7 Ways to Remodel Your Bedroom (Without Demolishing a Thing)

Photo: Fod Tzellos

You spend roughly 1/3 of your life sleeping, so shouldn’t you sleep in a room that contributes to sweet dreams? An uninspired or disorganized bedroom can make it tough to relax, and it probably doesn’t help your disposition in the morning, either. What if your bedroom is a focal point for family time — maybe you read in bed, snuggle with the kiddos, or spend quality time with your pets while ensconced in the bedroom. A dingy or depressing bedroom won't contribute to relaxing gatherings.

Fortunately, bedroom remodels are some of the most affordable projects for a make-over (unlike, say, changing up a bathroom or kitchen). You don't have to install new windows or remove any structural objects; often, all that's needed is a deep clean and a little surface work. (See also: 15 Home Decorating Ideas for Under $5)

First Things First

Ready for a bedroom re-do? First, before you get started, do a little soul searching and consider the following.

What Do You Need?

What needs to change to make you happy? Is the room too dark? Does street noise keep you awake? Can you fix everything with a simple furniture rearrange?

What’s Your Style?

What kind of room do you really want — a bright, airy bedroom, or a dark, cozy den of slumber? Pick a style and stick with it to avoid getting derailed.

What Are Your Personal Limits?

Do you love stark, white bed linens but have three black cats that sleep with you every night? Choose bedroom components that work with your lifestyle and habits.

What’s the Use?

Do you do more than sleep in your bedroom? Is it also your office? Your movie theater? If there’s no way to keep the bedroom reserved for sleep alone, then you need to take its other uses into account.

Have you meditated on your own nature and what kind of bedroom you are seeking? Excellent, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty with these simple bedroom remodeling ideas.

1. Organize and Purge

Like with most home make-over projects, a good portion of the actual make-over involves simply getting rid of unneeded stuff that is cluttering up the environment. Sure, you like to read before bed, but do you need a whole stack of books on the bedside table? Put the unread tomes back on the bookshelf or donate them to the library (you read everything on your Kindle now, anyway).

Because your closet is in your bedroom, this is a good time to go through it and get rid of unused clothing, coats, and shoes. If you have a linen closet that needs organizing, consider paring down your excess towels and mismatched sheets.

2. Make Walls That Soothe

Painting a bedroom is probably the fastest and cheapest way to change the overall character. Choose a color that works with your trim (this is where paint chips come in handy). Strive to find a color that enhances the exact ambiance that you want in your bedroom — cozy and warm, light and modern, or bright and eclectic — there are thousands upon thousands of colors to choose from. And remember, if the first color doesn’t work, you can always paint over it.

3. Consider Window Coverings

You may think that it’s the rug that really pulls the room together, but window dressings are more important in the bedroom. Because bedrooms tend to be smaller and dominated by large furniture, the eye is drawn upward beyond the bed — that’s where the window dressing can work its magic. Curtains, blinds, and shades can be very expensive, so first decide what kind of coverage you need, and then go from there. White panel curtains are simple, cheap, match with almost any style. If you need curtains that block the early morning light but don’t appear heavy, consider thick cotton or velvet in light colors.

4. Hang Art That You Love

The bedroom is a great place to display the works of art that mean the most to you. Whether it's paintings or silk rugs, sculptures or kid's drawings, make the most of whatever wall space you have. If you prefer a clean, uncluttered look, choose one or two pieces that you like the most. If your taste runs toward the more eclectic, you can fill up your walls with whatever you want. Framing art can be expensive, so look into cheaper art displays for your favorite works.

5. Pick Appropriate Linens

Hey, this IS the bedroom, right? Sleeping is the name of the game, is it not? Your linens should be comfortable first and foremost, with style coming in second. Unless you are the type of person who fastidiously makes your bed every morning, don’t plunk down hard-earned cash on pricey bedspreads and decorative pillow shams. Stick with the basics, in simple colors or basic patterns, and straighten up as needed.

6. Turn on Good Lighting

You can usually identify a well-designed room by the type of lighting used — it’s always the exact right amount for the right time of day (or night). Is your bedroom suffering from too much light? Recessed pot lights are fine for the living room, but use a lot of electricity and can seem harsh in a bedroom. Consider installing a dimmer (between $60-100) to reduce the overhead glare. Alternately, your bedroom might have dim lighting that strains the eye. In either case, you can benefit from a few well-placed lamps that increase visibility without overloading the senses. Lamps are a wonderfully cheap accessory — check out IKEA’s selection before hitting Target or other big box retailers. Try out a new lampshade on an old fixture for an instant bedside accessory facelift.

7. Find Furniture That Fits

New or different furniture should be your last resort in redoing your bedroom, unless a change is drastically needed. Sometimes a new coat of paint or varnish can completely change the character of your dresser or headboard. Check out DIY websites for inspiration, but don’t get too caught up in the idea of completely overhauling every piece of furniture you own. A plain white table runner can hide a multitude of surface damage to dressers. Sometimes, wooden furniture just needs a good polish or scratch repair.

Have you successfully changed your bedroom recently? Have any tips for readers about how to make a bedroom a better place to sleep?

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Guest's picture

We painted pretty much every room in the house when we moved in. We re-painted many of the bedrooms as it became necessary when we had kids, but the master bathroom was re-painted after only a couple of years because we couldn't stand the color. I hated it from the begininng but my wife liked it, but eventually soured on it as well. We re-painted and both love it. Paint can make a HUGE difference!

Andrea Karim's picture

It's kind of amazing, isn't it? You can totally change the character of a room with a new color. :) It's one of my favorite ways to change things up without spending a ton of cash.

That, and coloring my hair.

Guest's picture

I constantly try to come up with affordable, simple ways to decorate. I agree with getting rid of stuff. Less clutter always seems to equal a better looking room no matter what else is done.

Andrea Karim's picture

So true! Every few months, when I go through and purge my house of things, I look around and think "Oh, well, I guess we really don't NEED a bigger house at all."

Meg Favreau's picture

Do piles of clothing count as bedroom decoration? Because I have a lot of those.

Andrea Karim's picture

That depends... are they artfully arranged or draped to create dramatic fiberscapes*?

*Who has two thumbs and spends too much time on Etsy? This girl.

Guest's picture

My landlord won't let us paint ... which sucks. I've brightened up the plain white walls with colorful prints of my favorite photos in an eclectic mix of frames from Ross/thrift stores/etc, and will be adding big, insulated, colorful curtains soon since my bedroom is also the coldest room in the apt.

I've cleaned out my nice big closet and decided that I can get rid of/sell the dresser. Next up was a desk I hated. Closer thought revealed that I never actually use the desk and could replace the whole thing with a large bookcase. I found a fun, open-design bookcase on overstock.com for about $120. I figure I'll get about $50-100 hucking the dresser and desk on craiglist, easily mitigating the cost of the new bookcase, which will be a much higher quality piece of furniture. The change requires/was born of major decluttering/purging of stuff, but that's been badly needed anyway, so it's a win-win!

You also forgot to mention rearranging furniture! My plan allows me to rearrange the furniture in my room to improve the watching a movie in bed setup as well as consolidate the open floor space, allowing me more freedom of movement to do yoga and other bodyweight exercises in my room instead of hogging the living room.

Guest's picture

Your ideas are brilliant! Most of the time when we're remodeling our room, so many things have gone wasted. Your tips are such a blessing! I'm looking forward to apply these tips for my new bedroom.:)