Two Keys to Creating a Cozy Bedroom That Are Often Overlooked

Interior designer Patrick Sutton describes two subtle elements that make a sleep space cozy.

Bedroom interior in the night
Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/iStock

After you've added a plush topper to your mattress, found the comfiest pillows, and splurged on the finest duvet you can afford, it’s possible you might still find yourself unable to fall asleep. Or perhaps you're waking up so many times in the night that you feel bleary when morning comes.

What more can you do to invite the restorative sleep you need?

Assuming you're following the basics of sleep hygiene, the answer may be addressed in considering your bedroom’s set up.

Patrick Sutton, an interior expert who designs luxury hotels such as the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore as well as high-end homes for private clients, believes layout and configuration play an important role in how restful (or not!) a bedroom feels. His clients agree.

Consider Your Bedroom’s Layout

"More and more, I've had clients come to me when we're designing a new house saying: 'I don't want my bedroom to be too big,'" Sutton explains.

He points out that there's an intuitive psychology to what will make each person feel most comfortable in their bedroom—and that instinct goes all the way back to childhood and what made you feel safe back then.

Feeling protected might mean, for example, making sure the bed is positioned away from the door to the room. "If I hear a creaking sound at night, I'm don't want to be worried someone is going to pop right through the door and get me," Sutton says. "Even though it may sound silly —that's where our minds go at night."

Sutton raises several questions to ask in evaluating your space:

  • Do I feel protected where my bed is located? 
  • Do I feel like my sleeping area is appropriately scaled, rather than feeling like I'm exposed in this enormous space?  
  • What am I looking at when I'm lying in bed? Do I have visual access to points in my room?  
  • Can I close my bedroom door and feel secure?  

Additional recommendations from the Better Sleep Council include painting the room a calming, neutral hue, removing clutter, and making sure your path to the bed is unobstructed.

Create a Bedtime Light Setting

Another important factor about your space is, of course, light. Here it makes sense to follow the approach of great hotels, which tend to be masterful at controlling lighting.

Sutton notes that many luxury hotels have different light settings depending on the time of day, and if there's a turn-down service, the room lights will be adjusted to the lowest level. That way, when you return to your room for the night, "You enter into this sleep-conducive, tranquil setting," he says. "It shifts your room’s lighting to soft and indirect, almost like the sun is setting."

At home, you can mimic this hotel-like lighting with dimmer switches or perhaps using only a small lamp providing just enough light to read during the time before bed. Sutton also recommends keeping any electronics with glowing indicator lights, such as a flatscreen TV, DVR or cable box, covered or stashed away someplace where those little lights won't be visible.

Blackout drapes or roller shades that create a complete seal over windows will keep the sun out until you're ready to wake up. And this is important too.

Sutton’s tips contribute toward creating a sanctuary where you feel comfortable, grounded, and secure. And that should lead to achieving your best sleep.

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