Making our bedroom space into a serene sanctuary can have a positive impact on our wellbeing, says Jenny Oldaker.
Whether you’re a champion sleeper or a bona-fide insomniac, we spend around a third of our lives in bed, so it’s vital that the surrounding space feels soothing. The world is a hectic place and the past couple of years have been exceptionally challenging, making it more important than ever to establish a space within our homes where we feel safe and relaxed. And since many of us have been forced to use our bedrooms as a working space in recent months, it can be particularly difficult to separate its function as a work space versus a sleep space. The good news is that there are some easy ways to make our bedrooms feel like a calming sanctuary – without shelling out a fortune or turning the whole place upside down.
Restful yet energising
The first thing to consider is that although we most connect this room with sleep, the way we wake up is equally influential in fostering an ideal bedroom environment. Gwendoline Alderton is an interior designer and author, whose latest book, A Home To Cherish, explores how interiors and emotions connect to create wellness. Through her practice, G.A. Interiors, she’s no stranger to designing tranquil bedroom spaces that work at both ends of the day. “A bedroom serves two purposes,” she says. “When you sleep you need to relax, but what people sometimes forget is that in the morning it needs to invigorate you, and give you that joyfulness when you wake up. In feng shui terms, when we look at the energy of the bedroom, it’s important to slow down the energy, but you do need to keep some energy in there for the morning.”
So how can we go about achieving both? Gwendoline recommends slowing things down with lots of texture and softness – a velvet headboard, bamboo bedding and so on. “And then in the morning, to invigorate the energy, add a pop of colour or maybe some pattern or a picture, to help get you going.”
Getting the lighting right is essential both before bed and first thing, as it has a significant effect on mood, sleep quality and ease of waking. While thick curtains and blackout blinds can help with keeping a room dark at night, those who struggle to wake up may wish to employ a ‘sunrise’ alarm to provide gradual daylight, or a smart lighting system for customised light both before bed and in the morning.
Motorised curtain systems that can be put on a timer may also help those who want to experience gradual natural daylight before stepping foot out of bed – and they aren’t hugely expensive.
For a cosy effect in the evening or while reading in bed, lamps with low-wattage bulbs and dimmer switches help create a mellow space, but the disruptive blue light from our mobile phones is a no-no. Sleep experts recommend leaving them out of the bedroom at night if possible, and to avoid looking at screens for at least an hour before we go to bed.
And so to bed
How about the main event? The bed is the centrepiece of the room and should be an inviting and comfortable place. Mattresses and bedding can be expensive investments, but the amount of time we spend using them means they’re money well spent – always try a mattress before you buy it, and adopt bedding that’s the right weight for the season, fitted out in soft materials and colours that please the eye.
And besides the colours on your bed covers, the shades you choose for your wall go a long way to creating an appealing space. Soft hues of blue and green (which we intrinsically connect to nature) are popular choices in bedrooms, though there’s no reason not to go bolder. “In the last couple of years, a lot of people have moved to darker colours in their bedroom, such as a deep, inky blue,” Gwendoline says. “This can make a room feel smaller, but it does give that feeling of cosiness – it’s womb-like and nurturing, and can feel really snug and luxurious.” Just remember not to go too dark as this can be oppressive – so balance out darker walls with light bedding and other furnishings.
The appeal of a bedroom, however, goes beyond simply its look. “When I’m working on a bedroom design, one of the first things I do is look at the five senses,” says Gwendoline. “Think about how you want your room to feel and how you can achieve this through the senses.” Consider introducing elements like tactile fabrics that are pleasing to the touch, a relaxing soundtrack (some people favour meditations or white noise to help them fall asleep) or relaxing scents, which make for a soothing ambience, and which your mind will soon start to connect to winding down.
As the place we start and end the day, it’s important that any bedroom feels like a haven from the wider world, and as a private space within the home it is ripe for reflecting our personal taste in any way that pleases us. Best of all, as we’ve seen, it needn’t be difficult to enact a few changes to forge your very own sanctuary in which it’s a pleasure to curl up at any time of day.
Join the Planet Mindful community and make a pact to prioritise your self care – try an issue here for just 99p!