Bedroom Paint Theory

Single Coffered Ceiling In Bedroom
Getty / Ke Yu

Instead of taking an entire course on paint color and design theory, here are three simple points about bedroom paint that you should know. 

Tone It Down

You have seen movies where the characters' bedrooms are flashy sleep-palaces in gold and white or red and black. Except for one thing: you never see them sleeping. Such in-your-face color schemes look fantastic on the silver screen but do not translate well to real life's needs for a restful space.

Feng shui expert Rodika Tchi advises homeowners to limit the color spectrum from "from pale white to rich chocolate brown." This means excluding paint colors outside of this spectrum, such as reds, oranges, and yellows.

The Safe Approach

  • Neutrals"Neutrals," admittedly, is a loaded term: it implies that the color is undecided. Neutrals can mean anything from snowy white to off-white to light beige. 
  • Blues: Always a safe decision, blues in the bedroom are nearly always relaxing. Just be careful not to choose any high-intensity blues.
  • Browns: Another bedroom favorite. Be careful of very dark, murky browns, though. 
  • Greens: A relaxing choice that evokes nature.

The Bold Approach

What do you risk when you juice up your colors into the reds, oranges, and yellows? Loss of sleep? Or maybe a super-charged sex life?

Vibrant colors stimulate you. This is why bright, showy colors are used for sports team jerseys, advertisements, grocery stores. They create excitement.

Pay Attention to Sheen

Gloss – or the lack thereof – is the main issue. Glossy and semi-glossy finishes work well in rooms where you need the ability to wipe down the surface or where moisture is a factor. So, you might find semi-gloss in childrens' bedrooms, bathrooms, or on trim, but rarely on the walls of a master suite.

Reflections are another issue with finish. Matte and eggshell finishes control light-bounce better than the glossier finishes. Best finishes, from most desirable to least:

  • Eggshell - A smidge of gloss in an otherwise flat finish. Perfect for bedrooms. Eggshells minimal gloss makes it easier to clean.
  • Flat - Flat finish paint does a great job of controlling light, but it is impossible to wipe down. Often, your only recourse with streaked, bumped, or scuffed flat finish paint is to touch it up. If you love flat finish, it's in your best interests to keep a quart of paint in a hallway closet, along with a few foam brushes in a Zip-Loc bag. This makes it easier for you to quickly touch up the paint.
  • Semi-Gloss - If you must have gloss, this is the way to go. One interesting thing about glossier paints is that the gloss is more apparent with darker colors. With lighter colors, the gloss blends in better with the color.
  • Gloss - This finish is rarely found in bedrooms (except on trim).