Ah, the boudoir! The late 18th-century word translates from the French as “sulking-place,” yet the Cambridge English Dictionary defines boudoir as “a beautifully decorated room used in the past by a woman for sleeping, dressing, relaxing, and entertaining.” Ultimately, the boudoir took on an erotic connotation, where as much undressing as dressing would occur, and the entertaining was delightfully frisky.
Today, as master bedrooms become more multi-purpose, the notion of a space dedicated to amorous activity can seem an unattainable fantasy instead of the romantic reality it ought to be for the sake of your love life. (Here’s how to find the best mattress for your marriage.)
“At some point between finishing that report for work and pillow fights with the kids, the bedroom should reclaim its purpose for intimacy and bonding,” says Gloria Brame, PhD, an Athens, Georgia-based sex therapist and author of Champions of Pleasure. Fortunately, décor goes a long way toward boosting the boudoir factor—without resorting to anything reminiscent of Belle Watling’s Gone with the Wind brothel. Read on to discover the best romantic bedroom ideas.
Romantic bedroom ideas
Whether you’re ready to fully redo your master suite or simply hope to make a few subtly sexy changes, consider these romantic bedroom decorating tips for heightening your bedroom’s passion potential.
“Mood lighting is the best investment you can make for romance,” says Brooklyn, New York, interior designer Julia Mack. For the most romantic bedroom experience, all bedroom lighting should be on dimmers, with lamps preferable to an overhead fixture. The general rule is three points of illumination: one on either side of the bed and a third across the room. And don’t forget the impact of flickering flames! “Everyone looks good by candlelight,” Mack says, noting that electric versions are just as flattering as real fire (not to mention safer).
Think like Goldilocks when picking paint—nothing too hot, too cool, or too bright. “I like soft spa colors for the bedroom,” says Cynthia Espy, president of Amenities Home Design in Chicago. “They create a serene setting yet are easily enlivened by lamps or candlelight for a sexy mood.” For a bolder, more dramatic romantic bedroom, Mack prefers dark tones—including black. “Try one black wall, behind the bed,” she suggests. And while it may not scream seduction, a warm neutral may be your best bet: A Travelodge study of 2,000 couples found that those with caramel-colored walls had the most sex.
A barren bedroom is chilly and anonymous, so even a major minimalist may want to add a few flourishes to encourage intimacy, such as framed photos of you and your partner that you may not want to display on the living room mantel or artwork and objects that arouse you somehow (they needn’t be overtly sexual). A mirror—no, not on the ceiling!—brings a bit of sparkle and shine; plus, catching a glimpse of yourselves in the clinches is unequivocally hot.
The look of your romantic bedroom may beckon, but it’s the feel that seals the deal. “Texture is key,” says Mack, who opts for thick shaggy rugs, quality cotton sheets (satin is passé, not to mention cold in winter), and a chunky, nubby knitted blanket or one that’s faux fur on one side, velvet on the other.
The boudoir bed
“A saggy mattress can actually cause pulled muscles and other back woes during sex,” warns Brame—but the best mattress for whoopee is a matter of personal preference. (Here’s some help with choosing the best mattress for sex.) Traditional innerspring varieties have more bounce so are suited for those who enjoy a springy, energetic romp. Foam mattresses are more about sinking in, taking it slow, and snuggling in the afterglow.
When it comes to cushioning, the same guideline that applies to sleep goes for sex: bigger, heftier lovers are better off with a firmer mattress while smaller, slighter couples can go softer. And while adjustable bases may be marketed to those who want to work or read in bed, “they’re a wonderful innovation that can open up all kinds of sensual possibilities for folks who want to experiment with different positions,” Brame says.
An upholstered headboard is another romantic bedroom idea that can comfortably enhance creative lovemaking. And as to pillows, less is more. “One king-size pillow per person is more than adequate,” says Mack. “A few decorative pillows are fine but a pile of them is old-fashioned and fussy.” A final tip about the bed: Make it! “A messy bed is not inviting,” says Brame. (Here are more reasons to make your bed every morning.)
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What to get rid of in your bedroom to keep the spark alive
Now that you know what to bring into your bedroom, aim to banish (or at least limit) the following:
- Children’s toys. “You don’t want to shriek in pain rolling over onto a misplaced Lego!” says Brame. Adult toys, however, should be kept close at hand in a night table drawer.
- Sports and exercise equipment.
- Laundry, be it clean or dirty.
- Family photos. “There’s got to be a better place for that portrait of your mother,” says Brame.
- Anything work related. This is tough if your bedroom doubles as a home office, but if you’ve got a desk in there, keep it clutter free and shut down the computer at night.
- Television. “Once you install a TV in the bedroom, you’re saying that intimacy and self-care are lower priorities than binge-watching,” Brame says.
An easy romantic bedroom idea: the mini makeover
If a romantic bedroom redo isn’t on the horizon right now, you can still transform the space for a special night. “Write a sexy note on the mirror in lipstick or leave something evocative lying around—a piece of sexy lingerie on the bed or massage oil on the dresser,” says Espy. Then fulfill the promise of pleasure with:
- Illumination—swap out anything glaring for candles.
- Aroma—from flowers, scented candles, or an aroma machine.
- Music—while most electronics are a bedroom buzzkill, your sexy playlist issuing from unobtrusive speakers will set the mood.
For more seasonal bedroom ideas, here’s how to create a cozy winter bedroom.