My bedroom always feels cramped, unorganized and not stylish. Is it possible to have a magazine-worthy bedroom without spending a lot of money?

Yes! Remember that every photo you see in a magazine has been styled by professionals: stylists, production staff, editorial staff…the “real” homes that magazines feature have been worked on by many, many hands to ensure that sheets are ironed, pillows are fluffed and every flower petal is perfect. Additionally, the furniture and the lighting used to create a magazine are carefully selected to get the best shots possible. Good lighting can make even the drabbest space look amazing.  In order to get your bedroom looking like it’s ready for a cover shot, be prepared to set aside some time do some old fashioned DIY work.

Let’s discuss the “cramped, unorganized” part of your bedroom first. If your bedroom is constantly overrun with clothing, books or other things, be sure you purchase furniture for maximized storage. Sometimes our bedrooms need to function for multiple tasks like work, TV watching, and of course, sleeping. If your square footage is small, you’ll really have to think carefully about the furniture you bring in. Your nightstand may have to function as a dresser. Under the bed may have to hold your off-season clothing. A bench might have to be able to hold blankets or linens. Rethink what you have and see if it’s time to trade it in for a multi-tasking piece or bring in another piece from somewhere else in your home.

Don’t forget to utilize your walls as best you can. Narrow picture rails can hold decorative pictures but can also be great for small, nightstand objects or jewelry. A slightly deeper shelf can house home office items or even your collection of shoes or purses. Make sure you secure them well so that you can really use the shelves to hold a lot of things. Lamps, which traditionally sit on a nightstand, can be hung on the wall and help save a bit of room on your surfaces. And the more lamps you hang, the more lighting options you’ll have to help open up your room visually.

Organizing stores do everything they can to make you feel like every drawer, closet or square inch of your home requires some fancy holder or container in order to really be organized. But when you’re on a budget, don’t even step foot into an organizing store! You simply need to use what you have and get creative. Pinterest is filled with DIY organizing hacks that you can try. And don’t worry if it’s more functional than fabulous; no one else should be looking inside your drawers or under your bed. To really organize your bedroom, sometimes it helps to start from scratch. Maybe this means taking a few weekends and tackling a specific area – deep diving into your bedroom can be a great way to completely update without blowing your bank account.

When it comes to dressing and styling the bed, there are some tricks that professionals use. A traditional bed will have multiple layers, with each layer not only adding warmth and comfort but also color, texture and style. Very often stylists will use about 7 to 9 pillows on a bed: 2-4 sleeping pillows, 2 Euro squares, 1 bolster and 2 small square pillows. Of course, pillows cost money so you might only need 2 sleeping pillows and 2 Euro squares. The nice thing about the large, 26″-by-26″ Euros is that they give necessary height and structure to the bed and can be a substitute for the look of a headboard. For your linens, select colors and patterns that you love and that lend a relaxing look to your bedroom. Textures are great as well; nubby blankets or wavy linen instantly read comfort and warmth. A dust ruffle can help hide under bed storage and pull the look together.

Don’t get hung up on thread count when shopping for sheet sets. Thread count is simply a way of measuring how many threads run left to right and up and down within one square inch of fabric. If several threads are twisted together (known as a ply), then a manufacturer can essentially double or triple the thread count number. Look for sheets between 200 – 800 thread count but keep in mind type of fabric you’re purchasing as well as durability and wrinkling. For some, a product like bamboo is best because it’s softer, more durable and breathable, making it more comfortable for some sleepers. Others prefer the comfy softness of jersey. When in doubt, just buy one set and sleep on it, literally, to see how it wears over time.

Some bedrooms feel small because they are small. You can use a few professional tricks to make it feel larger than it really is. Make sure your area rug is as large as possible. Our eyes track shapes within a room and if the rug is too small, our brain will register the space as being small. That’s one reason to have wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedroom. Using a monochromatic color palette can also help, as it will make the room feel really unified by color. Lastly, make sure you have enough lighting. Not all bedrooms are filled with windows and natural light so bring in enough lamps (with dimmers) so that you can actually see your space.

Top image credit: Foley & Cox

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