Creating a Bedroom Sanctuary

Author | Nicole Hostetter

A few months ago, at the start of social distancing measures and a life in isolation with a toddler and preschooler, I stumbled upon an online sleep calculator in between checking my e-mail and witnessing the world as I knew it disappear.

The calculator was a welcome distraction, and using it I discovered that over the course of 36 years, I’ve accumulated more than 92,000 hours of sleep. That’s just over 11 years of my life spent in bed.

And when I looked at my bedroom that night, I had to ask myself, “Is this a space I want to spend another 92,000 hours?”

Last, But Definitely Not Least

The answer was no.

Our bedroom was the last room to get any love after our recent move.

On moving day I put up some semi-sheer curtains from my daughter’s old nursery, threw some old sheets and blankets on the bed, and stuffed our socks and t-shirts into a wire shelving unit in the closet.

When we moved in I was in the last months of pregnancy with our second child. Between taking care of the necessities (dealing with leaks, doing a major bathroom renovation) and trying to give our 2-year-old daughter a cozy space of her own to feel comfortable in our new home, fancying up our personal space felt frivolous. And so it went on the back burner. Which, in hindsight, was a mistake.

Why? Because we are the Mom and Dad, the center of the house. We’re the ones caring for our children, and for one another. We’re the ones working, cleaning, feeding, running, doing. And at the end of the day there should be a special space for us to rest and recharge. Having a bedroom sanctuary, a space for just me and my husband is good for us, which means it’s good for our family as a whole.

If I live for another 36 years and spend another 92,000 hours in my bedroom, shouldn’t it be all I want from a bedroom and more?

So what changed?

Well, my son is almost two now, and this moment seemed as good a time as any to do a project with the extra time we have on hand.

Using a favorite painting as inspiration for the project, I was able to transform our bedroom from a mishmosh of clutter and an absence of aesthetic pleasure into a sanctuary my husband and I love to be at the end of a chaotic day.

1. Center your space.

Is there an object you love in your bedroom right now? Something that has followed you from bedroom to bedroom no matter where you lived? Maybe it’s a treasured photo, or a special keepsake or jewelry box. It could be a lamp, quilt, or rug.

Whatever it is, think of that object and hold it in your heart. It’s going to be the base of your space.

For us it was a painting.

Before we had kids, my husband and I purchased a painting from Leslie Banta, an artist in Staunton, where we lived at the time. It’s a dreamy cloudscape - sunset or sunrise, depending on your mood, with lots of lovely blues and pinks. It’s hung in the four bedrooms we’ve had since we started living together. Including this one.

I used this painting as the palette for everything - wall color, sheets, rug, duvet. It can be overwhelming to go to the store and have a seemingly infinite choice of styles and colors to pick from. Having a guide makes things easier and eliminates some guesswork.

For me, picking colors and centering the space around a common theme became easier once I had my painting as the guide.

Look at your object and decide what you love about it. Is it the style? The era? The color or material? Use this object to serve as a guide as you bring in things that complement it.

2. Create some ambiance

Now that you have a general idea for the feeling of your room, it’s time to create the space. Lighting and color will play big roles in the way your room feels, and it’s worth paying attention to each as you work.

First, the wall color you choose will have a big impact. You can opt for a color that energizes you, or one that relaxes you.