Ask the Designer: 5 Tips for a Calming Bedroom

The secret to a good night’s sleep – before switching off the laptop or investing in black-out blinds – is creating a calm, restful space. From the colours on the walls to the look and feel of the bedlinen you sleep on, you want your bedroom to slow your mind and soothe your soul, all the better to drift off for hours. Textile designer Molly Freshwater is something of an expert in what furnishings, colours and prints promote good sleep and a relaxing atmosphere. She worked as a bedlinen designer for some of the UK’s most famous high street names before striking out on her own with The Secret Linen Store, an online bedding store that she runs with her sister. “Beds for me are like a picture that you can colour in,” she tells us, “with many components and possibilities for mixing and patching patterns and plain fabrics.” We asked her for her top tips on designing a bedroom scheme, and she lets us in to see how she’s dressed and decorated her own bedroom at home.

Secret Linen Store

Limit your colour palette

“I do think that a lot of crazy colour is not good for restful sleep in a bedroom. I would normally advise people to choose a palette of three or less colours for a bedroom and to style the room around those. Schemes inspired by nature are always calming – many of my designs are inspired by the natural world. I think people can relate to something leafy, and it always sells well.”

Secret Linen Store

Invest in good basics

“I must admit that I really do like the best quality, high thread count white cotton that money can buy. When I go away from home I always take a square 65 x 65 cm pillowcase with me, just in case the bedlinen is dreadful. You would be surprised how small I can pack one!”

Secret Linen Store

Change the linen – not the room

“The bedlinen is the perfect place to add some pattern and colour, because it can be changed so easily. Your bed is the largest expanse of fabric in your house, you can change the look of your room completely with a change of sheets.”

Secret Linen Store

Molly’s current bedroom – soon to be painted dark grey. Image: Rachael Smith

Avoid hot colours…

“I don’t like colours that are too warm. Reds and oranges, for walls anyway, are not restful. And I hate brown in the bedroom. I once worked in a house that had a brown bedroom – not for me.”

Secret Linen Store

…but embrace a bit of drama

“I like a bit of drama in the bedroom, and like to mix white up with greys, blues and pattern. Last Easter we stayed in a big house with friends where the bedroom was dark, and had shutters, all painted the same colour. It was wonderful, it felt quiet and the way that the light worked in the room was magical. Inspired by this I’m just about to paint my bedroom in Farrow & Ball’s Railings, a really deep grey, which is a real move for me from six years of a pure white bedroom. I’m going to go for our dark grey bedding too… I’m excited!”

Images from Secret Linen Store. Images of Molly’s bedroom by Rachael Smith

Ros Anderson


Ros Anderson is an interiors journalist and blogger who has worked for The Guardian, Elle Decoration, Ideal Home and many more. In 2009 she co-founded cult interiors blog My Friend's House with Jill Macnair, as a place to write about design in a more honest, spontaneous and humorous way.

The Chromologist 2019 | Farrow & Ball

The Chromologist