You are here

Bedroom Decorating Ideas: From Arty to Exotic

Create your bedroom from the stuff of dreams

Written and produced by Candace Ord Manroe
  • An Oriental influence is apparent in the master bedroom’s pair of Asian barrel stools. They sidle up to two tufted leather club chairs pulled up to the fireplace in a cozy arrangement. “Deep comfort and relaxation were the goals, with lush upholstered seating,” says interior designer Marshall Watson. The small Asian chair in the middle is an antique.

  • You don’t have to move to Bali to capture the exotic island look in your bedroom. A 19th-century opium bed airily dressed in a simple white canopy with curtains tied back to the bedposts establishes the South Pacific style of jewelry designer Carolyn Tyler. Lavender terrazzo floors splash the pastel jewel tone underfoot. The oversize tiles also offer a starkly simple counterpoint to the intricate carving of the bed.

  • When guests sleep over, transport them with the same aesthetic that sets you to dreaming. Jewelry designer Carolyn Tyler outfitted her atelier with a carved teak daybed dressed in gauzy white tie-back curtains and piles of soothing sea-colored pillows. The beauty of this daybed is it’s not only a stunning support when guests pop in, but its South Sea style is also a constant source of inspiration for the homeowner even when she’s alone.

  • Like minnows shadowing whales, small, crinkly gold silk bolsters pair up in front of a duo of jumbo bolsters covered in linen on the bed. That’s just the beginning of the textural mix and assertive juxtaposition of scale that informs this master bedroom with cutting-edge interest. Above the upholstered custom headboard, which bristles with the look of a rough, natural fiber, marches the room’s pièce de résistance: a shadow-boxed set of seven rubber duckies, whose tiny scale offsets the bed’s bulk. A fun fur throw performs a touch-me finale.

    Interior design: Tommy Chambers

  • Ruby red paint on the walls invokes the sultry mood that characterizes this guest bedroom’s invitation to escape. Handcarved Balinese doors painted green are the portal to a distant time and place. An antique tribal rug, a carved wooden bench, and a four-poster bed canopied in romantic white lace each contribute the room’s unique charm.

  • A well-traveled homeowner—even the armchair variety—enjoys surrounding herself with reminders of the cultures she admires most. This London bedroom in a 17th-century Regency home synthesizes worldwide influences, just as an aristocrat’s home in the period would have done. A Murano mirror provides girlie glam and the romance of Venice above the black-veined white marble mantel. A new silver-gilt four-poster bed with a clean, upholstered headboard is classic style with a modern twist, crafted in South Africa. The authentic Regency bench at the foot of the bed is dressed casually youthful in ticking fabric. A striped faux fur throw and a wooly white area rug on the silvery silk carpet complete a style that’s more than genteel sophistication, adding just a hint of hip.

    Interior design: Graham Viney

  • Ever since Isak Dinesen’s “Out of Africa” was adapted for the big screen, a fascination with the comforts and accoutrements in the continent’s colonial habitats has abided and gained momentum. Short of a well-set high tea on the veldt, nothing evokes the idea of Africa’s taming by the English and Europeans more than this image: frothy white bed curtains or mosquito netting that can be drawn tightly shut at night. This beautifully pale, tone-on-tone bedroom could be in Nashville or Nairobi. Its mood is African, but its design is universal.

    Interior design: Theresa Alexander

  • Imagine sleeping the night away in a your own bedroom on Spain’s idyllic island, Majorca. This room is the real deal. The hardy iron bed pays homage to Spanish style; the tabbed striped bed curtains are island-casual; and the rest of the room is a melting pot of collections of art and antiques. “I think a fusion of old and new—a touch of understated grandeur combined with homely comfort—works best in these simply country houses,” says homeowner Holger Stewen

    Interior design: Holger Stewen

  • In the hills of western Provence, on 14 acres of fertile, undulating land, an Atlanta couple celebrate life all over again each morning when they awake in their 1748 farmhouse bedroom. The joie de vivre the bedroom imparts is understated when compared to some American counterparts. (Yards of toile, but not oodles!) But it’s not because the owners enlisted the services of a French designer. They called on someone from their hometown, who also had recently renovated a farmhouse in Provence. With a mix of modern furnishings and antiques, the designer ultimately brought a casual comfort to the farmhouse appropriate to its origins and to its meticulous restoration by French architects.

    Interior design: Ginny Magher

  • A touch-me-this-minute custom alpaca bedspread is the first thing to draw the eye in the master bedroom of this Texas designer’s home. But not for long. Soon it’s traveling to the art on the wall—an en masse quartet by home-grown artists; to the cowhide rug on the floor; and on to the barley-twist bench with the wonderfully worn leather in one of those “complex” colors the owner loves, at the foot the bed. The combination of pure Texas elements (one look at that bench and think: Giant), the nicely curated local art, and the owner’s idiosyncratic panache give the bedroom a distinct Texas voice that’s still one-of-a-kind.

    Interior design: Fern Santini

  • Cheerful flower colors of rose and daffodil establish a happy ambience in this bedroom. Their effect is intensified by their dramatic presentation on the long, tufted headboard and the long, tufted bench at the foot of the bed. But despite the playful colors, both of which are brought to the wall in a hand-printed wallpaper that swathes the sleeping niche, the ambience is somehow serene, even a little monastic. Part of this is due to the pencil-thin modern steel poster bed, a low-impact item. But more contemplative elements are the millwork at the bedroom’s entrance—beautiful millwork on the bi-fold glass doors and the graphic shapes in wood on the window above. That, and the fact that this residence is a converted nunnery in downtown Beirut, not far from the bustling “souk” open marketplaces. Get the look with a little architectural embellishment, happy hues, and old-style floor tiles.

    Architecture and interior design: Annabel Karim Kassar

  • California decorator Lynn von Kersting has a bold style that can be boiled down to bright colors splashed across an audacious mix of patterns, and an eclectic assemblage of art and art objects—the more arcane, the more interesting. Her designs are never dull. This bedroom of clients who were hundreds of miles away, in Minneapolis, is proof. Though it was a long-distance design delivery, nothing seems diluted. While putting the client’s interests forward, the room’s daredevil exuberance is classic von Kersting.

    Interior design: Lynn von Kersting

  • This master bedroom is an escape to the soothing side of artful edginess. The palette is multifarious but limited to low-key shades of terra-cotta, gray, slate and beige that are easy on the eye. The duvette cover makes the boldest statement with its field of oversize polka dots that play out the palette. A crazy-quilt-style fabric on both the wing chairs and the bed’s decorative pillows scores style points with a geometric motif that’s all sharp angles and hard edges, counterbalancing the round polka dots. A collection of good art keeps the space interesting. The most personal touch, and the one that sets the room’s mojo in motion, is the trio of lacquered Asian mask scaling the bedside wall.

    Tip: Whatever your passion for art or collections, indulge it in your master bedroom. It will energize and personalize your room to make it the ultimate retreat.

    Interior design: Kazumi Yoshida

  • Personalizing your bedroom with expressions of yourself—your favorite artworks, evidence of your travels, your design proclivities—is relatively easy when it’s just one person’s life put under the microscope and projected in an interior. What about when there are two, as is usually the case? This Beverly Hills home’s master bedroom beautifully curates the strong preferences of both partners. For her, there is Asian inspiration (note the bedside table and bedding), and for him, an homage to his beloved Art Deco design (see the bed).

    Interior design: Kim Alexandriuk

  • Congratulations! Designer Kim Alexandriuk made partners of differing tastes each feel entirely validated in their master bedroom. In the room’s sitting area, she included an 18th-century English chinoiserie cabinet and Russian Empire desk chair to honor the female client’s love of Old Worth artistry. For the male, an aficionado of Deco design, she furnished the conversation area with a bronze Deco coffee table.

    Tip: Call it common sense, but blending the personal tastes of each homeowner in the master bedroom is important to sustaining a harmonious relationship.

    Interior design: Kim Alexandriuk