This Is the First Decision You Should Make When Decorating a Small Bedroom

published Jun 29, 2023
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Most people aren’t blessed with a palatial, Cher Horowitz-sized bedroom à la Clueless (color-coded motorized closet and all, IYKYK). Luckily, though, there’s no shortage of tried-and-true decorating hacks to help maximize square footage in a compact sleep space, from brightening paint colors (hint: try creams and blues) to furniture layout ideas. Recently, I even learned about a new, expert-approved small-bedroom design tip that should arguably be priority number one when it comes to designing your sleeping quarters.

I asked New York-based designer Kyi Gyaw of Kyi Gyaw Interiors to share a few of her top small-space styling pointers, and she had one particularly notable takeaway. According to Gyaw, the very first decision you should make in decorating any teeny-tiny bedroom is — drum roll, please — determining “if you want to go quiet or loud.” What does that mean, exactly? Essentially, choosing a distinct tone for the space from the get-go, whether that’s more muted and minimalist or bold and packed with personality. Below, Gyaw breaks down how to pull off both ends of the small bedroom spectrum. 

How to Decorate a “Quiet” Small Bedroom

If you’d rather lean into a neutral bedroom design scheme, Gyaw first recommends being intentional with your color palette by honing in on just three to four hues total — specifically soothing, muted shades. “There’s a trend of only using white and beige these days, but it’s OK to add color as long as they are pastel and softer,” she explains. From there, Gyaw also suggests adding “a lot of interest in textures and very subtle patterns” with textiles and decorative accessories, but again, sticking with similar tones throughout the space “to not overwhelm your eyes,” she adds. Consider finishing off the look with linen bedding and window treatments specifically for the ultimate “welcoming, relaxed, and lived-in” feel, Gyaw notes.

Lamp placement is key in any tranquil bedroom as well. “I suggest having different types of lighting in your bedroom so that you can really enhance the mood,” says Gyaw. Think beyond just ceiling lights, as Gyaw notes they have a tendency to create a “cave-like feeling.” Instead, “in order to have that layered lighting effect, you will need table lamps and floor lamps,” Gyaw adds. For a warm, cozy ambience, she advises 2700K temperature bulbs, preferably with dimming capabilities. 

How to Decorate a “Loud” Small Bedroom

“When I think of loud spaces, I think of bold and fun,” says Gyaw. “It’s OK to have a lot of things going on, but I suggest you find a common thread.” She cites playing with different textile patterns and colors, for example, yet keeping them all within the same fabric family, like velvet or satin. Once you’ve landed on a cohesive design scheme, you can then get as creative as possible with vibrant rugs, bedding, throw pillows, and art. For the latter, Gyaw proposes setting up a gallery wall that incorporates mirrors — especially sculptural styles that double as accent pieces — to diversify the setup and help brighten any small bedroom. 

In terms of lighting in a more maximalist environment, Gyaw’s all for making a big statement. “Lighting is such an important aspect of any interior, and people will notice a fun chandelier, table lamp, wall sconce, or floor lamp,” she says. No need to fully reinvent the wheel here, though: You can instantly perk up an existing light with a punchy new shade, notes Gyaw, who references Etsy as a shopping hotspot for unique options. That upcycling mentality even extends to furniture makeovers, too. “I love reupholstering vintage furniture to give it a new life,” she says. “You can find a simple storage ottoman and reupholster it to a really unique fabric.” End-of-the-bed benches and reading chairs are other options you can consider for re-covering, as well.

Of course, there’s always the option to pick and choose elements from both “quiet” and “loud” small bedroom design ideas. Just be deliberate when curating furniture and decor pieces so that the space doesn’t feel overly cluttered or jarringly mismatched — unless, of course, that’s the look you’re going for because it speaks to you.