Bedroom Decorating 101

While I share lots of DIY projects here on the blog, I think the most common questions I receive from readers revolve around decorating. How do I choose the right piece for my space? What size rug do I buy? Where do I shop for accessories?

Bedroom Decorating 101

That’s why I created this Decorating 101 series. I’m certainly not an expert, but I have learned a lot in my nine years of blogging about how, and how not, to bring a space together. I’ve created individual blog posts for each room in your house to act as resources as you work to decorate and style each space. Here are all of the posts in the series.

Today’s topic…bedroom decorating! Let’s dive into my “rules” and tips for this very important room.

Bedroom Dos

Sconces over the nightstands
My Mom’s Bedroom Refresh

Let me first say, when it comes to decorating, there aren’t any exact rules! Every space, home, and family is different, so my words are not the be-all, end-all for decorating a space. Instead, I hope these insights can guide you as you consider your layout, large furniture purchases, and how to bring the entire look together. No judgment from me, I just want to help as much as I can!

Buy a Large Rug

Our main bedroom makeover reveal
Our Main Bedroom Reveal

The #1 mistake I see in bedrooms is using a rug that is too small for the space. In a perfect world, you would have 24″ on all three sides of your bed. This rookie mistake post outlines the perils (okay, that is a bit dramatic…) of a too-small rug. While this post showcases my comprehensive rug buying guide!

Here’s how I usually navigate rug buying when it comes to bed size…

  • Full = 6′ x 9′ rug
  • Queen = 8′ x 10′ rug
  • King = 9′ x 12′ rug

And even if you have carpet, I still recommend a rug to add comfort, texture, and elegance to your bedroom.

Consider Symmetry

Ask Finn series on the playbook
The Bedroom In Our Old Condo

Do you have to have matching nightstands and table lamps? Not at all. But I will say that it will make decorating a tad easier. I opt for symmetry on the bedroom wall when possible because it eliminates extra design decisions and makes the room feel more cohesive.

Buy the Correct Sized Nightstand

New wood nightstands for this bright bedroom makeover
Nightstand in My Mom’s Bedroom

So you don’t have to have matching nightstands, but please make sure they’re the right scale! You want to consider the size of your bed when purchasing. A good average height for a nightstand is 24″-27″, but with a king sized bed, you can go larger, and with a twin bed, you can go smaller. You just want to make sure that the height of the nightstand is within a few inches of the mattress (higher or lower). No one wants to bend all the way down to grab a glass of water from their nightstand when in bed.Choose the right sized nightstand when decorating your bedroom

Also, think about storage when buying. If you like to have lots of stuff nearby when in bed (books, eye mask, lotion, etc.) definitely buy something with drawers so you can hide all your bedtime goodies!

Have a TV Plan

A wall of built-ins in a bedroom

This is a hot topic in the design world…. Should you have a television in the bedroom? For years, Finn was against a TV in our bedroom and I finally convinced him after we had kids. He loved the idea of them coming into bed with us on weekend mornings to snuggle and watch movies – which is exactly what we do now!

Main bedroom sources for our space
Adding a Frame TV to our Bedroom

If you do add a TV, don’t let it be the focal point of the space. You can mount it neatly on the wall with a gallery wall around it, or opt for a Frame TV, like ours, so it looks like artwork when it’s turned off. Just be mindful about it and don’t let all of the remotes and cables get out of hand!

Add Personal Accessories

Handpainted tray by my great grandmother

Your bedroom should be a personal retreat away from the chaos of the world and it should be filled with items you love! A few treasures here and there will make your space less generic and more YOU! For example, this hand-painted plate, that I keep on my nightstand (above), was created by my great-grandmother. This post has some great ideas on personal art and this one has ideas for not-so-generic decor you can add.

Incorporate a Bench

Leather bench at the end of a bed
My Brother’s Main Bedroom Design

Adding a bench at the end of a bed can be super stylish and functional. Gotta love a spot to rest your butt as you put on your shoes!) But, again, consider scale. You don’t want the bench to be wider than the bed. A good rule to follow is to find a bench that is about 3/4ths the length of the bed – no smaller than that.

Bedroom Don’ts

Now that you have a good idea of what to do, here are some tips to avoid when it comes to bedroom decorating.

Don’t Overclutter the Room

Dark paint in a guest bedroom retreat
My Sister’s Guest Bedroom

Your bedroom should be calming, relaxing, and a sanctuary away from the world. Filling it with tons of decor, accessories, and extra crap is a no-no. Don’t feel like you need to decorate every single surface. Instead, keep some areas clear so there is room to breathe. 

This is especially important in a guest room. Guests will already be bringing their own belongings into the space, so you want to give them plenty of surface space for their stuff! Here are more tips to create a guest room retreat.

Don’t Choose All Matching Furniture

Black wood bed with white wood wall
Bedroom from Dina’s Home Tour

I talked about this don’t in this rookie mistake post, but it’s worth repeating. Buying a matching furniture set may be budget-friendly and it certainly cuts down on decision making, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for your space. A room will look much more interesting and layered if you choose various pieces for your bedroom, like in Dina’s gorgeous bedroom above. Mixing and matching is the way to go!

Don’t Neglect Lighting

Moody guest room at night

Harsh overhead lighting isn’t flattering for anyone and you certainly don’t want to solely rely on that in the bedroom. Instead, incorporate all kinds of lighting – table lamps, floor lamps, sconces…the options are endless. Also, consider putting any overhead lights on a dimmer switch, so you can control the amount of light in the space. There are more details on the best way to layer light in this blog post and here’s a good sconce hack if you don’t want to hardwire the electrical.

Don’t Overfill with Large Furniture

Wood dresser in a gray bedroom
My Mom’s Guest Bedroom

I’ve been in far too many bedrooms that are stuffed to the brim with furniture. You don’t have to have 12 pieces of furniture to fill up a room, and you certainly don’t have to use all overstuffed and large items. Instead, consider what you really need in a room and start there! Leave plenty of walkway room so you can easily get around and enjoy the space. 

Don’t Forget Scale with Lighting

Bright bedroom with gray headboard and textured lantern
Bedroom from Tracey’s Home Tour

You already know lighting is key, but don’t forget to choose items that are proportionate for the room. Here are some tips…

  • Chandeliers: Measure your room’s length and width (in feet) and add these two numbers together.  This number is the ideal diameter for your light fixture. For example, a 10×10 room would need a 20″ diameter chandelier. Tracey’s room above nails it with the gorgeous basket chandelier.
  • Sconces: Sit in bed upright. You want to make sure the bottom of the shade is around chin level when sitting, to avoid the light shining in your eyes too harshly.

Bedroom Decorating – Save vs. Splurge

dark green guest room reveal
My Brother’s Guest Bedroom Reveal

Now, where should you spend the most money in the bedroom and where can you save a few bucks?

Where to Splurge

My new california king-sized mattress
Finding a New Mattress

You should splurge on items that make a big difference in your daily life. A good mattress and bedding is key to a good night’s sleep (and here are my tips for choosing pillows for your bed), so definitely don’t skimp on these items. Window treatments are also important in a bedroom, because you want to make sure you block out light and have privacy. While we’ve DIY’ed blackout curtains before, if you want to splurge, you can definitely consider custom window treatments, like the ones we have in our bedroom.

  • Mattress
  • Bedding
  • Quality Sheets
  • Window Treatments

Where to SaveArt in the bedroom

Everything else in the room doesn’t need to be expensive! In fact, it’s probably best to not spend too much money on accessories or pillows in a bedroom because then you won’t feel bad if you want to change things up every year!

  • Rug
  • Nightstands
  • Headboard
  • Pillows
  • Lamps
  • Art & Accessories

My Favorite Bedroom Staples

Our main bedroom makeover reveal

Here are some of the pieces that I currently have in my own bedroom or pieces that I’ve used and loved over the years…

My mom's light bright bedroom makeover

I hope this post will act as a helpful resource as you tackle your own bedroom decorating. With a few small tweaks, you can create the bedroom of your dreams.


My Q1 Break

As you know, I take a week off of the blog every quarter to do some back-end work (and spend more time with my family). Next week, I won’t have any blog posts but I’ll be back to it on Monday, March 28th. Have a wonderful weekend, friends.

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.