Even if you don’t necessarily spend a lot of time in your bedroom—and are asleep for most of the time you do spend in there—it’s still worthwhile to make the room beautiful. A well-decorated bedroom will not only bring you joy, but also help you relax and unwind at the end of the day—and wake up on the right side of the bed each morning.
If you’re planning to give your bedroom a lil’ facelift, one of the key decisions you’ll need to make is what color to paint the walls. That’s easier said than done, though, as there are quite literally thousands of hues to choose from—so many, in fact, that you might not know where to start.
While the ultimate choice in selecting that one perfect hue to use in your bedroom is yours to make, we can guide you in the right direction—with a little help from the pros. Two of our favorite interior designers, Julia Goodwin and Kathy Kuo, were kind enough to share some of their go-to tips and tricks for picking the best paint colors, all of which you can use to revamp your sleep space.
So what’s the trick to creating a relaxing bedroom? Apparently, this is the question on everyone’s mind. “This is one of the most frequent questions I’m asked by my design clients—a calm and relaxing bedroom is always high on the wish list!” says Goodwin. “To create this atmosphere, I use lighter shades on the walls.”
Many people tend to think cool colors—like blue, green, and purple—are the most soothing, but Goodwin explains warm colors can work too: “Both cool and warm tones can provide a feeling of calm, as long as you’re using a less saturated color.” So instead of a bold, bright orange, it’s better to use a light, muted variation.
Kuo offers similar advice, saying that she likes to opt for natural hues in the bedroom: “I prefer naturals, neutrals, and blues in the bedroom. I tend to think that bedrooms should be relaxing, an oasis for us to unwind, and nature-inspired color schemes are an easy way to add a sense of serenity in any space.”
In particular, Kuo likes to use blue in the bedroom, not only because it’s pretty, but also because of the effect it has on our brains! “Blue is my favorite shade when it comes to adding in a pop of color,” she explains. “For the bedroom in particular, it’s an fantastic choice because it neutralizes melatonin levels, meaning that it’s a refreshing and energizing color when our melatonin is low in the morning, and it becomes a soothing and relaxing color at night when our melatonin is high and we’re trying to fall asleep.” Her go-to blue paints? Farrow & Ball Borrowed Light and Stiffkey Blue.
Have you ever found a paint color that seemed perfect, but when you put it on the walls, it looked completely different? The lighting in your bedroom can change the appearance of paint quite drastically, which is why interior designers always recommend testing out swatches before you commit to a color.
“You should consider the size of the bedroom you’re working with and the amount of natural lighting available,” says Kuo. “If it’s a smaller space with ample lighting, I'd usually suggest leaning toward a lighter option, as it opens up a room. Conversely, if there’s little to no natural light, a dark hue like deep blue or charcoal can bring in an intimate feel, while creating a sense of grandeur.”
From here, you’ll want to select a few paint options in the shade of your choice and test them out. “Artificial and natural light dramatically change how you perceive paint colors,” explains Goodwin. “To select the right paint color, I always suggest placing paint samples directly onto various walls within the space. After they dry, they should be viewed at different times of day with both natural and artificial light.”
In particular, artificial light can make paint look different, so Goodwin recommends trying out different types of light fixtures to get the vibe you want. “When it comes to artificial light, add a dimmer for overhead lighting and supply the room with different options such as table lamps or wall sconces,” she says. “This will give you the ability to play with the amount of light to create a different mood.”
Finally, you’ll want to avoid colors that are too vibrant, as these will make your bedroom overly energetic—not great for when you’re trying to wind down for the day. “I recommend avoiding high-energy colors such as deep reds, bright oranges, lime green, and vibrant yellows—too much of these will make your room feel invigorating rather than soothing,” says Goodwin.
However, if you can’t live without your favorite bright orange, she recommends placing pops of the hue around the room: “If you love these colors, you can introduce them through accents, such as pillows and artwork.”
If your bedroom is still lacking that je ne sais qoui, our experts have a few tricks up their sleeves to make it feel more like you. “An easy way to make a statement in a bedroom is changing out the rug,” says Kuo. “Rugs add warmth, texture, and color to your space. Typically, the larger the rug, the more of your furniture you are able to include on it, so the more custom and luxurious it will look.” So when it comes to floor coverings, go big or go home!
She’s also a fan of wallpaper, especially for those who might not be ready to commit to one look: “Wallpaper is also a great option if you want to add a pattern or something fun that goes beyond regular paint. With wallpaper there are different options for removal, which make it easy to maintain or switch out if you’re hesitant to commit or currently in a rental.”
If you want to increase the coziness of your space, Goodwin recommends playing with different textures, too: “To amp up the cozy factor beyond paint, bring in layers of texture through accessories, bedding, window treatments, and even wall art.”
And there you have it: The keys to a peaceful bedroom, straight from the professionals. Now go forth and get to painting!