Being able to retire to a bedroom that feels like a private paradise is an important part of clocking those eight hours of shut-eye. However, if your bedroom decor is feeling a bit tired itself, it can really put a damper on the mood. But what to do? We asked interior designer Sara Gilbane, known for her impeccably styled bedrooms, to give us the scoop on her favorite bedroom makeover ideas, guaranteed to breath new life into any boudoir. Here, Sara walks us through the makeover of a dreamy, Manhattan master suite and shares tips anyone can use to give their bedroom a bit of a lift.


Interior designer Sara Gilbane. Photo by Zach DeSart.

The Bedroom: BEFORE

When Sara was asked to makeover this Manhattan townhouse’s master bedroom, the client’s request was simple: a serene space that kept the busy hum of New York City at bay. To deliver the goods, Sara established a multi-functional space with separate zones for activities like sleeping, reading, or working while adding layers of texture and softness to give the room an enveloping feel. “Everything about this room is like a cocoon,” says Sara, “and we wanted to bring a lot of richness and warmth to it.”

Photo by Zach DeSart

The Bedroom: AFTER

1. Roll on New Walls

For this master makeover Sara opted for a decadent suede wallpaper. “If you’re not going to go for patterned wallpaper,” she says, “our next suggestion is always textured! It’s a big step up from paint.” The softness and subtle texture of gray suede creates a sense of coziness and heightens the restful vibes. Sara suggests that opting for a special wallpaper can give the impression that every inch of the room received special attention, making even forgotten corners feel more deliberate.

2. Welcome Wall-to-Wall

For those contemplating a bedroom do-over, Sara offers an unexpected alternative to the classic area rug: wall-to-wall carpet. For this refresh Sara used a silk wall-to-wall carpet with bits of sheen to create a super luxurious feel. For those considering going wall-to-wall, Sara says material matters. “Make sure it’s 100% wool so you can clean it successfully, and it can last for years.” In a larger space, like this bedroom, Sara recommends using an area rug over your wall-to-wall carpet to help delineate the space. As she notes, an area rug can help visually separate a room into distinct sleeping and lounging zones.

Photo by Zach DeSart

3. Have Fun With Textiles

Every bit of upholstery or drapery is a new opportunity to play with textiles, and Sara had fun with tones of cream and brown to maintain the restful vibes of this master suite. Luckily she’s quick to offer up low-investment ways to update an existing room using textiles. “Reupholstering a headboard is a great instant refresh,” says Sara, which presents the opportunity to experiment with new patterns or colors. Also, consider upgrading your bed linens for an instantly refreshed feel. For Sara, bed linens are the ideal way to change up a room’s mood every season. All hail the mini-refresh!

4. Consider a Canopy

Sara’s design utilizes one divine way to switch up the look of an existing bed: crowing it with a canopy. “A canopy is a luxury that makes you feel like you’re a special guest in your house,” she enthuses. “We typically do it when we have a high ceiling to work with, because otherwise a bed can feel so lonely.” For this room, Sara opted for a solid cream canopy. To pump up the drama she lined the canopy with a contrasting fabric in a small scale lattice print. Though seemingly simple, it adds dimension and an extra layer of coziness to the bed. Also, as Sara notes, “layering a solid fabric on the outside with a patterned fabric on the inside keeps it from getting too busy and overwhelming.”

Photo by Zach DeSart

5. End Your Bed With A Seat

The addition of seating can be a great way change the functionality of a bedroom. For this master suite, Sara added end-of-the-bed seating, a trick even some space-compromised quarters can make use of. To pull off this look Sara advises considering the height of your bed. End-of-bed seating shouldn’t be too high or too low, since you don’t want to barricade the bed or leave too much bed exposed. Also a consideration? Shape! For this boxy room, Sara selected a curvy chaise to both balance the linear proportions of the space and mirror the curves of the headboard. As for seating upholstery, Sara says, “if you know you’re going to stick with all-white bedding, go for a really fun, wild print on your piece!”

6. Add Some Whimsy

According to Sara, “It’s all about counterbalancing different elements, and there should be a bit of whimsy in every room.” In this case she used a John Dickinson side table with cheeky feet. A touch of whimsy can be a welcome dose of personality and Sara reveals that she’s always on the lookout for one-of-a-kind pieces at antique and vintage marketplaces. “You never know when inspiration strikes.” Unique lighting, side tables, and decorative accessories are all great categories to consider when looking for that little extra something.

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Lead photo by Zach DeSart

September 3, 2019

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