8 Ways to Create a Stress-Free Bedroom for Better Sleep

Transform your bedroom into a restful oasis. The pros say it all starts with a good decluttering.

The last place you want to deal with clutter at the end of a long day is in the bedroom. After the last dishes are put away and the television is switched off for the night, your bedroom should feel like a retreat from the day's chaos. But piles of laundry, dust bunnies, and harsh overhead lighting can have the opposite effect. 

gray bedroom with a hat wall

John Bessler

“Our surroundings can have a big impact on our moods,” says Bay Area organizing expert Holly Blakey of Breathing Room Organization. “They can make us feel calm and peaceful or anxious and stressed. Your bedroom is particularly important to your mental well-being because it is the first place we see when we wake up and the last place we see when we go to bed, so it's helpful to make it a space that helps you feel good.”

Luckily, there’s a formula to making bedrooms feel like an escape from other rooms in your home. “Creating a calm bedroom requires a combination of soothing elements that work together to provide relaxation and a sense of serenity,” says designer Lisa Tornello of Mill Valley-based Mill Road Studio. That means mindfully layering natural materials, from wood and stone to breathable linens.

But the first step to a restful bedroom begins with decluttering (and maybe a little dusting, too). 

1. Follow the Rule of Threes

When Blakey meets with clients hoping to declutter their bedrooms, one of the first places she looks is the bedside table. “If you don't use it daily or weekly, it doesn't need to be by your bedside,” she says. From there, she suggests following the rule of three. “That can be a book, lamp, vase, or a couple of books and a framed photo. It's nice to have a boundary to stick to so that you’re less likely to let items start piling up.”

2. Dust Bedroom Belongings

That space under the bed might seem like an excellent storage place, but Blakey says to think again. “Accumulated clutter is a magnet for dust and potential allergens. And the more clutter that collects, the less you can keep track of things and the more likely that additional clutter will build. It's a vicious cycle. Since you spend nearly half your life sleeping, the area should be conducive to your health.”

3. Be Mindful of Bedside Items

Blakey goes so far as to curb items in the bedside table drawers, too. “Stick to items that aid in a restful nighttime routine, such as hand or body lotion, ChapStick, essential oil like lavender, and reading glasses,” she says. If you’re the type whose late-night thoughts keep you tossing and turning, add a small notepad for reminders so they don’t pester you all night.

4. Keep Furniture to a Minimum

Limiting furnishing and accessories is equally essential to lending bedrooms a relaxing feel, says Tornello. “Keeping furniture to a minimum is a must,” she says. But depending on the size of the room, you can potentially add some functional pieces, such as a chair or a bench at the foot of the bed, which comes in handy for putting on shoes or tossing your bathrobe. However, going minimal on bedroom furniture doesn’t mean you can’t add warmth and texture in other ways. “We love a plush rug,” she says, noting a preference for something super soft underfoot in a nature-inspired hue. 

5. Take a Cue from Color

Color can also have a calming effect in the bedroom, and Tornello suggests turning to nature as an influence. “We prefer soft, muted, and soothing hues in a bedroom,” she says. “It only makes sense to use colors found in mother nature in our bedrooms.” 

Blue Bedroom Colors: “We like to emulate the pale blues of an early morning sky or a serene ocean,” says Tornello, whose favorite blue shades include Farrow & Ball’s Manor House Gray, C2’s Melodic, and Portola Paint’s Roman Clay Salem colorway. “It’s also the primary color of the oceans and seas, and many people feel connected to these bodies of water spiritually.”

Beige and Gray Bedroom Colors: Tornello also loves to paint bedroom walls in shades of gray or beige. “Gray is a sophisticated and versatile color that can create a calming and soothing atmosphere in a bedroom,” she says. “It’s also a neutral that can be paired with other colors and textures.” Her go-to grays include Farrow & Ball Lamp Room Gray, Benjamin Moore Pale Oak, and Dunn-Edwards Foggy Day. For beige colors, she recommends Farrow & Ball Dead Salmon and Jitney, Benjamin Moore Skipping Stone, and Sherwin-Williams Egret White.

Soft Pink Bedroom Colors: If you’re looking for a warmer bedroom paint color, Tornello suggests trying a muted salmon hue. “It is a warm, soothing color that can create a cozy and relaxing atmosphere. It’s a shade of pink that has a hint of orange, which can add warmth and vibrancy while still maintaining a soft and calming effect.” Her favorites include Portola Paint’s Roman Clay and Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster

Green Bedroom Colors: Another color linked with relaxation is green. “Green is often considered a calming color for a bedroom because it’s associated with nature, growth, and renewal,” says Tornello. “Green is a staple color in nature; think about plants, trees, and grass. Green evokes balance and harmony, which can help create a sense of calm and relaxation. We like Farrow & Ball’s Pigeon and Blue Gray."

6. Consider Blackout Drapes

If you’re sensitive to light, blackout drapes or shades may help you sleep better, but there are some drawbacks. “Blackout drapes are made of thick, opaque fabric that blocks out sunlight and external noise,” says Tornello. “They will read heavier and, while it can help to lend itself to a cozy and intimate environment, it can also make the room feel darker and smaller. Also, you can expect to pay an additional 20-30% more for these types of drapes since there are actually two layers of fabric on each panel.”

7. Wake Up with the Sun

If you prefer to fall asleep by moonlight and wake up to sun-dappled walls, a lighter window treatment is your best bet. “Light-filtering shades allow natural light to filter through while providing privacy and some degree of insulation,” says Tornello. “They can create a bright atmosphere in a bedroom and be conducive if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder or have a bedroom that faces a beautiful view.”

8. Level Up Your Lighting

“Layered, warm lighting is crucial in a bedroom,” says Tornello. “You’ll want to incorporate multiple light sources so that you can manipulate the light levels and mood of the room.” Include a combination of overhead lighting, bedside lamps, and wall sconces. “When we work on large-scale renovations, we include light switches by the nightstands so that overhead lighting is easy to turn on and off.” Finally, she recommends bulbs that emit warm, yellow-toned light, with a color temperature of 2700K.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles