We spend more time in the bedroom than any other room in the house, so it should be a calming and restful space.
If a bedroom feels less than serene, maybe it’s time for a refresh. Make a list of reasons why it’s not working, then ask yourself what you hope to accomplish: Perhaps it’s more closet space or a better lighting plan. Are you considering minor updates (new paint color and carpet), or a bigger project, such as turning an unused attic into a master suite or creating a storage-packed kids’ room with built-in bunks?
To gather ideas, look at images of bedrooms on websites, such as Pinterest and Instagram, and in home design magazines. Note what you like about the spaces—whether it’s the palette, the materials or the layout—and create an action plan for how to incorporate those things into your remodel.
Budget concerns and financing
Once you’ve gathered inspiration for your project, set your budget. Bedroom remodels will vary in cost depending on size, materials, and the style of the space. There are a variety of ways to finance your renovation including a home equity loan or line of credit, as well as FHA and personal loans. In addition, some homeowners refinance their mortgages or borrow against their 401Ks.
Hiring a Pro
Unless you’re doing a major overhaul where you’re adding a master bath, you can probably tackle most bedroom projects yourself. Painting, putting in new molding, and changing light fixtures are straightforward DIY-friendly tasks.
If you’re running new wiring for reading sconces, hire an electrician, and if your new layout requires moving a radiator, you’ll need a plumber. Consider hiring an interior designer for help planning a functional layout, as well as for guidance in selecting a palette and finishes.
From the layout to the lighting, there are a few basics to consider when remodeling a bedroom. Here are the main elements.
While wall-to-wall carpeting has fallen from favor in other areas of the home, it still reigns supreme in bedrooms across America. In addition to being soft and warm underfoot, carpet muffles noise to keep your room, and nearby spaces, quieter. It’s also the most economical choice, though it has its drawbacks: It can trap dust and allergens, off-gas chemicals such as formaldehyde, and it’s not recyclable.
Wood is another popular choice for a bedroom floor. Solid wood flooring includes both prefinished and unfinished varieties. Prefinished planks come stained and ready to install, whereas unfinished ones get sanded, stained and sealed on—site. Engineered wood is a lower-priced alternative to hardwood that’s easier to install. But because it’s not solid (it has a veneer), you won’t be able to sand and refinish it as much as hardwood. You could also get the wood-look with luxury vinyl planks or laminate.
Area rugs are a great way to protect your floors, designate zones, and reduce noise. If you’re employing an area rug in the bedroom, be sure it’s large enough to suit your needs. The standard recommendation is to choose a size that fits comfortably under all your bedroom furniture, including side tables, leaving a small perimeter of floor exposed around the edges of the room. Another option that works well for larger beds is a mid-size rug. For instance, an 8-by-10-inch rug can be placed perpendicular under the lower two-thirds of a queen-size bed, so it extends on each side of the bed and at its foot.
For the budget-conscious, smaller rugs are a great option, especially when sized and placed correctly. If your bed is centered in the room, consider two rugs of equal size—one on each side of the bed—for a balanced look.
Furniture and layout
Make sure there’s sufficient room for circulation around the bed, space for dressing (unless you’re planning to have a separate dressing room), and ample room for dressers, which tend to be on the bulkier side. If it’s a kids’ room, make sure there’s space for a desk, too. Allow 36 inches for a path to move throughout the room, getting to the door or the closet from the bed, for example. For the best flow, focus on furniture configuration as well as the scale and function of the pieces.
To plan your layout, first determine the size of the bed. Full-size or standard double beds, measure 54 inches wide and 75 inches long. Full-size beds are good for small bedrooms, but can be a snug fit for two people, so consider moving up to a queen if you have the space. Queen-size beds measure 60 inches wide and 80 inches long and can also be found in an 84-inch length. They fit two people comfortably and work in a variety of room sizes. A king-size bed measures 76 inches wide by 80 inches long and can easily dominate a space, so it’s best for larger rooms.
Dressers come in a range of sizes and styles, as do chests of drawers. Both have a similar function (to hold your clothing), but a dresser is shorter, wider and often has a mirror on top. A chest of drawers is tall and narrow.
You’ll want to layer lighting throughout the bedroom. Aim for a mix of ambient illumination to light the entire room; task lighting for activities, such as reading or putting on makeup; and decorative accent lighting for a softer effect. To focus reading light where you need it, consider wall sconces (either hardwired or plug-in) or a bedside lamp with a moveable arm.
Molding and millwork
- Baseboard: Used to transition where the walls meet the flooring, baseboards usually measure between three and five inches, and are accented with shoe molding.
- Crown: Also known as cornice molding, this molding literally
‘”crowns” ’your room, easing the transition between walls and ceiling. Most historic moldings used to be made of plaster, but today many are wood or composite. Crown molding can range from simple three-inch styles to 20-inch-tall ones with elaborate silhouettes.
- Cove: Like crown molding, this concave-shaped trim is used where walls and ceilings meet.
- Wainscot: Any wood paneling that typically covers the lower half of a wall is referred to as wainscot. There are many types, including raised panel, beadboard, flat panel, and board-and-batten. Flat panels have wood stiles and rails placed over a flat sheet of solid wood, plywood, fiberboard, or even right on the plaster or drywall. While wainscot is usually seen in the dining room, flat panels can be used in the bedroom to create a feature wall behind a bed, especially if they run the full height up to the ceiling.
- Paint: When choosing paint for the bedroom, consider soothing, soft colors that have a relaxing effect, or deeper hues that will create a cozy cocoon. Take into account the amount of light a room gets when picking a paint finish. A flat finish works well in low-traffic rooms; it hides imperfections and diffuses light. Matte is similar to flat, with just a hint of sheen.
Eggshell has a subtle sheen and it’s fairly easy to clean. Satin is glossier than eggshell and can also be wiped down effortlessly. Full-gloss paint creates a shiny, smooth surface that’s the easiest to scrub, which is why it’s often used on trim, woodwork, and doors. It’s worth noting that the glossier the paint, the more it highlights details, including imperfections. Flat or matte sheens tend to work best for ceilings, especially if the plaster is less than perfect.
Most experts recommend that ceilings should be painted white to avoid feeling claustrophobic, though it’s become popular in recent years to paint bedroom ceilings a softer variation of the wall color.
- Wallpaper is another way to make a statement in the bedroom. Installing striking scenic wallpaper can bring the outdoors inside and create a restful nature-inspired retreat.
The average closet measures 6 to 8 feet wide and 24 to 30 inches deep. Walk-ins are far more luxurious. Remember that hanging clothes require at least 26 inches of floor space, and closet shelves should be installed 4 inches above the rods to allow easy access to hangers. Keep in mind that a bare light bulb in a closet is a fire hazard; have an electrician hard-wire a closet fixture that’s activated by opening the door or flipping an exterior
Not everyone is inclined toward Marie-Kondo-style editing when it comes to their closets, but there are ways to restore order whether you have a tiny closet or a generously proportioned walk-in. Consider an off-the-shelf organization kit, which comes in standard sizes, such as 5 x 8, and is designed to fit most closets. It typically includes a series of shelves and hanging rods that screw into the back wall to maximize space. A semi-custom system is similar, offering more choices for the built-ins and often expert for guidance. You can install the kit yourself or have the dealer do it. For a custom closet, a designer or closet specialist looks at your space and determines your needs. They come up with a custom plan and oversee the work.
Technically, a bedroom must have two means of egress to be up to code, usually one door and a window. The window must have a minimum opening area of 5.7 square feet, a minimum opening height of 24 inches, and a minimum opening width of 20 inches.
Bedroom window treatments should let in plenty of natural light, yet maintain privacy. Include black-out blinds or lined drapes to keep out the sun when you want to sleep late, especially if you have an east-facing bedroom.
Home Improvements to Consider
There’s probably no bigger bedroom project that improves quality of life and offers a good return on investment than creating a master suite. But there are other ways to upgrade your space, too: Install a ceiling fan for better air flow and
a more comfortable rest; cooler temperatures have been proven to improve sleep quality. On the flip side, if you’ve got drafty windows, replacing them will offer warmth and energy savings over time. You could also add a chimney-free electric fireplace for an instantly cozy atmosphere. Or create a sitting area with a built-in window seat for additional storage. And lining a closet with cedar tongue-and-groove boards will give you coveted storage to protect pricey woolens.
Repairs and DIY Projects
Some common bedroom repairs include repairing a crack in the ceiling, removing a gouge or dent in hardwood flooring from a heavy bed leg and putting a closet door back on its track. You could even replace hollow sliding doors with heavy solid bifold ones, which are better at staying on track.
There are a range of DIY-friendly bedroom upgrades that can be accomplished in a weekend, from painting to installing plug-in sconces. To bring character to a boring builder-grade room, consider adding tall crown molding. Or you could hang a space-saving sliding barn or pocket door for easy access to a closet or bath. If your bed could use a style refresh, you can craft a nailhead-trimmed headboard from plywood, foam, batting, and fabric. Or put your carpentry skills to use making a platform storage bed or a pair of Shaker-style bedside tables.
Recommended Tools and Equipment
You’ll need a few basic tools for most bedroom projects. Among them are a standard level, tape measure, hammer, screwdriver, and cordless drill with driver and bits, with a few add-ons for bigger projects. For instance, a miter saw makes the corner cuts needed for installing molding much easier, and you’ll need an air compressor and brad nailer set to lay a new hardwood floor. For specific projects, refer to the recommended tools needed.