In Mood Board Inspiration

How to design a relaxing bedroom and get better sleep

How to design a relaxing bedroom and get better sleep Boreal Abode Mood Board landscape 1

Are you resting well? Does it take you hours to fall asleep? Maybe your environment is not helping you. I’ve been there.

A few simple changes can help you create a relaxing bedroom. We all deserve a calm space to unwind after a long day.

Learn my five easy tips to improve your sleep. And get a sneak peek of my bedroom renovation plans featuring stylish accessories and furniture.

Transparency notice: My master bedroom makeover blog post, which will be published later this year, may feature gifted items. The following blog post is independent from such collaboration.

The importance of a good night’s sleep

Sometimes I wonder how my parents survived parenthood. Confession: I was that annoying child with insomnia — “Muuum!” After the third call for help in one night, I know for certain my mother would ignore me. I don’t blame her, to be honest. But, in my defence, the homemade placebo recipe of water and sugar obviously wasn’t cutting it.

Time passed. As I grew up and moved from one house to the next, I learned the tricks that helped me sleep better. The adjustments I had to make in my environment to turn my bedroom into a relaxing sanctuary. I share all these below, and my master bedroom mood board. I hope it inspires you to design your bedroom with your wellbeing in mind.

Even if you don’t have sleeping problems, it’s worth learning what works for you. And what doesn’t (bombshell at the end of the post). The importance of a good night’s sleep has already been featured on Boreal Abode. In my blog post Make your home your happy place I shared a statement. Something we all kind of know, but don’t always act on:

“Your bedroom is the most overlooked room in the house. Yet, it’s the most important — even more than the kitchen. Treat it as its own universe with special rules and rituals. And that’s because, in this space, a core human body need takes place: sleep. Like health, you only miss it when you don’t have it.”

My top 5 tips to get better sleep

Royal System Shelving Poul Cadovius Midcentury Modern 4

These are the key principles that will help you create a calm and relaxing bedroom. I learned them the hard way — I’m looking at you tip number three! Implement them into your space one tip at a time and you will feel the benefits. Your super sleep journey starts here!

1.- Sort your bed out

Cheap bedding is nasty. Instead, opt for natural fibres such as cotton, linen and related non-synthetic blends. They’re the best option to maximise breathability.

Next, how often do you change your bed sheets? Every one to two weeks is ideal. Just remember to renew your mattress every eight years or less. And yes, wash the pillows too.

2.- Hide the clutter away

I will not cover decluttering in depth as it’s not the topic today. The secret is to hide the clutter away. That’s why we have wardrobes, drawers, etc. Make sure all surfaces are clean and free from unnecessary stuff.

Having an easy room layout with no floor obstructions (i.e. strategically placed piles of clothes) will make entering your bedroom a non-stressful experience.

3.- Soothe your senses

Let’s talk about colour. Vibrant warm/red colours are not the best choice for your bedroom. They’re associated with attention and focus. In the dark, your eyes will see red better than any other colour. The truth is no single colour will help you sleep better, but at least calming blues will make your bedroom more relaxing.

In terms of room temperature, set your thermostat to 15-19℃ (or 18-21℃ for babies and toddlers)1. Despite this, I had issues sleeping ever since I arrived in the UK 3.5 million years ago. It turns out I kept waking up in the middle of the night… because my feet were cold. Solution: socks.

Another thing to try is scent. Certain scents, such as lavender and chamomile, can help you relax2. Yet, there’s no direct link between scent and better sleep. Additionally, some people find white noise soothing. An air purifier, for example, will generate low-level white noise without annoying the cat.

4.- Master of the light

Blackout blinds/curtains or solid shutters are a must in the bedroom. Unless you live in a glass house in the middle of the forest somewhere in Scandinavia. The best solution is to use different window treatments. Blinds and curtains, shutters and curtains, blackout curtains and sheer curtains, etc. This will reduce the amount of brightness in the early morning.

Artificial lighting can kill the relaxing vibe you want for your bedroom. Forget those fancy exposed Edison bulb lamps. Their light is too harsh. Instead, choose lights with lampshades or diffusers. And make every switch dimmable to control the amount of light in the space.

5.- No tech allowed

This is perhaps the most important of all these tips. I’ve already explained why in the blog post I mentioned earlier, Make your home your happy place. Here’s a snippet:

“I try not to use my phone in the bedroom, and you won’t find a TV or tablet around. Most of these devices emit blue light via their screens. Our brains interpret blue light like the morning sky and will trigger alertness responses. That’s the last thing you need before bed. Some devices have a Night Shift mode, which helps, but it’s not as good as No Phone mode.”

My relaxing master bedroom renovation plans

Royal System Shelving Poul Cadovius Midcentury Modern 3

The space and its challenges

This space is your typical Victorian 1st-floor bedroom facing the street. You could say the size is average for UK standards which — for the rest of the world — means it’s a matchbox. Luckily, natural light is not an issue with three large windows on one wall. The room has a lot of potential. But it hasn’t been updated for a long time.

Some years ago, the previous owner of the house decided to experiment with novelty textiles. For the window, he picked vertical blinds and half-length blackout curtains. Let me tell you a secret. Half-length curtains are not very useful at blocking light. And for the floor, white carpet. I’m sure in the catalogue it looked sumptuous. But now it has a raggedy rat feel to it.

An ambitious plan

Carpet be gone! I’m looking forward to uncovering the floorboards and place a large thick rug to frame the bed. Storage has to be sorted too. My old broken wardrobe needs replacing desperately. The idea is to find a pair of mid-century modern wardrobes, and maybe a handsome chest of drawers. If this fails, the plan B is to get fitted custom-made wardrobes.

The current window dressing situation has to be fixed. I’ve opted for a multi-layered solution. First, solid shutters will allow me to control the morning light. Then, white sheer curtains will let the light in throughout the day whilst providing privacy. I may finish it with accent curtains, but I haven’t made my mind up yet.

Other important jobs have to be done before the decoration begins. Here’s my renovation list (in no particular order):

  • Add more light switches and sockets
  • The above will require plastering afterwards
  • Remove Artex ceiling (checking for Asbestos)
  • Change the radiator because my 2.3 tog bed socks are not enough sometimes

The inspiration

How to design a relaxing bedroom and get better sleep Boreal Abode Mood Board pinterest profile

The keywords of this bedroom design are stylish and elegant, with a subtle hint of mid-century modern. Well… it’s mainly mid-century modern. But, hey, if you’re following Boreal Abode it’s not because of my appreciation of Shabby Chic and pallet furniture. I haven’t decided on the colour scheme yet. I can tell you it’s likely to be a dark shade.

To help me narrow down colour and design options I’ve resorted to my usual inspiration sources — including Pinterest! We have a love-hate relationship, and now we’re together again. Make sure you follow me on Pinterest. And get ready to swoon over the finest mid-century modern, contemporary and Scandinavian interiors.

The mood board: A relaxing bedroom for a better night’s sleep

How to design a relaxing bedroom and get better sleep Boreal Abode Mood Board Portrait 1

Now that you know the best tips to improve your sleep, the beautiful pieces below will make perfect sense. They may not be my final choices, but they illustrate the calm mood and style I want to achieve for the space.

1.- Mid-century bed and side tables – West Elm

I already own these since I moved two years ago. The acorn finish is simply magic, and it brings the wood grain and colour to life. These are the pieces that set the style of the whole room design.

2.- Royal System shelving unit – Poul Cadovius

My beloved vintage Royal System unit is staying where it is. A piece of 20th-century design history. You may remember the blog post I wrote about it. I wonder what it will look like against a darker wall colour, though.

3.- Classic-style radiator

Investing in a good radiator is a must in old homes. Did you know heating your room efficiently helps prevent damp?3 I still don’t know what size radiator I need, but the classic design works for me.

4.- Metal framed arched floor mirror – West Elm

The oversized round mirror in my living room makeover was a success. I’m resorting to West Elm again because of their timeless designs. This large floor mirror with a brass frame will disguise an awkward blocked chimney breast.

5.- Sunset Lake rug – West Elm

When the carpet goes, a rug will be required to soften the space. I’m drawn to the soft colours and soothing pattern of this rug. I can see it complementing dark walls and wooden floor perfectly.

6.- Vintage wardrobes

I hope to find a pair of wardrobes like the ones in this Robin Boyd house. Clean lines with plenty of storage. It will be a challenging task. But as I explained earlier, there’s a backup plan.

7.- Curvilinear mid-century sconce – West Elm

The only light in the room right now is a pendant lamp. This is not helped by the fact there’s only one socket in the room. A sconce will free up the bedside table and provide directional lighting thanks to its flexible arm.

Is your bedroom relaxing enough?

Hope you have enjoyed my top tips and design plans for the master bedroom. I can’t wait to share the makeover reveal with you later this year. With “before and after” pics!

Now, a little bombshell. Whatever you do, please do not count sheep. It’s been shown that counting is detrimental and will not help you sleep4. Instead, focus on your breath flow to steer away from distracting thoughts. And relax… zzzzzz.

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Juan Sandiego

I'm a Cardiff-based award-winning blogger with a passion for interiors and biophilic design. I help people transform their spaces with style and their well-being in mind. In Boreal Abode, I share my best design tips and expert advice to make your home your happy place.

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34 Comments

  1. Meera
    8 months ago

    Wholeheartedly agree with your tips, Juan! Calm sanctuary is what I aim for in my bedroom too. Your moodboard looks amazing, I can’t wait to see it all come to life. I know you’ll do a beautiful job!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Meera! I have an idea of what I want in my head and it’s slowly developing into a variety of elements. I’m glad you liked the mood board. So exciting!

      Reply
  2. Fiona Mostyn
    8 months ago

    I’m a terrible sleeper. It’s probably my own fault as I can’t crack the tech habit. If you’ve seen me stalking your insta at 4am now you know why!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Fiona! Sometimes it’s hard to get lost on these apps. My brain is super active after scrolling for a while and seeing so many ideas. Even though sometimes I break it, my rule is to check social media only three times a day.

      Reply
  3. Karen
    8 months ago

    Really love this post Juan, and that wall shelving! It’s stunning.
    Admittedly, I’m someone with on/off insomnia and it looks like my daughter is following suit, and the only way we’ve managed to improve her sleep is blacking out the room. The idea of calm is subjective but I completely agree on the getting rud of clutter idea. If there is a pile of laundry in our room waiting to be done, I just need to clear it before I can relax!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Karen! You’re completely right about the idea of calm being subjective. I mean, Marie Kondo has a clear idea of what it means for her! Too much visual stimulation is what stops a space from being calm for me.

      Reply
  4. Lin Warwick
    8 months ago

    😮 Oh dear Juan – I am planning to feature a rich deep red in then bedroom that I am decorating ! Looks like there’s going to be no sleep for me😀 – Plans look great – looking forward to seeing the finished room.

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Lin! You could incorporate red in many ways. To be honest, if it works for you it’s always worth trying.

      Reply
  5. Lins Drabwell
    8 months ago

    I can’t wait to see the transformation Juan, we’ve kind of done an interim makeover which involved redecorating and rearranging the furniture and it definitely make a huge difference to how I feel in the space but still more I’d like to do!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Lins! A spruce up of a room can do wonders. My bedroom is screaming for a full renovation after almost three decades untouched.

      Reply
  6. Yol Pedrosa
    8 months ago

    This post is amazing! I love your plans for your bedroom. That got me thinking that I have to renovate so many things in my bedroom too! and the home office and the kids rooms, etc. It seems like a no end.
    I completely agree with no having TV in the room. The only TV we have at home is in the lounge and I don’t want a TV in any other room in the house. Years ago I met someone that had 5 TVs at home!! Can you imagine?
    I am really looking forward to seeing your room transformed! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Yol! Hope the post helps you with your bedroom renovation. And no TV, of course!

      Reply
  7. Jumi Awomosu
    8 months ago

    I’ve been dying to read this post and it does not disappoint! Some really helpful points and you totally made me laugh with your “Cheap bedding is nasty” quip! Can I quote you on that? I looooove it!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Jumi! You can quote me on that, of course. Haha. It could be a slogan for a t-shirt or tote bag.

      Reply
  8. Nicola Capper
    8 months ago

    Can’t wait to see the finished result Juan. In the meantime I’m taking all your advice and hoping for a good nights sleep!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Nicola! Glad you found the tips useful. Can’t wait to share more about the bedroom reveal with you.

      Reply
  9. Victoria - The Bold Place
    8 months ago

    I’m all about getting enough sleep, and I can tell when I haven’t, but it can be really hard to get into good habits can’t it? Some lovely tips here. I can’t wait to see the bedroom reveal – and the darker colours, which I love. I have a dark brown in my bedroom and it’s very calming and cocooning. I think it helps.

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Victoria! Your dark bedroom is fantastic. I hope to achieve a cosy mood with mine too.

      Reply
  10. Mary Middleton at Hello Peagreen
    8 months ago

    wholeheartedly agree on creating a sanctuary Juan! I didn’t even allow a TV in the bedroom until my son came along…… as an exhausted parent just being in bed at 8 pm was bliss. I still don’t allow us to bring phones or tablets up to the bedroom. I also rather romantically sleep with an eye mask and earplugs. Your room looks absolutely idyllic, especially with the vintage feel.

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Mary! The earplugs are also my secret weapon against unwanted noises, haha. I hope to avoid the eye mask with multiple window treatments. But the earplugs are staying!

      Reply
  11. Marlene
    8 months ago

    Great tips Juan! I really enjoyed what seems to be real solid wood furniture in your pictures. It is refreshing to see that in a world of MDF based furniture. I like the pale blue on the walls that contrast with the rich wood colours; even though it isn’t my style I appreciate it. Good luck with it, can’t wait to see more!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Marlene! It’s all solid wood indeed. But the pale blue walls may go and I’ll introduce a darker richer colour.

      Reply
  12. Nicolette Lafonseca
    8 months ago

    Clutter is a no no and I have ranted many a time about tv’s in the bedroom a real divided nation on that one.

    I look forward to seeing the progress

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Nicolette! The TV in the bedroom is indeed a hot topic. We all have different situations for it’s clear that watching TV before bed doesn’t help you fall asleep.

      Reply
  13. Stacey Sheppard
    8 months ago

    Such a great, informative post Juan. I can’t wait to see your makeover. Sadly for me our master bedroom is my least favourite room in the house and I find it really uncalming. It’s the only room in the house where we can keep the things we want to keep away from the children. This means it’s often brimming with stuff. My husband also has a full on desktop pc in the corner which I absolute hate but there is nowhere else we can put it (until we get the loft conversion done). We have plans to put it in our built in cupboard this year so at least we can hide it away. But I have so much work to do to change this room into a relaxing sanctuary.

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Stacey! Bit by bit I’m sure your bedroom will become the sanctuary you want.I’ve been living in a bedroom that resembles a messy antiques shop for years. It’s time to do something about it.

      Reply
  14. Maria
    8 months ago

    After your living room makeover, I really cannot wait to see what you achieve with your bedroom space Juan.

    I completely agree with ALL the points you have raised with regards to getting a better nights sleep having just redesigned our bedroom from scratch. Diffused lighting makes all the difference, as does having clutter-free surfaces, it certainly reduces the stress factor and helps create a sanctuary away from everyday life. In fact, I’ve implemented all of what you have suggested above with our bedroom makeover and definitely feel more rested and the Hubs is sleeping 100% better too.

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Maria! I hope my bedroom makeover is half as stylish as yours, the ultimate Art Deco palace. I’ve neglected this room for too long and it’s vital to sort it out this year.

      Reply
  15. Ricky
    8 months ago

    Yes to the natural bedding! This is definitely a must! We spend so much time in bed, so it’s always best to go for something of quality. Plus a declutter is always a good idea too 😉 Great tips!

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Ricky! The bedding makes all the difference. It’s the easiest way to achieve that luxury hotel comfort.

      Reply
  16. Silvia - DforDesign
    8 months ago

    Hi Juan!
    So much truth in this post! Sanctuary is the one and only word that should come to mind when thinking bedroom!
    I’m not one that has particular problems in sleeping and I think I’ve never counted sheeps …but knowing that’s detrimental? Well that’s a news! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      8 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Silvia! We all deserve a calm sanctuary to retreat, whether your introvert or extrovert. Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Reply
  17. Carolina
    4 months ago

    Great tips Juan! Thanks for sharing. Carolina.

    Reply
    1. Juan Sandiego
      4 months ago

      Thank you for your comment, Carolina! Glad you found them useful.

      Reply

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