Although many of us tend to focus on living areas when designing and remodeling, the bedroom is actually one of the most important spaces for your health – and one where you likely spend the majority of your time indoors.
Think about it. When you sleep, your body is renewing, repairing, healing and growing and since you spend over one-third of the day here, indoor pollution can make a big impact. The quality of sleep you get at night also affects your physical and mental health, energy, work, mood and more.
By focusing on a few critical factors, you can ensure your new sleep space delivers healthy, green sleep great for your family and planet earth.
Laying Down the Right Foundations
Floors and walls are the critical foundational components of every room. In the bedroom, they should contribute to healthy indoor air and limit potential allergens that can steal sleep.
Employing non-carpeted flooring can help cool down your room and also prevents allergens like dirt, dust mites, dander and more from taking up residence. While it may be a major overhaul for an existing space, healthy flooring can improve your home’s eco-friendliness greatly.
Opt for certified sustainably-grown or reclaimed hardwood, eco-friendly bamboo, tile made with recycled content, or cork flooring. Concrete can also be finished in a wide variety of ways. Choose sealants, stains, finishes and polishes with eco-friendly ingredients and ultra-low (or zero) VOC certifications.
If you can’t get comfortable with the idea of hard floors throughout the bedroom, consider a low-pile rug. Materials like recycled nylon, wool, sisal, cotton or jute paired with low-VOC padding and dyes can make eco-friendly floor coverings — just don’t forget to vacuum regularly.
For your walls, paint is certainly the most popular option and there are quite a few low and no-VOC, green-friendly interior paints on the market. Reclaimed woods, metal panels and eco-friendly wallpaper (yes, it’s a thing) are other options for more creative folk. For ground-up builds, don’t forget to consider insulation options as well.
Choosing Wiser Windows and Lighting
After you’ve laid the groundwork for your bedroom, the next thing to look at is lighting. Windows open up a space and provide eco-friendly lighting by day, but don’t forget about practicality.
- Ensure windows are Energy Star-certified to optimize energy efficiency.
- Next, think about placement. Light at night is bad for sleep, so windows should be easy to cover, especially those facing the sunrise. Incorporate low-emissions window tinting, light blocking shades or thick drapes for a dream-worthy sanctuary.
- For indoor lighting, choosing LED or CFL bulbs brings greater energy efficiency than incandescents.
- One helpful idea is to use lamps with dimmers or have your electrician install dimmer switches so you can keep evening lighting low – and easy on the eyes.
- Some LED bulbs even have smart features with app controls for light color and brightness.
- Rather than leaving lights on all night, try motion-activated hall or under-the-bed lights to find your way to the bathroom if needed without affecting sleep or adding to energy use.
- If you find yourself falling asleep before you have the chance to turn off lights or appliances, another eco-friendly option is using timers on outlets or connectivity with smart home systems.
Keeping Your Room Cool
In addition to light, climate is another important consideration of bedroom design. Cool temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees are considered ideal for sleep, but running A/C units and heaters all of time can use a lot of energy.
Installing an overhead fan is a solid investment for any eco-friendly space. Using a fan can definitely cut down your energy usage while still keeping you cool at night. Efficient electric fans can also provide air circulation if you don’t want to install a ceiling fan. Set the fan blow in the direction of the bed, but aim it away from your face if the air bugs you.
For new homes or remodels, installing a programmable thermostat can be a big help with energy costs. If you are smart about how you program them, these thermostats will save you money, energy and the hassle of turning the A/C up and down. Plan it to set moderate temperatures in the evening, switching to cooler temperatures around bedtime and when you’ll be asleep.
Installing screened windows in the bedroom will also allow you to let cool, fresh air in on temperate evenings. Another eco-friendly tip is to design your bed with layers of blankets during the winter to accommodate cooler temperatures, and swap bedding out for lighter layers during warmer months.
Reduce Sleep-Stealing Distractions
The other key area to keep in mind when planning the structure and design of your sleep space is removing or accounting for potential sleep stealers.
- If you live in a noisy city, plan to place your bed away from exterior walls.
- Heavy shades, well-installed windows or a white noise machine can help reduce noise pollution. If neighbors are the problem, a strategically placed bookcase, acoustic wall panels, or eco-friendly rugs can help.
- Electronics like televisions, tablets and smartphones are receiving a lot of scrutiny lately. Studies have shown that the light they emit actually affects circadian rhythms and melatonin release in addition to mental distraction. Perhaps your bedroom plans don’t need that cable or satellite connection after all!
- For those who must have their tech, consider a TV armoire that conceals everything at night. Setting up a charging station outside of bedrooms can help keep phones and tablets out of the way at night.
We’ve gone over quite a bit, but we’ve really only scratched the surface of designing an eco-friendly bedroom here. Besides the flooring, lighting and climate of your room, the bedroom furniture, bedding fabrics and even your mattress play a role in the eco-friendly nature of your sleep space.
Choosing products that avoid harsh chemicals helps keep indoor air clean, and opting for materials with less ecological impact provide peace of mind. Drawing in environmental sleep hygiene factors like light, temperature and even noise can make all the difference when creating a peaceful retreat
As you embark on your next remodel or dream home design, keep in mind that the bedroom should be functional, practical and healthy in addition to stylish and attractive.
What eco-friendly must-haves are on your list for your next home or remodel? What do you think makes the biggest difference in bedroom design?
Feature image courtesy of Michael Holler