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How to Turn Your Bedroom into a Sanctuary

Everyone needs a relaxing sanctuary after a stressful day (or week…or year, for that matter). If you’re wondering how to turn your bedroom into a sanctuary, it all starts with creating the right atmosphere.

I've always felt that your bedroom is one of the most important rooms in the house, but people often make it their last priority. Whether it’s cleaning or design, our bedrooms become the spot we put off until later. Yet many of us spend much of our time there, relaxing, reading, and sleeping.

So how do you turn your bedroom into a sanctuary? Here are a few areas you should focus on if you want to create a room of peace and relaxation—a place where you’ll want to curl up and never leave!

1. Start with Neutrals

The first guideline I follow for a relaxing bedroom design is to start with neutral colors. If you’re hoping to create a bedroom sanctuary, begin with a soft, easy color palette to create a calming space. Look for muted colors—pale grey, beige, tones of coffee, onyx, and eggshell.

These simple colors play well together and make it easy to change up your décor as well. With a few pillows or a different colored throw, you can create an entirely different look. Even if you adore color, I recommend you keep the palette soft and soothing in your sleep haven.

One aspect I love about calming neutrals is that you can start with a base of white or off-white and then layer in other soft, natural earth tones. These gentle colors really create the feeling of a retreat or spa. You'll instantly feel peaceful and relaxed when delicate hues surround you.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

2. Focus on Ease

Like a neutral color palette, the pieces you use within the room design should be easy and simple. Avoid overly fussy items with too many colors, patterns, and elements. Clean lines and subtle patterns help you to feel less stimulated and more prepared for a peaceful slumber.

To understand why simple, comfortable designs are soothing, look at the opposite—rooms with lots of patterns. Think of a Las Vegas casino with the wild carpet patterns, the sounds, the lights. It’s all designed to help you stay awake and engaged on the slot machines. Of course, you want the polar opposite in your bedroom.

Focus on ease of care as well when you choose pieces for the room. I’m very partial to these organic cotton sheets as well as linen sheets because they look and feel great. You can wash them on a gentle cycle, and they’ll hold up for years. Similarly, look for solid furniture that's handcrafted and built to stand the test of time. In a bedroom sanctuary, you want quality items over quantity.

3. Bring in the Light

Light makes a huge difference to any room, but especially in a bedroom. As usual, I recommend as much natural light as possible. If you’re in the process of building a home, keep the window placement in mind, especially in your bedroom. Light impacts your sleep, so you’ll want to get plenty in the room, but also have a method for blocking it out when needed.

Consider Roman shades or similar options for letting in just enough light in the morning. Room darkening window coverings can help you get a full night of comfortable sleep (and can block out noise too). Light can disrupt sleep patterns, so it's essential to plan a way to control the bedroom lighting.

As far as other light sources, I recommend choosing recessed lights in bright-but-soft tones (aim for 800 Lumens in 3000K). If you need a reading lamp or wall sconce, go for 450 to 800 Lumens (Lumens = brightness) in 2700K, which will be bright enough for the task, but still warm and flattering.

Finally, I recommend banning electronics from the bedside. The blue light emitted by electronics is highly disrupting to your sleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night and reach for your phone, you may have a much harder time getting back to slumber. TV in the bedroom can be a luxury, but if you know it disrupts your rest it might be best to avoid it.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

4. Keep Textiles Soft and Cozy

If you know me at all, you know I adore texture. If you’re wondering how to create a bedroom sanctuary, your textiles will get you there! When you choose elements for your bedroom, focus on items with a found-in-nature feel. Think of natural linen, down, silk, cotton, and hemp.

When selecting textiles like rugs, pillows, and throws, choose woven, natural fabrics. Above I mentioned my love of linen bedding because it naturally "breathes" and has temperature regulating properties. With linen bedding, you'll feel warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Layer bedding for a cozy feel (and to accommodate differing sleep temperature preferences).

Finally, when choosing textiles, quality is essential. Because sleep is so vital to your wellbeing, don't be afraid to buy the best. You’ll find that it pays off in a more comfortable, refreshing night’s sleep, easier care, and a better, more relaxing “feel” to the room.

5. Use Natural Materials

When you're creating a bedroom retreat, balance warm and cool tones and use natural materials in your room elements, like stone, wood, and ceramic. I often gravitate toward natural wood in my designs because it feels so grounding.

When you pull the room together, small details help complete the space—leather trim here, a smooth stone vessel there. Houseplants can also add life and nature to the room and are a great way to add visual interest while still playing with a natural, neutral palette. Layer textures and tones while staying in a calming color family to create a tranquil haven.

You never want a bedroom that feels loud, harsh, or busy. The idea is to focus on features that bring calmness and a sense of peace into your day. When you enter your bedroom at night, you want it to be a welcoming, soothing environment, where you can sleep off all the cares of the day.

6. Create a Peaceful Atmosphere

If you want to know how to turn your bedroom into a sanctuary, look to spas. One way spas create a peaceful atmosphere is by bringing in several tools to delight the senses. A bedroom sanctuary should be calming and soothing visually and also through sounds, scents, and comforting textures.

Consider using white noise or nature sounds in your bedroom to cultivate a peaceful ambiance. Soft lighting from gentle lamps, or non-toxic candles, can create a warm atmospheric glow. Similarly, you may want to diffuse essential oils or use natural, clean scents to evoke a sense of peace. Lavender, sage, and balsam are scents we may associate with nature and serenity.

It's important to keep the temperature in your bedroom cool for sleep but comfortable. Most researchers say between 65-72 degrees is the optimal temperature for sleep. Layering blankets, throws, and comforters on the bed can offer you several weight options for a goodnight's rest. An air filter or purifier can reduce allergens, helping you breathe easier in the night.

7. Keep it Clean

Your bedroom doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. It should be relaxing and comfortable—somewhere you can easily wind down and enter the right headspace for sleep. It’s important that it doesn’t feel stiff or formal, but it should feel clean, neat, and organized.

When we have piles of clutter, clothing, our phones, even stacks of books, it can make us feel restless and detract from relaxation. If you want to float away peacefully on your pillow, keep your bedroom tidy, clean, and clutter-free.

You may also want to opt for clean materials in your design. Low-VOC paint, organic natural materials, and non-toxic décor (such as natural-fiber rugs or bamboo flooring) will help you rest assured that your bedroom is not only a sanctuary for the mind but a healthy place for your body too.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

8. Keep it Minimal with Functional Pieces

We can create a more tranquil environment throughout our homes by keeping décor functional, beautiful, and meaningful. I often look for furniture pieces that work smarter by doing double duty (and keep the room uncluttered). I call these workhorse pieces two-fors because you get double the benefits by incorporating them into your space.

A bedside table can double as a desk if you’re working from home. A lamp can serve as a light for reading or, with a simple turn, a way to illuminate your vanity. A bedroom shelf may double as a writing desk and book storage.

Baskets are another two-for example. They can be visually beautiful while also housing an extra throw, pillows when you turn down the bed, or even reading materials. Look for simple, artful designs that help you unwind.

Photography: Caroline Sharpnack

I believe that your bedroom is the most essential room in your house. It's the place you can retire at the end of a long day, to regain your sense of self and find peace. I encourage you to take time to create a tranquil, calming bedroom that makes you feel well-cared-for.

Tell me in the comments—what do you love about your bedroom? Are there any changes you’re planning to make it even more soothing?

X Lauren


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