How to Avoid the 5 Worst Bedroom Interior-Design Mistakes

MAKING conference calls from under the covers was once a sick-day anomaly. Now, of course, you can spend a whole workday supine, with your boss none the wiser. But when you blur the borders between desk and duvet, said Brooklyn designer

Highlyann Krasnow,

“it becomes much more difficult to view the bedroom as a sanctuary.”

The need to compromise our inner sanctums so we can WFH has turned Mik Hollis’s pre-Covid pet peeve—TVs and other screens in the bedroom—into a bête noire. Once the factory whistle blows, the Pasadena, Calif., designer said, “homes need at least one space that is a respite from the ubiquity of screens.”

Some bedroom-decorating missteps were already bad ideas before the pandemic and remain so now. It’s just that we’re in our homes so much more today, we rub up against these errors more frequently. Here, designers tell us the six most vexing bedroom décor goofs they see people make again and again, and what you should do instead.

In a neatly tailored bedroom by Brooklyn designer Highlyann Krasnow, sconces leave room for books on the bedside tables.


Ben Fitchett

Fat Furniture

Want a surefire way to make yourself feel like Alice in Wonderland after the “Eat Me” cake has made her balloon? Cram bulky pieces into your bedroom. Bed platforms that jut out and upholstered head and footboards eat into the space. Of king-size beds, New York architect

Barry Goralnick

said, “From a design perspective, it’s like parking a station wagon in the bedroom.” Dressers pose a similar predicament, Ms. Krasnow said. People measure height and width but forget about depth, “leaving no room to get around.”

Instead: Make pieces do double duty. The top drawer in a bed-adjacent desk or dresser can also house your reading glasses and bottle of melatonin, Ms. Krasnow suggested, and plenty of “case good” furniture that offers storage comes in trim, 18-inch depths. Mr. Goralnick said he opts out of king-size beds entirely, because, “no adult human couple needs more than a queen.”

Matchy Bedroom Sets

Resist the urge to order a bed, dresser and side tables straight from Bob’s Discount Furniture and be done with it. Heavily coordinated collections lack personality, said New York designer Ana

Claudia Schultz,

“and I like homes to be as different as the homeowners.”

Instead: Bring diversity into the room through complementary materials, textures, colors and finishes, advised Los Angeles designer Shanty Wijaya. Ms. Schultz likes to offset velvety upholstered headboards, for example, with natural materials like marble-topped nightstands and hanging plants.

In Celerie Kemble’s family bungalow in the Dominican Republic, featured in the designer’s new book, ‘Island Whimsy’ (Rizzoli 2021), she commissioned metal-work vines to festoon a bed but limited the use of decorative pillows.


Karyn Millet

A Litter of Pillows

Unless you have a slumber party scheduled, “too many pillows can look very fussy,” said New York designer

Cara Woodhouse.

A pillow pile is an unnecessary barrier to crawling under the covers, she said, and will quickly make you dread making the bed.

Instead: Ms. Woodhouse sticks to four king-size shams for sleeping and only a single bolster or pair of decorative pillows to remove before bed. “Anything more in my opinion is too much,” she said.

Clutter Galore

Disorderly piles of papers, unnecessary tchotchkes and that one chair in the corner overflowing with not-so-freshly laundered clothes will overshadow the serenity of even the most carefully selected fabrics and furnishings, warned Nashville designer

Carolyn Kendall.

Instead: Edit family photo frames down to the one or two most special and employ a flat-top storage bench at the foot of the bed to house magazines and blankets, suggested San Francisco designer

Elizabeth Cooper.

Ms. Krasnow, meanwhile, saves space on tiny bedside tables by opting for wall sconces (plug-in styles are available) rather than tabletop lamps.

Postcard-Sized Rugs

If you’ve invested in a bedroom rug, you shouldn’t still be swinging your feet onto the cold, hard floor each morning, said Atlanta designer Candace Rimes. Too often she sees clients, in an effort to save money, make the “bathmat mistake” of buying carpets that are too small to extend much past the bed.

Instead: Lay rugs away from the headboard wall, starting roughly 4 to 6 inches in front of your nightstand, and size them to extend past the footboard 2 to 3 feet, advised Austin designer

Stephanie Lindsey.

Then lift the bed back into place, and take a well-deserved, well-designed rest.



Chris Lyons

“An overhead fan in which the blades were made out of antique shotguns. I was at a loss for words for several minutes after that discovery.”

Isabel Ladd,

designer, Lexington, Ky.

“A very large clock collection hung on the wall facing the bed. A bedroom should be a serene escape from your hectic day, not a reminder of the tick-tock of the clock or, worse, a cuckoo waking you on the hour.” —Candace Rimes, associate director, Fogarty Finger, Atlanta

“Two full-size taxidermy female lions stood watch over either side of the bed. I was saddened to see such magnificent animals hunted and displayed as décor, and I couldn’t help wondering if the homeowners ever wake up and forget where they are, completely startled by the sight of lions watching them sleep.”

Paloma Contreras,

designer, Houston

“A bedroom painted blood red. Walls, ceiling—they even painted over the outlet covers. Red is a difficult color for any room, but an all-red bedroom was really disturbing.” —Highlyann Krasnow, designer, Brooklyn, N.Y.

“A couple that made a home for their guinea pig in their bedroom. There was a fenced-in area about 5-feet in diameter, complete with hay tossed right on top of the hardwood floor.”

Jennifer Hallock,

designer, Los Angeles

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