How to renovate a small bedroom and make it feel bigger

Renovate a small bedroom

Here’s a question: where in Europe do you think people live in the smallest houses? If your answer was ‘the UK’ right away, then congratulations I guess – that’s the correct answer.

The average house in this country, according to research, stretches across 76.2sq m. In comparison, homes in Germany are on average 109sq m big, and people in Denmark have a whopping 137sq m to make into a home.

But don’t worry if you’re spatially challenged, especially if you’re setting out to renovate a small bedroom. For one, you’re in good company as a whole chunk of the UK is in the same situation.

On the other hand, there are a whole host of clever tricks and ideas to turn your compact space into a sanctuary to rest and recharge.

The biggest challenges of renovating a small bedroom

First things first: when you set out to create a new scheme, your key focus should be on banishing clutter.

Barbara Genda dark headboard renovate a small bedroom

This room had no space for both a wardrobe and a bed – so Barbara Genda at Barbara Genda Bespoke Furniture designed the bed to be sandwiched between two single wardrobes with mirrored doors. Built-in bedside shelves also help with the storage issue. Furniture from Barbara Genda is priced £1200 per m.

A ‘bijou’ space often lacks free floor area and not enough storage, which in turn leads to thing lying around.

It affects your comfort levels, yes, but having a lot of stuff occupying surfaces also means your scheme will never look tidy, no matter how hard you try.

So, when you do set out to renovate a small bedroom, it won’t be done with a lick of paint and a new bed.

Instead, plan in proper storage. This can be freestanding furniture, such as dressers or chests of drawers, or designs built right into your walls.

If your room is under the roof and has a sloped ceiling, this is also an ideal way of using your eaves which would otherwise be dead space.

Light Intervention light bedroom scheme

Designer Lucie Young at Light Intervention fitted this compact loft space with bespoke storage in the eaves and behind the bed to make the most of its limited space. A similar loft conversion would cost around £65,000.

In fact, I had storage like that growing up – my dad built me a bookshelf, in the hope that I wouldn’t need any freestanding ones. (He was wrong, as the shelf was instantly full. Whoops.)

Also don’t shy away from floor-to-ceiling wardrobes. They might seem counterintuitive, but they do add up to 40% more storage space to your room. However, make sure they’re not too big because that’s also not helpful.

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Barbara Genda of Barbara Genda Bespoke Furniture told me to make sure none of your wardrobes is taller than 2.4m, to ensure you can still reach it, and hinged doors should not be wider than 65cm or they take up too much space when opening.

Bedroom under eaves with large oak bed frame and bedding in shades of blue and grey

If you room is located under the roof, don’t let any precious space go to waste. Open shelving is a great idea for books and little trinkets, plus can add a design feature too. Ercol for John Lewis Shalstone bed frame in oak, £999 for a king, John Lewis & Partners.

Paint them in a light colour, to make them less imposing, and you’re good to go.

She also recommended trying to fit everything you own into one wardrobe, to master the bedroom clutter – but don’t panic. Barbara didn’t specify a size, so a three-metre design is definitely still on the cards if you have the space.

If you have the necessary floor area, you could even create a walk-in wardrobe to eliminate any unnecessary furniture from taking up space in your bedroom. So, if you ever needed a reason to make this particular dream come true… there it is.

Now, are you ready to give these tips a try and make your compact bedroom feel bigger? Trust me, these ideas really work…

Choosing a colour scheme

If you renovate a small bedroom it’s always advisable to go lighter. Sure, Instagram feeds are full of moody dark schemes, but they can easily suffocate a compact room while a neutral palette will make it feel brighter and airy.

That doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to white or (gasp) beige walls – you just have to be smart about your choice of colour or pattern. Soft pastels work well, although with a bit of planning you could also go for deeper shades.

“The lighter the colour, the more it will reflect available light,” Judy Smith, colour consultant at Crown, told me.

“You need tones that visually push the walls away from you, and these are the pale and light ones.”

Renovate a small bedroom pink headboard in front of green wall

Having a small bedroom doesn’t mean you can’t opt for colour – but if you do go dark, make sure it doesn’t suffocate the space. Like in this scheme, you could also add mirrors to bounce the light around, and choose a colourful bed to brighten the scheme even more. The shown Eliza bed frame in Omega Pink from Button & Sprung starts from £745 for a double. 

Metallic clothes rail with hanging plants in front of wall papered with patterned wallpaper in two shades of dark blue

Softer colours help bounce light around, but bold, darker shades can make a statement. If you do choose them, it’s best to limit them to a feature wall – but then, dare to go as dark as you like. This Shapes Electra wallpaper from Missprint is priced £72 per roll.

Steer clear of dark floors

You should, in most cases, stay away from dark flooring, as it tends to swallow the light. Instead, this is very much the place for creams, tones of beige, or soft yellows – with a bit of pattern, if you like.

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We know a dark carpet seems cosy, but according to David Cormack at Cormar Carpets, “light, neutral colours accentuate a feeling of space” – which is key if you don’t have much floor area.

Pair them with mirrors or reflective surfaces, as they help bounce light around the space. For this exact reason, also consider pale furniture or headboards in light colours – but as ever, your taste is what matters too.

So if you are in love with a deep black headboard, speak to a designer to see whether there is a way of making it happen.

Bedroom with grey walls, neutral bed, and bright yellow patterned carpet

In terms of colour, it’s best to stick to light floors so your room won’t feel smaller than it is – but don’t feel like you have to keep your walls white. Soft hues can still feel airy while adding some colour, or choose bolder shades and embrace your style. You can go proper dark, too, although really deep shades are best kept for feature walls. This carpet is the Golden Effie, designed by Timorous Beasties for Britons, priced £89.99 per sq m.

Think outside the box

In fact, a large headboard might be an ideal solution to also give your room an extra storage boost.

With compact spaces, it’s always wise to consider multi-functional solutions.

Maybe you could repurpose a box room or a wall cupboard into a walk-in wardrobe and free up space in your bedroom. Or why not choose a bed with storage built in, for example an ottoman or a design with drawers?

If you set out to renovate a small bedroom, it’s all about being clever with what you have and making the most out of every single bit of floor area.

Renovate a small bedroom storage bed

Multi-functional solutions are a great way to get the most out of your space. This Loki single bed, £350 from Nöa & Nani, for example has a trundle bed as well as pull-out drawers to help keep a small kids’ bedroom tidy.

Bedroom under eaves with fitted storage under the eaves and on a tall wall

In a small bedroom, storage is key – so why not go bespoke to ensure you use every bit of available space in the most efficient way? This scheme by Kindred Bedrooms features a range of made-to-measure Bolam storage solutions at different heights. Prices start from £1800, including installation.

Choose the right bed

If you’re anything like me, your motto is “the bigger the better” – but in a box room, a bed where your hands don’t touch the sides is impractical at best. Instead, choose a comfortable design that benefits the space, for example with integrated storage, and avoid bulky frames.

Bed with high headboard in soft pink

Choose a bed that’s as big as possible, but make sure you can still comfortably move around the space. If you want to make a statement, a big headboard is also definitely okay – such as the one on Sofa.com‘s Cleo bed, shown here in Lychee smart velvet, £1310 for a double. The Club large rectangular storage footstool, £760, also in Lychee smart velvet, is the ideal spot to keep out-of-season outfits or stash away spare bedding.

Don’t rely on a single light source

Does your kitchen have a lonely bulb? Why should your bedroom?

“Choosing the right lighting is a vital part of maximising your available space,” Hollie Moreland, creative director at David Hunt Lighting, told me.

A statement light is possible, but needs to fit the room size – Hollie recommends picking a semi-flush ceiling design, “as the reduced height will create the illusion of a larger space” when you renovate a small bedroom.

In the undying words of Jonathan van Ness (who, let me be clear, is the best Queer Eye guy), “there is a diva in there, but all she needs is a little bit of a bold lip” – or in this case, an injection of style.

Black bedding with floral pattern

Bed linen is a great way to inject colour into a scheme without making your bedroom feel smaller (or having to commit to a colour for the long term). This Atherton quilt cover set in Plantation is priced £139 for a double from Sheridan.

Lastly, future-proof your small bedroom

These days, few things are set in stone, but don’t let that hold back your renovation endeavours.

Freestanding furniture is a great solution. You can shift it around to redecorate or pack it up and take it with you on a move.

Don’t overcrowd your space by buying too many pieces – instead, pick some serving multiple purposes, for example a mirror with integrated storage.

So, over to you – what are your key tips for a compact space? And if you’ve already done up your bedroom, don’t hesitate to share your pictures with me. I’m always on the look out for smart ideas.

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Featured image: Choose soft, neutral colours to make your small bedroom bigger – such as this scheme by Day True. Bedrooms from Day True start from £8000.

Post updated on: 01/07/21

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    rachel frampton
    11th December 2020 at 1:11 am

    My dad would like to remodel his small bedroom in his newly bought apartment, which is why he’s currently looking for a murphy bed so space will be maximized. I also appreciate your suggestion of adding more storage to it. We also share the same opinion that his color scheme should be lighter so the bedroom will look bigger.

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