Bedroom Colour Schemes:
Choosing The Right Palette For Your Lifestyle

There are a myriad of ways to spruce up a bedroom, but they all pale in significance when compared to a complete colour makeover. Getting that colour scheme right is an important but difficult task and can require a good degree of thought and planning.

Whether you’re undergoing a complete bedroom renovation or simply keen to freshen it up, one of the first questions to ask yourself is: which colour?

This doesn’t need to be a gruelling process of poring over colour swabs and galleries, at least not at first. In fact, it can and should be an exciting experience that leaves you delightfully scheming, not screaming.

Why You Need The Right Colour Scheme

Unless you’re clinophobic (scared of beds), you’ll probably spend more time in the bedroom than any other room in the house. It’s the first and last room you see every day and for this reason alone, getting the colour right is vital to suit your lifestyle.

For a room that looks like it’s come out of a magazine, understanding how colours work together is critical. High priced furnishings and the permanence of a fresh paint job is enough to scare anyone away from experimenting for fear of getting it wrong. For this reason, we see many drab interiors, but it doesn’t have to be!

Aesthetic Benefits

Take a moment to work out your favourite colours and styles of your existing artwork and furnishings. What typical styles do you gravitate to when you flip through an interiors magazine? It might be that you are attracted to a contemporary palette with dark colours that are accented by pops of colour here and there. Maybe you like more of a country feel with whites, pastels, wood with reminiscent trinkets. We could write about bedroom colour schemes and designs until our fingers fall off but essentially it’s about what colours you like.

No doubt you’ll have a few generic colours in mind. That’s a great start because it helps you narrow your search from the get-go.

An important consideration in picking your colour scheme is to look at what furnishings and feature items you already have. If your bedroom is full of pink, feminine items, it’ll look a little strange to paint it a bright yellow or dark brown. Make sure your shortlisted styles fit the overall look and theme you’re going for. Do you want your bedroom to be invigorating or relaxing?

“Think about colours you like to be surrounded by and energy levels you want to create. Visually brainstorm by collecting paint cards, bedroom images and fabrics that appeal, put these into an ideas folder or online mood board and you’ll soon see your colour scheme emerging!"
– Susie Miles, Founder at Susie Miles Designs

Psychological Benefits

Colour can play a huge role in your mood. For example, it’s been scientifically proven that red makes you hungry, hence why McDonalds and most fast food chains (KFC, Burger King/Hungry Jacks, Pizza Hut etc.) use red in their brand logos.

For bedrooms, most people want a calm colour. As a guide, here are some popular bedroom colours and the moods they may induce:

  • • Yellows are cheerful and warm
  • • Greens are tranquil and healthy
  • • Blues are calm and serene
  • • Whites are innocent and spacey

Softer colours tend to promote sleep and relaxation, while bolder colours can energize the occupant. Lighter colour schemes work better for morning people, whereas dark colours are suited to night owls. Colour is very much a personal choice and can affect everyone in different ways. It’s like art; people love a piece or hate it. Generally speaking, tonal blues and greens are a safe bet in bedrooms since they’re restful colours to the eye and encourage relaxation.

Check out the BBC’s helpful Psychology of Colour page for more info.

“A muted palette is often invoked because we want to feel restful and calm in our bedrooms - making it easier to fall asleep or simply to retreat after a long day. Choosing to go for bold colour makes us feel more energized, awake and yet also cosy especially in a smaller space. If the bedroom is doubling as a work space, a pop of colour can help one feel energized.”
- Khristine Holterman, Interior Design expert at Revuu

What's Trending

The plethora of colours on offer can seem incredibly daunting, even with their cutesy names like Bright Delight and Atlantic Mystique.

To narrow down this inexhaustible search, take a look at these current trends.

Neutral palettes: a word from the pros

By far the most popular choices for bedroom decorating are neutral, pastel colour tones. And judging by our expert guest contributors, it’s all about cool blues, greens and greys. This trend is down to a deep love and inspiration of nature, which has good application in the bedroom, promoting relaxing qualities of sand, grass, sea blues and so on.

Blues are a great choice due to their ability to produce a sense of calm and restfulness. There are so many variations of blue shades and the deeper indigo hues have been popular in recent times.

Other trending bedroom colours are “very pale greens, light blues, greys and off-white/tan; as well as saturated colours like dark navy, dark purple, pink and even black colours which are especially great for very small rooms with good natural light, because they can feel cosy yet fun.

“To create a soothing space, opt for cool colours – think blue green all the way through to grey. These hues are perfect because they tend to recede, producing a calming and relaxing effect. On the flipside, since you want your bedroom to be restful, steer clear of high-energy colours like bright green, deep red or bold hues.”
- Clare Hillier, creator at Checks and Spots

Clashing prints and monochrome

For the bold bedroom designer, do a bit of research on clashing prints or monochrome.

Clashing prints, as the name suggests, are deliberate contrasts that somehow work well together. It’s all about opposites, pairing a neutral print with a bold one, a small print with a big one, a textured print with a smooth one.

Inspired by 1960s black-and-white fashion photography, the confident monochrome style has endured due to its classic look that never goes out of fashion. The versatile combination works well with other colours and allows you to play around with colour more easily.

Monochrome walls mean you can add a splash of colour through your sheet sets or furnishings, like these Brosa chest of drawers or a bedside table.

Both Susie Miles and KR Moehr don’t write off strong colours. Susie says, “If richer deeper hues are your thing, try adding a pop of a stronger colour.”

They’re both a fan of Marsala, a rich red wine hue which global colour authority Pantone declared the 2015 colour of the year.

How To Choose Your Colour Palette

“Playing with colour in a bedroom can be daunting. A trick that stylists use is the 60:30:10 rule where 60% of the room is one colour, 30% another colour and 10% an accent colour.”
- Gina Ciancio, Style Curator

OK we’ve told you about the aesthetic and psychological benefits of bedroom colours, as well as the current trends. Now it’s time for the fun part … to actually choose the right colour palette.

We suggest adopting a holistic approach, based on a number of factors like those provided above:

  • • Observing current trends to gauge what’s hot
  • • Considering psychological and aesthetic benefits of certain colours
  • • Thinking about what vibe you want the room to give off
  • • By personality: artistic, outgoing, organised etc.

Colour Combinations And Experimenting With Colour

Step 1: Choose your base colour

This can be as simple as ‘off-white’ or ‘green’ but helps you to narrow down your search.

Step 2: Make use of technology

There are an increasing number of nifty interactive tools like Adobe Colour Wheel or Paletton to explore colour themes and combinations. Commercial outfits like Resene and Bunnings also offer helpful colour wheels and planners. Pick a few of your favourites.

Step 3: Go and get some paint samples

While these online colour wheels can be immensely helpful, there’s nothing like the real thing baby, as Marvin Gaye might say. Go to your favourite paint provider and pick up samples of your favourite colours.

Step 4: Observe

Khristine stated earlier that a colour can change based on different times of the day as the light changes. Go into the bedroom a few times during different times of day and monitor which colours you like and why. Maybe even jot down your findings in a notepad.

Step 5: Match with your desired fittings

Think about what furniture and styles will go with your shortlisted colours and if you have the furnishings already, place them side-by-side with your splash of colour.

How To Style Your Colour Palette

Remember it’s not just colour on the walls that makes a difference. It’s also about choosing things like:

  • • A bedframe
  • • Furniture like tallboys and bedside tables
  • • Lighting to set moods and add focal points
  • • Floor colours such as a carpet, floorboards and rugs
  • • Throws and cushions
  • • Personal trinkets and accessories

Here are some tips from the various industry experts we’ve interviewed:

“I love using beautiful textured grasscloth wallpaper, a luxurious upholstered bedhead or adding colour through the soft furnishings on the bed such as pillows or a throw.”
- Belinda
“Color is often brought in with accessories and art. This is where you can update easily and inexpensively after the original design becomes tired!”
– KR Moehr
“Stick to neutral tones and simple patterns for furniture and larger items and add colour with accessories and bedding. This is easier to get right and will save you money in the long run.”
- Gina
“Layering bed sheets in neutrals such as soft greys, charcoals and whites, then combining pastel shades like turquoise and particularly salmon pink in cushions and throws … To finish off your bedroom, style it with trending highlights in metallic accents of copper and bronze using accessories like table lamps and collectables.”
- Susie