Staples for a Well-styled Master Bedroom

true design house - staples for a well-styled master bedroom - 46 - pinterest - 1.jpg

Putting together a great master bedroom is one of those things that is all for you. It’s not about what your company might think when they come over or about how your family life functions, it’s about how you feel when you go to bed and when you wake up to start the day in the morning.

It’s also often the last place on the list. We all tend to put more time and effort into creating a great kitchen or into making the kids’ bedrooms magical before we indulge in making our own bedrooms beautiful. Justifying the money & time spent seems so much easier when it comes to common shared areas of the house that help everyone have a better day. I have to say, though, that the master bedroom is probably my personal favorite place to transform. It just feels so darn good to create a room that is intimately beautiful for my clients - I know it’s going to be a place that restores them every day. I believe in the power of nice sheets and soft lighting.

Read through my list of master bedroom staples and check out my top 24 picks and see if it inspires you to create that lovely space that restores you and yours. You are so worth it.

The staples:

1. A great color palette

Pick a simple color palette that consists of a neutral and one main color – you can go with just layers of neutrals if you want, or add in a color you love. Take a look at spring colors, dramatic jewel tones, or something from nature, but master bedrooms tend to look best with just one main color that is repeated in multiple places and echoed in some art or accessories elsewhere in the room. The master bedroom is a great place for soft touches of one color in many variations and shades, layered on top of neutrals - this echo and repetition of one color tends to create a soothing, relaxing mood in the room.

2. Luxurious bedding

Something thick and luxurious always looks great on a master bed. Adding some texture with pin-tucks, ruffles or ruching adds to the loft as well. If you don’t want to splurge on a high priced set right now, you can always use a duvet or comforter you already own and combine it with a duvet cover or even just a coverlet. There are lots of creative ways of achieving a rich, plush look without buying a new comforter. An old comforter, freshly washed and fluffed up, can easily be layered between a fresh top sheet and a thin coverlet - once it’s all folded down (I fold it over about 1/3 of the way down from the top and then tuck the raw edges under once more to create a really thick line), only the thick, plush folds will be visible and the old comforter will be perfectly hidden.


3. Quality sheets

Smooth, beautiful sheets in natural fibers are worth the investment. Look for 100% cotton or bamboo and for colors that add something to your color scheme. Sheets often start to look rumpled and pull off of the bottoms of the mattress edges by morning - if this bothers you, you can cover the top of the fitted sheet with an extra piece of fabric to cover the top 1/3 of the bed. I get creative here and use things like thin folded coverlets, throws, hemmed fabric and even curtain panels to lie across the top of the bed (just over the sheets but under the sleeper pillows). This trick also can bring in some color and texture to the bed.

4. Sleeper pillows

Add in layers of sleeper pillows (2, 4, 6… whatever you need to sleep with) and coordinate the pillowcases to your comforter or go with crisp white. These will form a base layer behind your decorative pillows, so although they are just practical they can still add some loft and coziness to the look of your bed and should color coordinate. If they are really not in ideal shape, consider stacking them and covering them all with a throw or coverlet, or even just hiding them under the comforter.


5. Decorative pillows

Here is where things really start to get luxurious. I am a huge fan of throw pillows - bang for buck, I think they add so much style and coziness to the bedroom for the investment. The only downside is that you do need to remove them before bed and carry them all back in the morning. I just stack mine on a dresser top, no big deal.

Is this where I confess that I have 5 decorative pillows on my bed… on top of 6 sleepers… and that my husband fully accepted the dusty pink sheets with raw-edge ruffles but said if I bring one more pillow onto our bed, we are going to have an issue? Yes, this is his life, the poor guy!

Decorative pillows – choose feather or down inserts whenever you can as they fluff and lay better. They are a worthwhile investment as you can just change out the covers over the years. There are many shapes and sizes, but the most common I use are below:

Euro pillows – huge squares, 26” x 26”, these can add huge impact. Use 2-3 for a king sized bed.

Standard toss pillows – these are most common in 16” or 20” squares, another place to bring in layers of color or repeat the main color of your bed. They can all be the same, all different, or a pair plus a few different ones. There’s really no rule here. Use 2-5 for a king sized bed

Accent pillow (bolster, small lumbar or shaped pillow) – just one of these is all that’s needed

6. Layers of texture

Texture is so vital to creating a cozy, relaxing space. You can look at the texture in your bedding, baskets, planters and other accessories, but my go-to is to layer texture in through the throw pillows and throw blankets. A small throw blanket that brings in some more color looks great folded or tossed at the foot of the bed, or folded in with the comforter at the top of the bedding (fold down the comforter about 1/3 of the way down, lay the throw on top of the fold, then tuck it under with the comforter at the fold and at the hem).


7. Interesting art

Let your art bring in some personality. Bringing in color, texture, mood and style through art is one of the easiest things you can do. Choose a few statement pieces that are in line with the mood you are trying to create, rather than lots of smaller pieces with nothing to say.

8. Stylish bedside lighting

Lighting is a simple and beautiful way to add some coziness and warmth to the room. Choose lighting with soft shades and bulbs that have warm, soft light. Bedside lighting can be through table lamps, floor lamps, wall sconces or hanging pendants.

Check out my Ultimate Bedside Lighting Guide blog post for more detailed tips & ideas.


Now on to the good stuff!

I’ve put together a list of my top 24 staples to create a warm, relaxing master bedroom this winter - check it out below!

TDH - cozy winter master bedroom guide.jpg

1 ||| 2 ||| 3 ||| 4 ||| 5 ||| 6 ||| 7 ||| 8 ||| 9 ||| 10 ||| 11 ||| 12

13 ||| 14 ||| 15 ||| 16 ||| 17 ||| 18 ||| 19 ||| 20 ||| 21 ||| 22 ||| 23 ||| 24

true design house - staples for a well-styled master bedroom - 46 - pinterest - 3.jpg

The Ultimate Bedside Lighting Guide

true design house - ultimate bedside lighting guide - 45 - pinterest - 1.jpeg

Bedside lighting is one of those details in a home that is almost equally form & function. Not only does great lighting add so much character and style to the room, but the specific fixture you choose adds vital functionality to your days (or nights).

Reaching for the perfect light from the coziness of your bed and having it be just where you need it, at the perfect height and just the right brightness, is one of life’s simple little ‘good things’. Is it just me that smiles a little to myself when I walk back into my bedroom for the last time at night and it’s just softly lit by my sweet little bedside lamp and the room is all warm and glowing?

Since I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that’s in love with the idea of great bedside lighting, I’ve put together a guide with my top tips for choosing a great bedside light and a collection of 20 of my favorite lighting picks right now. So many stylish, beautiful things, I kind of want them all!



Consider your arm’s reach

Make sure the switch height is just right for turning the lamp on or off from bed. Remember: if you have a short table, get a tall lamp and if you have a tall table, get a shorter lamp.



Lamp height should be in proportion to the bed (not above the headboard), the table (in good relation to both the width and height), and to any artwork above the table (you don’t want a large painting to overshadow a tiny lamp).



Watch the bulb height

You don’t want to get blinded by the bulb if the lamp is too high or low.


Soft start

A light with a dimmer or multi-level switch allows you to have quick access to soft light in the night before your eyes have adjusted.



Specific might work for you

If you are a reader or want access to light when someone else is sleeping beside you, an adjustable swing arm lamp might be just the thing. Also consider shades that direct the light to your book, rather than generally lighting the room through the shade.


Think outside of the box

There are so many options out there besides a standard table lamp. Consider small chandeliers, pedants hung from an overhead shelf, wall mounted lamps of all kinds, and floor lamp.



Match them up, or don’t, but either way keep the balance

You don’t have to have identical twin lamps, but you should balance both sides of the bed. This can work really nicely with a floor lamp on one side and on the other side, a smaller table lamp with a piece of art mounted above the bedside table.



Get personal

The bedroom is the perfect place for a burst of personality. Consider lighting in your favorite color, something that nods toward your favorite animal or something that you love but just can’t explain why.

Alright, check out all of these beauties - these are my top picks right now and they are all numbered and linked below!

TDH - bedside lighting guide.jpg

1 ||| 2 ||| 3 ||| 4 ||| 5 ||| 6 ||| 7 ||| 8 ||| 9 ||| 10 ||| 11 ||| 12 ||| 13 ||| 14 ||| 15 ||| 16 ||| 17 ||| 18 ||| 19 ||| 20

Important side note for Black Friday week 2018 (November 21 - 28):

Wayfair is having their biggest discounts of the year right now (bigger even than WayDays!) on lighting so if something catches your eye in this collection, now is the time to grab it! This post will live here forever but I didn’t want you to miss out on some great pricing while you can get it!

true-design-house - ultimate bedside lighting guide.jpg

What to Put on Your Mantle - 100 Ideas

true design house - 100 things to put on your mantle - 44 - pinterest - 1.jpg

Somehow, styling the mantle feels like a big deal.  A showcase of your style and decorating on display.  Yes, we want to get it right and when you nail it, it’s perfection and just makes the room sing, but don’t let that slow you down. 

It’s a fluid space, you can try something and rearrange and try again.  You can add and take away and edit it endlessly, really.  It stays fresh this way, too!

Some tips for getting started on decorating your mantle:



Use what you love and what makes you happy – collected rocks, stacks of books, art, small collections.


Match the style of the room – formal, casual, earthy & flowing, modern & minimal.



Find a focal point – a large mirror, a great canvas painting, an interesting clock.


Maintain balance – this does not necessarily mean symmetry, just balance the sides, both in scale of the details and overall size (height & width) of each grouping.


Layer – it can add interest and warmth to layer things, slightly overlapping in front of one another.


When in doubt, edit it down – too much can look messy and unstyled.  The goal is style, even casual style, not chaos that creeps towards looking like your junk pile.



Consider keeping family portraits elsewhere – the exception here is one or two very styled, artful images in frames that enhance the style of the room.  I’m thinking more of a row of yearly school photos or portrait studio baby photos that might better be kept in a bookcase or other less-prominent place.

As a side note, it can be hard to move things like this because, well, we love the people in the photos and looking at them makes us happy.  If this is a road block for you, consider the purpose of styling the mantle – if it’s to enhance the design of the room and make everything flow a bit better, then maybe a few photos and frames that are more in line with that purpose can be chosen.  Same people, different photos.  Even editing a few special photos to black and white sometimes does the trick.  There is a place for everything we love in our homes, you just need to find that ‘just right’ place.



About the TV – yes, it can work.  No, it isn’t ideal.  From a style and viewing perspective, it’s not the best position for the TV.  Some will also argue that the heat from a fireplace makes the mantle an unsuitable place for the TV.  But, hey, if that’s where it needs to be, or that’s where you like it, you can make it work.  I’ve done it plenty of times.  

The keys to decorating around the tv:

Minimize the other components - DVD player, receiver, etc, should go on a cabinet, shelf or table near the fireplace, not on the mantle.

Balance the visual weight of the tv with other heavy décor on each side – tall vases with tall sticks or greenery on each side, a collage of framed art surrounding the TV, a pair of canvas paintings flanking each side.

Soften the bottom edge – add something long, low and visually soft below the TV on the mantle (assuming it is wall mounted and there is at least a few inches of room).  A row of small rocks, a long low candle holder, a row of small vessels with greenery, a long box filled with flowers, a sign with something meaningful painted or a wood cut word or family name.

Bring in the edges – add some varying height to bring the edges of your display in at the bottom corners, to slightly overlap the lower corners of the tv frame.  This will soften the mantle and make the tv look like a cohesive part of the display.  Candle holders, greenery in vases, plants, anything that has some height and movement to it will work.


Overall, the mantle is a unique space – it’s sole purpose is decorative.  There are so many other places in our homes that need to function well first and foremost, but the mantle is a place just to showcase our style, to create a feeling for the room.  Have fun with it!


You can find this digital graphic I created, for free instant download, in my Resource Library.  Click on the image or button below to register or sign in!

true design house - 100 things to put on your mantle - 44 - pinterest - 3.jpg

Change How Your Home Feels - 12 Things to do Today

true design house - change how your home feels - 43 - pinterest - 1

When it comes to interior design, it doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy to be a good and important thing. 

I’m on a mission to help people love where they live because I think being at peace at home is the foundation for a balanced life.

Sometimes we all get overwhelmed by our home.  There so much to deal with every day, so much to clean or declutter, and it can end up weighing us down.   Often the last thing on your mind is the big picture of design and how your home is making you feel, but it is something meaningful to think about.  If you can break it down and know that making a small improvement will absolutely make a difference, you will feel so much better in your home.

If you’re on the same page but only have a few minutes today, here’s a dozen ideas to get you started!

1. Clear a surface & leave it empty

We all have a spot that tends to accumulate the stuff of life.  Clear one off, deal with what’s there, wipe it down and let it be.  This might be hard for some of us but, trust me, it’s going to feel so good to walk into the room and just see open air where there used to be too much stuff.  Will it stay this way?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Does it need to?  Nope.  You just need a refresh today, don’t overthink it.

2. Make your bed a little extra pretty

Make your bed, smooth the blankets, add a throw and maybe some fresh sheets and pillowcases.  Make it inviting and pretty.  Gather a few things from around the house if you have to.

3. Turn on lamps and light a few candles

Soft, warm, ambient lighting is one of the most important elements for a feel-good room.  If you have some small lamps with warm bulbs, light them up.  Adding in a few candles will really turn up the volume on this effect.  Middle of the day?  Who cares.  Go for it anyway.

4. Fill a small bag with trash

Just walk and toss, you’ll fill a bag before you know it.  Actual garbage?  Goodbye.  Things you’ve been meaning to deal with but aren’t likely to?  Buh-bye to you as well.  Things you’ve been saving with good intentions but are now ruining the peaceful vibe you’re cultivating?  See ya.  Key point:  get it out of the house and off your mind as soon as possible.

5. Set up a coffee or tea station

Adding a little nice touch to your daily drink area will make you feel good every time you use it.  A little tray, a stack of special mugs, a canister of tea, a pretty bowl of sugar.  Whatever you have around that is nice and makes you feel good to look at.  Gather a few things and give that spot some meaning.

6. Put on some great music

In the category of ‘intangible ambiance’, music can set the tone for your home.  Find something you love at a volume that suits your mood and let it transform your home.

7. Wipe down your front door

Seems almost too simple to actually matter, but coming home to a door that is cared for really does something nice for us.  It’s the first drop, causing that ripple effect:  well cared for, tidy, at ease.  Even if you mostly come in through the garage or back door (which could be polished up as well if you’re in the mood), giving the front of your house a little love helps you to feel proud of your home and puts you at ease when people stop by.

8. Organize a few drawers

It’s amazing the feel-good effect of opening a drawer to face knives neatly lined up or a sweet box of pens that all actually work.  Ahhhh!  Instant energy boost and internal sun beams.

9. Hang something on an empty wall

Sometime an empty wall just needs a little something - a small piece of art, a framed photograph, a little tapestry or something sculptural.  We often put off hanging things, but why not make it happen today?  Adding life to an empty space feels good, makes us smile and fills our home with character.

10. Rethink your side table styling

Often bedside tables get neglected and filled with the less than lovely clutter of life:  Kleenex boxes, hair elastics, dusty books, water glasses, medications, lotions.  Take a few minutes today to clear them off, wipe them down and rethink how you can style them in a way that feels lovely to look at when you crawl into bed.  Add some height with a large lamp or vase filled with tall foilage.  Corral those odds and ends in a pretty bowl or rustic basket.  Add a doily or fresh candle.  Maybe today is the day for some grocery store flowers.

11. Overhaul and declutter a closet

Going through a closet and getting rid of the things you don’t need is a beautiful thing.  Give it a dust & vacuum and put everything back in just where it belongs.  Simple and tidy just feels so good!

12. Style your front entry

Step outside or stay inside, whatever you like.  Take everything out of the space, give it a good sweep, polish the windows and wipe down the door.  Now take a good look at what actually needs to be in the space and give everything a home before thinking about adding some color - maybe some new throw pillows on a bench, some potted flowers, a new vibrant umbrella stand.  Even if all you do is hang up all the jackets and put the shoes in the closet, this is space going to feel so much better when you’re done.

You can find this digital graphic I created, for free instant download, in my Resource Library.  Click on the image or button below to register or sign in!

true design house - change how your home feels - 43 - pinterest - 3.jpg

Learning to Take Risks - Lessons from Iris Apfel

true design house - oak hardware update - 38 - pinterest - 2.jpg

Make a powerful statement.


In life, and in design, it’s so easy to get complacent.  To get bored.  To settle and let things just get so bland that we kind of forget to try something new.  To put some effort in.  To live a little.


I know what that’s like because I do it, too.  There are those parts of our home that get ignored, put on the backburner for years.  Or rooms that we were inspired to get just right, to adjust and perfect until we fell in love with them… only to let the years slide by while things got stale again. 


Sometimes it just feels like a lot of work to rethink things, to choose and rearrange and make it fresh when things are ‘good enough’ but after watching a documentary on Iris Apfel again recently, I got thinking about inspiration and passion and how that translates to our homes.  A happy, rich, interesting life should translate into a home that looks and feels the same.  It is worth it to feel good in our places and spaces, isn’t it?

iris apfel.jpg
Iris quote print1 mockup.jpg


Iris and I, we also agree on another aspect of style:  there are far more important things in life.  Education, charitable work, doing a good job at whatever your craft is.  Being happy.  One of my least favorite type of question from clients centers around what is ‘in style’… because, well, who cares?  What an industry deems on-trend has very little to do with good, meaningful interior design that is going to feel good and look good to *you*.


So, what can we learn from fashion icon, and general profound badass, Iris Apfel about interior design? 



Be bold.


Don’t be a sheep.


Choose what you love.


Break the rules.


Put things together that make you happy.


Don’t seek trends to follow.


Choose classic and traditional.


Mix up color and pattern and texture.


Use the items in your home to compose the story of who you are.


Have some excitement about what you are doing.


Develop a signature style.


Curate your life.


Have some common sense.


Take risks.



Iris Apfel, in her mid-nineties, is wise and bold and an absolute inspiration when it comes to the business of getting clear on your style and just going for it.  Lessons we all should soak up.

Want to learn more about Iris Apfel?  Check out the links below!

Starring Iris Apfel, Carl Apfel

Some links are affiliate links. Please visit the 'Policies' tab in the sidebar for full information about what and why this is.


You can find all of these digital graphics I created, for free instant download, in my Resource Library.  Click on the image or button below to register or sign in!

true design house - take risks Iris Apfel - 42 - pinterest - 3.jpg