What to Know About Master Bedroom Design

Your master bedroom serves as a place to escape the bustle of the day, to relax and recharge, and to enjoy a restful night’s sleep. Creating a calming respite requires careful planning and thought, and our design team firmly believes in the importance of establishing your needs and desires for the space before all else.

When you take the time to weigh the needs of your master bedroom design, from pure utility to the desired ambiance, you can create a room that is a true oasis you look forward to retreat to each evening.

1. Determine Vision & Needs

Master bedroom furniture
Bedroom from Acampora Interiors’ Nantucket Seaside Home project. Photo by Cary Hazlegrove.

Tricia Fortin, Senior Interior Designer at Acampora Interiors, says that each master bedroom design project begins by asking our clients one essential question: “What do you want the space to feel like?” Will it be a retreat for you and your partner to enjoy time alone, away from the rest of the household? Or will it be a place to host family movie nights, complete with pillow fights and popcorn in bed? When picturing these different master bedroom ideas, naturally, their layouts look quite different.

With your vision determined, Fortin suggests you switch your focus to utility: the practical elements you must incorporate into the space. Will you require an office area now that you and your spouse both work from home? Would you like a master bedroom with a sitting area or reading nook where you can enjoy your favorite novels?

Most modern master bedrooms are constructed larger than those built in mid-century homes or earlier (the average master bedroom size in newer homes is approximately 350 square feet). This greater emphasis on master bedroom design allows homeowners to create a seating area, workspace, or family gathering space in addition to the bed and sleeping space. What you wish to achieve with the extra square footage in your master bedroom is entirely up to you.

2. Master Bedroom Furniture

Master bedroom from Acampora Interiors’ Wellesley New Traditional project. Photo by Joyelle West.

Now that you know what your master bedroom must accomplish, it’s time to begin looking for furnishings that fit your needs. There are several key pieces you’ll want to consider for your master bedroom design, including a bed and headboard, a pair of nightstands, a dresser or armoire, and a bed bench. 

Bed and Headboard

Of course, all bedrooms require a bed. The bed is the heart of the room, if not visually, then certainly practically. The headboard you select, which is the most significant visual element of any bed, depends on your interior design style.

Lovers of modern design may opt for a low-profile wooden headboard, while those with traditional taste may prefer a tufted, upholstered look. And for those furnishing in the coastal style, Fortin notes that cane headboards are an attractive option.


Next on the list of selections are nightstands, where you can place your latest bedtime read, rest a glass of water, or charge your phone. Flanking the bed with nightstands of the correct scale means that both sides of the bed have a surface on which to store their essential items.

Dresser or Armoire

Armoires or dressers are other crucial pieces of master bedroom furniture. Even for those with gracious walk-in closets, dressers can provide the perfect storage space to hold folded garments, workout clothes, and other items that don’t require hanging.

Bed Benches

Our design team also loves to incorporate bed benches into a master bedroom design. Situated at the foot of the bed, this extra storage space is useful for housing extra linens. Plus, it can provide needed balance from a visual perspective and fill out a large master bedroom more fully.

Sitting Area

Finally, consider the needs of your sitting area. For this, Fortin shares a secret to making your master bedroom sitting area feel cozier than its counterparts in more public spaces in your home. “To warm it up, look for upholstered cocktail ottomans instead of a wood table,” she says. “We really try to soften it, instead of going with what you might see in a living room or family room.”

3. Master Bedroom Layout

Master bedroom from Acampora Interiors’ Brookline Historic Refresh project. Photo by Kindra Clineff.

With your furniture selected, it’s time to begin settling your master bedroom layout. Fortin notes that in many new builds where an architect is involved, the room’s focal point is typically set before the designers enter the space.

The focal point may be a beautiful picture window, decorative fireplace and mantle, or custom-made built-in shelving. Whatever architectural element in the room demands attention, ensure your furniture is arranged thoughtfully around it.

Take care not to block natural light with any of your furniture pieces. Keep headboards away from windows, and, when you can, take advantage of a generous footprint by floating furniture in the room rather than situating each individual piece against the wall.

While our design team is not a strict adherent to the principles of feng shui, Fortin notes there are some elements of the ancient Chinese practice that can be beneficial to incorporate into your master bedroom layout. For example, feng shui dictates that your bed should be in the command position, with a clear sightline to the door from where you rest your head.

4. Master Bedroom Lighting

Master bedroom lighting with sconces and table lamps
Master bedroom from Acampora Interiors’ Wellesley New Traditional project. Photo by Acampora Interiors.

Chandeliers and Statement Lighting

The final element of your master bedroom layout is deciding how and where to include lighting. Fortin notes that most modern homes have recessed lighting overhead. Still, our team likes to add a statement piece, like a chandelier, to add a little personality—and perhaps even a touch of drama—into the room.


Moving down from the ceiling, articulating sconces on either side of the bed are an excellent addition for avid readers. They illuminate only one side of the bed, making it easy for one person to read while the other dozes.

Bedside Lamps

As for unfixed lighting elements, bedside lamps with a sturdy shade are a must. They make it easy for you to maneuver around the room in the early morning or late at night without fear of tripping over furniture or pets.

Floor Lamps

For your seating area, you may consider several floor lamp styles. Some opt for a task lamp designed for reading, while others prefer a light with a shade that throws off more light.

No matter what style of lighting you settle on for your space, Fortin provides this essential piece of advice: “For every light fixture, we always add on dimmers. You don’t want to be trying to get ready to fall asleep and have your lights on full blast.”

5. Master Bedroom Bedding

Master bedroom design with crisp white bedding and custom drapery
Bedroom from Acampora Interiors’ Nantucket Seaside Home project. Photo by Cary Hazlegrove.

Creating a truly indulgent master bedroom requires a plush, dreamy bed. Fortin is an expert at creating a high-end hotel look — and says that the secret is in the layers.

Sheets and Upper Layers

The perfect master bedroom bedding begins with luxury sheets. We love Boll & Branch and Serena & Lily, but any sheet with a high thread count and soft feel forms a solid foundation for a luxury bed.

The upper layers are a matter of taste. Some prefer to include a cotton blanket between the top sheet and duvet; others prefer to move straight to the outer layers.

Duvets and Quilts

We love to layer a duvet and quilt, the order of which depends on the desired look. The non-negotiable, however, is over-stuffing the duvet. Using two inserts in the duvet cover creates a cloud-like feel you’ll look forward to diving into each night.

Layering Pillows

Then, of course, there are the pillows. Fortin prefers to start with Euro pillows (three in the back for a king bed and two for a queen or full). From there, she layers in the sleeping pillows: one layer with pillowcases to match the sheet set, another with shams to match the duvet or quilt.

The final layer is the decorative pillows. Fortin personally believes that there is no such thing as too many pillows, but for those with more minimalist taste, a single, extra-long lumbar can provide a luxe finish.

Creating a master bedroom design you love is about building a space that suits your needs perfectly. Bedrooms are the most personal room in a home, so your space should reflect your needs and tastes. Fortunately, with a little forethought and a few savvy design tricks, you can create a master bedroom design you’ll look forward to waking up to each morning.