Are you resting well? Does it take you hours to fall asleep? Maybe your environment is not helping you. I’ve been there.
A few simple changes can help you create a relaxing bedroom. We all deserve a calm space to unwind after a long day.
Learn seven proven tips to improve your sleep. And get a sneak peek of my bedroom renovation plans featuring stylish accessories and furniture.
Meet the “Happier at Home” blog series
This blog post is part of the Happier at Home blog series. A collection of articles packed with practical tips and healthy habits to help you boost your happiness at home. Make sure you check out the first blog post of the series to get started: 10 science-backed ways to make you happier at home.
The importance of a good night’s sleep
My insomnia story
Sometimes I wonder how my parents survived parenthood. Confession: I was that annoying child with insomnia — “Muuum!” After the third call for help in one night, I know for certain my mother would ignore me. I don’t blame her, to be honest. But, in my defence, the homemade placebo recipe of water and sugar obviously wasn’t cutting it.
Time passed. As I grew up and moved from one house to the next, I learned the tricks that helped me sleep better. The adjustments I had to make in my environment to turn my bedroom into a relaxing sanctuary. I share all these below, and my master bedroom mood board. I hope it inspires you to design your bedroom with your well-being in mind.
Create your own sanctuary
Your bedroom is the most overlooked room in the house. Yet, it’s the most important — even more than the kitchen. Treat it as its own universe with special rules and rituals. And that’s because, in this space, a core human body need takes place: sleep. Like health, you only miss it when you don’t have it.
Even if you don’t have sleeping problems, it’s worth learning what works for you. And what doesn’t (bombshell at the end of the post). Do not underestimate the impact of a good night’s sleep. Activities such as learning a new language, mastering a craft or gaining deeper insight, rely on it1.
7 Expert tips to get better sleep
These are the key principles that will help you create a calm and relaxing bedroom. I learned them the hard way — I’m looking at you tip number four! Implement them into your space one tip at a time and you will feel the benefits. Your super sleep journey starts here.
1.- Sort your bed out
Not all bed sheets are created equal. There is a way to determine their quality — and it’s not thread count. The key factor is the material. Natural fibres such as cotton, linen and related non-synthetic blends are the best option to maximise breathability.
And for that luxurious hotel bed feeling? Invest in a good mattress topper.
Next, how often do you change your bedsheets? Every one to two weeks is ideal. This will reduce the build-up of bacteria and mites2. I will not cover this in detail because typing it makes my whole body itch. And remember to renew your mattress every eight years or less. Yes, wash the pillows too.
2.- Hide the clutter away
The secret is to hide the bedroom clutter away so you don’t see it. That’s why we have wardrobes, drawers, etc. Make sure all surfaces are clean and free from unnecessary stuff. Those bedside table books and trinkets look cute on a pic. But when it comes to sleep they’re not really helping you.
Having an easy room layout with no floor obstructions (i.e. strategically placed piles of clothes) will make entering your bedroom a non-stressful experience. Ensure the flow around your bed and to the door is not interrupted.
Remember, clutter goes beyond the physical form of a pair of jeans on the floor. Visual clutter, such as heavily patterned high-contrast surfaces, can stimulate your brain and hinder relaxation.
3.- Choose your colours wisely
Let’s talk about colour. The link between colour and sleep has not been properly studied. However, vibrant warm/red colours are associated with attention and focus3. Therefore, they may not be the best option for your bedroom.
The truth is no single colour will help you sleep better. But many people find blues and greens calming. You just have to find your own soothing colour. (Mine is dark green!)
Interested in the power of colour? Read my blog post about the myths and facts of colour psychology.
4.- Set the perfect temperature
In terms of room temperature, set your thermostat to 15-19℃ (or 18-21℃ for babies and toddlers)4. This will not only help your body regulate its temperature ahead of sleep. You’ll also save money on heating and consume less energy.
Despite this, I had issues sleeping ever since I arrived in the UK 3.5 million years ago. It turns out I kept waking up in the middle of the night… because my feet were cold5. Solution: thermal socks.
5.- Soothing scents and sounds
Another thing you can try is scent. Certain scents, such as lavender and chamomile, can help you relax6. Yet, there’s no direct link between scent and better sleep. Note burning candles in the bedroom is dangerous (never leave a candle unattended). Instead, try reed diffusers or essential oil sprays.
Additionally, some people find white noise soothing. This is something you may have noticed already. An air purifier, for example, will generate low-level white noise without annoying the cat. Otherwise, there’s a myriad of white noise apps available: from true white noise to nature sounds.
6.- Master of the light
Blackout blinds/curtains or solid shutters are a must in the bedroom. Unless you live in a glass house in the middle of the forest somewhere in Scandinavia. The best solution is to use different window treatments. Blinds and curtains, shutters and curtains, blackout curtains and sheer curtains, etc. This will reduce the amount of brightness in the early morning.
Artificial lighting can kill the relaxing vibe you want for your bedroom. Forget those fancy exposed Edison bulb lamps. Their light is too harsh. Instead, choose lights with lampshades or diffusers. And make every switch dimmable to control the amount of light in the space.
7.- No tech allowed
This is perhaps the most important of all these tips — and the easiest to implement! I try not to use my phone in the bedroom, and you won’t find a TV or tablet around.
Most of these devices emit blue light via their screens. Our brain interprets blue light as the morning sky and will trigger alertness responses to kick start the day7. That’s the last thing you need before bed.
Some devices have a Night Shift mode, which helps to an extent, but it’s not as good as No Phone mode. That’s because, even though you may be blocking the blue light, you are still stimulating your brain by using your phone.
Inspiration: My relaxing master bedroom renovation plans
The space and its challenges
This space is your typical Victorian 1st-floor bedroom facing the street. You could say the size is average for UK standards which — for the rest of the world — means it’s a matchbox. Luckily, natural light is not an issue with three large windows on one wall. The room has a lot of potential. But it hasn’t been updated for a long time.
Some years ago, the previous owner of the house decided to experiment with novelty textiles. For the window, he picked vertical blinds and half-length blackout curtains. Let me tell you a secret. Half-length curtains are not very useful at blocking light. And for the floor, white carpet. I’m sure in the catalogue it looked sumptuous. But now it has a raggedy rat feel to it.
An ambitious plan
Carpet be gone! I’m looking forward to uncovering the floorboards and place a large thick rug to frame the bed. Storage has to be sorted too. My old broken wardrobe needs replacing desperately. The idea is to find a pair of mid-century modern wardrobes, and maybe a handsome chest of drawers. If this fails, the plan B is to get fitted custom-made wardrobes.
The current window dressing situation has to be fixed. I’ve opted for a multi-layered solution. First, solid shutters will allow me to control the morning light. Then, white sheer curtains will let the light in throughout the day whilst providing privacy. I may finish it with accent curtains, but I haven’t made my mind up yet.
Other important jobs have to be done before the decoration begins. Here’s my renovation list (in no particular order):
- Add more light switches and sockets
- The above will require plastering afterwards
- Remove Artex ceiling (checking for Asbestos)
- Change the radiator because my 2.3 tog bed socks are not enough sometimes
The keywords of this bedroom design are stylish and elegant, with a subtle hint of mid-century modern. Well… it’s mainly mid-century modern. But, hey, if you’re following Boreal Abode it’s not because of my appreciation of Shabby Chic and pallet furniture. I haven’t decided on the colour scheme yet. I can tell you it’s likely to be a dark shade.
To help me narrow down colour and design options I’ve resorted to my usual inspiration sources — including Pinterest! We have a love-hate relationship, and now we’re together again. Make sure you follow me on Pinterest. And get ready to swoon over the finest mid-century modern, contemporary and Scandinavian interiors.
The mood board: A relaxing bedroom for a better night’s sleep
Now that you know the best tips to improve your sleep, the beautiful pieces below will make perfect sense. They may not be my final choices, but they illustrate the calm mood and style I want to achieve for the space.
1.- Mid-century bed and side tables – West Elm
I already own these since I moved two years ago. The acorn finish is simply magic, and it brings the wood grain and colour to life. These are the pieces that set the style of the whole room design.
2.- Royal System shelving unit – Poul Cadovius
My beloved vintage Royal System unit is staying where it is. A piece of 20th-century design history. You may remember the blog post I wrote about it. I wonder what it will look like against a darker wall colour, though.
3.- Classic-style radiator
Investing in a good radiator is a must in old homes. Did you know heating your room efficiently helps prevent damp?3 I still don’t know what size radiator I need, but the classic design works for me.
4.- Metal framed arched floor mirror – West Elm
The oversized round mirror in my living room makeover was a success. I’m resorting to West Elm again because of their timeless designs. This large floor mirror with a brass frame will disguise an awkward blocked chimney breast.
5.- Sunset Lake rug – West Elm
When the carpet goes, a rug will be required to soften the space. I’m drawn to the soft colours and soothing pattern of this rug. I can see it complementing dark walls and wooden floor perfectly.
6.- Vintage wardrobes
I hope to find a pair of wardrobes like the ones in this Robin Boyd house. Clean lines with plenty of storage. It will be a challenging task. But as I explained earlier, there’s a backup plan.
7.- Curvilinear mid-century sconce – West Elm
The only light in the room right now is a pendant lamp. This is not helped by the fact there’s only one socket in the room. A sconce will free up the bedside table and provide directional lighting thanks to its flexible arm.
Do you want to see the final result?
Now you know the plans, and I’m happy to reveal my bedroom is finished! Did I stick to my furniture and accessories choices? What’s the final colour scheme like?
One thing is for sure, it’s now a relaxing and calm space. Just as intended when I designed the room. Check my bedroom makeover blog post and tell me what you think.
Is your bedroom relaxing enough?
Hope you have enjoyed my top tips and design plans for the master bedroom. Now, a little bombshell. Whatever you do, please do not count sheep. It’s been shown that counting is detrimental and will not help you sleep8. Instead, focus on your breath flow to steer away from distracting thoughts. And relax… zzzzzz.
If you’d like to know more tips on how to make other rooms more relaxing, from the kitchen to the living room, check out this blog post: how to create a calm home – a simple guide to creating peaceful spaces.
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