As an architectural color consultant, I’ve helped many homeowners choose wall colors. Once we get to the bedroom, the process often starts with a shrug, and ends with a look around the room for inspiration.
Because we don’t tend to spend as much time sleeping as we do, well, living, our bedroom colors don't always feel important. Though we might say we wish for a bedroom sanctuary, we tend to be more careful picking the right colors for the living room. I mean, guests hang out with us in the living room, but most of them don't get as far as the bedroom.
But what if painting your bedroom the right color would not only look better, but might help you sleep—and feel—better? A few years ago, hotel site Travelodge surveyed 2,000 British households about their bedroom colors, and how much sleep they got. The results will make you want to run right to the paint store.
Grab a paint brush
These five colors make for a beautiful bedroom and a good snooze. Get ready to paint one of these right now, and you may start sleeping better.
Restful and calm, blue bedrooms are reminiscent of the sky and the sea. They are best at taking us to dreamland. In the survey, people who had blue bedroom walls were more likely to wake up happy.
Pro tip: Go all in! You don’t have to use baby blue. Dark blue walls can make you feel like you’re sleeping in the night sky. Use bright accents, like chartreuse and turquoise.
Warm yellow walls also were conducive to happiness and good rest. They radiate joy.
Pro tip: Don’t go too bright. Too much yellow moves the vibe from blissful to nuclear. And, unless you’re a toddler, don’t use any other primary colors in the bedroom. Crisp black, white and gray accessories will provide better balance.
Green reminds us of nature, so it elevates our mood. In the survey, people sleeping in green bedrooms awoke feeling positive and upbeat.
Pro tip: To add spark to a green room, include soft violet accents. By the way, green doesn’t flatter every skin tone, so don’t choose it for the walls of your en suite bath.
The cool metallic tones in silver can remind us of moonlight, telling our brains that it’s time to go to sleep.
Pro tip: Satin fabrics add luster, and dark wood contrasts. But you can also take silver in a more delicate direction, by combining it with pale blue fabrics and white furniture.
Yes, you’ll sleep surprisingly well in an orange bedroom, but the question is, is bedtime also snacktime? Orange bedrooms make you hungry, but the color is supposed to aid in digestion, too.
Pro tip: Use orange on the wall in your child’s room, because orange conveys stability and reassurance. Denim and chambray work perfectly as accents. Think of how right the orange stitching looks on a pair of jeans.
Worst bedroom colors
Not attacking your taste here, but never ever paint your room these colors, if you want a good night's sleep.
Despite the fact that Ultra Violet is Pantone’s 2018 color of the year, dark purple doesn’t belong on most people's bedroom walls. Purple is a creative color, but it doesn't promote sleep, and it may cause nightmares. Use it in small doses.
Pro tip: Go lighter—go lavender. This pale violet could be the next millennial pink. Lavender can lean feminine or masculine, depending on whether you combine it with lacy white or charcoal gray. Actually, you should use both.
You might think of a red bedroom as romantic, but red is too exciting a color to encourage good sleep. In the study, it didn't even encourage good sex.
Pro tip: Pink, obviously—it’s now considered a neutral. You can combine a pink wall with any color accessory, and it will look amazing. If you've got to have red, bring in red pillows. Green plants are the ideal accent for a pink bedroom.
Gloomy and depressing, brown walls do not promote sleep. In the study, brown turned out to be the favorite bedroom color of workaholics.
Pro tip: Forget about brown—paint the walls a light neutral beige for an airy feeling. Seriously, beige is back. Maybe it never went away.
What? The most popular color in home design doesn’t help us sleep? According to the survey, gray makes us feel isolated, so we sleep restlessly.
Pro tip: Gray is too popular to ignore. If you’re going for gray walls anyway, use colors in the blue family in the room. Or else, paint the walls blue, and add gray fabrics and accessories.
Gold walls remind us of money, and the survey said that makes us worry about paying our bills.
Pro tip: To get the feeling of gold, paint the walls a rich caramel. (The color, not the candy.) According to the survey, couples who sleep in caramel-colored rooms have sex more often.
Do this if you can’t paint
If you live in a rental, or you’re commitment-phobic, painting isn’t one of your choices. But you’re not condemned to toss and turn. Here are some alternatives.
Leave the walls white, but buy colorful furniture
No, furniture doesn't have to be bland. If you can't paint your walls green, get yourself a comfy green chair, one big enough for napping.
Hang removable wallpaper
Wallpaper is back big time in home design. If you hang one of the new removable wallpapers, you can have a gorgeous bedroom, and your landlord may not keep your damage deposit.
Does wallcolor really make a difference?
Okay, your mattress and pillow definitely play a more significant role in your sleep than your bedroom walls. After all, most of the time you’re sleeping, it’s dark in there. But, the wall color you see before bedtime and when you first wake up—that’s the one that can rock your world. Or at least, rock you to sleep.