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Sweet dreams
Keep colors calm in the bedroom to create a restful space


In this downtown Milwaukee condo bedroom, designer Amy Carman used a dark wall color (Sherwin Williams Portobello, SW6102). Even though the room is small, mirrored night stands and a glass table reflect the light, keeping the space from feeling crowded. A simple tailored coverlet and shams in ivory brighten the room and add to the sleek, clean look. The large upholstered bed is plush and inviting with a couple of bold zebra pillows added for pop. The result is a cozy retreat that is rich and calming.

For many of us, bedrooms are more than just places to sleep. They are personal, rejuvenating retreats in which to relax and unwind from the stresses of the day. And not surprisingly, the use of color has a big impact on how we view this special space.

Borrowing tones from nature creates a tranquil environment. Harmonious neutrals and browns, soft blues and soothing greens make up the color schemes of many winning bedroom designs. "Some of the most successful palettes tend to be monochromatic, tone-on-tone combinations in cappuccino colors ranging from ivory to rich browns," says Amy Carman of Amy Carman Design in Wauwatosa. "Stick to earth tones and keep it understated." Carman also recommends warm grays or slate tones mixed with weathered finishes, bleached woods, or other antiqued or natural finishes to create a cozy bedroom environment.

Creating a spa-like atmosphere is another option for a peaceful bedroom retreat. Use bed linens as a starting point for this type of a look. "The majority of my customers buy white or ivory sheets," says Laura Smith, owner of Percyís Fine Linens in Mequon. "Mix and match whites and ivories as a bedroom color palette that results in a restful, clean, somewhat contemporary look, like those you see in a luxury hotel or spa."

Carman used colors inspired by nature to create a color palette for this luxurious bedroom. Soothing walls painted in Sherwin Williams Kilim Beige (SW 6106) provide a soft backdrop for layered neutrals and browns on bedding and furnishings.

If color is more to your liking, soft blues and greens are also calming. Spas often use these shades as well. "Lavender can be restful too," observes Carrie Weintraub, Percyís store manager. While some people think red in the bedroom is romantic, donít use too much ó itís aggressive. Watch the use of orange and stay away from loud or neon colors, too. Carman also warns against another color that is a potential problem in bedroom design. "You need to be cautious about yellow. People tend to underestimate it. Yellow can actually be bold and saturated. It can seem like a good idea but it doesnít always work unless you are planning to use a very soft or buttery shade."

However, it is possible include a touch of bold color in the bedroom without overwhelming the space. "Use a complimentary accent to add a punch of color, like mixing in a little orange with a blue palette or even a bit of red in a green room, although too much red looks Christmassy, so donít overdo it," Weintraub says. Both Carman and Weintraub recommend staying with rich tones. Avoid primary colors that give a juvenile look. For example, instead of yellow, use gold combined with deep purple accents.

Decorating tips:

To promote a feeling of harmony in the bedroom, paint all the walls, ceiling and trim the same soothing color.

Greens should be light and springy. Keep in mind that certain shades of green are not flattering to some skin tones.

If you have neutral carpet or walls that canít be changed, add color to your room with bed linens, artwork, decorative pillows, lamp shades and other accessories.