incredibly tidy and smart – an absolute necessity in small spaces. The tidier a space is, the larger it looks. Symmetry is an easy thing to pull off, even for a design-challenged person. Choose one or two important elements in a room and create a mirror image.
Hanging art in your home can be a tough call, especially in small bedrooms. Should you hang one large piece or a few smaller ones? If you prefer to go ahead with the former, center it on an imaginary line that cuts through the middle of the room. If you plan on hanging several, make a uniform pattern of hanging art pieces that straddle the imaginary line.
You could hang all the works horizontally across the bed frame, or choose one corner in the room and hang them all vertically. As per bedroom Feng Shui, when elements in the bedroom are close in size, they help bring balance in the interior and ground the overall scheme.
10. Decorate the built-in niches
Of course, there are plenty of clever small bedroom storage solutions to help you maximize space. But how do you make the awkward niches, nooks, and built-ins look lovely and provide extra space for storage? By painting or wallpapering them! 'We added the Pimpernel wallpaper by Morris & Co to this wall niche to lift up the look of the room,' says Hélène Pinaud, founder of Heju (opens in new tab).
If you store way too many things inside your wall niches, then a way to cover it and still make it look pretty is to add an etched door or a colored screen to it. Keep all the clutter behind yet add a punch of hue to the room.
11. Zone a small modern bedroom
Sectioning off an already small room may seem counterintuitive, but it isn't always so. Having another intimate space inside a room creates the illusion of a larger space; it can also increase the functionality of your room.
There are several ways to add room dividers – you could add a moveable screen, ceiling to floor paint (as pictured above), or even use furniture to create sections. Even zoning a room with wallpaper is an effective way. You can divide the room into a sleeping and reading zone. You could even move all the storage on one side so the other half of the room is only for rest.
12. Cover the windows with roman blinds
Dressing your bedroom windows will in a way, dress the entire room. But it can be tricky getting it right. A super light drape can often let too much light in, too heavy and dark, and the already tiny room feels even more caved in.
A roman blind is a great choice for your small bedroom because it helps you control the light falling in. You can pull it up during the day and allow the room to feel airy and rejuvenated. Pull it down just a little and the ideal lighting for the evening emerges through the window. These blinds also offer an opportunity to bring in some color and print into a small modern bedroom, in case you're thinking of keeping the space largely neutral.
13. Add some luxury with plush bedding
Who says a small bedroom can't be luxe? When it comes to decorating this space, linens perhaps take center stage. After all, the bed is the first thing you notice in a room!
For luxury bedroom ideas, choose soft, plush, and silken fabrics that have a sheen on them. These will reflect light, make the bed look bigger, brighter, and decadent. Also, statement cushions can help accessorize the bed and give the overall room a nice touch.
Consider matching the color of your bed linen to other fabrics around the room. You could choose a similar-toned rug, curtain, and bring in the best pillows that are on offer. A super snug, plush bed will also help distract attention away from the room's small square footage.
14. Rethink the doors
Even if the room is a compact space, give it a grand entrance. Make the door a big feature. You could swap your regular doors with carved, wooden ones. Or simply paint it a fun, bright color.
If you want to add more functionality, an internal glass door, like a sliding pocket door can be super useful as it slides out of view when open, making the room seamlessly merge with the other spaces in the house. Or consider a pivot door with a super slim profile. Choose stained glass for a decorative look.
How to make a small bedroom modern?
Don't think of your small bedroom as a disadvantaged space; think of it as an opportunity to get creative. Small spaces can be just as functional and smart as big rooms if you use clever decorating ideas. Consider painting the wall behind the bed while keeping the rest of the interior muted. A surprise element like this will help distract from the size of the room and add oodles of personality to the space.
Add a wallpaper inside to lift its look. While the jury may be out on rugs in bedrooms, these do help in layering the room with color and prints, especially in a space that is largely neutral. Symmetrical art pieces will help create a coordinated look in the room, and make it seem tidy. Zone out the room to add more functionality and to create an illusion of space. You can do this with wall-to-floor paints, screens, or even furniture pieces. Finally, choose plush fabrics and lines to accentuate the bed – the most visible element of the room.
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.
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