Most of us spend at least a third of our lives in our bedrooms. Accordingly, your bedroom should be a room where you love to be, an oasis from the chaos of your busy daily life, a comfortable retreat where you can put the hectic day behind you. In short, your bedroom should be a place free of intrusions where you can truly unwind and relax.

So how do you create the perfect space, especially on a tight budget? Designing the perfect bedroom does not have to be costly or require a high-priced designer. With a few inexpensive and well-thought out changes, you can transform your bedroom into a place where you can reflect peacefully, sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed. Here are eight tips to help you create your dream bedroom:

Choose a style you love. Selecting a specific style is a great way to launch your decorating project, while making sure all the elements you choose complement each other. There are numerous bedroom decorating themes: rustic for a down-to-earth country feel; Tuscan for the look of old Italy; Zen for a serene retreat; or Victorian with all its elegant charm, to name just a few. Search through magazines to find a bedroom style that appeals to you and then start making changes to promote the new look you want.

Select your colors carefully. Avoid making your bedroom look busy with too many colors. Instead, choose a color scheme that brings the entire bedroom together. When choosing your colors, consider what kind of feel you want to your bedroom to have. Neutral colors are soothing, whereas dark colors create a romantic mood. Bright colors stimulate the senses and should be used only as accents. To create a relaxed feel, consider a muted shade of your favorite color -- and then use patterned sheets, designer pillows, textured curtains, attractive tapestries and small accents of bright-colored wallpaper to add color and interest.

Re-arrange your furniture. The way you arrange your furniture can either enhance the relaxed feel of your bedroom or make it feel cramped and cluttered. As a general rule, avoid blocking windows and doorways. In addition, make sure you arrange your furniture in a way that makes it easy to access your bed from both sides. If you have too much furniture for the size of your room, move that extra wardrobe or dresser to another room, or be really brave and get rid of it altogether.

Maximize your storage space. Maximize the vertical space in your closet by adding freestanding wardrobes, shelving, shoe racks, hooks and other organizers to give every shoe, hat and scarf a designated place. Neatly store your belongings in wardrobes, dressers and shelving with doors to keep clutter out of public view. Consider adding a storage unit underneath your bed or putting an attractive storage box under your window or at the foot of your bed. Finally, make an agreement with yourself to clear out the clutter at least once each season by giving away the clothing you no longer use and moving rarely used items to the basement.

Enhance your comfort. Not only do you want your bedroom to look luxurious, you want it to feel luxurious. Large beds are comfortable, so invest in the biggest one that comfortably fits the dimensions of your room. Once you've got a comfy bed, get a high-quality mattress that matches your sleeping patterns as well as your body size and support needs. Buy a cozy comforter and pillows and the softest sheets with the highest-quality fibers you can afford. For an even more luxurious feel, add a plush carpet beneath your feet. All of these amenities will help to transform your bedroom into a comfortable and tranquil haven.

Pay attention to lighting. The lighting you choose can help you establish a certain mood or ambiance. Bright lights are great for reading, searching through your closet or waking up to start your day. Yet dim lights create a romantic mood, more appropriate for lovemaking or just lying in bed to reflect upon your day. Consider adding dimmer switches so that you can adjust the level of lighting based on the mood you wish to create. In addition, install lighting at different heights in your room to add interest and give your bedroom a feeling of spaciousness. Finally, don't forget to add some candles to the mix for an ambiance that's both calming and romantic.

Let go of the electronics. Move your television to the entertainment room as watching TV in bed inhibits good sleep. Likewise, move your computer and exercise equipment to your den or family room, so you eliminate the worry of work and activity from your place of relaxation. Like a meditation room, a bedroom should be a place that calms your energy and allows you to relax and reflect without distractions. Moving electronics out of the bedroom will enable you to achieve a more peaceful haven from the stresses of daily life.

Add some character. Jazz up your bedroom with interesting accents such as curtains, lamps, mirrors, pillows, photos and art. At the same time, be sure to choose each piece with intent. Does the artwork in your bedroom match the style and colors you've chosen? Does it portray joyful themes that reflect what you want for yourself in your life? Is each image personally meaningful? Does it express your individuality in a significant way? Choosing the right art and accents is a fun way to express who you are while transforming your bedroom into a meaningful, personal sanctuary that you'll love to spend time in.


Andrea Carlos is a freelance writer based in the Pacific Northwest and co-owner of GoldLeaf Book Writers.