Help us make our bed nook look less "Old European shack"

Updated Oct 12 2015
arielmstallings
Offbeat Home & Life runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.

My manfriend and I recently downsized our bedroom. We moved our office area into our bedroom and moved our bed (and nothing else) into where the office used to be. The bed takes up most of the room (we can't fit anything else in it)… it's more like a bednook really.

Now I need ways to make the room look more like a cozy sleeping space and less of a solitary confinement room. I've draped a scarf on the wall to make a "headboard" (it's just a mattress on the floor) but now it's got this "Old European shack in the middle of winter feel" to it. Any advice? -Naomi

Ok, I've got a few ideas about this one before we open it up to the Homies. Since my son sleeps in a closet, I've done a lot of thinking about tiny closet spaces, and done a LOT of poking around the web for inspiration. My three biggest suggestions are lighting, fabric, and color. Here are some of my favorite shots to get you excited about your little bed nook:

First, you can always go totally sparse with a dramatic throw, like Ellen & Jake did:

Ellen & Jake's home tour

Or use curtains:

Source: apartmenttherapy.com via Melissa on Pinterest
Source: apartmenttherapy.com via Melissa on Pinterest

Or paint the walls and use colorful bedding:

Source: pinkfriday.blogg.se via Traci on Pinterest
Source: pinkfriday.blogg.se via Traci on Pinterest

Homies, what are your suggestions for bed alcoves and bed nooks?

  1. I would definitely look at DIYing a bedframe and headboard if you can, it will help raise the bed off the floor, and make it looked more polished. If you built (or bought) a frame with built in side tables and got a couple of lamps, etc. it could look really finished and cozy.

    • Headboard is a must I think. I sleep with a mattress on the floor too (loooove it!). I reckon you could DIY a headboard with some wide solid feet (and maybe some flat overlap that goes underneath the mattress) so it does not land on you. That way you can attach some lighting or art to the bedhead itself (particularly if like me you are in a rental so can't put a light fitting in).

  2. I think the main problem that you're having is the sheets and pillows look like something out of a boys dorm room. You need to get a new bed set or at least put a blanket and on top of the one you have and change the pillow covers. Then hang up some art behind the bed like in the picture that you like. Also, it's very dark looking in there so maybe put up some lights. Cute lantern strings would look great. Also, if you're allowed to paint that area then choose a bold color to liven it up! A bedside table wouldn't be bad either since you have that little space off to the side. You could even decorate the table!! Have fun and make it you!

    • "Then hang up some art behind the bed like in the picture that you like."

      One thing to clarify: Naomi totally didn't submit the green walls/wainscotting picture used in the first image — I just used it as an example! I should have been more clear about that.

  3. I mentioned this in the other post about temporary beds, but I think it's really important.

    If you're sleeping on a mattress on the floor (especially on the carpet, especially in a humid area), be careful, mold may grow!

    • I do not live in an especially humid area, but my husband and I slept on a queen mattress on a carpeted floor for a year before getting a bedframe, and mold was never an issue. I didn't even know it was a possible issue until I read about it here!

    • good call on the mold! I never would have thought of that though I guess I lucked out for now as it's wood floors and pretty dry and chilly in there at the moment

  4. Might also want to try pinning a drape from the ceiling & walls to create a sort of canopy over the bed – it will reduce the "living in a well" feeling that can come from narrow spaces!

  5. I vote twinkle lights and a lot of color coordination between the bedding, walls, and any fabric that you drape. Draping fabric over the walls and ceiling will make it feel like a cozy little fort (but it does attract dust unfortunately.) Like this: http://www.designsponge.com/2011/02/diy-project-justinas-valentines-day-fort.html but the whole nook.

    Right now I think the scarf and the pillows are too dark for the walls and blanket. I'd go all dark or all light-and-bright.

  6. In addition to investing in some more attractive/matching bedding, I think the space could be vastly improved by taking advantage of that huge, blank wall! It would be the perfect spot to hang a large mirror, which would take up space and visually open up the room. I've spray painted plenty of cheap craigslist mirrors with bright colors, and they really work wonders in small spaces. You could make it more "homey" and personal by framing some nice photos of family and friends (or some kind of art) to hang around the mirror. Little frames can be purchased at goodwill for under $1 each and then spray painted as well. Then, I'd invest in some kind of cool, skinny lamp like an arc lamp (http://tinyurl.com/bxaw6eq) to provide light (obviously) and a sense of style. It would look really cool in that corner with the light ending up right over your bed.

  7. Part of what makes the inspiration picture so nice is that wainscoting on the walls – it creates a faux-headboard, and having a headboard anchors the bed so it doesn't feel so floating. Plus it's good feng shui.

    You could cheaply get the same effect by doing some trim midway up the wall, and paint the ceiling and top half of the wall one colour, and the bottom half another colour. Better yet, use angled ceiling trim instead and tuck some rope lighting behind it! It creates soft, lovely, indirect light.

  8. You've got some space on either side of the bed there. I say move the bed bang to the middle of the space, and custom build some floating bedside tables. I also like the idea of some paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling to give some lighting and create the feeling of dimensions. Some colorful art allll over the wall behind the bed will help, too, if you don't want to get a headboard.

  9. issue is, the before pic looks very cold. it's not the space so much as what you've chosen. you need to add warmth w/ texture, & lighting (& color if you want).

    ways to add texture: try to add in some more natural items. maybe a distressed door as a headboard.
    http://www.furnishburnish.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/20-cool-headboard-alternatives-3.jpg

    layer up the bedding. right now, it's a bit dorm room. have fun w/ it. try some mixes of hand knits, pleating, etc. if you want to get really crazy, i suggest staying in the same color family. it'll make it look more on purpose.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_CpZY_pDP9Ec/Slii1jamBMI/AAAAAAAABZQ/QmJJed2OsDI/s400/042809_bed-+apartment+therapy.jpg

    ways to add lighting: you could hang something better in front of the window instead of what appears to be a sheet. if you like whites, some nice linen (that would add texture as well).
    http://i-cdn.apartmenttherapy.com/uimages/chicago/5-16-08linencurtains.jpg
    or maybe even a mix of linen, burlap, & canvas.
    once you get a headboard, you could install rope light behind it to give a little glow. http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2012/12/diy-light-up-headboard.html
    also go find some sort of chandelier. if you have a bulb in the ceiling you can buy a bulb to outlet converter at lowes. then just find one of those plug in pendants at ikea, ebay, urbn, west elm, world market … something like that, but please stay away from the typical paper lantern. it works in some places, but would just make your room look colder.
    http://chateauandbungalow.com/2010/05/20/etsy-pick-of-the-week-bubble-chandelier/

    some other issues, you need to use the size of the room. many people think small space = small stuff. WRONG make that headboard HUGE. & when you install curtains, bring the rod alllllll the way to the ceiling & allllll the way to the side walls. it'll give the appearance of drama instead of just cramped space.
    http://megeletto.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/windows_001_1_2-490×367.jpg

    try installing alternative side tables. floating shelves can work.

    center the bed to the room. it doesn't appear to be.

    *if you want the window totally blacked out. another option would be building a headboard that totally covers the wall. ikea has the malm. you can add lighting & shelves right into it.
    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_4rfRRmv8mw8/S-AxFWh8SFI/AAAAAAAAAgI/Tdw9eF7ZREs/s400/headboard_Ikea.jpg

    • Haha, the burglar protection side table in the link is pretty crazy! ­čśÇ I imagine the downside would be anything you had on the table would get dumped to the ground in the event of a possible intruder.

  10. I also have my bed in a nook and part of what I found to be important was making it THE ULTIMATE bed. So it has a puffy duvet (I live in Canada, so this may not suit your climate), and tonnes of awesome fun pillows that I bought on clearnace at sears (in one of those "Bag o' Accent Pillows" I used to look at and think, dude who needs this many pillows?), so that my bed nook feels super cozy. My bedding is also all in my favourite colours so that my nook is a real comfy me space, that makes me feel a bit like the princess and the pea. I also hung a really cool wall lamp I loved above my bed, which made the space seem warmer and served the practical purpose of having a lamp where none would have fit. I think the key is to make your space cozy and personal so it doesn't feel cramped and tedious to go to bed in a small space.

  11. Lots of good ideas! To me it honestly just looks super temporary, like the bed was just tossed in there for now but that it will be moving out ASAP. Here's what I would do:
    1. Replace the fabric you hung on the wall with a DIY headboard (paint on the wall works too, or screw it to the wall), art, a mirror or a patterned fabric. What you used is dark and doesn't really look like it's an intentional focus piece so it looks like it's insulation rather than an accessory.

    2. Bedside table of some sort. It could even be really nice and sturdy storage baskets or boxes. But some place to put a glass of water, a photo, a dish for jewellery, a lamp, whatever floats your boat and makes it feel more permanent. Even a small stool on either side of the bed could help since you want something that kinda matches bed height and it looks fairly low. But I always have a book or a clock or something with me so if you actually make a place for it, it looks like it belongs.

    3. I totally agree on bedding but I'm also aware that it can add up easily and that some of us are not bed makers (guilty!). Pillows look pretty but we never actually put them back on the bed. You can, however, get pillow cases separately sometimes in fun colours or patterns. Or just put a bright or pretty blanket at the foot of the bed.

    4. Lamps, fairy lights, art, shelves, any of those could help make it more lived in. Shelves high over the bed could be a nice place to put photos or something and add a little storage space for things you'd want in the bedroom.

  12. Think bohemian harem. Lots if sheer material on the ceiling and fairy lights running across it and down the corners

  13. I really love bed-nook pictures (although: pain in the ass to change the sheets or BIGGEST pain in the ass to change sheets?), and the ones I like best have very white walls (with perhaps one wall in a bright cheerful color, or lots of coordinating accents in a bright cheerful color). I think a bright white bed nook space looks bigger, and it bounces around more light so the space feels bright and homey. If you don't have a window, I would suggest putting full-spectrum bulbs into your overhead lights, so you get some of that feeling of a cheerful sunny day being pulled into your bedroom.

  14. I hung Christmas lights up around my bed nook and it made a big difference on a small budget. But I'd worry about a fire hazard if you have lights and cloth hanging on the same wall.

  15. 1.) invest in a frame and headboard. IKEA is fine.

    2.) above that headboard, decorate more purposefully (we hemmed a strip of fabric that starts at the ceiling and goes behind the headboard in a bright Chinese floral and stuck it to the wall with 3M tape) – a picture, fabric, mirror, decal, light – anything. But it should be BIG and take up most of that wall. Vertical is better.

    3.) Get thee a real bed set with a duvet you love and a few accent pillows. Again, IKEA is your friend.

    4.) Put more bold decoration on one of the two side walls – canvas flush against the wall, square of hemmed fabric 3M-taped to the wall, mirror…

    5.) Get a cool light over the bed. Either replace whatever's in the fixture now with something dangly-but-fire-safe, or if there's no fixture on the ceiling, get a plug in light bulb cord (http://www.ikea.com/PIAimages/36078_PE126952_S5.JPG) and hang it up there. I don't know how, depends on your ceiling. You may want to paint the cord first so it looks purposely decorative, or even wrap it with a string of beads from a craft store.

    6.) You want a nightstand. Look at something like this: https://img0.etsystatic.com/030/2/8150616/il_340x270.575095162_9m77.jpg – thin and small, but maybe tall. Put a little light on there, and a clock.

    7.) If you can paint, do so.

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