I design sex rooms that cost $200,000, but thrift stores will do the job

  • Netflix’s How to Build a Sex Room sheds light on the sex room business.
  • Melanie Rose, the host, told Insider the most expensive item she installed was a Tally Ho chair.
  • Customers can shell out around $200,000 for a sex room, but thrift stores offer cheaper options.

Melanie Rose had no intention of becoming a sexroom designer. She just fell in.

When Rose started her career as an interior designer 10 years ago, she planned to design kitchens, bathrooms and other spaces.

One day a client turned to her and asked her if she had ever designed a sex room. Her answer was no, but she made a point of finding out more about her.

She was so drawn to her new field of work that she ended up writing erotic novels, and she suggested a TV series based on her writing to Adam Sher, President of ITV America.

But Sher felt Rose’s career as a sexroom designer would be a better subject for a program.

“I never thought I’d land my own show on Netflix,” Rose said.

Now she’s the host of the series How to Build a Sex Room, which premiered in early July. During the show, Rose refurbishes couples’ rooms into sensual spaces that suit their desires and allow them to explore and develop their relationship.

Melanie Rose with her hands clasped in an episode of How To Build a Sex Room.


Rose wants to dispel the perception of sex rooms as dirty. When people search on Google, they’re likely to come across extremes like sex dungeons. But she says rooms can be stylish — it just depends on what people find erotic.

“You would think there’s a type of person that would want a sex room,” she said. “There is no type. It could be your next door neighbor.”

For example, on the second episode of “How to Build a Sex Room,” Rose met a couple who wanted to add spark to their relationship.

She made them a “honeymoon suite” that focused on sensuality. It had a bed, a living area and a rest room. The subtle decorations, including candles, fluffy throws and flower petals, gave a romantic but discreet feel.

Rose was born and raised in London. Before becoming an interior designer, she was a television and theater actress. She spoke from her colorful couch in her Los Angeles home, which she said “really speaks to who I am, vibrancy.”

She specializes in creating sensual and erotic spaces, which she calls “sacred spaces,” according to her website. “Other than that, I’m my own businesswoman,” she told Insider. She also still does traditional renovations.

Sex rooms are not cheap

Converting rooms into sex rooms can be an expensive project, depending on the size and complexity of the space, Rose said. When you tear down walls or install lavish furniture, the dollars can add up.

A small sex room can cost $35,000 to $40,000 to set up, but larger ones can command a hefty price tag, sometimes exceeding $190,000, Rose said.

During the show, Rose installs showers, erects walls, and places sex ornaments and artwork in clients’ rooms.

“It can be as big as you want and as expensive as you want,” she said.

One of Melanie Rose's sex rooms, showing a bed with lots of pillows, throws and mirrors on the wall.


Customers’ reactions to their finished sex room can be joyful and emotional.

A couple on the show, Shenika and Matthew, asked Rose to rekindle the sexuality in their relationship that had passed since they had children. Rose designed the “Vegas Suite,” pictured above, which had its own bathroom — a feature she says she loves installing for clients.

Melanie Rose shows the finished sex room to two happy customers.


One of Rose’s fondest memories was when Shenika saw the end result with tears in her eyes and told her, “You saved our marriage.”

Tally-ho chairs and sex swings

The most expensive object Rose has incorporated into one of her projects is a Tally Ho chair. This curved-back chair, equipped with harnesses and stirrups, can cost a few thousand dollars, Rose said.

The green Tally-Ho chair featured in the film Fifty Shades of Gray cost $14,600, according to Bloomberg. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop included a $28,500 version of the chair called the “Tufted Boudoir Chaise” in its Christmas gift guide this year.

The hottest item in the sex toy market right now is a sex swing, a device that hangs from the ceiling with stirrups attached, Rose said.

Shot of one of the rooms designed by Melanie Rose, showing a bed with a sex swing.

Caleb Alvarado/Netflix

“Everyone wants a sex swing,” she said, adding that the appeal was being suspended in mid-air. “Some aren’t that expensive,” she said, adding that “Amazon makes them.”

The reaction of your customers to your new equipment? curiosity, she said. “It’s experimenting, exploring, going on a journey with your partner that’s even more fun,” she said.

Cheap hacks to build sex rooms

For those looking to set up a sex room at a lower price, thrift stores offer great alternatives, according to Rose.

She suggested finding a used display case or repurposing a book stand by pasting wallpaper to the back of the shelf and displaying sex toys there.

“Pull it up, use your imagination,” Rose said.

Melanie Rose smiles at two fully clothed clients in the bathtub in one of her sex rooms.

Caleb Alvarado/Netflix

Many stores, like British chain Marks & Spencer, have great linens, Rose said, adding that people don’t need to go for high-end products as long as they feel comfortable.

Going cheap wasn’t Rose’s advice for sex toys, however: “I always say, buy quality.”

Boutiques have the goods

Rose says few places sell the furniture needed for sex rooms.

“It’s not like I can go to the store or the furniture store and say, ‘Hey, I’d like to take a look at a tantra chair, please, and do you have a bondage bed I could take a look at?'” , she said. “It’s very different.”

Instead, Rose goes into boutiques and family-run businesses.

“They want to keep these businesses alive and thriving rather than going to big chains,” she said.

For the Netflix show, Rose said she bought sex room accessories from local stores, including Vanilla Kink and Awakening in Denver. Stockroom in Los Angeles is one of Rose’s favorite places to shop for lingerie and bondage for her clients.

Melanie Rose points to a mannequin wearing a feather scarf and lingerie

Rose, host of Netflix’s How to Build a Sex Room.


“It’s a place where I can go in and just touch and feel everything and breathe in that beautiful leather that’s really intoxicating,” she said.

At the end of the day, Rose pointed out that sex rooms don’t always have to be about sex. Whether it’s bathing or sipping cocktails, she said, it’s all about spending intimate time together.

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