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How To Decorate Above the Bed

Author: Anne Marie O'Connor

Deciding what to hang in the space where you spend a third of your life can be a daunting undertaking. Many things are clearly inappropriate (scenes from Psycho or of the in-laws), but what are good choices?

“The art you hang above the bed is important because it’s the focal point of the room,” points out Catherine Kim, an interior designer in San Francisco and the owner of Catherine Kim Design. “You want something inviting and personal, something that speaks to you, such as a series of photos or a painting that resonates, that you look at it and say, ‘I love that!’”

You want to avoid “setting a mood that is bright, frenetic or includes colors the client doesn’t find soothing,” adds Liz Tiesi, owner of Threshold Interiors in New York City. So what are the best picks for this tricky space? Here’s what the experts say.


Choose art that’s meaningful to you.

“Every piece should evoke a memory that is personal, happy, joyful, peaceful and positive,” Kim says. “You want to be surrounded by something you want to fall asleep to and wake up to.

“I’m a fan of using things people already own, whether it’s photos of a loved one or a favorite place or an artwork that you love,” says Kim. Other options include flea market finds or collectibles or natural collections, like driftwood (a favorite of Tiesi’s), shells or pressed flowers.


Do a little digging.

“I’d much rather go through a client’s personal collection and find a photo or piece of art they love and reframe to give it a fresh look,” Kim says. “By recycling and repurposing things, you don’t have to spend the money if you don’t need to and you’re not just getting something off the shelf. I recently went through a client’s [online] photos and she picked out 50 favorites that I had framed.”


Go for a single frame style.

Framing can make or break the piece,” Kim points out. “You can take a photo or $2 piece of [downloadable] art and put it in a frame and it looks amazing. It’s a secret weapon of mine.”

If you’re hanging more than one framed piece above the bed, put them all in the same style of frame for a unified, serene look. Save the mix-and-match for the living room or other, more lively, spaces. Good choices include Natural Oak – Barnwood Style, Real Reclaimed Brown Barnwood, Tan – Distressed Wood, Weathered Barnwood Style in Saturated White, or basic white (Modern White Frame) or black (Black Stain on Maple), all available in the Framing Editor.



Short or tall headboard? It matters.

You don’t want something that looks crammed into the space, or so tiny it seems like it’s a life raft lost in a giant ocean.

“If your headboard is tall, I would do smaller pieces,” says Kim. “And you want to leave space between the art and the ceiling and the art and the headboard. If you do one big, long piece with one big long headboard, you’re fighting proportions. You want it to stand on its own and not compete with the headboard. You want the art to have breathing room around it.”

If physical space is an issue, borderless canvas and metal prints don’t create the graphic lines of framed prints so you can place photos or artwork closer together.

“If you have a shorter headboard, however, you could do one huge piece of art,” she notes. “No matter what, I would never go beyond the width of the bed.”


Puzzle the pieces together.

You don’t necessarily want the headboard, linens and art to be matchy-matchy, but you do want the elements to have a cohesive look. “The secret is selecting all of the items and making sure the samples work together,” says Tiesi. “For example, we will purchase one pillowcase from a bedding collection to ensure it works with the wallpaper, rug, window treatments, headboard, chair and bench fabric samples. We then review all with our clients to ensure the scheme works for them.”


A few more ideas

How To Create a Mindful Space
How To Update Your Gallery Wall Like a Pro
This Is How To Set Up an Ancestor Gallery Wall