Decorating With Color, Pattern, Texture and Shine

The four words you need to know when it comes to creating the perfect bedroom.

Adorable bedroom with wrought-iron bed.
You don't need to be a professional to use decorator's tricks. Eric Hernandez/Getty Images

If you are like many people, you might suspect that your bedroom décor needs a little something, but feel at a loss as to just what that might be. Instead of a peaceful sanctuary, the room feels chaotic or bland or sterile or forgotten. Though hiring a professional to spice things up is always an option, it’s never a necessity. You can operate as your own interior decorator, as long as you keep a few basic decorating secrets in mind.

The number one secret is to go with what you love. That’s what gives your space individuality and gives your bedroom the welcoming atmosphere so needed at the end of a long, hard day.

Along with doing what you love, you should know four little words when it’s time to redecorate. Pay attention to these four words, and you’ll end up with a space that looks as good as those rooms featured in the glossy home magazines. The four words magic words when it comes to decorating are color, pattern, texture and shine.

Choose Color Wisely

This one is obvious. Your palette sets the tone for your bedroom, so decorate the space with colors that you love and that make you feel good.

Having said that, it’s always a good idea to keep the bedroom’s primary purpose in mind – a place to get a good night’s sleep. While touches of bright color are one of the best ways to liven things up, it’s also best to keep the color under control.

It’s hard to get shut-eye when surrounded by too many stimulating bright tones. When decorating with brights, either limit them to accents throughout the room, or if you go bright on a major surface – the walls, the bedding or the floor – keep the rest of the room neutral to tone things down.

If you prefer a more serene bedroom, it’s easily accomplished with a palette of neutrals (but remember to add a brighter accent or two) or the spa-like hush of muted blues and greens, with a touch of cream, gray or brown for contrast.

When decorating with muted colors that have gray or brown undertones, add extra lighting to prevent a gloomy feel when the sun goes down.

Somewhere in between the drama of bright color and the tranquility of neutrals or muted tones lies the cheery, soft color of pastels. Not just for children’s bedrooms, these tinted hues can be quite sophisticated when mixed with darker browns, black or grays. Pastels are also an excellent way to make a small bedroom look a little bit larger.

Play With Pattern

Sometimes, in an effort to play it safe, people decorate entirely in solid colors. That produces a space with large blocks of unbroken color: a solid floor, solid walls, bedding with no contrast, accessories that blend into the sameness. It’s a humdrum style, with nothing to attract your eye or open up the space. If this is the problem with your bedroom, the remedy is pattern.

You don’t have to go crazy with pattern – just adding a few touches of a simple, classic design like stripes, dots, chevrons, florals or geometrics is enough to liven things up. Pick a design that mixes white with a brighter hue of a color used in your bedding, artwork or curtains, and you can’t go wrong.

If you’re ready to take it a step further, mix up your patterns.

Mixing patterns might seem intimidating, but it’s actually quite easy. You can combine any variety of patterns as long as they share something in common: a color, a shape, a theme or a style.

When adding pattern to your décor, keep the look fun, not overwhelming, by limiting the use of pattern to just a few of any of the following:

  • Bedding
  • Throw pillow or blankets
  • Area rug
  • Curtains
  • Lampshades
  • Wallpaper

Stick to solids throughout the rest of the room for a beautifully balanced look.

Add Some Texture

Most people understand the importance of color and pattern when it comes to interior decorating, but not everyone appreciates the need for texture. Imagine a bedroom with smooth wooden floors, shiny satin or polished cotton bedding and sleek lacquer or highly burnished furniture. With all smooth surfaces, the space takes on a sterile, unappealing feel.

This is especially a danger in the contemporary or minimalistic bedroom, but can happen with any decorating style. Whatever your favorite theme, it takes texture to add warmth, comfort and interest to the room.

Texture in interior décor is generally added by use of fabrics, though wood, natural elements and even painted surfaces can also contribute. Keep your bedroom full of life with an interesting array of textures.

  • Glazed or faux painting techniques on the walls
  • Upholstered headboard
  • Carpet or area rugs
  • Mixed-fabric comforter
  • Chenille or similar nubby bedspread
  • Wooly throw pillows or blankets
  • Curtains
  • Rough wooden surfaces on furniture or accessories
  • Textured lampshades
  • Plants, flowers or other natural elements
  • Carved or detailed picture frames on hanging artwork

Let It Shine

A little bit of shine adds zing to a room, but beware reflective overload. You don’t need an entire wall of mirrors or a slippery marble floor to shine up the bedroom. All it takes is a touch of metallics, mirror or glass to add the brightening effect of reflected light to your room. Shiny surfaces also help make a small room look larger.

Out of the four concepts discussed here, shine is the one requiring the most care in the bedroom. While reflective surfaces are used extensively in the kitchen and bathroom, and are common in the living room as well, a bedroom with too many reflective surfaces is overly stimulating and creates a funhouse feel. While every bedroom needs a full-length mirror for giving yourself a once-over before heading out in the morning, limit yourself to just a few of the following shiny elements:

  • Sheer, metallic glaze on the walls
  • Extra mirrors on the walls or mounted on the dresser
  • Mirrored doors on nightstand or dresser
  • Shiny doorknobs
  • Metallic lamps or ceiling fixtures
  • Shiny alarm clocks or other bedroom electronics
  • Polished glass or metal collectibles
  • Accent pillows with metallic thread, sequins or other glittery trim
  • Metallic trim or threads in bedding

When it comes to metallics, don’t be afraid to mix and match bronze, brass, silver and gold elements.

And when using glass in the bedroom, always remember to stay safe. Don’t mount heavy glass frames or mirrors over your bed, and use care with fragile materials near your bed, nightstand or dresser.

If you follow the #1 decorating rule of using what you love, then add in a dose of each of the four magic words: color, pattern, texture and shine, you’ll end up with a bedroom that is truly a restorative retreat after your long, tiring day.