Sleep Smarts

My Trick for Quicker Sleep? It’s All in the Bedroom Color.

Plus, 9 calming hues to try yourself—& not a white on the list.

January 18, 2022
Photo by Rocky Luten

Sleep Smarts is your guide to shut-eye—with trusty tips, product recs, and new routines for a better night’s rest.

For quite a few years now, bedroom design has erred on the side of light and bright—you know, white walls, creamy drapes, minimal art and decor—but I happen to think that’s far from the only way of doing things. Last year, I painted the back wall of my bedroom in a deep, brownish gray (Otter Tail by Behr, to be specific), and I loved it so much that I knew I’d likely never go back to a bright white bedroom.

With two coats of paint on just one wall, my bedroom immediately felt more like the sanctuary almost everyone is reaching for when they design a bedroom. It felt cozy, warm, and altogether… sleepy. Think about it: Sure, some spas are light and bright, but aren't the most relaxing experiences (like massages and facials) in dim rooms with delicate wind chime music? You know I’m right.

At the end of the day, it’s all up to personal preference, but I’m taking the side of darker, moodier, sleepier. The only color I wouldn’t recommend for a bedroom? Red… like, fire engine red. That color has a documented way of putting people on edge. But if red’s your thing? By all means, have at it.

Read on for 9 of the best scene-setting, sleep-inducing (hopefully!) bedroom paint colors.

1. Vintage Green

Okay, so maybe I’m biased (since this is a photo of my bedroom) but I love a green bedroom. I knew in my current apartment I wanted a warm, vintage vibe, and this grassy green (Soreal Leaf by Behr) pairs perfectly with brass and gold accents, pink velvet curtains, and teak wood tones.

2. Super Bold Black

It doesn’t get more bold, really, than deep, black walls. Sure, there have been lots of chalkboard walls over the years, but a wall like this is intentional, and in small spaces, can actually make it feel larger and more open. Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams is one of my favorite neutral (not too cool, not too warm) black paints for rooms like this.

3. Deep Lead Gray

If full black paint is still a bit intimidating, try a shade with deep undertones but that reads a little lighter in daylight and next to lamps. Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball (seen here) is what’s described as “a dark lead gray with definite blue undertones,” and was actually inspired by the color used to paint downpipes and guttering.

4. Classic Hunter Green

One of the most classic colors, hunter green has an ability to skew both masculine and feminine, modern or vintage, and truly takes the form of whatever room it’s in. This particular hunter green is Current Mood by Clare Paint, and has almost teal undertones, so it blends seamlessly into rooms both warm or cool.

5. Cool Greige

The aforementioned wall that changed it all: Behr Otter Tail. I picked up a quart of this paint (in eggshell) without taking a sample home first, and therefore was shocked when I fell in love with this color more than I thought possible. It’s deep, warm, and cool at the same time, and while you might look past it in a swatch as just another brown, it’s truly a multifaceted hue when on the wall.

6. Mid Century Blue

There's something about this color that's decidedly mid century... can't you picture it with warm, bent wood chairs and a sputnik-style light fixture? Here, Goodnight Moon by Clare is featured just on the back wall where the bed sits, which is a great option if you're looking to dip your toe into a dark color but not dive fully in.

7. Smokey Green

Sage green is definitely the most popular color this year, but if you're looking for something a bit darker and more saturated for your bedroom, Farrow & Ball's Green Smoke is the perfect moody version of the trending shade.

8. Textured Gray

Textured walls have come back in a big way, thanks to lime wash and Roman clay style finishes that look much less sponge painted and much more been-there-for-centuries. In this room, Portola Paint's lime wash finish in Dolphin gives the walls an old world France feeling, and the dark linens and rug bring the cozy vibes home.

9. Burnt Pink

If you thought greens, blues, and grays were the only options for a dark bedroom, think again. Backdrop's 36 Hours in Marrakesh is a deep, earthy pink that's just as mood-setting as any of the above cool tones.

Which is your preference? Light & bright or dark & moody? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

When I'm not writing & editing for Home52, I'm likely to be found DIY-ing a new piece of furniture (or restoring an old one), hanging things on the wall in my apartment, or watching hours of vintage RHONY.


Lisa G. January 31, 2022
Dark and moody, for sure! I actually like it for most rooms, but especially the bedroom.
To me, it's so restful...and sexy! lol
[email protected] January 23, 2022
I love these looks but your Bobs furniture ad on your mobile site is killing me. It literally won’t go away
KahluaBear January 19, 2022
I figured out years ago that blue rooms helped me sleep. Now that I'm retired, I prefer a soft seafoam teal green. Having a dark cozy room for sleep is gr8 but if you also study, read, listen to music & talk on the phone in there figure out what speaks to you & your furnishing style. Dark or light wood tones or lacquered & painted pieces - all need to allow you to feel comfortable yet not depressed.