Your bedroom is supposed to be sanctuary, right? A quiet, cozy place to wind-down and relax at night, and wake refreshed in the morning. Sounds delicious, but for many of us, this definitely not the case.
Bedrooms can be catchalls for our goodies from clothes, to books, to furniture and, of course, the knick-knacks of our lives. If you’re looking to tone down a busy bedroom, or simply bring a bounce into your bedroom’s step, try these 7 ways to make your bedroom a sanctuary. And if you have the best sleep of your night, drop me a note and let me know!
Set Your Intention
Start by checking in with what’s going on in your sleep space, and set a clear intention. Do you want a room for winding down and sleep? A space to read or exercise? Do you want a TV in the room, or out? If you’ve kept your bedroom the same way for years, challenge yourself to try something new.
Years ago a friend told me her bedroom was just for sleep and sex. I was thrown at first, as I’d always had a bedroom that served as a place for everything (from crafting, to reading, to eating to hanging out). But to my adult self, her logic made sense. The truth is, my adult self did crave a bedroom designed for simple things, and so I made it so.
I’m a firm believer of letting a room do what it is intended to do. So, take a moment to think about how hard your bedroom needs to work, then let it do was it was designed to do. Last spring I helped this blogger to organize a combination bedroom & home office, and I also helped this reader to cozy up her first bedroom. So set your intention, and get to it!
Free Your Bed
Next, give your bed some space to breathe. In my first home I shoved my bed right up against the wall, as I assumed this was the best use of space, right? Not always so. While you technically do gain a few inches, it turns out a bed pulled out even just a scooch from the wall can make a room both appear and feel larger.
So be brave and move your bed away from the wall, either a few inches or directly into the center of the room. And do this whether your bed sleeps one, or two. A bed pulled away from the wall allows your comforter to fall nicely, and for you to move fluidly around the space. It also makes it easier to make the bed. And parents, when your kids are old enough, do this in their rooms as well. It’s typical to push kids beds against the walls for space and safety, but as they grow up give them room to breathe.
Reduce Under Bed Storage
Less is more under the bed. Clutter under beds can disrupt your sleep cycle, as it represents things that are unresolved in your life. A good rule of thumb is this: if you have to move other items around to get to something, it’s too far buried and you’ve got too much stuff.
That said, we all know under the bed is valuable real estate, especially in small homes. So if needed, store away, but try to store only bedroom-related things, such as extra bedding or off-season clothing. And use clear tubs, so you can easily see and retrieve the contents.
Try to keep electrical items away from under the bed as well (guys in particular, your electric guitars and spare amps). Personally, I’ve never slept better than when camping. It’s the connection to the earth and fresh air, but it’s also detaching from technology and going off the grid. If you feel stressed and tired at the start of your day, try a tech-free bedroom, or at least a bedroom with electrical currents a few feet or more from your head. Give it test run for a week and see how it goes. What have you got to lose? (check out this recent study about winter camping to reset the sleep cycle.)
Related Article: The Key to Better Sleep is an Organized Bedroom
Create a Bedside Sanctuary
Next, turn your bedside table into a mini sanctuary. A typical nightstand is piled with books, chargers, clocks and medicines, with drawers underneath clogged with tissues, papers, magazines, and more. But most of these items are not needed, and after awhile feel like junk.
Clean down your nightstand, then place back your version of a vision or inspiration board. This means favorite photos, treasured memorabilia, perhaps a scented candle or a carafe of water, only items that make you smile or help you to relax at the end of the day.
And place into drawers only items that support the sleep process, like meditation helpers, essential oils, or a funny or sexy book (or toy, perhaps). To keep the drawer from becoming a tangled mess, arrange items on little trays or boxes within. A bedside table drawer sanctuary is perfect for private inspirational items that you treasure, but that no one else needs to see.
Color Your World
Next up – color! With the big picture set, it’s time to think about nuances that make your bedroom feel like home. The quickest way to cozy up a bedroom is to choose a theme color, then stick to it. A unifying color helps to ground a bedroom and bring its look and feel together.
As you explore your bedroom, think about how you can personalize the room with color. Can you paint the walls something fresh and new? Or add colorful cozy throw pillows or a plush rug? When it comes to decorating your bedroom, embrace colors and textures that you love, and build a space that’s appealing to you.
As always, when designing, go with your gut. But if you need a boost, science has shown that we are hardwired for certain hues, so try proven colors like a calming blue, a meditative orange, or a relaxing green. And don’t be afraid to mix and match, it’s ok to have a few. Read up on the study behind this in this article on The Secret to More Sex and More Sleep.
Freshen Up Your Linens
With your newly chosen theme color in mind, it’s time to freshen up your linens. I find it’s nice to have two sets at the ready for your bed. They can be the same, so you swap one for the other on washing day. Or, mix it up and have different linen sets, perhaps shades of your theme color, or one that’s solid and another with a fun print.
As for when to change your linens? How many days you go before swapping is up to you. Bed linens are subject to different types of wear and tear, so the choice about when to change them is personal. If the smell of fresh linens while climbing into bed makes you smile, then new linens every one to two weeks is a good rule of thumb. On the other hand, if a cozy, lived-in bed is more your style, go longer, especially if changing linens feels like a chore.
Want more? Check out my article on How Often You Should Actually Be Washing Your Towels And Sheets as featured in Grandparents.com and The Huffington Post. Am I the last word on this topic? Absolutely not, but to my delight this article was picked by dozens of papers, even going international, appearing in papers from Albanian to Lima, Peru, so something in here rings true.
Reset The Room
As a final step, think ahead. There’s nothing more sumptuous than pulling back fresh bedding at night. We love to do it in hotels, right? So why not give ourselves this same gift in ours homes.
Finding a way to power up in the morning can be tough, especially for those of us who are not morning folk. We feel trapped between using a practical solution to wake our bodies, like an alarm clock or loud music. And wanting a healthier solution, like going to bed earlier so we can wake alarm-free and rested.
For me, making the bed is the ideal solution. It’s meditative, as I must stay mindful to do it. It’s also lite exercise, as I raise my arms to straighten bedding then stretch my arms and torso to line up sheets and put pillows into place. The minute it takes me to do allows precious moments for my sleepy body to catch up with my awake brain. And resetting the room sets a positive tone for the day. As for that freshly made bed? It’s there to greet me at night and goes a long way towards helping me to fall into a quiet, restful sleep.
Did you put these tips into practice? Share how it went in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017. It has been updated to include new content.