My shelter challenge email consultation winner, Barbara, asked me to help her freshen up her bedroom. Specifically, she has a 5 piece honey oak bedroom set, and she was thinking about switching out the mirror portion to try and mix it up. Did I have any recommendations?
I had some thoughts for her (more on that further down), but her problem did make me think about an issue many people have — matched bedroom sets (or “suites,” if you’re over 65, because that’s what the furniture stores used to call them! 😉 )
First of all, if you are in the market for bedroom furniture right now, I do not recommend buying a matched set. Just don’t do it. Even though furniture companies make matched sets, that doesn’t mean you have to buy buy Every. Coordinating. Piece.
But … maybe you’ve already done that. Maybe you were an eager beaver and bought your bedroom furniture before you really started paying attention to interior design, and you had no idea that mixing things up is the way to go.
And now your Significant Other says you’re stuck with them.
Maybe you went shopping for bedroom furniture 30 years ago and getting a matching bedroom set was what you were “supposed” to do. Now you’re tired of it, but you can’t (or don’t want to) spend money on new furniture.
Or, maybe you’re just starting out. Your parents gave you their old set, and you either:
- Really like it, or
- Can’t afford to buy anything new (or vintage, but new-to-you) of your choosing.
If you are in one of the above situations, you’re in luck!
3 No-Fail Formulas for Freshening Up a Matched Bedroom Set
Now, as they used to say in the ’80s exercise industry, “no pain, no gain.” Each of these strategies does involve some effort, some $, or a little of both — however, not nearly so much as buying an entirely new set of perfectly mismatched furniture.
Also, if you’re looking to assemble a “new-to-you” bedroom set from vintage and/or consignment furniture, this is a great guide to mixing and matching.
For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume your furniture set came with the following:
- 2 Nightstands
- Tall Dresser
- Long Dresser
I’ve laid these items out in a pretty standard floor plan for an small-to-average sized master bedroom (13’6″ x 15′), which would have been pretty common in the New Traditional builder homes of the 1970s & ’80s.
Strategy 1 (Least Effort/$): 1 New Item + 1 Paint Job
This strategy will get you a little mix up for the least amount of cash:
- Paint or buy new nightstands.
- Buy a new mirror.
- Bed, tall dresser, & long dresser still match.
We’re looking to create some visual space between the stained finish of your wood pieces. Either painting your current nightstands or replacing them with ones in a different color or texture creates space between your wood bed and the larger dressers.
If you are replacing your tables, you don’t just have to think about painted finishes, either. You can also choose something in a different texture — like grasscloth or a skirted table.
Some ideas below, all of which (I think) are 20% off right now. I chose more traditional shaped tables, as most vintage matched bedroom sets are pretty traditional in nature.
You also want to mix up that long dresser area with a mismatched mirror that coordinates with the style of your room. When in doubt, you can go with a gold or silver with a thin frame, but I love something decorative here!
Strategy 2 (Medium Effort/$): 2 New Items
(Or 1 New & 1 DIY Project)
- Buy a new mirror.
- Buy (or make) a new headboard/bed. (I love an upholstered headboard, but a metal or iron bed would look great next to stained wood nightstands, too.)
- Nightstands, tall dresser, & long dresser still match.
This mix is more expensive but no effort (if you’re not into DIYing a headboard, that is). Again, the idea is to create visual space between matching elements.
Here, a new bed or headboard creates space between the matching nightstands. With a headboard, you can use a common metal bed frame below your mattress. However, since I really like a hardwood support system for beds (and making use of under-bed storage space), I love this poplar bed frame with roll-away drawers.
All these headboards come in numerous fabrics and are 20% off right now.
Many, many years ago, I DIYed an upholstered headboard and made a matching skirt (btw, there are THOUSANDS of headboard tutorials out there, the previous link is just one, in case you want an easy tufted look). Totally doable — believe me, all I can do is sew in a straight line.
I go into detail about this bed frame and an under-bed-storage trick you need to read in this post.
Strategy 3 (Medium-High Effort/$): 2 New Items + 1 DIY Project
(Or 1 New & 2 DIY Projects)
- Buy a new mirror.
- Buy (or make) a new headboard/bed.
- Paint your tall dresser to “disappear.”
- Nightstands & long dresser still match.
One trick I love to employ when creating a “serene” space is having some of the elements disappear.
What I mean when I say that is — they blend into your wall color.
If I were to do a disappearing act with a matched bedroom set, I would probably do it with the tall dresser. It’s TALL (duh), and usually not terribly attractive anymore — I want my eyes to just move past that thing!
For example, if your walls are gray, paint your tall dresser a similar shade.
An Inexpensive Matched Furniture Bedroom Update
In Barbara’s case, I recommended a combination of the above strategies. She sent me some current pictures and some inspiration. Some info about her bedroom as it is now:
- She has a beautiful bedding set she loves.
- Her house is full of stained wood trim.
- The current paint color in the bedroom is a light tan.
- She currently has gathered valances in a tan color hung above the windows.
- She has blue carpeting in the room. This would be very costly to remove.
Though she was looking only to replace the mirror, I also gave her some food for thought for the future that balanced effort and $. Having seen some of her inspirational images during the challenge, I knew she liked a traditional style with a cottage feel and airy colors in whites, blues, and berry. Barbara is a wonderful seamstress, and can sew things like window treatments and pillows herself.
“Hi Barbara! In looking at your inspiration images from the Challenge, I think a few things are working against you in your current room. While a new mirror is a great first step, overall the room feels very dark to me. Even if you don’t change the honey oak furniture or window trim, there are some things you could do in the future to brighten and enliven the space, while staying true to your cottage style:
- A whiter paint (always test first) or even (gasp!) charming small scale wallpaper
- I would paint your tall dresser to mimic your wall color. Example shown. You could distress the corners and edges if you like.
- White window treatments that coordinate with your bedspread and any paint/wallpaper change. I think a relaxed Roman valance with dog ears (sometime called a London shade) would look beautiful. I’ve linked an Etsy seller, but you could sew yourself. I’d also hang them higher than your current ones, so that they are either at the ceiling or only a couple of inches below. They should *just* cover the top of your window trim (and any shade beneath) to allow for the maximum amount of window to be visible.
- I’d change out the satiny pillows for white lumbars with tape trim on the edges. Example shown.
- Some navy lamps. Or maybe be on the lookout for some from Home Goods?
- I would love this mirror with the combo above.
- Also, do you have any other lights in the room beside your bedside lamps???? Every room needs a few light sources at least. If you don’t, you may want to think about putting a lamp on your large dresser. This glass lamp from Target is very pretty. It doesn’t come with a shade, but this Cute lampshade would look wonderful!
What are your thoughts? I’m sure there are many of you out there in Barbara’s boat. Questions? You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water, but if you have a vision of what you want your home to feel like, you may have to make some tough decisions.
A pin to remember this post!
If you’re totally stuck (or totally sick of spinning your wheels about it!) and want someone to create a design FOR YOU that you can just step-by-step accomplish, Home Glow does distance design! We can even provide custom upholstery from our USA vendors if that’s what you’re looking for. Warehouses haven’t closed and manufacturers have reopened. Their craftspeople are eager for work.
If you have any questions, you can always schedule a FREE 15-minute info call with me!
In just a couple of weeks, I’ll have special opportunity for you, especially as you’re sheltering in your Forever Homes. In the meantime, please know that I am here for you. I’d love to hear about your questions, quandaries, and dilemmas.
‘Til next Saturday.