10 space-enhancing small bedroom decor rules I always use – to maximize decor and character

As an interior designer, I'm often called upon to make compact bedrooms charming as well as space-friendly. These are the techniques I like to use

Three bedrooms, all looking towards double beds
(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

When you're working with a tight space, you have to work a little harder to ensure the room is practical but pretty.

Small bedrooms need to exude calm and charm, but they often have to have proportions corrected while making space for large, dominating items such as closets and beds.

As an experienced interior designer, these are the tried-and-tested decorating and design techniques I use.

1. Create the illusion of a larger space

Peach drapes in a bedroom looking to striped bedside table

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

Paint ceilings, walls, and trim in the same fresh and light color to draw the eyes upward and create the illusion of height. This seamless visual flow elongates the room, making a small bedroom feel larger and more expansive.

2. Add dimension with sheen

Cream colored bedroom with double bed

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

Use different sheens of the same color paint, such as eggshell on the walls and semi-gloss on the trim. The subtle interplay of different paint finishes enhances the depth and texture of the room, while creating visual interest.

3. Illuminate upwards

Gray bedroom with double bed and orange artwork

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

Incorporate and strategically place decorative ceiling fixtures that blend harmoniously with the overall design, creating an aesthetic focal point while drawing your eyes upward.

4. Opt for sheer window treatments

Double bed in small bedroom looking to windows

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

Choose light, sheer bedroom window treatments instead of heavy drapery to allow more natural light into the room. The delicate fabrics create a sense of airiness, preventing the room from feeling overcrowded. 

5. Embrace mirrors

Textured wall. Full length mirror, yellow gold bedding

(Image credit: Future)

Include a large, full-length mirror in your design plan. Small bedroom mirrors create the illusion of more space and reflect light throughout the room.

6. Choose a bed without a footboard

Brown-decorated small bedroom with double bed

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

By opting for a bed without a footboard or foot rails, you create an open and inviting atmosphere. This design choice adds a touch of softness and allows for easier movement throughout the room.

7. Introduce curved shapes

Small bedroom with close up bedside table and wallpaper in brown tones

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

Embrace curves in accent furniture and furnishings to soften the overall look of the room and add visual interest. Curves provide a gentle contrast to the straight lines, making the space feel more comfortable, approachable and visually intriguing.

8. Opt for flat-weave rugs

Bedroom with double bed with tall posts

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

Flat weave bedroom rugs with their minimal thickness offer a lighter and less overwhelming alternative to heavier floor coverings. If you have hardwood floors, consider forgoing a rug all together for a fresh and open look.

9. Use wall-mounted shelving

neutral bedroom with hidden overbed storage, modern bedside, gold detailing on wall

(Image credit: ND Studios)

Maximize space by incorporating clever bedroom shelving ideas on the walls instead of traditional nightstands. Beds with built-in nightstands, like The Sullivan Bed by Verellen with built-in floating shelves, are also great to consider! 

10. Prioritize underbed storage

Pale gray/blue bedroom looking to bed and window

(Image credit: Cortney Bishop)

Look for a bed that provides adequate underbed storage to minimize the need for additional furniture, contributing to a more open and spacious feel.

Cortney Bishop
Contributing Editor

Cortney Bishop, principal design and owner of Cortney Bishop Design, founded the full-service interior design firm in 2007. She holds a BBA in business marketing from the University of Georgia, and pursued her design career by blending her passions for travel, art, fashion and music. Her wide-ranging talent and innate ability to mix patterns and hues has resulted in a robust portfolio of diverse, inspiring residential and commercial projects, each reflective of a client’s lifestyle, personality and aesthetic. Cortney regularly contributes to Homes & Gardens.