The walls that once divided our living spaces and private spaces have come down in ways both literal and symbolic during the pandemic. Living room couches are being utilized for Zoom meetings with co-workers, while kitchen tables have been hijacked for home-schooling activities.

But your bedroom can be a special refuge from the chaos, and as individual as the person designing it, says interior designer Rebecca West, who owns Seriously Happy Homes in Seattle. 

For some, this oasis could be a bright and airy space with white furniture, while others may desire a dark and cozy den-like feel. After all, a bedroom is one of the most private areas of the house.

Whether you prefer luxe hotel-like surroundings, restful minimalism or a snug hideout, your bedroom should feel comfortable, inviting and relaxing. With that in mind, West and other local design pros share their tips for DIYing your own bedroom oasis. 

Step 1: Paint

Many interior designers suggest neutral tones (whites and grays), though West says her clients often gravitate toward the cooler palettes such as blue and green. For a more energizing bedroom, consider oranges and yellows. 

If you’re already happy with your color, simply repainting the walls will provide a fresh, clean look, she says.

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While your furnishings are pulled away from the wall for painting, reconsider the room’s layout. Bedrooms often contain furnishings that aren’t quite right, West says, as we hold onto Grandma’s dresser and our college-era nightstand due to their sentimental value or a lack of urgency since it’s not a public space.

Top and side panels can be purchased to customize bedroom furniture from Ikea. This nightstand from the store’s Malm series gets a luxe facelift using components from Norse Interiors. (Courtesy of Norse Interiors)
Top and side panels can be purchased to customize bedroom furniture from Ikea. This nightstand from the store’s Malm series gets a luxe facelift using components from Norse Interiors. (Courtesy of Norse Interiors)

Flip your perspective and imagine the best furnishings for a better space.

“If you had a blank slate and magic wand, what solution would make the room most functional for you?” West advises asking yourself. That might mean a new dresser or headboard, or removing some items altogether.

Step 2: Make your bed

You spend about one-third of your day in bed (if you are lucky enough to catch eight hours of sleep), and the bed is probably the room’s largest piece of furniture. To achieve a hotel’s getaway-like ambiance, Seattle-based interior designer Faith Sheridan suggests using at least two stacked pillows; high-thread-count sheets made from tightly woven percale, soft Pima or luxurious Italian cotton; and a down duvet. A shortcut: Most hotels sell their line of bed linens.

A canopy bed can complete a cozy nook look. 

“We need sleep to heal, restore, feel safe, be healthy, calm our minds,” says Sheridan, who has dual degrees in psychology and interior design. “Pay conscious attention to what you put near the bed,” she says, suggesting a meaningful photo or a journal for evening reflection.

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After creating the perfect bed, develop a ritual of making it before you leave in the morning, and pulling down the bedspread at night, says designer Fernanda Bertrand of Upstaging Seattle.

Don’t forget to invest in a high-quality mattress, says Bertrand, who likes an adjustable-temperature mattress that you can warm before bedtime. “On the weekend? Don’t wake me up,” she says.

Accessorizing a main bedroom can be done without a lot of expensive purchases. The walnut-veneer Stockholm mirror starts at $60 at Ikea. (Courtesy of Ikea)
Accessorizing a main bedroom can be done without a lot of expensive purchases. The walnut-veneer Stockholm mirror starts at $60 at Ikea. (Courtesy of Ikea)

Step 3: Arrange the decor

A unified look helps create a calming vibe, West says. “It doesn’t mean an all-matching set as we saw in the 1980s,” she says. But a similarly colored bedside table, dresser and headboard “creates a feeling of intentionality and flow.”

You can mix and match pieces according to your budget. Bertrand recommends cost-conscious buys at Target and Ikea, and splurges at Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. Target carries ultrasoft hemp sheets, she says, and the walnut-veneer Stockholm mirror from Ikea, which starts at $60, has the appearance of a serious splurge.

There are even companies, such as Norse Interiors, that offer ways to make your Ikea dresser or nightstand appear custom, selling luxe-looking panels and fronts, as well as brass legs, knobs and pulls. “You don’t have to hack the Ikea system yourself,” West says. “Companies help you hack the system.”

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But for items that will stay with you for a while — such as a fabric headboard — stick with classic pieces that you won’t want to replace after a trend passes, Bertrand says.

If you have square footage to spare, a chair with an ottoman can offer a daytime respite. “Sit there to breathe, pause or take a quiet, private conversation,” Sheridan says. Set up a small table nearby for water, books or a lamp.

Step 4: Finishing touches

Add a layer of touchable fabrics, such as fluffy pillows, soft throws or a plush rug under the bed. “There’s something about stepping onto a warm textile rug, especially if you have wood floors,” Bertrand says.

Personalize bedroom walls with art or favorite vacation photos, or use wall decals.

“Wall decals are a great way to add instant fun with lower cost and less mess,” says designer Yumi Kagamihara of Kirkland-based Hatano Studio. Patterns range from sophisticated geometrics to floral bouquets.

Kagamihara often installs room-darkening shades or draperies to control light during the day and maximize the cocoon feeling at night. You can open and close electronic shades on cue with a remote control or automated settings. 

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Another method for dimming or turning off lights without getting up is adding an easy-to-reach bedside lamp, Kagamihara says. Try a plug-in wall sconce if you’re short on space and don’t wish to hardwire in new lighting. 

If you have a builder-grade glass ceiling light, swapping it out for a fabric fixture is a reasonably straightforward project that will serve to soften the room’s light with a textural layer.

Greenery can heighten the feeling of the bedroom as a retreat.

“Plants are magical little beings that can transform any space into an oasis,” says Mollie Tarte, the indoor living manager at Swansons Nursery in Seattle. “They clean our indoor air of pollutants, and caring for them can be a rejuvenating experience. In nurturing them, we nurture ourselves.”

One last detail to consider for creating the perfect space: sound effects. Kagamihara likes installing a fan for its breezy effect and white noise. Bertrand says she loves to fall asleep listening to waves via a phone app. 

A sound machine or app can help anyone create an oasis, even when the world is Zooming just outside the door.