10 Subtle Mistakes to Avoid in Small Bedrooms

There’s plenty of obvious mistakes to avoid when doing up a small bedroom. Don’t install a low-hanging chandelier. Don’t paint the walls vermilion. Remember to leave enough space to get the cupboard doors open. And maybe don’t plan to showcase your entire scalextric collection on the floor. But what about the less obvious mistakes that most people make without realising? You’re bound to stumble into at least one of them if you haven’t given it some careful thought. Don’t wake up one morning with that weird feeling that your walls are ganging up on you – avoid these 10 subtle mistakes to keep your bedroom and mental space feeling on the up and up.

Featured item: Catherine - Queen Headboard

1. Colouring yourself crazy

There’s a lot of advice out there about what colour schemes work best for small bedrooms, with a lot of (often conflicting) do’s and don’ts. Should you stick to whites, or risk bringing in those moody hues? The truth is, either approach could work for you (here’s why). Don’t make the mistake of getting too hung up on colour, when it’s actually more effective (and simpler) to focus on texture as your main design tool. You can always switch that faux fur for a woolly quilt in a jiffy, but it’s not so simple to press cntl+z on that navy blue and lemon yellow wall experiment.

2. Underestimating the power of the dark side

It can be really easy to get so caught up with paint colours, furniture decisions and accessories that you forget about the fundamental thing that’s going to make the difference between a small bedroom feeling warm and inviting, or as dark and foreboding as Darth Vader’s closet. Bad lighting not only downplays well chosen décor, but can also have a negative effect psychologically.

To avoid being pulled to the dark side, spread your light sources around the room as much as possible, and use accent lighting to open up the space and emphasise your room’s best features. (Read more about how to make the most of light and colour in a small bedroom.)

Nora Metal Bed - Queen

Featured item: Nora Metal Bed - Queen

3. Embarrassing your windows

Have you ever arrived at what you thought was a fancy dress party, only to realise no one else followed the script? Don’t subject your bedroom windows to the same embarrassment by overdressing them. Small spaces don’t call for elaborate, heavy or over-the-top window dressings which draw unnecessary attention, impede your most important light source, and even take up precious floor space. Rather stick to something sleek and unobtrusive that will have you breathing a sigh of calm relief.

4. Honey, we shrunk ourselves

It’s pretty obvious that you shouldn’t stuff an oversized couch in next to a king size bed when you’re looking at furnishing a small space. But a more subtle mistake is swinging too far in the opposite direction with pieces that are too small. Smaller scale furniture can have the effect of making a room feel cluttered and awkward – especially if the furniture dimensions and style are very different to the rest of your home décor. Instead stick to ‘less is more’ in the sense of limiting your furniture items to the essentials – that way you won’t end up with a room that looks like an ambitious doll house.

Jupiter Dual Function Bed - Queen

Featured item: Jupiter Dual Function Bed - Queen

5. Being a wall-hugger

With a jigsaw puzzle, most people will start with the corners and sides, and work their way in to fill in the blanks. Taking this approach with your small bedroom puzzle by placing all your furniture right up against the walls is not the best idea (unless you plan to use it as your personal dance studio). It will only pull focus to the four walls, which is exactly what you don’t want. Leaving at least a narrow margin next to the wall will draw less attention to the size of the room and allow your design to ‘breathe.’


6. Storage mania

One of the golden rules in a small space is ‘a place for everything, and everything in its place.’ With that in mind, it might be tempting to go gung-ho on storage solutions, especially if you’re a borderline hoarder (you know who you are).

Asha Ladder with Shelf

Featured item: Asha Ladder with Shelf

While a few storage innovations are great, you don’t want your bedroom to start looking like a storage facility. Begin with a good strip-down to get rid of the junk you don’t really need. Then pick out a couple of different storage ideas that add some design flair (how about a leaning ladder?), and try to keep storage boxes and baskets out of sight in cupboards or under the bed.

7. Taking advantage of ALL available space

Of course you want to make the most of all your space in a small bedroom. But that doesn’t mean filling every inch. Small rooms can quickly start to feel cluttered when you start slapping tchotchkes on every surface. So remember to give your room some breathing room!

8. Design overload

Small spaces are particularly prone to over designing. If you find yourself agonising over the fabric choice of your eleventh throw pillow, it may be time to reign yourself in a little. Some of the trickiest design choices are about deciding where to give the eyes a break – but those breaks are key to making the rest of the design work without throwing you into a head spin.

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9. Playing it too safe

Avoiding over-design doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some risks. Playing it safe may avoid major mistakes, but it might also miss out on the dose of personality your room needs to turn it into a space you really want to live in. So go ahead and experiment – bring in an unusual colour or texture, try out a new wall hanging or art piece – it might just be the finishing touch your room’s been waiting for.

10. Being obsessed with size

This is one of those catch-22s. By trying to get the focus off the size of a room, you end up focused on nothing but. Remember that whatever the dimensions you’re working with, it’s not the size that counts, but how you use it! So stop obsessing about what you can’t control and concentrate on what you can – filling your small room with big personality!

Featured item: Madison - Queen Headboard

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