A Pro Decorator's 5-Step Bedroom Makeover


Lindsay Pennington Inc

Beautiful, welcoming, and tranquil bedrooms: you pin and re-pin them on Pinterest, sigh over them on interior design websites, and drool over their images in glossy home décor magazines. But if you are like many people, you shrug off the idea that you could have a bedroom just as beautiful, just as peaceful, just as cozy, and most importantly, just as much the room of your dreams. And you can decorate without spending a fortune. In fact, with the great advice from top interior decorator Lindsay Pennington, you can do it yourself, whatever your budget and whatever your favorite decorating style. Read on for Lindsay’s five steps for a top-to-toe bedroom makeover that can be completed in a weekend.

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    Blue and White Bedroom
    Blue and white is a classic bedroom color combo. Lindsay Pennington Inc.

    Look around your bedroom as if seeing it for the first time. Is it a comfortable and attractive space, or is it a mess? Lindsay says, “Too often, bedrooms become the storage units of our homes, where we hide dilapidated furniture or that never-quite-right lamp away from the eyes of guests (who usually only venture into more public spaces, like the living room and kitchen).”

    The first step of your makeover is the edit. Consider your bedroom with a critical and objective eye. What do you love? What is worth keeping, and what is better off donated or sold? What belongs in another area of your house? As Lindsay puts it, “The bedroom should be a soothing retreat that both relaxes and recharges you at the end of the day. Start the makeover process by eliminating anything that you don't need and love. And the best part of editing? It's free!”

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    Half Canopy
    A partial canopy creates romance without taking up space. Lindsay Pennington Inc.

    A home makeover is like a road trip. Without a map or clear directions, you might never reach your destination. In step two, you’ll reconfigure your bedroom furnishings to match the vision in your mind. Start with basic questions: Does your furniture suit your tastes and needs? Is your bed large enough (or is it too big)? Does your bedroom “work”? The answers to these questions give you a guide for creating your dream bedroom.

    Once you are clear on the basics, take another look around your room. Now’s the time to get more detailed; ask yourself if the furniture is appropriately positioned and accessories are shown to their best advantage. According to Lindsay, it all starts with your bed: a simple rule of thumb is to place your bed on the longest wall in the room, and then place your remaining pieces of furniture in the most complementary position around it.

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    Contemporary Bedroom
    The walls here are painted "Quatrefoil" from Ralph Lauren Home paint. Lindsay Pennington Inc.

    Color has a substantial impact on your mood. That’s why one of the easiest ways to give your bedroom an entirely new look and feel is to change the wall color. Says Lindsay, “Never underestimate the power of paint to transform your space completely.”

    When it comes to choosing the paint color, Lindsay likes to consider your personality and lifestyle: “For example, if you love to garden, you may want to select a soft green or yellow paint to recreate the feel of the outdoors.” Think about your style, as well. “To create a more glamorous and modern feeling, pick a darker bedroom wall color, such as a deep grey, dark blue, or even black (it works!).” Always keep in mind, however, that your bedroom’s ultimate purpose is to provide a relaxing retreat for sleep. Lindsay cautions, “While there is no right or wrong choice, try to avoid very bright and energizing colors—such as bold reds, yellows, and oranges—on the bedroom walls because these colors tend to excite rather than relax.”

    If you're willing to put in a little elbow grease, you can paint the room yourself in one weekend, and spend as low as $20 per gallon of paint (according to Lindsay, the average size bedroom needs two gallons for adequate coverage.) Lindsay is especially enthusiastic about the Ralph Lauren Home paint selection carried at Home Depot. For the best results, however, don’t skimp on your paintbrushes or rollers—good quality brushes provide smooth, full coverage without streaks or shed bristles.

    But don’t stop at the walls—there are many other ways to liven up your bedroom with paint. Lindsay often paints ceilings, trim, beat-up furniture, and even floors. While it does take a little more time and patience to wield a paintbrush on surfaces other than walls, the payoff comes at the end, when you have an entirely custom-colored bedroom.

    Lindsay adds, “If you're a renter, you can still color your walls.” Look for removable wallpaper that can be painted your favorite color, and then easily stripped without damage to the underlying wall once it’s time to move.

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    Create an accent wall with drapes. Lindsay Pennington Inc.

    Now that you have your bedroom’s game plan, and it’s painted in your favorite color, it’s time to look at your bed—the star of your bedroom. One of the fastest and easiest ways to give your private retreat an entirely new look is by updating your bedding. And no, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune; you can find incredible bedding ensembles at a discount at shops like HomeGoods, or even at Target or Walmart.

    When it comes to choosing your bedding, Lindsay likes to keep it simple: “New white bedding instantly makes a room feel updated, clean, and elegant.” She then layers accent pillows and shams, along with an extra blanket or quilt, on top of the white bedding to give a sense of coziness to the space, and add a touch of pattern and color.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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    Traditional Bedroom With Dark Walls
    Dark walls create a peaceful mood in the bedroom. Lindsay Pennington Inc.

    Now it’s time to have some fun with Lindsay’s favorite step: adding personality to the room with accessories. Says Lindsay, “Bedrooms are a terrific place to showcase your photographs—invest in a few new frames or paint your old frames to give your pictures new life.”

    She also cautions, “Make sure you have enough bedside lighting for reading, and if you don't, purchase a new lamp or repurpose a lamp from elsewhere in the house. Give it a new shade to coordinate with your new bedroom design.”

    Even a small bedroom has a spot for a comfy chair—if you don’t already have one, check out thrift stores for good deals—for reading or pulling on shoes in the morning. Even if the chair needs new upholstery, you won’t need much fabric and can often transform an old, ugly chair into a showstopper for less than $200.

    Finally, consider adding in a few beautiful objects that have meaning and purpose. Some of Lindsay’s recommendations include, “Pick up a small dish for corralling jewelry, a new vase for showcasing flowers, and one or two mementos of your travels or interests. Accessories do not have to cost a fortune to be pretty and elegant. These last touches will elevate your room's design and remind you at the end of the day of things and people you love.”