When (Decor) Rules Are Made to Be Broken: Bedrooms

Decor doesn’t get much more personal than when decorating your bedroom.

It’s a tough space. You want it sexy, but not a brothel. You want it restful, but not a rest home. You want great light but also the possibility to be as dark as night, so you can sleep as late as you need.

When I see home-reno shows with people’s bedrooms where it’s beige and old furniture and such, and they’ve never taken the time to make it a great space, I feel sad for them.

I often wonder why people will neglect designing such spaces. Money’s an obviously understandable reason, but, really, you can totally paint a space for $100, and maybe do a total redecorating of a room for $250, if you get creative and have fun with it. It’s harder work than saying “I have thousands to redo my living room! Party at the mall!” but it’s infinitely more fun and rewarding when you go off the beaten shopping path.

What else is holding folks back from decorating personal spaces? Intimidation? Likely. You watch TV and see those redone bedrooms and sometimes it’s hard to believe that place should be lived in. So… shiny and clean. Wow.

Me, I couldn’t imagine living in those fancy places, but I’m certainly worthy of taking the time to personalize my room.

Don’t be intimidated. You can be yourself, make a space that speaks to you, and ignore the decor snobs. Who cares? They don’t have to live there.

The best way to overcome intimidation is simply to understand one thing: Rules are made for people who need them.

I Googled “rules of bedroom design” and was left shaking my head. Not all bedrooms are created equal, nor are their owners.

And not all rules are smart. Let’s take a look at silly “bedroom decor” rules.

“Always put something at the end of a bed. Whether it’s a bench, chest or desk – create a little space at the end of your bed.”

Yeah, giggle-snort. I’ll get right on that. I live in an apartment. I’m lucky if I don’t stub my toe as it is. Even worse, it’s often DARK in my bedroom. (Go figure.) Something at the end of my bed would null my injury claims ability on my homeowner’s insurance, I bet.

Urban space constraints, baby. Some designers don’t get it. So if you’re out in the ‘burbs with a huge bedroom, sure, go ahead, put a thingie at the end of your bed.

Even then, sometimes it’s nice to let the bed be the bed. It’s where you sleep and have sex. That’s a pretty good to-do list already. Like, go, bed! Do you really need to sit at the end of it? My goodness, so demanding.

But seriously, in many cases someone actually made an effort to design a pretty bed. You don’t need to cover that pretty design. You can if you want. “Always” is wrong.

“Don’t use dark colors as a primary color. It makes the space seem small and oppressive.”

Small and oppressive? Like a womb? Wow. Bet I’d sleep well there.

It’s a BEDROOM. If I can crawl into a dark cave and shut out the world, with a comfy-as-heck bed in there, you think I’m gonna say no? Lemme in and wake me on the 12th of never!

I painted the ceiling and walls of my last bedroom a deep new-grass green, and I slept better than I ever had before. That was actually breaking two rules. One designer on TV said a woman should never have a green bedroom because it was unflattering on skin-tone and one actually gets naked in there.

If you’re a hardworking person who values the little sleep they get, and your bedroom is primarily a place to recharge, rather than read and do other living-stuff, then maybe a nice dark bedroom of cobalt blue or eggplant purple or jungle green would be suited for you, with some nice light accents.

“Think romance. Use lots of fabrics and dramatic furniture.”

[record scratches]

Romance means to me that I go without stuffy noses and other allergic reactions to dust and clutter. The more curtains you hang, the more you get dust and musty odors. It’s not a practical way to live.

If you’re prone to getting sick, you might have mild allergies. It’s when I’ve always gotten busy and don’t have the time to clean house and do dust-killing that am run-down in the first place, that I then get sick.

According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, more than 55% of Americans test positive for at least one allergy. At least 1 in 5 Americans has asthmatic and allergic symptoms.

This “lots of fabric” for romantic curtains rule is beyond a terrible one — it’s an unhealthy one.

Instead, try to keep it minimal. Meaningful pieces, little clutter, and very easy to clean, so you actually breathe easy when you’re in there sleeping for a third of your life.

Do what you like

Live a little. It’s your home. You don’t need to win Martha Stewart’s approval, or score points with Nate Berkus. You have to wake up with a smile and feel comfortable where you are.

Life is flexible. So is decor, no matter what the talking heads on TV want to tell ya.

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