No matter your personal style – maximalist, minimalist, light and bright, or deep and dark – there's pretty much one rule when it comes to bedroom decor: it needs to be restful.
Yes, we can have design tricks to help you become a morning person or room schemes for night owls, but ultimately we all have to sleep – and the colour we paint our bedroom is top of the list of any design tips for better sleep.
Certain colours, such as bright red and strong yellow, are associated with energy and speed – great for when we're buying a burger, but anxiety-inducing in a space that's meant to be our personal sanctuary.
Other tones will have a more personal connection. They're the comfort-blanket nostalgiacore colours we associate with feeling relaxed and safe – maybe the shade of your childhood bedroom, or your granny's sofa.
We've spoken to colour professionals, interior designers and stylists to help you chart your own personal colour wheel and find the most calming paint colours for a bedroom.
Calming paint colours for a bedroom
‘When choosing a paint colour for the bedroom, I encourage you to find your restful colour. Soft and neutral hues are popular as they are the most conducive to sleep,’ says Pippa Jamieson, interiors stylist and author of The Sensory Home: An Inspiring Guide to Mindful Decorating. ‘If you are lucky to have lots of natural daylight, the space will handle dark and dramatic hues.’
Still, feeling overwhelmed by paint charts? Try the Magic Wand exercise, recommended by design strategist Olga Trusova in her book Calm Living: Simple Design Transformations to Fill your Spaces with Tranquillity.
'Imagine you have a magic wand that can fix or change anything in your space. What are the top three things you'd like to improve and why? Immerse yourself in your environment and look with fresh eyes,' explains Olga. Don't overthink it – just list your items in order of priority, starting with colour.
Our experts have listed their go-to calm colours for a bedroom; which one will you choose?
1. Green: nature's tranquil colour
Green bedroom ideas can range from fresh mint and soft sage to deep tree canopy tones. It's their connection with nature that makes them so soothing – research shows that being in a green environment, whether that's outdoors or in a green-painted room, creates a calming and relaxing effect.
‘Converse to what 99% of the world says, strong colour can create a soothing and quiet atmosphere. For example, go dark green to feel like a little bear in the forest, or a navy to create the impression you’re sleeping under the night sky,’ says interiors writer Robyn Donaldson.
If you’re stuck for inspiration for exactly which shade of green to choose, using a colour wheel can help.
'Colours that sit harmoniously beside each other on the colour wheel such as green, blue-green and blue are like friendly neighbours, without any clashing elements, making them a good choice for bedrooms,' explains colour specialist and interior designer, Adrienne Chin.
'A monochromatic colour scheme of tints, tones and shades of one colour – such as teal, turquoise and pale aqua – also works very well in a bedroom, particularly if you keep to cooler colours like blues, greens and violets, which are inherently calming.'
Adrienne has run her own interior design consultancy in London and Brighton since 1999, specialising in residential design. She has worked on projects in the UK, Europe, Morocco, Canada and Grenada. She teaches The Power of Colour and other courses at KLC School of Design and wrote The Home Decorator's Colour & Texture Sourcebook.
2. White: pure and serene
White is the perfect shade if you often feel overwhelmed and overstimulated – the absence of colour is immediately calming and can help to regulate feelings of anxiety.
'If you are a devoted, unabashed minimalist, choose your white and choose it well, say Emma Hopkinson and Robyn Donaldson, co-authors of All Up In My Space. 'Don’t put brilliant white anywhere near your sleep space. Look for warm-toned ones instead, with a touch of brown or yellow to create a hazy filter.'
3. Terracotta: earthy and grounding
The terracotta colour trend has taken over our gardens this summer, but these dusty red, rich brick and warm orange tones bring a relaxed, calming vibe to the bedroom, too. Colour psychologists say it's because these earthy colours create a grounding environment.
'To take inspiration from the great outdoors in your home design, you’ll want to stay within a fairly simple palette of earth tones. Simply put, earth tones are shades that you would find in nature, such as sand, sea, grass, and soil. In terms of key colours, this tends to include beige, taupe, chocolate brown, ochre, terracotta, with hints of sky blue, olive green, and white,' explains Suzanne Pearce, Co-Founder of Casa Bella Furniture.
'These earth tones can have a positive impact on our wellbeing because neutral, familiar shades are thought to have a calming effect on the psyche, which can help your property feel like a more positive, uplifting atmosphere to spend time in.'
4. Blue: shades of sea and sky
'Blue is the world’s most relaxing colour, according to research carried out by the University of Sussex,' says colour expert Adrienne Chinn. 'In a survey of over 25,000 people in 100 countries, dark blue shades were most often associated with feelings of calm. Blue is associated with the sky and water, and for this reason it creates feelings of serenity and peace.'
To make your blue bedroom ideas even more effective, choose a shade that's associated with a feelgood memory.
'My love for our Smoked Green-Blue paint colour comes from a vivid childhood memory. A beautifully made blue cotton dress and a summer’s day. Chubby brown knees and a happy inside fizzle,' explains Cassandra Ellis, colour expert and founder of paint brand Atelier Ellis.
5. Pink: soothing pastel
Pink is the perfect calming colour for bedrooms – and prisons. Okay, hear us out…
There's a power-pastel pink – less bright than Barbie, stronger than sugared almond – that's proven to calm people who are feeling agitated, making them less hostile and aggressive.
'There's a hue called Baker-Miller Pink, which has been used in prisons and hospitals for its scientifically proven calming qualities. So, if you want to create a feeling of tranquillity in your bedroom, you might want to consider pink,' explains colour expert and interior designer, Adrienne Chinn.
Pink is created by adding white to red, effectively toning down the most impactful colour in the spectrum.
'Pink has the energy of red but none of the scariness so it gives us this subtle energy but doesn't overwhelm us,' explains decorating expert and Dulux creative director, Marianne Shillingford. 'And that's the magic of it as a colour. In a bedroom, we need a bit of energy without losing our sense of calm, and that's what pink gives us.
Marianne is a decorating expert who is passionate about the power of colour to change lives. As well as her current role as Creative Director at Dulux, she is the founder of the Colour in Design Award, which encourages a new generation of color-forward design talent.
5. Black: immersive and cocooning
A black bedroom might not seem the natural choice for an anxiety-reducing scheme, but it might be worth taking a trip to the dark side if you want the ultimate in deep, cocooning comfort. If you're the person who loves to draw the curtains, dim the lights and cuddle up under the duvet, then a deep charcoal or full-on black bedroom could be the colour for you.
‘Too much black and grey can feel oppressive, but when used in a room with lots of natural light and teamed with reflective metals and a small injection of bold colour, then it can feel rich and grounding,’ says interiors stylist Pippa Jamieson. For these final touches, we like to make use of home decor discount codes so we can do the most possible with our budgets.
Whichever calming colour you choose for your bedroom, Pippa has one final tip to create the most soothing decorating scheme.
‘Choosing the same colour for the walls, bedding and headboard might not seem obvious, but sticking with one colour for most of your bedroom creates a fuss-free scheme that’s easy on the eye,' she says. 'If you continue the colour onto the ceiling, it will feel like a comforting hug.'
Next time you're struggling to relax remember not to neglect the power of colour in your bedroom.
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Andrea began her journalism career at Ideal Home and is currently Editor of our sister title, Country Homes & Interiors, which celebrates modern country style. Andrea is passionate about colour and how it can transform both our homes and our sense of wellbeing, and has completed The Power of Colour course with the prestigious KLC School of Design. Andrea's career spans interiors magazines, women's lifestyle titles and newspapers. After her first job at Ideal Home, she moved on to women's magazines, Options and Frank. From there it was on to the launch of Red magazine, where she stayed for 10 years and became Assistant Editor. She then shifted into freelancing, and spent 14 years writing for everyone from The Telegraph to The Sunday Times, Livingetc, Stylist and Woman & Home. She was then offered the job as Editor of Country Homes & Interiors, and now combines that role with writing for idealhome.co.uk.
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