“Where does the bed even go?”

July 15, 2020

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We’ve rearranged the guest room twice already, and we’re going in for round three. There’s a lot that’s “wrong” with this orientation. For starters, we centered the bed under the window, giving it a little room on the left for a nightstand — but it’s so close to the wall on the right that you can barely squeeze in let alone make the bed. (It’s a real climb-over situation.) On top of that, the door opens to a *stunning* view of the treadmill. Now, we love the new treadmill, and we use it nearly every day, but we want our guests to have a homier view when they check in.

You can see our guest room sources here!

Rearranging this room for the third time has me thinking about where the bed is even supposed go in a room. I feel like there are as many rules as there are exceptions to those rules. In clicking through pictures of our house, our old house, our cabin, and every bedroom I ever saved on Pinterest, I’m starting to formulate a plan for this weird layout. Here’s what I know so far:

You can see our bedroom in our last home’s sources here!

Over the years, I’ve learned the bed should probably go on the widest wall. I like a bed that faces the door so that I can get in the bed from either side, and no matter which side of the bed is “mine,” no one ever has too much of a walk-around.

Feng shui says that feet facing the door is fundamental, but that we should avoid having our feet directly in line with the door (they call this “coffin position” ????).


Source (you have to look at the before of this bedroom!)

If you’re working with a room that has handsome paneling (lucky), don’t be afraid to break up that wall with a headboard the introduces a little contrast. Chris and I have put up our fair share of paneling and bead board in our day, and sometimes it’s hard to think of “covering up” your handywork with a bed… and then nightstands… and maybe even a chair. But now I see structurally interesting walls as a great backdrop. Like the jute rug you layer underneath a cool area rug.


I’ve heard conflicting opinions about positioning a bed under a window, but I think when this is done right — the window doubles as art. Two rules of thumb that I’ve picked up in my under-window positioning and Pinning: 1. Choose a low-profile headboard or one with an open frame so you don’t obstruct the window too much. 2. Pull the bed out about nine inches from the window-wall to allow curtains to hang behind.



When I’ve struggled a lot with where to position the bed, the answer is sometimes, “The bed is too big.” We really wanted a king-size bed at our cabin, but no matter which wall we put it on, it dwarfed the room. The room AND the bed looked bigger when we downsized to a queen. Math and interiors… magic.



I think a short, high window practically begs for a bed underneath. What would normally present such a design dilemma looks downright intentional with a hefty headboard underneath. I would also skip the cafe curtains and go with the upholstered option. #textures


If sloping ceilings prevented me from installing curtains, I’d embrace the natural light and play up on some interesting silhouettes for bedside lamps.

We had a few slanted ceilings in our cabin. In the Mountain Room, it felt like facing the door was the best option, even though it meant that the headboard would be “against” the slanted wall. We pulled the bed out just enough, invested in a low-profile headboard that didn’t present a lot of contrast (blending in felt better here), and reveled in the fact that the tallest part of the room was the place where we were standing. Had we put the bed against the window wall, we would have always been ducking, getting into bed.

You can see the cabin bedroom sources here!

You can see the cabin loft sources here!

In the loft, it made sense to position the trundle beds lengthwise along the long wall, with the kids facing each other for bedtime talks. We pulled the beds out from the wall a bit to give the space some breathing room and to save the kids from bonking their heads.



Pushing a bed against the wall or into a corner generally makes things feel cramped, in my opinion. I think the exceptions to this rule are daybeds and twin beds. When you’re working with a smaller-scaled room (a small guest room or a kid’s room, maybe?), tucking a bed into a corner looks  charming. Just leave a foot or so on one side for bed-making and, you know, a little end table with flowers on it.




Positioning two beds is sometimes easier than one for me. In Greta’s room (below), adding a second bed for sister/cousin sleepovers solved the equation for me — of course there should be a bed on either side of the window!


You can see Greta’s room’s sources here!



Room with a view? Break all of the “rules.” Who wouldn’t want to wake up to the view of a forestscape (is that a thing?) or a sparkling lake? I’d prioritize my waking view over the view of my room from the door with the exception of… a feeling. When we first moved into our house, we tried our bed facing the French doors. Even though the view was nice — it felt so backwards. We swung it around, letting the doors flank the bed, and slept easier.

You can see our bedroom sources here!



An asymmetrical room also requires some embracing. This room (above) has a slight corner right smack dab in the middle of the dominant wall — a space between two windows that feels like a no-brainer for the bed. I love how she “cheated” the windows and the wall with the white headboard and the art. I also love the pairing of the bedside lamp with the twin sconces. This room is like the “where to put the bed” Master Class. (Are we getting ahead of ourselves?)



Sometimes, I really like the look of an asymmetrical curtain — like the layers of texture on the bed balance the window with a curtain hanging on only one side.

I’m taking this head full of inspiration into the guestroom this week. I know what we’re probably going to do, but I feel really open to the process. I’ll trust my gut even if it means rearranging for a fourth (or fifth) time. This is the fun part! Transformation!

What are your bed-positioning rules?






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What do you think?

  1. Nicolette says:

    I’m in California and too afraid to hang anything above my bed (I’ve experienced several earthquakes in my 32 years of life). We currently have our bed in front of a window and planning the same for our remodel

  2. Monica says:

    Our plan for our guest room is to build a queen sized murphy bed/built in cabinet to get around some of those issues. It’s going to have to double as our home office, and with one of us working from home 1x week normally (and both of us home FT now…) the “office” part needs to be prioritized over the “guest” part from a function space. That will also open up a ton of floor space and make the room feel bigger. The room is technically a parlor, so it’s got a bump out bay of windows, a set of double doors, another single door, a fireplace, and a window on the wall perpendicular to the bay. The “best” place for the bed visually is with the head in the bay, but it’s the least practical for regular life (also the loudest, since we’re on a city street and that’s the front of the house… and our windows are 1880’s original so they block no sound).

    In our master, we shoved a king sized bed, 100″ of full-depth ikea pax, and a 42″ dog crate into a 13×13 room. The room is even more challenging because there’s a door in 3 of the 4 corners. Design-wise, a queen would look so much better but I like being able to sleep well at night. We doubled down on the “cozy” by painting the walls and ceiling dark gray with dark gray curtains/white sheers/white light blocking roller blinds on the one window and it’s a great little sanctuary. Now if I could just make a decision about what to do with the giant blank expanse of pax doors….

  3. Steph says:

    Julia, I’m sure your guests are happy to see you and perfectly content! From your photo, it might be deceiving but does the bed fit on the same wall as the treadmill? The window would be to the left of the bed then…art or even a frame tv could be mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed to create the “nice view” you mentioned. I have stayed many places and a pull out sofa is fabulous when there is genuine hospitality.

  4. Jenny Young says:

    I’m surprised there aren’t more bedrooms showing a bed in the corner…with the headboard catty-cornered.

    My house is small, 1300 sq feet with 3 bedrooms & two baths the bedrooms are small. The master has no full blank wall. For decades, literally, I struggled with where to put our queen size bed. It just did not work well in front of the windows. Then I put it in the corner. What a discovery! No windows blocked, easy access to the closet & bath, ect.

    But just last year I was struggling again. I had to move a crib in the master to babysit my grandson & nothing was working. Finally on a whim, I moved the bed right in front of/against the closet entrance. It’s a wide closet (not walk in) that had bi-fold doors. I took the doors down, hung a pretty curtain & it was perfect. I do have to walk all the way around the bed to go into my closet from one side but there is plenty of room to walk behind the bed once I get there. And it faces two windows (both with lake views) on two walls.

  5. Victoria says:

    It feels almost like the treadmill is the hardest part in here, rather than bed placement. You could consider a crazy idea of building a fold up bed/storage wall, you know the beds that you pull down at night like old motel rooms?
    You could also consider making either a screen, or a fabric cover to hide the treadmill when guests visit. From your answers to the comments it doesn’t sound like there is another place to put the treadmill right now, so I hesitate to give another idea but just in case, would it work behind a screen in the music room? A nice carved wood screen perhaps. Anyway, sorry, you’re probably fed up of hearing about the treadmill, but given that it isn’t there, is there a mental acceptance maybe needs to happen that for the time being there is no ‘perfect’ plan for the guest room? So, maybe where it is now works for now?
    Last crazy idea, could you leave the bed in front of the window but design a headboard that hides during the day? Maybe slides up from behind the bed frame and clicks in place.

  6. Julie S says:

    I have to go with feeling + looks together for my room. For whatever reason I just don’t like walking in the door to the foot of the bed. I much prefer coming at the bed from the side – now that angle feels good, is beautiful and proportional, and makes me smile! Our master was clearly set up to have the bed on the short wall between two narrow windows, foot facing the door, but it did not work. The walkways either side felt cramped and again I hate coming in to the foot end. We moved it to the 10′ wide window-wall and with our low bed I get to have our green backyard as the headboard/art, plus my eyes aren’t facing the window when I’m lying down so I’m not wakened as early as I might be otherwise.

  7. Alexa says:

    Thank you for sharing the process with us, even when something doesn’t work the first, second, or even third time! I know you’ve mentioned the possibility of one day building a pool house. Would you ever incorporate a small home gym into that or build a home gym somewhere on the property?

    • Julia Marcum says:

      Yeah, I think that’s the long-term plan. Either having the guest house with the pool house or the home gym there.

  8. Ashley says:

    The 90’s called and told me they have a design solution. Accent wall. Stay with me. Center the bed, then paint the headboard wall a deep, moody color (blue? green? blue green?). Hang some gorgeous drapes in a similar tone, with a plush texture. Then, hang a (centered) light fixture over the bed to steal the show and anchor the bed. You can add more functional lighting with those petite floor reading lamps (like from RH) on either side of the bed if need be. Skip the sconces and side tables and put a low credenza/cabinet at the foot of the bed to hold reading materials, etc. If you’re feeling fancy you could even add a phone charger by running a cord under the bed and into the back of said credenza/cabinet. Cheers!

    • Ashley says:

      Oops, forgot to mention the treadmill in my musings above. Give it the love it deserves! Hang the mirror next to it, with maybe a hook or two next to it (for a workout towel or guest robe) and a shelf below the mirror for bottled water. Since it’s there to stay, have fun with it and make it part of the vibe of the room. Last year I stayed at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, which is a beautiful gym and a boutique hotel, and they blend the form and function in a quirky, vintage way. Think trophies, old photos of sporting events, framed/mounted jerseys and gear, etc. You want to smile when you see your treadmill, not disguise it!

  9. katie says:

    Could the giant treadmill go in the ‘theater room’?

  10. Christina Fessmann says:

    Your home is very inspiring and there are so many great rooms that you have made so special. The guest bedroom should make your heart smile when you walk in as well. The other day we were invited to friends for the evening and being that their son just had an accident and had to stay in bed, we moved the get together upstairs in the master bedroom. There was also a cross trainer right smack in front of the bed. My friend said she uses it sometimes. I thought how depressed I would be to have to wake up every morning and the first thing to see is the cross trainer and the wardrobe behind. I love a beautiful view. If possible I would always put the bed facing a window. If not possible, then under the window but looking into a beautiful arrangement across the room. You live in beautiful surroundings. Go for a run outside. Breath in the fresh air. Listen to the birds chirp. There is nothing like fresh air and outdoors. Besides the black rubber on the treadmill is really bad for the lungs. I’m sure you can find another space for your equipment and make the guest bedroom as though you would love to sleep there????????

    • Another Christina says:

      What a rude comment, masquerading as kindness. Your poor friend! Poor Julia! Maybe you would be depressed to wake up to the view of a treadmill, but I’m of the opinion: who cares. We all have lives outside of the perfect Instagram filter. It’s functional. It can also be beautiful. Also, Julia lives in Idaho where it snows several feet at once during winter – seems like a good reason to own a treadmill.

  11. Juli says:

    What about the height of a bed vs the height of the ceiling? Would you do a canopy bed with only 8’ ceilings?

  12. Kim says:

    Hi Julia,
    I realize Chris just organized the garage, and you got the cars to fit. Is there space for a workout area in the garage?
    You are very detail oriented so I’m sure you thought of every possibility!
    Thanks for sharing.

  13. Michelle says:

    Such a timely post. We are about to swap rooms, moving our king bed into a large guest room/office. We want the larger bedroo and our dedicated offices to be a floor apart – two people WFH means a LOT of together time. Even with doors. But placing the kingsize bed has been a struggle. The room is only slightly longer than it is wide. Has two windows smack in the middle of the walls facing the door, and a closet in the middle of the door wall. I considered the open frame/bed in front of the window placement. It would look better coming in and allow easier access to both sides of the bed. BUT I felt like the remaining space just wasn’t as flexible and I really wanted a bed frame with an upholstered cozy look. So, we’re taking the widest wall over all other rules approach. I’m not sure I will ever quite love it, but am hoping the tradeoffs are worth it. This is harder than it looks.

  14. Katy says:

    This is a great conversation that I think we can all relate to. Could the room support pulling the bed forward and “hiding” the treadmill behind it? The treadmill would be easy to use but mostly hidden from view.

  15. Kate says:

    Such a timely post! I literally just stalked your instagram feed looking for photos of bedrooms with beds in front of a window because I had just decided that was the best way to design a particular bedroom, and was looking for affirmation ???? thank you so much for this!

  16. CELINA says:

    I absolutely love all of these inspiration pictures!! So beautiful.
    Since I live in Alaska, I’ve always been told not to place a bed/crib in front of a window, in case of a big earthquake. Luckily I’ve had other options in my rooms, but I wonder if anyone else has heard that before?

  17. Suzanne says:

    Interesting post. I feel the only real rule is that a bed should not go in front of the only window in a bedroom! Despite people saying that it would be easy to move the bed to open the window, or climb over the headboard in case of a fire I can not ever understand putting a bed in front of the only window!

  18. Lynn says:

    Thank you, your posts are always so well thought out! I think I learned a lot, even though I‘ll probably never need ist, because pur rooms in germany are so small, there isn‘t much of an option in most homes.

  19. Tarynkay says:

    What size bed do you have in the guest room? Could you get a smaller one? I think the current placement would be fine if the bed was smaller and the headboard was either lower or open so it’s not blocking the window. If the bed can’t be smaller, maybe center it and build in little shelves for night-tables on either side?

    Is the treadmill permanent or is that a Covid adaptation that will go away when it’s safe to go back to the gym? If it’s more of a Covid thing, I imagine that you aren’t having loads of out of town guests anyhow right now so I would just evict the treadmill when this is all over.

  20. Emily says:

    What about putting the treadmill in the former master closet?

  21. Jill says:

    My personal preference is always to have the foot of the bed facing the doorway. That way I feel like I get full ‘credit’ for the bed styling! Headboard, pillows, throws, all the layers! In my guest room, the only way the bed fits is sideways to the door and it drives me crazy! Thanks for the other tips! I learned that I need to pull my bed out from being so close to the window because it’s ‘pinching’ my drapes, but it’s an open framed bed in front of a window so I’m giving myself credit for the win! ;-)

    • Kate says:

      I agree about the foot of the bed for optimum styling! And the best bonus: the big ole TV isn’t viewable when you walk by ????

  22. Courtney says:

    Such good timing for this post! I’m working on my sons room but so stumped.
    twin bed, he wants it against the wall.
    the practical walls have windows and we have the curtain situation!
    its driving me crazy!!

  23. Christina says:

    Hey there! I’d love to know know your thoughts on placing a bed diagonally in rectangular bedroom. It’s not my favorite, but we’ve tried all other options in our master and this works best for us right now. What to do with the space behind the bed? And now our nightstands are a funky fit. Any tips to make it work and feel natural?

  24. Danielle Battagione says:

    Love all of this! From an energetic standpoint, though, I learned from Feng Shui if you have to put your bed against a window, use the sturdiest headboard possible to “fake a wall”, the energy is off if it can slip out the window. And I prefer to have the head of the bed face east whenever possible, or south as a secondary option. Never north.

  25. Marissa says:


    This couldn’t of come at a better time ! I’ve been trying to think of a better way to arrange my bedroom but the main wall has one window that is off center. Do you have any suggestions on what to do in this situation?

    Can’t wait to see your guest bedroom redo !!


    • Julia says:

      Balance it with art or curtains or lamps or all of the above!

      • Kelly says:

        This is my issue, as well! Our room is not large (12’x12.5’) and every wall has either a door or an off-center window….and no wall can have the bed centered if we want any other furniture in the room. Argh! We are trying to balance a window (which has white trim) on one side of the headboard with some kind of gallery arrangement on the other side. Im trying to decide if it matters what kind of frames/mattes we choose? Does it have to be white To balance the window trim or will the visual weight be enough regardless?

  26. Susan says:

    I practice Feng Shui, the Asian art of placement. The bed should always go in the “command” position-against a solid wall for support, and so one can see the door ( but not in line with it). Surely you have another room where you can make a dedicated gym, and leave this room as a guest room; then you’d have room to place the bed properly.

  27. Dianne Phillips says:

    Thanks for doing the thinking for me! Informative and creative. Thanks!

  28. Tara says:

    1. Always have room to walk around it for bed-making purposes.
    2. Never have feet in line with the door.
    3. Always include at least one nightstand or shelf with a lamp and easily accessible outlet.

  29. Liz says:

    Once, I put the bed at an angle in the corner. At that point in time, I didn’t have a headboard, so I used a storage chest at the head of the bed. It held extra blankets, a lamp and the normal bedside items. It worked in the room.

    Could you put the treadmill in the media room? Perhaps someone would use it to walk/run while watching a movie? Or, put it by the window and the bed along the wall facing the door. Use a room divider, either solid or fabric to be able to screen out the treadmill for a guest.

    Looking forward to see how you configure this room….

  30. Alexandra Haas says:

    What would you recommend for a bedroom with a bay window and across the bay window is the closet?? I’ve been trying to figure out the best placement. The room is 15’ x 13’

  31. Erin says:

    This post couldn’t be more timely for me. I just keep staring at our two bedrooms – which should be the nursery? The office? Queen? Sofa bed? Day bed? I’m spinning in circles and I think it stems from that question “where does the be even go?” I really want to maximize the space’s functionality, but it feels like there’s only one wall that could for a bed. Looking forward to thinking a bit outside the box. Thanks!

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