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Color conscious
Neutral shades promote restfulness in the bedroom


February 2014

No matter where you fall on the topic of color, choosing the right color for your bedroom is more than just personal preference. Color affects restfulness, and romance, too, say local design experts.

"White, blue, green and gray are good colors (for the bedroom)," says DeAnna Radaj of Bante Design, Milwaukee. "Green is actually perfect — right in the middle of the color spectrum — and everything goes with it," Radaj says.

Radaj incorporates feng shui, environmentalism and universal design into what she calls "Eco-Shui." Eco-Shui is looking at cool colors for bedroom background colors with accent colors in warm tones.

"The bedroom corresponds with the relationship area," Radaj notes. "So be conscious of what colors to use in your bedroom." Red is the color of a legally binding relationship (marriage), pink is the color for single and looking, and peach is the color for "just looking" (wink, wink), Radaj says.

Milwaukee blogger Jessamy Tsoris of Color Zen says gray is a great bedroom color because it is "serene and restful." Paints have moved into gentler and softer grays, she says — for example, blue-gray and green-gray — and that her clients tend to look for subtle shades of blue and gray.

Trending now are gray and pearl colors as inspired by Instagram, photo-filtering and retro looks, she says.

Designers at Haven Interiors Ltd., Milwaukee, have clients on both sides of the color spectrum. "We have clients who want neutrals and clients who want more color," designer Anna Miles says.

"We still see grays but the grays have changed — they used to be cooler tones but are now warm grays, which gives the ability to blend rich tones. We also see emerald green with hints of teal blue while still using gray as the base."

But all clients are doing more with color in the bedroom. They want their bedroom to reflect a cozy lifestyle. "The bedroom is an intimate setting — they live a lot of the day in the bedroom — so of course it should be as comfortable as possible as well as beautiful."

Miles is also seeing upholstered headboards in neutral colors with an additional touch of wood framing ("it softens the look") or accented with nailhead trim.

And don’t forget lighting, Miles says. "The bedroom is a big space and great for lighting."

Radaj also uses the 60-30-10 Rule in designing a room: "Sixty percent of a room, typically the walls, should be one color of a color scheme. The color of the cabinetry and/or furniture accounts for the 30-percent figure. And accents and accessories such as plants, artwork and linens, make up the remaining 10 percent."

Designers’ Favorite Bedroom Shades

In a bedroom with lots of natural light, I love to apply a darker grayed-out blue violet like Sherwin Williams Mink or Pratt and Lambert’s Wolf. It feels moody and intimate. For even more impact, roll a pearlescent glaze on top of the paint. Pair it with creamy whites, a sheepskin rug or a mohair throw.

On the lighter side, Sherwin Williams Loggia is one of my top picks. The soft coffee with milk color really works with dark wood floors and can be complemented by monochromatic linens with lots of texture.

For a total relaxing atmosphere, Behr Paints Comforting is a warm neutral opal pink that adds a spa touch. Pair it with navy or apple green accents and a bit of bling on the lighting.

— Lynn Tarrence , the egg design group


For master bedrooms, I prefer neutrals or soft colors. Varying shades of gray, taupe and cream create a peaceful environment. If you prefer color, pale shades of blue and green are palettes inspired by nature and are naturally soothing. Dark colors like slate, chocolate brown, navy or eggplant on bedroom walls can make the space feel cozy, especially in a large room. To update dark, heavy wood furniture, paint it creamy white and add new hardware for a fresh look.

In the nursery, a departure from pink for girls, blue for boys or primary colors is buttery yellow layered with gray. It’s gender-neutral and will grow with baby into the toddler years. As children get older, my favorite color combo for boys’ rooms is still navy blue and white. It’s a classic and might even last into their teens. Surrender to pink, purple and orange for girls — it may be the only time you can use these colors.

— Anne F. Wangman, Peabody’s Interiors


Before selecting a bedroom paint color I factor in the size of the room, size of the bed, windows, overall light level — electric and natural — and flooring material.

In a small bedroom where the walls are close to the bed dark blue balls make the space seem bigger and the dark color made the walls recede. Mostly white bedding with accents of navy also make the room appear larger.

In a room with plenty of light, pale taupe and white woodwork are a nice combination. In the evening the paint has a khaki tone and during the day it is a canvas color.

Find a paint color that will go with many kinds of bedding. You are more likely to change your bedding before you repaint your bedroom.

A few of my favorites are Sherwin Williams Wool Skein, a light neutral gray with green undertones; Sherwin Williams Softer Tan, a neutral beige; and Benjamin Moore Iced Marble, which is spa-like with its blue-gray color.

— Bill Koehnlein, Collaborative Design



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