What is the best color for bedroom walls? Why experts favor this color palette over all others

Neutral hues heighten a sense of cocooning for a sublime sanctuary

What is the best color for bedroom walls?
(Image credit: Nicola Harding / Gunter & Co)

There are so many ways to make bedroom walls attractive, beautiful, and rejuvenating; the walls in our bedroom offer so many design possibilities, but it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to finding the best color for bedroom walls. 

According to interior designers and decorators, the best color for bedroom walls is 'neutrals'. Sophisticated and timeless in their simplicity, neutral schemes are a stalwart in the world of interiors – to get them right in the bedroom, we asked those in the know for advice.

The best bedroom color ideas can do more than just look pretty, the right room color in your bedroom may also help you to rest, relax and sleep better at night.

Here designers and decorators reveal why decorating with neutrals is the best option for your bedroom walls – and how to curate neutral bedroom ideas that are warm, tranquil, and stylish by using the color wheel to create calming color combinations for rooms, using neutral as an accent shade, and what variations to use to create a scheme that won't overwhelm. 

What is the best color for bedroom walls? 

Perfecting a pared-back palette is essential in the bedroom, especially if you wish to curate a space that calms the mind. 

Using a white or natural palette is all about adding depth and contrast in different layers and textures, says Jane Landino, creative head of studio at Taylor Howes. ‘To make a neutral palette feel designed and considered it’s important to mix and match patterns, albeit neutral ones and occasional pops of color. Just because a bedroom wall is neutral or white doesn’t mean it has to be plain: think about the application – is the wallpaper silk or textured, as an example. 

Neutrals are one of the most versatile shades in all of design – it instantly brightens while evoking a sense of calm and flawlessness. Add interest to neutral room ideas through colorful art, accent soft furnishings, and antique furniture and objects. It also makes it easier to change up the look of your bedroom.’

The beauty of a neutral bedroom wall color scheme is that it provides a wonderful scaffold upon which to hang accents of color, adds Deborah Bass, founder of Base Interior.

‘This is especially true in a bedroom where a neutral wall or a textured plaster or wallpaper wall finish creates a background for books and art, both of which can take the decorative center stage.’ She recommends grounding subtler shades with deeper, richer natural timber to create a balance.

neutral bedroom with oversized, upholstered headboard and white pendant light

(Image credit: Future/ Paul Raeside)

What bedroom color helps you sleep?

If you ask any designer or decorator, they will tell you that 'neutrals' are a good choice if you want a bedroom wall color that will help you sleep. Curating a bedroom that will help you to sleep better will improve your mood, health, and wellness. Insufficient rest can cause our body to produce increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, so getting a good night's sleep can improve your ability to rationalize concerns and boost your mental and physical health. 

Getting the color right in a room can be a tricky business, especially as neutrals run a whole gamut of shades. Even with all their experience, it can take time for professionals to make a decision. There is a lot to consider – the size and shape of the space, the available natural light and its direction, who it is for, etc. 

‘A large bedroom can often handle warm or deep-toned neutrals that work with both north- and south-facing light,’ says Tom Morris of Morrisstudio. ‘If bedroom wall colors are strong, I tone down the colors in the furnishings or vice versa.' 

According to Karen Haller, color psychology specialist, and best-selling author of The Little Book of Color: 'Warm and earthy neutrals are also believed to be the best colors for reducing stress and anxiety.' She also recommends staying away from red on bedroom walls  – one of the most stressful colors to use in the home due to its link to danger, aggression, and overstimulation.

Should you paint a bedroom ceiling?

Ceiling paint ideas are a great way of adding another layer of interest to your bedroom wall and making a space feel cozier. All too often they are an afterthought but we make sure to consider their decorating potential,’ confides interior designer Nicola Harding.

When decorating a neutral ceiling, yet wanting to curate a space that isn't bland, remember that accent colors can be introduced else using elegant bedroom light ideas, says Sarah Ward, co-founder of Ward & Co Interiors. ‘Colored ceiling lights add vibrance, particularly when paired with neutral bedroom walls; they can be used creatively to weave in another color or tonal contrast.’

How to use a neutral bedroom wall color scheme

Predominantly neutral color schemes – from beige through caramel and on to taupe and café au lait – bring serenity and tranquillity to any space because they are easy on the eye and restful in their nature. 

There’s plenty of debate as to how to define ‘neutral’ colors. We tend to think of them as tones such as white, beige, grey, ivory, and khaki that don’t appear on the color wheel. In general, neutrals are calming and easy to use – they work with almost every other color, but it’s important to consider how pigments are affected by light. ‘The light in a room is key to deciding whether to choose warm or cool tones,’ says Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene. There is a difference between warm neutrals (with a green or yellow undertone), which work well in north-facing rooms as they bounce light around, and cool ones (with a bit of pink, violet, or blue). When decorating with neutrals, texture and layering are essential. 

Here is how to use neutral on bedroom walls to create a scheme to be proud of. 

1. Invite subtle texture into your bedroom

Neutral bedroom with textured wall and patterned headboard

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

This is a modern bedroom but the use of rich tones, shapes, and details creates a connection with nature that makes it appear almost timeless. 

‘For this Chelsea house project we worked to a selection of nature-inspired finishes with a strong preference for earthy terracotta and green and blue hues, which are offset against sleek black details,’ says Irene Gunter of design practice Gunter & Co

Irene describes this room as having 'a lovely, cozy shape’, which was enhanced by the ‘warm, enveloping’ hand-woven texture of the bedroom wallcovering – Casablanca from Altfield. 

2. Create contrast

Neutral bedroom with beige walls and blue and white pattern headboard

(Image credit: Nicola Harding)

In this bedroom by interior designer Nicola Harding, the jewel green of the client’s husband’s dressing room contrasts perfectly with the soft neutral walls of the bedroom (Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster). 

‘We created an overall neutral color palette that flows through the house and therefore gives a sense of harmony,’ says Nicola. ‘We used paler colors in the rooms that have good light and stronger neutral colors in the darker rooms.’ 

3. Warm up with materials

neutral bedroom with natural materials

(Image credit: The White Company)

'Even a bedroom that’s lacking in color can still be bursting with visual appeal,' says designer Bobby Berk. 'In fact, I love working with a neutral color palette on bedroom walls because it can really translate to any design style. But the key to doing it successfully is to embrace a variety of elements that will add interest.'

Here, a combination of materials and textures works well to create contrast and a sense of dimension. 'A bedroom without a lot of colors can tend to look really flat when you stick with similar materials, he says. 'That’s why I like to bring in warm wood tones, stone, and textured accessories that will create a sense of depth.'

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.