6 design mistakes making your bedroom feel like a hoarder’s haven

When size does matter in the bedroom

Birds build nests, troglofauna (tiny cave-dwelling animals) thrive in their dark abodes, hobbits favour warm and cosy hobbit-holes, and we humans seek solace in master bedrooms. If your living area reflects the quirks of your personality, the master bedroom reveals the person you are when no one’s looking. No facades here—a sparsely designed and uncluttered bedroom can drop as many hints about its residents as a maximalist one.

So, what do you need your most intimate space to do for you? Do you value a creative personal cave, a space to truly be yourself, or simply prioritise better sleep over aesthetics? Either way, expert advice can help you make the most of your bedroom (compact or large and airy if you’re lucky!) and avoid common design mistakes. We’ve got you covered with tips from design experts Aniketh Bafna, founder of Studio Ipsa, and Gayathri Padmam, founder and creative director at Aanai Design Studio.

As Bafna explains, the ideal master bedroom feels like a serene sanctuary. “Every element should evoke tranquillity, so that after a long day, the space is steeped in calm, helping the occupants unwind and find respite.” And what better time than the dog days of summer (holidays) to re-design your bedroom with a smart DIY-makeover, open up a cramped layout, or dream up a brand new one from scratch? Keep in mind these design don’ts for a regret-free revamp.

design mistakes bedroom
Photo courtesy: Studio Ipsa

6 design mistakes to avoid in your master bedroom

  1. Not measuring, well, anything: Size really does matter in interior design. Brush up your rusty math skills during the pre-design stage—measure every inch of the room and every piece of furniture you intend to put in there to ensure you don’t end up living like Gulliver in Lilliput. If you’re already suffering the consequences of bad measurements, call in the carpenters and realign that shelf that you repeatedly bang your head on, and trim the legs of the side tables that have your toes begging for mercy, and just see the difference.
Photo: Parth Swaminathan/ PHX Media, courtesy Aanai Design Studio. A bed suited to the size of the master bedroom that allows for two side tables is a smarter choice than a bulky bed that takes up the entire room. Rustic wood creates a cohesive design language, making the space appear larger, instead of mismatched furniture and decor pieces that create clutter.

2. A too-large bed: A common design mistake in master bedrooms is automatically opting for a king-sized bed. Although it feels more luxurious, it does make a compact space seem smaller.

“The size of the bed should depend on the room size and the layout options,” explains Padmam. For instance, leaving enough space on either side of the bed for a side table would make the room appear more spacious. “Three pieces of furniture create an illusion of space, as opposed to just one bulky bed, and creates a better circulation pathway,” she adds. Opting for floating side tables achieves the same effect, because it leaves more visible floor space. Additionally, aim to leave at least 24 to 30 inches of space between the bed frame and wall, on either side of the bed, so you have place to walk around comfortably.

3. Picking multiple, bulky pieces of furniture: Whether you’re designing a compact space or an expansive one—too many pieces of bulky furniture will create a cramped and dark look.

The biggest piece of furniture (and focal point) should be the bed, resting on the primary bedroom wall. “Opt for plush fabrics and quality bed linen,” adds Bafna. “These elements elevate the overall mood, creating a cosy haven where the compactness of the space fades into the background.”

All other furniture pieces should be smaller and simpler in comparison. You might also have to gently part with your hodgepodge of quirky accessories; instead, you can reupholster or revamp your headboard to make it the pièce de résistance.

Design mistakes master bedroom
Photo: Nayan Soni, courtesy Aanai Design Studio. Here, a standout headboard is the hero piece, with paintings that complement the design.

Bafna suggests, “Maximise space efficiency by making thoughtful layout arrangements and choosing multi-functional furniture.” For example, a wardrobe with a concealed dressing unit, headboard with a built-in bookshelf, or an ottoman with storage. Both Bafna and Padmam recommend steering clear of wall-to-wall storage, especially if you can’t spare an entire wall. Your inner hoarder may baulk at this, but trust us, giant cupboards could be the biggest design mistake you make in your bedroom.

Instead, split the storage into loose furniture pieces—a chest of drawers, a vanity unit, storage benches, and a bed with pullout drawers. Add an airing closet to put away used clothes so that one lone chair doesn’t silently suffer under a pile of laundry.

Photo courtesy: Studio Ipsa. Using a muted palette of soft, earthy colours helps make a space appear airier and less cluttered.

4. Using too many colours: You may be the adult version of Enid from Wednesday, but your bedroom doesn’t have to be a rainbow of colours. A design mistake we tend to make in bedrooms is using too many hues together. Instead, Bafna believes in “playing with a neutral colour palette”.

Limiting yourself to just a few colours can create a calming environment. A perfect example is the bedroom (above) designed by Studio Ipsa, where earthy neutrals like browns and greens blend in with a soft pastel pink, with neither fighting for your attention. You can DIY this harmony by re-painting walls, or replacing existing bed linen and curtains to create a more cohesive colour palette.

Photo courtesy: Studio Ipsa. An example of an earthy colour palette brightened with warm ambient wall lights.

5. Focusing only on ceiling lights: Overheard lighting may seem like the best way to keep your bedroom clutter and fuss-free, but according to Padmam, it is a sure-shot way to make a space look flat and boring. She says, “Layer the room with ambient lighting. Tie in your wall lamp with elements of your headboard for design continuity.”

Bafna, too, is a fan of elevating the appearance of a room with layered lighting. He suggests blending ambient, task and accent lights for a mix of functionality and aesthetics. If you want to switch things up in a pre-designed room, start by adding a low-commitment bedside lamp on your table, or a wall light over your headboard, to see how illuminating small spaces creates a cosy vibe.

Design mistakes bedroom
Photo: Parth Swaminathan PHX Media, courtesy Aanai Design Studio. The use of a large mirror makes a room appear bigger. Here, too, layered lighting helps to elevate the design of the master bedroom.

6. Using mirrors only functionally: Creating an illusion of space with mirrors is the oldest trick in the design book. Large mirrors, especially those with a simple frame, when placed strategically can make a small master bedroom feel expansive. For instance, a mirror that faces a window will have natural light bouncing off of it, making a small space look airier.

Once you’ve mastered these space-saving tricks and avoided common design fails, use this parting tip from Bafna to elevate your personal sanctuary: craft a small ‘personal nook’. If the space allows for it, add secondary seating, like a chair and footstool alongside a wall of cherished personal photographs or curios, to deepen the sense of intimacy in your most personal space.

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