Transform Your Newlywed Bedroom into a Sexy, Relaxing Oasis

"Hotel Impossible" designer Blanche Garcia shares her tricks for designing a newlywed sanctuary.

Transform Your Newlywed Bedroom into a Sexy, Relaxing Oasis

Photo: Madrigal Photography

Your bedroom should feel like a calm, peaceful haven for you to reconnect with your partner at the end of the day. But does it? With piles of laundry, rambunctious kids, and a to-do list that's a mile long, bedrooms easily become simply a place to crash – forget about romance or relaxation!

By introducing a few soothing, sexy design elements into your bedroom décor, you can create your own personal oasis. Interior designer Blanche Garcia, who competed on HGTV's Design Star and currently stars on The Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible, chatted with Inside Weddings about the easy, affordable changes any newlyweds can make to their bedrooms. You might be surprised by how a single color, lamp, or fabric can make a huge difference in the look of your sanctuary! 

How should couples approach the design process if they have different styles and tastes?
"You go after the objective of what you want your bedroom to feel like. Most people want it to feel relaxing, a space you can breathe in at the end of the day, an oasis. You find the common denominator in all that, and then you’re able to have that goal. It doesn't matter if one or the other veers off track because someone will say, 'I want leather!' and I say, How is that going to feel? So you’re always bringing them back to that. And then you make sure both are heard. He needs to feel comfortable, so it can't be a pink palette, and she needs to feel comfortable, so it can't be black. Maybe you’re not okay with an 80-inch TV, but maybe if we do a 50-inch TV behind closed doors you would be okay. "

How do you begin to figure out how to decorate your bedroom, if you're unsure what your style is?
"You want to look at function. Make a list of what you need the room to do for you. If you need to sleep in the room and also work at a desk area, then the sectional you want to stuff in there is not going to work. People [often say], 'I want this, I want that, I want a pony.' Slow down. What do you need it to do? You need tons of storage, right? So that Lucite table that has no drawers and you can see everything inside is not going to work. I go function first, and that clears out a lot of things. Then, pick your top five rooms from magazines or [image-sharing websites]. Put them in front of you, sit on the floor, close your eyes, imagine yourself in each of those rooms, and feel what feels right. You know what feels relaxing. I always tell people to let their energy pick [a style] for them, even though they love a bunch of things. Really think about and meditate on what feels right." 

What design elements make a bedroom feel relaxing and sexy?
"For bedding, I always go [with] fluffy and choose something simple and clean or white. Lighting is the most important thing other than bedding. I put dimmers on all the light switches. Especially since they're phasing out incandescent blubs, LEDs are one of the only options. They're bright and white, and no one looks good under that. You can add dimmers to the actual end of the lamp: you plug the lamp into a dimmer and plug that into the wall. That’s a $5 way to do it if you don’t want to open up the light socket.

If you want something sexy, sheer fabrics really help. If you have blinds that block out the light, you can put a layer of sheers over them that go from the top of the window to the floor. In a more minimalist setting, you can keep it very clean from top to bottom so they just cover the window very lightly. In a more traditional setting or for a shabby-chic look, you can pull sheers back with handles, hooks, or even dried flowers. If you don’t have a four-poster bed, my old-school way of adding sexy to the bedroom is to attach window rods to the ceiling to create my own four-poster bed." 

What prevents a bedroom from feeling sexy?
"I'm not a big fan of televisions in the room. I just think you could be watching TV in the living room. If it is in your room, I like a television to be more closed away, whether it's in a cabinet or comes out of a cabinet from below. Also, your hamper doesn’t need to be in the middle of the room – it's never clean and there’s always stuff coming out of it, so put it in the closet or bathroom. Pictures of your children should not be in your bedroom. If you poll any guy, they’re not going to say, 'When I'm with my wife intimately, I want to be looking at her mother’s face or my kids.' Put [those photos] in the family room or hallways, but not in the bedrooms. I think it’s a big mood killer."

Which colors work well in a bedroom, and which should be avoided?
"There are certain colors that always work no matter what: creams, light blues, and watery blues. I like colors that are in between – where you don’t know which colors they are. Restoration Hardware is really good at offering those. If you look at their color palettes, even their blues and greys, you don’t know which color it is. You're like, 'That blue has a lot of grey, and that blue has a lot of green.' They do that because no matter what, the colors can mutate to whatever you put against them. And they're also very soft, clean, and relaxing.

Another color base I love to use is a beige-blush-mauve. It’s not a cotton candy pink, it's more of a blush pink. That wall color makes everyone's skin tone look amazing. Pure white will make you look more washed out and greens bring out the yellow tones in you. [The blush hue] is a very relaxing, modern color and when put with creams or greys it looks pretty and doesn’t look like 1980s mauve. 

I'm not against colors like red and black, but they usually don’t elicit anything romantic or relaxing in the bedroom. Red is a really high-energy color, and you see it in fast-food restaurants and logos because it makes you hungry brings very high energy. It revs up your emotion. I like black and I love deep navy blues, but they absorb a lot of light, so you have to put a lot of lighting in the room in order to see a little of it."

What trends are you seeing in bedroom design?
"A lot of people used to want over-the-top, exaggerated things, like a duvet cover with prints and lots of color. I think [now] people are going much more simplistic and natural in their bedrooms. They want to mimic that whole hotel feel. They want it to feel open and spacious. You don’t see a lot of dark, clunky furniture, and we’re building cabinets into walls so they fade away. I'm getting requests for upholstered walls because they absorb sound, warm up a room, and add great texture." 

What are some tricks to making a small space feel bigger?
"Bigger furniture helps in some ways. A king-size bed, if you can fit it in, does make a space feel larger. Some people think painting walls white is an automatic way to make a space feel bigger, but that’s not necessarily true. I've done a dove grey or something a little deeper on walls and combined [that hue] with other trim colors that are lighter. For floors, choosing bigger patterns will make a room seem bigger. If you're doing a new construction, use wider planks or wider tiles. If you're moving into an apartment and decorating, I like to do a large-scale rug that has large prints on it.

A lot of people think one light is the only thing you need, like a ceiling light or side table lamp. But you want to light areas all around. [If] you have a reading chair, put a floor lamp there and put it on a dimmer. If you think about it, when you're in a room and you have one light in the center and all the corners are dark, they're only visually feeling the center. If you light these other areas, your eye bounces around a lot more." 

If you can't afford to do an entire redesign, how can you easily and inexpensively transform your room?
"Number one, go to Home Goods or Home Depot and get the dimmers you plug into your lamps. I'll go to Target or Home Goods and get bedding with a 900 thread count for $40 in white, and then I do one very simple graphic throw at the end of the bed. Sheers on the windows are really nice and pretty, especially now with the warm weather. If you leave your windows open a little bit, it brings in that air and they flutter really prettily.

Even if you live in an apartment, you can afford to paint or use stick-on wallpaper on one accent wall. You can handle it. Now they have self-adhesive wallpaper that you can [put on] one wall or [use] a decal. And honestly, candles. I know it's old and true, but I've walked into rooms that are a white box and a couple of candles and maybe some incense or essential oil and nice bedding, and I'm happy." 

What décor or design elements are a waste of money?
"People want to buy the bed with the matching nightstand. If you want to get the best bang for your buck, I would get a really good bed and then troll online sites or garage sales for things you can use as nightstands and things you can change out. For a bed, you're going to need something sturdy, and even if you get tired of it you can put it in the guest room. But nightstands and chests are interchangeable and it’s a lot more interesting if they don’t match. I can buy a bed for $1,000, but for my nightstands and chests I'm getting something really cute that I like at the moment [from] Ikea or Wayfair or Amazon. People get caught up and the salesmen say, 'You need the whole set and it's $8,000,' but don’t do that. You wouldn’t do that with a black dress, black shoes, and a black purse."

What's the most important thing couples should remember while designing their bedrooms?
"The biggest mistake I see is that the women think it's their dollhouse, and they cut their husbands out of the decisions. Especially in something as intimate as the bedroom, be aware that it’s two of you going there and this is where you both connect. Don’t just pick whatever you want and say, 'He’ll deal with the frills and that I like purple,' because that sets the tone for you cutting him out already. I always tell [newlyweds] that it's only going to be good for your marriage if you both love where you go to sleep and wake up everyday. It’s his house, too." 

Opening photo by Madrigal Photography