In my experience, designing my mid-century bedroom was not at all stressful. Compared to a kitchen or bathroom there are far fewer decisions. Because you are working within a drywall or plaster “box” — you do not have to think about expensive things like tile and plumbing and electric, etc. Bedrooms are a much more “creative” than “technical” problem solving. To me — and as per feng shui — a bedroom should be a restful place. With that as pretty much the only “rule,” the design possibilities are in fact endless. Here are 11 tips taken from my own experience, to get you started.danish-rug

  1. Rug — Where you start with your bedroom design may depend on how strong you feel about any single element coming into it. But, I think that a rug is a good place to start. A rug provides you with colors to work with as you make further decisions. If you want to save a lot of money, you can watch for a vintage rug. In my bedroom, I have a large danish rug, kind of shaggy, in a mosaic pattern, which I got for free from an office building where I worked — and before I owned this house. I had to pay a bit to get it cleaned. But it’s a fantastic rug. It set the tone for the rest of my bedroom decor.
  2. Paint color — My next decision was paint color. I picked up a color in the rug. My wall color is Putnam Ivory from Benjamin Moore. It really reads “gold.” It is very soothing. My bedroom is not very big. The color kind of wraps me in a warm blanket…
  3. Accent wall? — I love the idea of wallpapering one wall. This is a good way to use a smaller lot of vintage wallpaper. I haven’t done this yet in my bedroom, but it’s on my list. Another alternative: Use paint to accent one wall or as we saw the other day in the 1954 mid-century modern bedroom, to accent the architecture.
  4. Bedding — We’ve talked about bedding this week. I think that, in general, your bedding can take its queue from your wall color. The thing about beds is that they are…large boxes. I think that the reason lots of throw pillows can be so pleasing is that they break up that box. The idea in a bedroom, is to keep your eye moving around the room. You don’t want it to get stuck on that one big box. Note: My bedspread is quilted, with welting separating it into three sections…this is another way to break up this king-sized space.
  5. Window treatments — Window treatments are another place where all the colors of your room can come together, and where you can bring in more texture and pattern. You know I love pinch pleats. Just wait, and vintage pinch pleats WILL come your way. In a bedroom, layer them over a pull shade or cellular shade. These can be black-outs or not, depending on how much you’re bothered by light in the morning. You could also layer them over sheers. I can’t emphasize enough how pleasing the layering is.
  6. Furniture — I’ve put this pretty far down because there are so many bedroom furniture options out there. I’ll write more this week about furniture styles for postwar bedrooms. Bottom line: It’s not just about mid-century modern. Or Heywood Wakefield. French Provincial is a “traditional” style that can be very pleasing. And some of the Early American furniture out there is solid maple, folks — really high quality stuff. One thing I will throw at you: Wood is good in the feng shui world. Metal, not so much. Metal is “cold”… Beds should be warm.
  7. Furniture arrangement — Feng shui tips that I think really are spot on: Don’t put your bed under a window. Don’t put your bed under a beam overhead that dissects the bed in any way. If possible, sleeper(s) should be able to see the door.
  8. Lamps — Oh my, you can have SO MUCH FUN with these. Look at “boudoir lamps” “lamps pair” or on ebay or etsy. But only for research (unless you get really stumped, or find something really fabulous. Because, vintage bedroom lamps are incredibly abundant at antique shops and estate sales. I like my bedrooms lamps to have a little glamour. Mine are mid-century crystal (not real crystal, I don’t think.). Not too big, not too small. You want these lamps to be easy to ready by. Functional. Watch the wattage.
  9. Mirrors — Feng shui says: Don’t hang mirrors opposite windows or doors, they just send the energy right back out. No mirrors pointing at the bed either, this will make for restless sleep. We have a lovely pair mid-century mirrors above the night stands to the right and left of our bed. They are kind of kidney shaped — which is really cool, as again, it creates something that is NOT a BOX to look at. Mirrors are wonderful wonderful things. Don’t “settle”, get something fabulous.
  10. Artwork — Feng shui says: No photos of dead people. Move the ancestors into a hall or family room. My second piece of advice, based on what I see people do in their homes: Don’t be dinky with your artwork. If you have small pieces, group them together. Same with collections. Last advice: Hang artwork at eye level.
  11. Accessories — Yum to: Grandma’s afghan… Mirrored trays with your prettiest vintage jewelry… Pretty alarm clocks (or an alarm clock collection). Ick to: Clutter. (A constant battle for me.)

  1. gavin hastings says:

    Lets not forget the white steel 2″ Venitian Blinds (wirh cords and tapes) and the ever-popular criss-cross sheer Priscillas (used as undercurtains) beneath draperies.

    I have a love-hate relationship going on with these curtains: from the inside they are too much, but from the outside (where it really matters) nothing like them screams 50’s “happy home”.

    One quick browse through a 1951 Better Homes and Gardens shows that they were EVERYWHERE in the house.
    Donna and Alex Stone had them-The Cleavers, Lucy and Ricky, and The Nelsons.

  2. kristin says:

    I’ve discovered lamps can “make” your bedroom. Last week, I went to an estate sale where I bought a precious brass with wood accents bedside lamp (or desk lamp, as it is the typical “bendy” with cone “Mad Men” thing) and an incredible large pottery based/tweed lampshade lamp. I replaced the red plastic Kartell lamp that my cats kept knocking off in the morning when begging for food with the brass lamp and a cool late-60’s brass lamp that has 5 “sticks” topped by big round bulbs with the pottery lamp on my dresser. The difference in the room is striking!

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Kristin, I totally agree with you. Lamps are the ultimate room jewelry! Also, they can be relatively cheap — therefore, easy to change out every now and then. For example, I have different living room lamps for the summer and winter. In the summer, getting light into the room is not such an issue, so I am able to pull out the great vintage lamps with opaque shades. In the winter, though, I get out the lamps with the shades that let out lots of light.

  3. MrsErinD says:

    I agree about the lamps too changing a room as well as the shades ~ in our living room we have a pair of pretty white w/brass 60’s lamps (and a newer ugly plain stand lamp) but they are pretty traditional, and I had more traditional shades on them, so I really wanted to bring in a more 50s/60s look and a little mcm so the thing that says that to me always was those atomic 2 tier fiberglass shades, but to get a matching pair that we like is hard in vintage so we got them from moonshine shades, 2 bigger matching for the vintage lamps and one a bit smaller matching for the stand one, they are white with aqua lacing and gold starbursts, they look amazing, it was really expensive but totally worth it, they made the whole room and definitely says atomic to me, the lamps are even cuter to me now!

    Love, love love your bedroom Pam!!! Very pretty, those pinch pleats are awesome! I have just got 2 “crystal” lamps just like that (for free!) and hubby is rewiring them for the bedroom for either side of the bed, we just need to find matching shades, I may get those ruffle ones for them but love the one you have too.

  4. nina462 says:

    I picked up 3 brass vintage lamps at garage sales this summer ($10 total)…now I just need to get shades as the ones that came with them are pretty beat up. Why are shades so expensive? ONe of these days when I get my camera working again I’ll send in pics of my prizes!

  5. Janet Gore says:

    Pam: Just noticed your closet door in the “mirror” photo. All of the closet doors in my bedrooms are just like that (maybe a little wider). I don’t have any famous walk-in closets, but just looking at my great doors makes me happy! And my mother has two sets of those crystal lamps … just sitting in a spare room. I’ll have to grab one set (at least)!

    1. pam kueber says:

      I have a pair. They were a gift from my mother-in-law, who probably bought them at Macy’s or another similar NYC department store in the 1960s. I’ll try and see if there’s anything on the back.

  6. Adriel H. Rowley says:

    So what does one do if only two walls are available and both have windows where the bed go?

    Brick exterior, so not like the window position can be changed.


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