Small Touches That Can Totally Transform Your Bedroom
An up-and-coming designer in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has a knack for blanketing rooms with small touches that matter. We’d happily tuck ourselves into any of these bedrooms and cozy nooks with a mug of tea and a good book.
Power colors, like a power suit, can leave a lasting impression. Emily Mitchell created the custom headboard (above) around her client’s favorite emerald hue, then chose bedding and a brass lamp to complement it.
Mitchell’s calling card? Quilts, both new and vintage. The older one above delivers a knockout punch of pattern. “It makes the room feel storied and highly personalized,” she says.
“I like to incorporate at least one darkly painted room in a home to help create a hierarchy of spaces,” Mitchell says of this petite spare room (above). A spatterware pan serves as art, and lockers scored on Craigslist stand by for guest bags and coats.
Using her architect’s eye and designer’s intuition, Emily Mitchell pairs rich colors with multigenre art and found objects, creating serene spots to quell winter’s chill. She loves designing for all ages, channeling her memories of childhood to get into a kid’s headspace. And then there are those quilts: “I love finding the right one for just the right space.”
In Mitchell’s own home, a window seat by a radiator hides electronics. (The TV is in a built-in nearby.) The quilt was an impulse buy: “I find that if you fill your home with things you truly love, then the introduction of new cherished items works out rather effortlessly.”
Mitchell regularly mixes vintage and modern art on gallery walls. She designed the one above for a close friend’s daughter, working in a sparkly, Missouri-shape piece of original bead art by Rob Corley.
A four-poster (above) adds grandeur but also the potential to dominate. So Mitchell mixed the room up with bright blue lamps, a velvet bench and mismatched tables (including one cloaked in a custom floral slipcover).
This is a kantha quilt. Women in India and Bangladesh layer old saris or scraps to create a quilt-like fabric embellished with embroidery. The term kantha comes from Sanskrit for rags.
Pro Tips Designer Notebook
Mitchell’s philosophy: Let reality, not an aesthetic fantasy, guide your design choices.
THINK ABOUT HABITS
Mitchell always starts by asking clients about their routines, then designs to fit their rhythms. For example, if you read in bed, you need directional lighting, plus room for a stack of books (because there’s never just one!). If you always empty pockets on the bedside table, have a tray or bowl waiting to catch the clutter.
Do you make the bed? No judgment—but tailored bedding only looks good if you put in the tuck-and-smooth time. Anything less just looks unkempt. For not-quite-as-tidy clients (including herself), Mitchell opts for linen sheets or duvets. “They’re meant to be rumpled,” she says. “It’s inviting you to take a nap.” And the truth-o-meter doesn’t stop there. If you won’t put back throw pillows every morning, don’t buy them. If an armchair is just going to be draped in laundry, skip it.
PICK PAINT WISELY
More than taste, Mitchell uses the sun to guide wall choices. “I love white, but it takes really good natural light for it to look good,” she says. If you only have one window or the room faces north, consider a color with more depth. Mitchell also cautions that light walls can feel bare. “You need to hang things on pale or neutral hues to look finished,” she says. “But a really rich color instantly looks complete.”
GET TO KNOW: EMILY MITCHELL
Holds a Master of Architecture. Runs a design and styling studio called The Place Home. Has a soft spot for old houses—and restored one that’s 150 years old.