7 Ways to Make Your Bedroom Your Sanctuary

Get a dreamy and relaxing bedroom with these decorating moves

By Karen Egly-Thompson / Courtesy of Houzz.com

Your bedroom can be more than just a place to sleep. It can also be your inner sanctum, where you begin and end the day by reading, relaxing or just unwinding. If your bedroom needs more serenity and less drama, try these seven ideas to create the comfortable, restful space you’ve always dreamed of.

1. Seek simplicity. The tiny-house movement is popular for a reason beyond the novelty of Lilliputian building practices. Too much stuff becomes burdensome. Paring down your bedroom to only the essentials can make it look and feel more relaxing. Instead of seeing extraneous piles of books, unused chairs or your childhood marble collection, your eyes and mind can focus on the bedroom’s purpose: sleep and rejuvenation. 

Decide what you really need and what you don’t. Do you use that desk or armchair you found at the flea market for actually sitting, or has it become a drop-off spot for laundry or odds and ends?

Keeping your bedroom on the sparse side allows for focusing on a beautiful view or even the gentle lines of the furniture. Here, you can almost hear the birds chirping and smell the forest just outside this bedroom. If the decor had been on the busy side, the Zen state of mind would be lost.

One benefit of keeping it simple is there are fewer furnishings to buy, so it’s easier to invest in higher-quality pieces. Cleaning is faster and easier too.

2. Go calm with your color. It’s no secret that paint color can change the mood in a room. Nor is it a surprise that paint is one of the lowest-cost projects you can undertake that has the biggest payoff.

To make the most of your bedroom as a calming retreat, you need to do some soul searching as to what colors you find most relaxing. Some people gravitate toward whites and off-whites for their sense of cleanliness and purity. Light colors tend to visually expand space. Keep in mind that stark whites can be perceived as too harsh. 

If you have the budget, you could upgrade that paint to fabric, as has been done in this bedroom.

Other people find dark colors cozy and enveloping, as in this bedroom painted in Flint by Benjamin Moore. 

Dark colors on the wall can feel expansive if the trim is also painted the same color, because the wall and trim recede as a single entity (kind of like outer space). However, the opposite is true if a dark wall is paired with light-colored trim, because the contrast of the light trim defines and highlights the edges.

If neutrals don’t do it for you, the other colors most people find relaxing are pale greens, blues, purples and pinks. (In fact, some prison walls, football locker rooms and motor vehicle registration rooms are painted pink to dilute aggression.) 

Painted in Benjamin Moore’s Georgian Green, the walls here make this bedroom feel fresh and tranquil.

3. Get touchy-feely. OK, your bedroom is a great place to get touchy-feely, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. Try to incorporate a variety of different textures to feed not only your sense of touch, but also your eyes. Four walls of painted drywall can look and feel cold and hard. The grass cloth wallcovering in this bedroom adds warmth and a tactile quality that make the walls far richer than smooth ones.

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Exposed brick, wooden beams, wood molding and trim, natural woven window shades, fabric lampshades and nubby textiles are some other ways to enhance tactile qualities.

Also consider including an area rug around your bed so your toes have something plush to land on in the morning. Your feet will thank you, especially in wintertime.

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4. Get the nightstand height right. There will be those who disagree, but the best nightstand height is one that’s a few incheshigher than the mattress. The reason is that you’re far less likely to knock stuff over with your pillow or a midnight reaching for a water glass compared with a nightstand the same height or lower than your mattress.

It’s also often more difficult to reach items on low-slung night tables when sitting up in bed. This small desk serves as a nightstand and is a healthy few inches taller than the mattress.

5. Anchor the bed. Conventional spots for beds are along a wall, but if your bedroom is in a more open space, like an attic, you might be tempted to let it float in the middle. Don’t. Utilize a structural component, as shown here, or even build a partial-height or full-height wall. 

A feng shui tenet is to tether the headboard against a solid wall. Not only does this offer a sense of psychological security, but it also guards against drafts and noise. If you can help it, also avoid placing your bed underneath a window wall. Cold drafts not only can disrupt your sleep, but they can also make you sick.

Placing a bench at the foot of your bed is another way to anchor your bed’s position in the room. Plus, it’s a good drop-off place for a robe that might otherwise end up on the floor. 

Bed benches are also knee savers against sharp bed frames and platform beds, because they force you to walk around the end of the bed rather than brush by it. I like this demilune shape because it reinforces a natural circulation around the bed.

6. Secure some sconces. Wall sconces are huge space-savers in bedrooms that don’t have room for two nightstands and table lamps. In bedrooms that do, they free up more space on the bedside table for books, reading glasses and drinks. 

Look for a type that has a rotating neck or extendable arms, as shown here. That way you can maneuver the sconce into perfect position. Make sure the arm is long enough to clear headboard obstacles, like the side wing on this headboard. Fabric shades diffuse light more evenly than metal ones.

A hardwired power supply in a wall looks best for a clean look because there’s no cord hanging out, but it’s not necessary. Understandably, a lot of folks don’t want to dig into their walls, but it’s easy to plan for if you’re doing a renovation. 

Some sconces have a coordinating cord cover that keeps the cord flush to the wall and matches the fixture, as seen here. Otherwise, the hanging cord can contribute to a casual or an industrial aesthetic.

7. Breathe life into your decor. Including a few potted plants in your bedroom decor is a breeze, and plants can purify the air as well as boost your mood. But you can go a step further than sticking a Boston fern in the corner and calling it a day. Even imagery of nature can have a similar calming effect. The painting shown here is meditative and relaxing — perfect for a bedroom.

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Include found natural objects from walks on the beach or special vacations in your bedroom. This framed piece was made with dozens of mounted sand dollars.

Textiles can emulate nature, too. The wavy pattern of this Angela Adams rug reminds me of kelp drifting in seawater.

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Designer Garrison Hullinger took matters into his own hands and added a faux grain pattern in the unlikeliest of places — bedding. For this project, Hullinger designed the grain pattern, had it custom-printed onto fabric and made the fabric into a duvet cover.

If nothing relaxes you like water but your home is inland, add a peaceful water wash to your bedroom wall. This wall covering is a digital image made from a watercolor painting printed on canvas.