Main bedroom ideas – how to design a primary bedroom retreat in 12 beautiful ways

We reveal five-star main bedroom ideas with luxury credentials

Main bedroom ideas with grey walls and four-poster
(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

If you are looking for primary or main bedroom ideas, then you've come to the right place. More than any other space in the home, your master bedroom is the one place where you want to feel completely at east, comfortable and well-rested. 

With fewer practical constraints than other areas of the house, once you’ve covered the basics – sophisticated lighting, clever en suites and a comfortable bed to sleep on – deciding on the décor is the easy – and fun – part. 

Read on to find out how to create a master bedroom – and for more bedroom ideas, don't miss our inspiring gallery.

Main bedroom ideas

Take your sleeping quarters to next-level luxury with walk-in wardrobes, sumptuous showers and cozy places to curl up in. 

1. Opt for luxurious wall panelling in the main bedroom

Main bedroom ideas with wall panelling

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

Panelling brings luxury and interest to a room. From traditional cladding and decorative mouldings to innovative designs using fabric, it is hard to go wrong with panelling. Add an extra dimension of softness and five-star luxury to a master bedroom by having a three-quarter height wall of fabric-backed panels behind the headboard, as shown in this scheme by Helen Green Design. An additional bonus is the sound insulation it offers from the world outside. 

2. Create a main bedroom that is at one with your surroundings

Main bedroom ideas with summer decor and four poster bed

(Image credit: Future / Simon Brown)

A mixture of rustic touches and traditional elegance, of smart yet accessible design is so relevant to the way we live now, whether among rolling fields or in an urban landscape. Serene, inviting and comfortable, this bedroom, with its simple Shaker-style elegance, needs little additional adornment, but is freshened by some ultra-pretty floral wallpaper. 

3. Build in a slimline dressing area in a master bedroom

Main bedroom ideas with storage and dressing area

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

If space allows, invest in a narrow wall-mounted design as a sleek, discreet alternative. When you’ve finished getting ready, the whole thing simply sits away, while cupboards above an either side provide adequate storage for your clothes, shoes and jewellery. 

4. Work with your existing space 

Main bedroom ideas with walk through dressing room

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

Few of us have the perfect set-up. If you can, says Philippa Thorp, director of Thorp, locate a wardrobe between the bedroom and bathroom, so you can dress after showering. ‘We like to design all three rooms as a self-contained suite so there’s no rushing around in your towel.’ In tighter spaces, such as corridors or eaves, build to fit as much as possible – shallow niches are ideal for show shelves. Pocket doors are good for awkward spaces, says Sandrine Zhang Ferron, founder of Vinterior. ‘They won’t impact the space either side, so you can gain more room.’ 

5. Choose lighting to unwind by for your main bedroom

Main bedroom ideas with grey walls and bedroom lighting

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

The way lighting is controlled is key in a bedroom, says Sally Storey, creative director of John Cullen Lighting. ‘Dimmers are essential to change the mood from day to night. Make sure each light is controlled individually and with accessible switches, so you can eliminate glare easily when you’re in bed.’ She also stresses the importance of lampshades – translucent ones give softer, more diffused light, while solid ones create harsh beams – and recommends creating washes of light with LED strips concealed behind headboards and above curtains.

6. Don’t skimp on good flooring

Main bedroom ideas with rug and blue wall

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

As for floors, soft rugs by the bed for bare feet to step onto are essential. ‘They’re not just tactile, but also soften acoustics – making them an excellent option for apartment living’ says Jo Littlefair, director of Goddard Littlefair.

  • See: Bed ideas – sophisticated and stylish beds for your sleep sanctuary

7. Choose colors that calm in the master suite

Main bedroom ideas with grey walls and calm colors

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

The right color, textures and planning are key to a blissfully peaceful bedroom. Everyone’s head the line about blues and greens being the most calming colors, but it’s not the whole story. 

Karen Haller, an expert in color psychology and author of the Little Book of Color, explains: ‘It’s specifically the paler, softer shades that are restful. This is to do with the way we perceive color in wavelengths that travel to the hypothalamus, the centre of the brain  that governs our emotions and sleeping patterns.’ Warmer colors, such as pink and apricot, are just as soothing if they’re pale, she adds. 

8. Factor in smart storage in the main bedroom

Main bedroom ideas with canopy bed

(Image credit: Future / Davide Lovatti)

The key ingredient in a master bedroom is good flow of space. ‘Ensure you have room to make the bed easily and that movement around it is unhindered,’ says Tiffany Duggan, founder of Studio Duggan and TROVE. ’Symmetry promotes a clear mind, too – match lamps and bedside rugs and hang art in pairs.’ 

9. Enhance your mood

Main bedroom ideas with white walls

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

Phillipa Thorp, director of Thorp, believes vistas are important for your mood. Position the bed close to a window for a sense of calm and tranquility. ‘We always make beds high enough so that you can see out of the windows to a view beyond,’ she says. 

10. Use tactile texture for comfort

Main bedroom ideas with luxury bedding

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

Experts agree – when it comes to textiles, natural is best. ‘Because they are breathable, natural fibres wick away moisture and prevent the body overheating – the primary cause of sleep disturbance,’ says Mark Tremlett, founder of Naturalmat

Linen and silk have the same breathability. ‘Linen won’t leave you feeling clammy like synthetic fibres, which can irritate skin,’ says Jessica Mason of Piglet in Bed. Jo James, co-founder of bedding brand Bedfolk, makes her space more cosseting with an extra later of pillows and ‘going one size up on the duvet.’ 

11. Factor in a walk-in wardrobe with modern steel-framed glass doors

Main bedroom ideas with walk-in wardrobe

(Image credit: Future / Alexander James)

The owners of this home had the luxury of space for a walk-in wardrobe, but didn’t want to block the light from a large window at the end of the room. The solution? A contemporary, black steel-framed glass screen, which adds a sharp definition to the pale decor without inhibiting the flow of light. The designers have used a dark parquet floor throughout to create a sense of unity and flow. 

12. Use panelling in a modern main bedroom

Main bedroom ideas with wall panelling

(Image credit: Future / Adrian Briscoe)

Panelling does not need to look period or rustic, as this modern bedroom scheme shows. Painting the stacks of square Jacobean-inspired panelling in a dark hue creates the perfect backdrop to offset strong pieces of furniture and accents of color.  

‘Paneling is a useful way of introducing warmth and character to a bedroom,’ says Bruce Hodgson, founder and creative director, Artichoke. ‘There is something cozy about being surrounded by wood. Panel mouldings are used to create shadow and catch the light, adding a definition that is particularly important when you opt for painted panels.’ 

What is a primary bedroom? 

The primary bedroom – or main bedroom – is usually the largest bedroom in the home. Its main function is to provide a sleep sanctuary for the owner of the property, whereas the smaller bedroom often act as a guest bedroom, spare room or children's room.

How would you describe a master bedroom?

The master bedroom is the main bedroom in the home. Its primary purpose is to provide a place for sleep. However, with more and more people working from home, the bedroom is often used study, or even a dressing area.

How do you design a main bedroom?

One of the first things to consider when designing the main bedroom is lighting. ‘Well-planned lighting can make a bedroom or dressing room look larger,’ says lighting designer  and Design Director at John Cullen, Sally Storey.   

Always make sure you have directional light for reading, as well as an ambient option. ‘I often double up by combining a task light, such as a small wall-mounted Anglepoise, with a lamp on a bedside table,’ says interior designer Suzy Hoodless. ‘I also like to use  decorative wall lights as well as a central pendant in bedrooms. They offer an opportunity to create a sculptural look on the walls as well as providing soft, warm light.'

Take a look at our bedroom lighting ideas feature for more advice from the experts.