By Katja Kromann

Apartment living: Bedroom reveal with 10 easy ideas for a serene retreat

Apartment living: Bedroom reveal with 10 easy ideas for a serene retreat

Now that we have moved into our temporary apartment while we look for our next adventure, I want to spend the coming months going room by room and talk about how we are making it as homey as possible while keeping within the parameters and restrictions of apartment living.

There will of course be no wall papering, painting, big building projects or any of all that fun stuff. The challenge is to give a white and tan box some interest, coziness (Danish hygge) and a point of view. Simple make-overs that can make an apartment feel like a home. 

The rooms we have in our apartment are a living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms and two and a half baths. We also have an entry way with stair case halls and a cute little balcony that I can't wait to share with you.

Our new bedroom.

Today is all about the master bedroom and our awesome new mattress.

When we moved, we sold the night stands and lamps and threw out our old mattress, but we kept the bed. Our plan is to eventually build a new bed, but since that is not practical in an apartment, we decided to keep our bed for a little while longer and make some changes instead to make it feel new and fresh.

We are going to change 10 things around the bed in this post:

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

These are my 10 ideas for this bedroom make-over to give our bedroom a brand new look. 

  1. Headboard  - DIY insert for our bed
  2. Accordion lamps (I don't recommend these. I bought these several years ago and just took them out of the boxes. The accordion part is for show only apparently. It doesn't retract or extend or stay in position well. I had to prop ours up with toothpicks to get them to say in position. And the wall wire comes without a switch.) They do sport a killer profile though, which I why I got them.
  3. NEW mattress - best new room addition btw.
  4. Bed linen
  5. Rug
  6. Night stand - DIY
  7. Free print - you can download it at the bottom of this post - put in frame
  8. Bed scarf - DIY from curtain and dye job
  9. Bed blanket 
  10. Decorative pillow - DIY from curtain and dye job

This is what the bedroom looked like on the day we moved in.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

Luckily it did not stay like this for very long. You can read about how we packed our 5 bedroom, 4 bath house in just 7 hours and moved in a week from the time the first box was packed until the last box was unpacked and artwork was hung.

Before we moved, we had our old mattress picked up. It was so heavy and had seen its day coming up on 15 years.

Our new Tuft and Needle mattress - a review

I have spent several weeks if not months researching mattresses. I have been particularly interested in these new companies that only sell online. You have probably seen them. They send you a mattress, you test it out for up to 100 days and then you decide if you want to keep it or return it. If you want to return it, you just call them up and let them know. They come and haul away the mattress and donate it to a local charity and you get a full refund. Zero risk. Huge savings because they are cutting out the middle man.

I had zeroed in on three companies that I had found online during my research. After reviewing all three, I chose a Cal King mattress from Tuft & Needle. I reached out to them to see if they would be up for a collaboration. To my amazement they offered to send us a free mattress to try out in exchange for a review. Our honest opinions. Also, this might only mean something to you if you are a blogger, these guys wanted to - in fact insisted on, following all advertisement rules. That made me love them even more. If you knew how often I receive offers from companies with stipulations to break them... shaking my head. Just one of many reasons I am very choosy about sponsorships. In sharp contrast to that, It has been an absolute pleasure working with this mattress company throughout.

Also there is this video. A mattress with a side of humor. Yes please.

Our new mattress arrived as soon as we moved into our new apartment, in a very reasonably sized box outside our door step. I had no problem pulling it inside by myself and then Frank carried it up the stairs. I think the weight of the box was around 90 lbs.

Once up there, we took it out of the box. Actually, why don't I show you how that looked with this fun gif. We are here to have fun, right?

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

The mattress was completely unfolded and ready for use within 10 minutes or so. I have to admit that I was nervous to lie down on it at first, because what if I didn't like it. Our old mattress was a 3000 dollar mattress (although negotiated down to 2000 dollars 15 years ago thankyouverymuch - this was that time we decided to co-sleep when B was born and not buy a crib), so how would it compare to a mattress under a third of that?

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

We put a bed sheet onto the bed to have a comparable surface - the fabric on the mattress itself is very smooth and then we lied down on it.

Ohhhhh, ahhhhhh .... It was sooo nice. Totally awesome in fact. Let me elaborate:

Our old mattress was quite firm, so I was curious about how firm this mattress would be by comparison. It was firm, but in a slightly softer, supported way, which I actually really liked. It was like you lie ever so slightly into the bed instead of on top of it. It cradles you in this wonderfully supportive way that is a little hard to explain. But I will sure try. It's like the mattress caters to both people who like firm and those who like soft at the same time. As weird as that sounds. You know how sometimes when you go to a hotel and the mattress is soft, it feels like you are lying in a bathtub what with your bottom weighing way down in the middle and your arms are sort of floating up. And conversely, on a firm hotel mattress, you just wake up bruised like you were lying on a board all night. This mattress was neither of those. So very far from it. It was so much better. It was like the Goldie locks of mattresses with just the right amount of firm and with lots of support. It felt really good.

Another thing that I really love about this mattress is that there is virtually no bounce on my side when Frank turns around and vice versa. There is nothing worse than being woken up by the other person turning. That doesn't happen here.

Another concern I had was if the mattress was giving off any unpleasant odors. I have extra sensitive senses including my sense of smell. This is great for when I cook and come up with recipes. But sometimes I am having difficulty with how things smell. To put this into perspective: I am for instance NOT at all a fan of dryer sheets, or scented candles and plug-ins, and I can't even walk into an Abercrombie & Fitch.

So when I took our new Tuft & Needle mattress out of the plastic I gave it a good sniff test. There was definitely a 'factory new' smell to it, but luckily it dissipated very quickly. I washed the sheets and mattress protector more frequently to speed this up and after the first couple of days the whiff was negligible and not drawing any attention.

So, how is the quality of sleep on this mattress?

Ok, so with that out of the way, let's get to the most important part: how is the quality of sleep on this mattress?

If you are a long time reader, you know that I am quite matter of fact, but this mattress makes me want to break out into song. Or a poem. At least a Heiku. OMG - ok. that Haiku is definitely happening.

--- you have arrived at the Haiku portion of this post ---

T and N mattress
Oh how I sleep through the night
Flat out happiness

Yes, it's true.I have started sleeping through the night on a much more consistent basis. With our old mattress I would frequently wake up in the middle of the night and not being able to go back to sleep. Because you know once you wake up, you have to get up to pee, then you are thirsty so you get a glass of water and then you give a mouse a cookie and then you check your emails or browse Instagram really quickly... then you are just UP. Ugh.

With this new mattress I have slept like not a baby because who wakes up more than a baby during the night, right?, no I have slept like a teenager. The expression should be 'sleep like a teenager'. Have you tried waking one up at 8 am? Impossible. I have slept like a teenager at 8 am.

I give this mattress two thumbs way up. And for that price point... The other mattress companies have some splainin' to do.

Ok, now that you know how much I love our new mattress, let's dive into the makeover. Because you can't get a new mattress and then just have the same ole, same ole bedroom, now can you?

Here is what the bedroom looks now.

We DIY'ed the black headboard insert, and I dyed and sewed the pillow and bed scarf (That green thing at the end of the bed) and hacked the little green nightstand on the right. Let me tell you all about it below. Oh and the print over the bed is a free download at the bottom of the post as previously mentioned and I made it SUPER big, although I printed it and cropped it here to fit the largest IKEA frame here. IIKEA, please make a 48 x 36 frame.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

Let's look at the DIY projects one by one and then finish out with some more after pictures. Also for those of you who hang on to the end of this very long post, there might be another gif in it for you further down. Not making any promises, but... excitement.

We made a night stand out of an IKEA night stand with glass top to which we added a piece of wood on top.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

One, I wanted to make the night stand slightly taller and two, I wanted to change the feeling of the table to something that fits our other furniture and style a bit more. This night stand is made out of bamboo and was just around 15 dollars. Can't beat that price. 

I went down to Lowe's and got myself an 8 dollar board and had them cut it to size. Now they don't really love doing that, but if you ask really nicely, you sometimes get lucky. I also picked up a color sample of Valspar's Sparkling Emerald. I think they run around 5 dollars or so. I don't remember. 

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

I went home and put together the IKEA night stand and then I sanded the newly cut table top. I layed it onto the table and marked the middle of where the legs were using an angle. The legs on this table are very slim. Less than an inch. So we wanted to pre-drill before nailing so the legs would not splinter. I wasn't sure how prone bamboo is to splintering, but I didn't want to take any chances.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

We used a drill bit that was thinner than the 16 gauge nails we used later. I hammered the nails through the table top through the newly drilled holes. 

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

Then I added glue to the top of the table all the way around. I then placed the top back on and felt my way until I could feel the tips of the nails all hitting the drilled holes underneath. Then it was hammer time.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

I filled the holes with wood putty, let it dried and sanded everything down, then added a coat of primer and two coats of Sparkling Emerald.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

This is the night stand in the room This is Frank's side of the bed. A great little table for a narrow space. 

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

Accessories: Vintage Potterybarn alarm clock, Vintage Nate Berkus soap coin and watch dish, faux succulent, white planter with a fresh gardenia from Lowe's.  This book and a black box with a mini book of a San Francisco road trip we took 14 years ago.

We made a new headboard insert. The old one was too big. I discovered that our old mattress had the peculiarity of being cal king in width but only king sized in length. Our new Tuft & Needle mattress was a true Cal King size all the way around. Imagine that. 

In order to fit in the space, I got a new piece of 1.5 inch of foam and used some gray fabric from my stash. The same one we used for B's room. We reused the board and batting.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

Next, I took on a little dye project. Ever since I made these pink tie dyed bags, I have been wanting to give that another go. I also wanted to tie in the print and the night stand with some more green accents. I wanted all the greens to be a little different and not too matchy matchy to give the room a little more of a gathered feel. 

I used a white linen curtain from IKEA and three Ritt dye colors: Teal, Kelly Green and black. 

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

I cut up the two curtains into a bed scarf using the full length of the fabric and about 2.5 feet in width. I wanted the tie dyeing to not be completely crazy, but actually rather subtle and serene. So I used some thick sewing thread that I had on hand from when I sewed these pillows. I made 5 rows of loose stitches and then pulled them together tightly and knotted the ends making a double know and having the end of the thread going around the second knot an extra time to hold it in place as you see blow on the left. 

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

To make the dye bath, I lined a bucked with some plastic sheets to keep the bucket from discoloring. Then I added a bit of cold water to the bottom, so the hot water would not melt the plastic. I boiled about 3 gallons of water and poured into the bucket. I also added half a cup of table salt (fine salt) and then I added half a bottle of Kelly Green, i/4 bottle of teal and a splash of black. Then I mixed it with a metal spoon.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

I dipped and covered the bed scarf fabric completely into the dye bath all at once and stirred and turned it around for a couple of minutes. Then I pulled it out and placed it into the pot and carried it up to the kitchen sink to rinse it out. Then I threw it into the washer. I first filled the washer with water, then added the fabric so I would not get any green residue inside the washer (because I am not a fan of bleach - it smells horrible). I dried the fabric and ironed it, folded and sewed the edges. The yellow and gray flower you see under the bed scarf below is my ironing board which I recovered a couple of years ago.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

For the pillow I did the same, although I made that on a different day. Here I did give any stitches to the fabric, I just sewed a pillow case first, then folded it in half and dipped the two ends into the dye bath and took it out slowly creating an ombre effect where the green is darker towards the ends of the pillow. 

Back in the bedroom we hung some lamps and I put some fresh white linens on the bed, added a white bed blanket, then dressed it with my new creations. 

I also printed out a picture that I took from our balcony one evening when the sun was setting and there was this fantastic light. I printed it as a poster at Staples because that is much cheaper than an image print at this size. It cost around 12 dollars. I love the vintage sort of feel I got from this printing method over a regular photo print. Then I cut it to size and put it into a white frame. The frame was under 20 dollars.

Here are some more pictures of the finished room.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

The dress is one I inherited from my grandfather. Last year, I gave it a fresh new coat of white and added some Anthropologie knobs to it (not available anymore). 

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

The little white round table was a 4 dollar garage sale find from a couple of years ago. I gave it the same coat of white as the dresser. 

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

White vase, Nate Berkus brass orb (not available anymore), white and pink ceramic watch dish, I made when I took a ceramics class with B.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

What I really love about this design is that if I get tired of the green, I really only need to re-paint the night stand and swap out the pillow and bed scarf. Instant new look. I love that. 

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

Ah yes. Another gif. Here is how I it all came together.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

Here you can download the palm print for free:

This is a free print for personal use. You may not sell this print or offer it as a printable on your site without my written permission.

Apartment living - 10 easy ideas for a new bedroom

(Disclaimer: as mentioned above, we received our new Tuft & Needle mattress free in exchange for a review. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that support A Home for Design, which makes big make-over posts like this one possible)

Some blog posts contain affiliate links to products I use. More information
This article: Apartment living: Bedroom reveal with 10 easy ideas for a serene retreat first appeared on

Katja Kromann
About Katja Kromann

I am a Danish American decorating life in Seattle. I love all things design and DIY.

I can’t think of anything more fun than coming up with project, making it, photographing it and sharing it with you on my websites.

I am a Graphic Artist, a remodeller and home maker by day. My Portfolio
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