The faux pas that irk pros the most might surprise you.

By Maggie Burch
March 21, 2019
A bedroom designed by Cortney Bishop
Katie Charlotte Photography

Your bedroom should be a peaceful, comfortable retreat that feels personal and inviting, where you can unwind and sleep well. And while it’s a space that won’t be on public display like the higher-trafficked areas of your home (the living room, dining room, and kitchen), you’ll spend a lot of time here, so it’s worth decorating for maximum kickback potential and resort-level vibes.

Here are the biggest bedroom style faux pas designers notice – and how you can fix them – to master the design of your dream suite.

A bedroom designed by Cortney Bishop
Katie Charlotte Photography

Mistake #1: Buying Furniture Without Drafting a Master Plan First
For designer Lori Paranjape, her clients’ biggest bedroom design dilemmas don’t come from art, paint, or pillows, but from the basics: furniture. “The most common mistake I see is clients starting on their own and investing in huge pieces of retail furniture and then feeling lost,” Paranjape says. The problem there? “A good portion of the budget has been spent and maybe not on the right things.” You may have fallen in love with a beautiful headboard or grand antique armoire, but if you don’t have a plan for how these pieces will contribute to the room’s overall design, a large chunk of change may have been spent in vain.

Mistake #2: Skimping on Furniture Size
Even if you aren’t planning on buying new furniture, the pieces you have could be the root of your space not feeling quite right. Designer Cortney Bishop cites the scale between the bed and bedside tables as one of the most frequent missteps she sees. “Most clients want a king bed in their master — if they have the space — but it’s important that the scale of the nightstands match that of the bed,” she says. Wimpy nightstands may get the job done, but they’ll throw off the proportions of your entire room. And who couldn’t benefit from more storage?

A bedroom designed by Lori Paranjape with a pendant light
Paige Rumore Photography

Mistake #3: Overlooking Lighting
Paranjape and Bishop both say lamps are important elements in bedroom design that should not be overlooked. Along with your bed and nightstands, the lamps you use should be compatible in scale. In general, your lamp base should comfortably fill one-third to one-half of your nightstand. If you’re working with a smaller bedroom, consider wall sconces or pendants, which don’t take up surface area but will appropriately fill vertical space. “Balancing these three elements creates the basic foundation of the room,” Bishop says. Not to mention, “lamps are a great way to spend a few hundred dollars and really change how a space feels,” says Paranjape.

Mistake #4: Buying Bargain Bedding and a Mountain of Throw Pillows
Once you’ve selected the furniture pieces of your bedroom, don’t neglect the element that will be used and enjoyed the most: your bedding. Indulge in comfortable, high-quality sheets, add a quilt and duvet that contribute to your overall color palette. Bishop likes Matouk for sheets and Society Limonta for blankets, and Paranjape loves Pom Pom Home for bedding, particularly their velvet pieces. Last but not least, take it easy with the throw pillows, Paranjape says. “I like to keep it simple, so often I will only use three euro pillows and an extra-long custom lumbar pillow,” she says. After all, the goal should be a comfortable, livable space that’s manageable for you to maintain.

Related: How To Create a Neutral-but-Visually Interesting Bedroom

The Big Bedroom Takeaways
The bottom line: While your bedroom vibe should be laid back, your decorating plan should be a bit more buttoned up in order to avoid decorating dilemmas.

If you are planning to work with a designer, wait to meet with them before making any purchases, Paranjape suggests. “They should help you decide on which pieces to invest in and avoid costly mistakes before they happen,” she says. If you’re handling the design on your own, mimic a professional’s approach and plan, plan, plan.

Try taping the outlines of your bed and nightstands on the floor to get a sense of scale, which means paying attention to measurements in-store and online — and don’t forget about height. “Go for more girth and a few drawers in your bedside chests,” Bishop says, “especially when standing next to a bed with a strong presence. The chests should stand just as proud!”

Follow this expert advice, and you’ll be snoozing in style – and wanting to show off your chic bedroom. Fix your eyes on more beautiful bedrooms designed by Bishop and Paranjape, below:

The master bedroom in a Sullivan's Island cottage designed by Cortney Bishop
Peter Frank Edwards
A bedroom designed by Cortney Bishop
Katie Charlotte Photography
A bedroom designed by Lori Paranjape
Kristen Mayfield Photography
A bedroom designed by Cortney Bishop
Katie Charlotte Photography