When I moved out and first stood in the empty space that would become my bedroom, I was in awe. Growing up with brothers and a mother who’s so anti-clutter that she makes Marie Kondo look like an amateur, I’d never had so much space to myself let alone one that I could decorate any way my OCD-designer heart desired.
While as an extravert I draw energy from socializing, it’s essential to my mental and emotional well-being (and the safety of those I come into contact with if I’m cranky) that I have time to reflect on and process my experiences. Keeping that in mind, I knew that cultivating a peaceful sanctuary for me to retreat to was imperative.
The approach I took to transforming my bedroom into my personal oasis was relaxed and gradual.
Instead of impatiently rushing to clutter up my space with “stuff” I was purposeful and discerning in selecting pieces I really loved.
It made all the difference between creating a luxurious haven that I want to exist in 24/7 and just a place I lay my head at night.
Here are 6 ways I transformed my bedroom into my personal sanctuary that may help you put your own together:
If you’ve ever bought a mattress, you’ll know that they’re much too expensive to ruin by using an unyielding (and ultimately erosive) bed frame. Instead I opted for a box spring in an ugly but practical metal frame (covered with a bed skirt) to reduce wear. In place of a headboard, with the help of much more handy friends, I constructed a flowy canopy above and behind my bed for a luxury sleeping experience fit for royalty!
With rods affixed to the ceiling at both ends of the bed and 6 sets of floor-to-ceiling mesh curtains (all sourced from IKEA!), the diaphanous fabric makes me feel like I’m sleeping in a cloud. Isn’t that how everyone wants to feel?
Lighting can take a room from functional to bow-chicka-wow-wow in under 5 seconds flat if you do it right. Instead of relying on the harsh lighting of a single ceiling fixture, I layer the light from varied sources, including a neon cactus sign.
The main light source I use at night is 2 cord sets that are attached to a dimmer switch (more IKEA purchases!) that hang from hooks affixed to the wall and hidden behind my canopy. For a custom vintage aesthetic, I switched out basic lightbulbs with whimsically oversized Edison bulbs.
Limited Colour Palette
In line with my desire to transform my room into a zen refuge, I wanted it to have a more open, airy feel that wasn’t broken up by clashing colours. I chose a cool shade of white (looks cleaner) as an overall base for the paint on the walls and large furniture items. Colour will inevitably infiltrate the space in the “stuff” that fills the shelves and walls and this way they won’t create any visual discord.
To add more depth while staying within my white colour palette, I play with different textures like thick knit comforters, fuzzy pillows and a heavy sequinned blanket from Morocco. Even my reading chair has a white, matte fabric with a subtle iridescent leopard print that I chose from a fabric store myself! I also integrate metallic accents in frames and plant pots for extra polish.
Fill It With Foliage
I am a self-professed crazy plant lady. I have more plants than I have patience to water them but I figure that it’s an investment in my health – physical and emotional. They provide more oxygen, help prevent respiratory problems by maintaining humidity and naturally purify the air.
As an added bonus, not only will your leafy companions transform your bedroom oasis into an enviously lush jungle but studies have proven that plants can boost your mood and have a calming effect. And in the midst of this nail-biting final season of Game of Thrones, I can use all the calm I can get (that last episode…!!!!).
My favourite to decorate with are pothos plants. They require very little care to flourish, let you know when they need water (by wilting) and grow pretty long – perfect for hanging from the ceiling or on a bookshelf.
When it comes to the ways of organization, I am definitely my mother’s daughter. A tidy room = a tidy mind. But I also design for a living and studies have implicated that a highly personalized space can stimulate creative innovation and idea generation.
I keep the clutter to a minimum with lots of hidden storage space (drawer unit as a nightstand) and fill the visible areas with souvenirs, sentimental photos and meaningful art. My random collection of tchotchkes – wooden birds from a market in Havana, a wedding blanket I haggled a huge Israeli man for, an intricate painted sugar skull from Mexico, a painting created in fire in the Saharan Desert – remind me of the life I’ve lived and inspire me to keep living with an open heart.
Now that we’ve sorted out the aesthetics, it’s time to consider the other senses like your sense of smell. It may not be the most obvious or conspicuous of the senses, but it’s the only one that affects the memory and emotion part of the brain. Certain olefactory experiences can trigger a range of feelings in us from vitality to relaxation so I capitalized on that knowledge by getting a fancy diffuser for my bedside table.
My favourite scents are pretty basic – mint to feel refreshed, citrus to get energized and lavender when I’m winding down at the end of a long day.
Scent is the most overlooked way to add a little luxury into your space.
It’s been 5 and a half years since I started decorating my room and I’m constantly shifting things around and adding items that I discover to the mix. The best advice I can give to someone who wants to transform their room into their personal safe haven is not to get overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once. Be deliberate and steady, improving one aspect at a time that can be as simple as new sheets. It’s definitely worth the investment because my bedroom is my favourite place to be!