6 Ways to Fix a “Cold and Uninviting” Bedroom, According to Designers

published Feb 10, 2024
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Sconces above bed.
Credit: Design by Storie Collective; Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

If the current colder temperatures have you feeling a bit down, and your bedroom seems a bit sparse or bare on top of that, it’s time for a bit of a bedroom makeover. Think about what’s missing from your sleep space and how you can instantly add some cozy factor so that you’ll actually enjoy snuggling up in there. Not sure where to begin? Here, pro designers share their favorite fixes for warming up a bedroom during a time of year when you’ll be spending lots of time indoors. 

Layer in cozy textiles.

Designer Julia Newman, the founder of Julia Adele Design, recommends incorporating thick rugs, fuzzy pillows, and faux fur blankets into your wintry sleep setup. When it comes to selecting colors for these pieces, go earthy and moody to “evoke a sense of grounding calm,” suggests designer Hillary Quinn, the founder of Grace Oaks Designs. Don’t forget to pay special attention to your cushion game; it’s a great time to simplify here, if you’re used to piling on the pillows. “Keep them more minimal and try Euros with one long, luxurious lumbar,” Quinn suggests. Designer Jessicah Kolter is a fan of faux fur rugs underfoot, too. “These can be thoughtfully placed on the floor of a cozy corner with chairs for reading or playing games,” she says. You can also try one slung over a bench at the foot of your bed, placed on the back of an accent chair, or bedside to warm your feet when you wake up. 

Select a new scent.

Now that you’ve burned through those holiday pine and pomegranate scented candles, it’s time to select another fragrance that makes you smile and will help to get you through what will hopefully be the last of 2024’s dreary dark days. “Pick something that makes you happy and relaxed,” Newman says, noting that a reed diffuser will do the job, too, if you don’t want to risk having an open flame in your bedroom.

Add personality with vintage pieces.

Designer Julieta Alvarez loves to weave all kinds of vintage finds, from furniture to decorative accessories, into her bedroom to make the space feel unique and inviting. “I feel like these vintage items bring a coziness and a lived-in look that cannot be achieved with items from the internet,” she says. You could find an antique bed, dresser, nightstands, or rug for underfoot. Or think more along the lines of something that you source and switch out from time to time to keep things fresh. For example, Alvarez drapes a vintage fabric remnant over her headboard, as shown above, which is an easy, no-sew way to personalize a plainer piece. 

Credit: Jill Slater

Create a reading nook.

Sure, reading in bed is enjoyable, but what better place to unwind with a good book than in a dedicated bedroom reading nook? You don’t need much space to make one work. Pick out a cute chaise lounge or accent chair — ideally something with a small footprint — and squeeze in an ottoman, if possible, so you can really splay out to relax, says designer Jessica Schuler, the founder of J Renee Designs. “Add a small side table or floor lamp with some fluffy pillows, and voila! Instant cozy feel,” she suggests. 

You don’t have to invest in all new items. Shop the rest of your house for an accent chair and maybe a tiny drinks table or shelf for books. “It’s added another area for kids to snuggle up and also just a [way to get a] more relaxed feel to the space,” says designer Cortney McClure.“Who knew a chair could do that!” 

Credit: Design by Storie Collective; Photography by Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Upgrade Your Light Fixtures

If your bedroom contains light fixtures that do not include shades, you’ll want to remedy this ASAP, Alvarez says. “The one thing that shouts cold and uninviting is a bare light bulb,” she notes. Consider something with a little extra pop. “Updating your current paper or linen shades with a patterned lampshade to add color and texture is worth the investment and to be enjoyed year-round,” says designer Casey Sanford. While you’re at it, think about investing in better bulbs, too. Sanford suggests going with bulbs ranging from 2700k to 3000k to ensure your bedroom feels vibey and cozy. 

You may want to use wall-mounted sconces to free up space on your nightstands, especially if you’re dealing with limited square footage. Go for something quirky, says designer Sara Swabb, the founder of Storie Collective, whose work is pictured just above and at the top of the page. “Set the mood during your bedtime reading hour and install dimmers to upgrade your space,” Swabb adds. Battery-powered LED bulb-compatible versions will allow you to skirt having an electrician hardwire sconces in. 

Credit: Erin Derby

Pile on the accessories.

A bedroom that’s too bare just isn’t going to be welcoming. “The more accessories (without cluttering), the more lived-in and cozier it will look,” Alvarez says. She recommends starting with a pillow or two, a stack of books for your nightstand or reading area, and a trinket box or tray to corral jewelry, remotes, or other smalls.