Cover The matching blue velvet fabrics and headboard create a restful look in this bedroom featuring collections from Jab Anstoetz, available from P5

Design a soothing bedroom that promotes relaxation and a good night’s sleep

With more people working from home, the bedroom needs to be a serene space to whisk your worries away and be conducive to sleep. “Every material that is used in a bedroom should feel soft: the rug underfoot, the drapery, the bedlinen,” says Alexandra Champalimaud, founder of New York-based firm Champalimaud Design, which worked on the recent renovation of Raffles Singapore. “This creates a soothing atmosphere that is important for relaxation.”

But our screen time on our gadgets can certainly prove an obstacle to a good night’s rest. “As much as possible, remove the TV, mobile phone and tablet devices from your bedroom,” says Terri Tan, design director of Singapore-based studio Designworx Interior Consultant.

Here, we present top tips from the experts on how you can create a bedroom that is a calming, distraction-free sanctuary which will get you recharged for the day ahead.

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1. Set the scene

The layout and design scheme of your bedroom are fundamental to creating a favourable environment for sleep. Champalimaud suggests positioning the bed along the wall opposite the door. “Walking into a room alongside the bed feels awkward, and you miss the dramatic moment of seeing the full headboard composition,” she says.

Jennifer Bay, marketing manager of silk bedlinen and lifestyle brand Silky Miracle, agrees that spatial planning is key. “Having a clear pathway from the bed to the bathroom can eliminate tripping hazards, especially in the dark,” she says. “Visual clutter can generate stress, which is a hindrance to quality sleep, so less-is-more is a good approach for bedrooms.”

According to Tan, it is also important to maintain an ideal temperature that’s suitable for your body at rest; this means being mindful of the amount and direction of sunlight that enters your bedroom. “If you’re not an early riser, avoid placing the bed next to east-facing windows, as the sunlight will pour in at dawn and can disrupt your sleep.” 

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2. Textile matters

According to Champalimaud, your daily habits should also determine the curtains and upholstery fabrics you select for your room. “Get the drapery right: some people can’t sleep if there’s too much light, so even a simple roller blind can make all the difference,” she says. “If you like to sleep in, consider installing full shades with side channels to avoid light leakage. If you prefer to rise with the sun, unlined drapery works well.”

Winnie Heimgartner-Wong, managing director of upholstery retailer Cetec agrees, adding that there are various options in terms of curtain choices. “Nowadays, blackout or dim-out curtain fabrics come in many different colours and patterns, so you’ll have a good selection to choose from,” she says. 

Consider using layered and full curtains to filter out sunlight while creating a lush effect. “Soft and sumptuous textiles composed of natural fibres such as cashmere, wool, cotton, silk velvet as well as high-quality linen are a great way to create a cosy bedroom. The tactility and natural softness of these materials promote a sense of well-being and relaxation,” says Victoria Cheung, marketing manager of upholstery purveyor Altfield Interiors. “For those with allergies, avoid fluffy fabrics that may shed. Instead, select lighter natural fabrics such as pure cotton and linen,” she adds.

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3. Choose calming colours

Soft, muted colours such as beige, light grey and pastel tones are your best bet for creating a tranquil mood. “Leave fiery red, bright orange and vibrant yellows out of the bedroom as these colours can overstimulate the senses and emotions, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep,” says Cheung.

Tan concurs on the use of a muted palette in the bedroom, and advises going for understated wallcoverings. “If you’re using wallpaper, pick a design in a light hue with some textures instead of one with strong colours and loud patterns.”

Hong Kong-based interior designer Britta Butler, founder of Britta Butler Designs, likes pairing earthy tones with natural materials such as marble and wood, along with bedlinen made of natural materials. “If you want a pop of colour, go with something pastel, like a blush pink,” she says.

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4. Select the right bedlinen

Your choice of bedlinen is crucial to the comfort level of your bedroom. Given its temperature-regulating properties, Bay from Silky Miracle suggests pure mulberry silk bedding for Singapore’s tropical climate. “Pure mulberry silk is mainly composed of protein, which has a very similar chemical composition to that of human skin. Hence, it is almost like a second skin—hydrophilic, sweat-absorbent, and cool,” she reveals.

Filippo Arnaboldi, CEO of Italian luxury bedlinen brand Frette, says that when choosing bedlinen, one should consider the three Fs: fibre, finish, and feel. “First, consider the fibre used to weave the linens,” he says. “Longer fibres make a more uniform, resistant and smoother thread. The higher the thread count, the less air flow, therefore sateens sleep warmer than cotton percale.”

The finish of the fabric is equally important. Adds Arnaboldi: “The silkiness of a fabric is not a result of thread count, but rather the finishing process—a treatment to the woven fabric to increase durability or shine. Additional finishing touches may include embroidery, lace, and other embellishments.”

Lastly, the feel of the fabric refers to “the texture and weight of the finished product”. “The best bedding material is one that feels comfortable to sleep in depending on the weather, the surroundings, and body heat,” says Arnaboldi. “Some prefer to be wrapped in soft, silky sheets like cotton sateen, while others prefer airy fabrics like cotton percale.”

To make your bed look more inviting, layer it with duvets, decorative cushions and throws, which will add colour and texture. Bay says it’s a good idea to stick to a symmetrical arrangement, and to avoid using more than two patterns. “Place the largest pillows on the outer corners of the bed, and don’t use more than five pillows,” she advises.

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5. Choose the right furnishings

The centrepiece of an inviting bedroom should undoubtedly be the bed. “It should be well-built, comfortable, and fit the theme of your home,” says Isabella Lim, senior marketing executive of Space Furniture. Butler highly recommends having a soft headboard you can lean on comfortably. “I like to use a padded headboard, so that even when you are sitting up in bed you have something soft behind your back, even if the pillows move around. Visually, it also softens the look of the room.”

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Lim advises choosing curved pieces to complement your cosy bedroom design; options include the Maxalto Tesaurus storage unit and the Poliform Mad armchair. Tan suggests placing a bench at the foot of the bed. “Put a trunk or backless bench to sit on at the foot of your bed; even better if it has hidden storage that can minimise clutter,” she says.

Don’t forget to include a rug in your bedroom, adds Louise Courtice, managing director of furniture and decor store Stylecraft. “Choose rugs that complement the colours of the other furniture in the room,” she says. Champalimaud concurs: “Unless you’re in a monastery, stepping onto bare floors from your bed is cold and unwelcoming, so place a rug under the bed. When someone wakes up and puts their feet on the ground in the morning, a rug will provide comfort.”

Ultimately, your bedroom should be specially tailored to your needs to become a calming environment. “Bedroom design is totally a personal choice; some people want their bedroom to be glamorous, while others prefer a quiet and calming look,” says Heimgartner-Wong. “Whatever your choices may be, the overall design should create a relaxed and harmonious atmosphere.”

6. Add a gentle glow

Ann Lee, general manager of local furnishings retailer P5, stresses the importance of good lighting. “Lighting is of utmost importance to create the right ambiance in the bedroom,” says Lee. “As a general guideline, we recommend a lighting system that emits warm light with a temperature of 2700K; preferably with dimmable control. The warm temperature sets a gentle and soothing mood for a good transition into slumber.”  
Lee advises against using track lights or downlights, as they often emit harsh and glaring lighting that are not suitable for the bedroom setting. “We often employ discreet lighting systems such as the Grid system from Molteni&C that incorporates a wooden panelling with hidden LED uplight on the headboard, providing storage, aesthetic and lighting solutions,” she says. Lee also recommends using wooden flooring, along with a well-insulated partition wall to block off any white noise entering from the other living spaces.

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