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We design a lot of spaces in our homes to support our health efforts. Think of a kitchen with a brimming fruit bowl, precut veggies in the fridge at eye level, maybe even fresh herbs on the windowsill. By the front door, you might keep your running shoes, a bike helmet, or perhaps a packed gym bag at the ready. The living room is the epitome of destress coziness, with handknit lap blankets and soft lighting.

But the bedroom? Dirty laundry is piled in the corner, library books you swore you’d return last week are stacked on the nightstand, and your phone charger is draped over the dresser.

Unlike other rooms in the house that are intentionally designed and functional, evoking feelings of uplift and wellness, bedrooms often feel like a rest stop — not exactly conducive for sparking desire and creating greater intimacy.

Unlike other rooms in the house that are intentionally designed and functional, bedrooms often feel like a rest stop — not exactly conducive for sparking desire.

“Environment plays a significant role in how we feel, which is why the bedroom should feel like a sanctuary for relaxation and pleasure,” says certified sex and couples therapist Lee Phillips, EdD, LCSW, CST. “When a space is designed for greater calm and intimacy, our bodies model that environment. We’re less anxious, much more present, and more able to feel aroused.”

The good news is that you don’t need to renovate and build a pleasure palace to make your bedroom more intimate — unless that’s your groove — because there are some simple, straightforward strategies you can use to elevate your current space. Most likely, that will be a bedroom, but Phillips says you could revamp any space in your home that feels like a good fit.

Keep in mind that although these tips are geared toward sex and intimacy, that certainly doesn’t mean you need to be coupled up or enjoying occasional sexy time while dating to appreciate them. Fostering a space that’s geared toward pleasure is just as important when you’re flying solo. No matter your relationship status, consider these strategies for creating a setting that will put more life into your sex life.

1) Shift Your Perspective

The first step toward a sexier bedroom is recognizing its importance, suggests Krystal Holm, feng shui consultant, interior designer, and founder of Designed Life Studio.

“The bedroom is typically our charging station where we absorb the most energy,” she says. “If the feel of the room is off, not only will that lower your energy for having sex in the moment, but it can turn off your desire in the future.”

Let your intentions guide your design decisions. If you’re sharing the bedroom or space with a partner, it’s best to talk about changes together, adds Phillips. He says you might be happily surprised at ideas your partner suggests for how to create a more intimate space. Most of all, that communication makes it a shared project that can bring you closer together.

2) Warm It Up

Color, temperature, and lighting can play a major part in sparking intimacy, says Holm. Basically, if you want to get hot, try warming the space up first — that means rich, expansive colors throughout the room.

“A bedroom finished in a deep burgundy or another luscious color feels incredibly luxurious and sensual,” she notes. “That tends to feel more intimate than one that’s light and bright.” Consider warm paint colors — for the walls or even the ceiling — and dark colors for accents like throw pillows and curtains.

Air temperature is more dependent on personal preference, and Holm notes that cooler temps tend to be best for sleeping. She suggests experimenting with different thermostat settings and staying aware of what “just right” temp fosters intimacy in your space.

The same is true for lighting. Dim, soft lighting via lamps can create an atmosphere ripe for relaxation and closeness.

App-controlled mood lights can also be fun, notes Vivian Green, PhD, a sexologist, sex educator, and advisor for the pleasure-product brand Sexsi Toys. “Being able to have full control over the color and brightness of your room is wonderful,” she says. “Many can be set on timers, and you can automate them to change depending on your preference.”

3) Cut the Clutter

Those dirty clothes tossed over the chair, random magazines on the nightstand, and various papers on the dresser? They’re killing your sexy buzz, says Holm. Clutter stagnates the flow of energy in a space, lowering your libido in the process.

That includes any decor items that feel like they’re crowding the room, Holm adds. Even stuff under the bed can affect the energy in the room, she notes.

For some people, creating a space that leans toward being impersonal can be wildly liberating. “It’s no surprise some of the best sex happens in hotel rooms, because they’re devoid of clutter, memories, and any objects that remind you of a to-do list and responsibilities,” says feng shui consultant Suzanne Roynon, author of Welcome Home: How Stuff Makes or Breaks Your Relationship. “If the bedroom at home has the same energy, it’s going to boost opportunities for pleasure.”

4) Tap Into the Power of Two

For those in a couple, a feng shui principle to keep in mind when you’re designing your room is “pair energy,” says Roynon. To support a balanced and harmonious relationship in a bedroom, that means buying two matching decor items — for example, matching nightstands and lamps.

“Create symmetry on the bed with pair energy as well,” she adds. “Match the number and appearance of pillows on each side, usually also in pairs.”

Togetherness also extends to photos in the bedroom. As a rule, Roynon suggests removing any photographs of friends, in-laws, and children and keeping only those of you and your partner. “Basically, remove images of anyone you would not want to see you naked,” she says.

5) Create Some Seclusion

Another way to channel the feel of a hotel room is to shut yourselves in. Locking the door provides a sense of comfort and security, says Roynon.

Add in some blackout curtains and you’re basically nestled into a little getaway-style cocoon. “With curtains like these, or at least some way to reduce the early morning light, it makes languid morning sex and fiery afternoon-delight intimacy enticing in a whole new way.”

6) Leave Work Outside

Maybe you think just checking your email one more time will allow you to be fully present. Or you simply want to put a meeting on your calendar for tomorrow before you forget. But those 10-second moments add up. Even worse, says Phillips, they blur the line between work and intimacy.

Making sure to turn off your cell phone and computer — even better, putting them in another room — is ideal, in part because it keeps you from bringing work into your conversation, says Nina Nguyen, sex educator and cofounder of the site Fraulila, which provides information about sexual health.

“No work or shoptalk in the bedroom,” she suggests. “Separating work and relaxation spaces can help maintain a clear boundary between professional and personal life. This distinction allows you to relax fully and be present with your partner without being constantly reminded of work-related tasks.”

If a bedroom also doubles as a work-from-home space, find a way to hide that part of the room when you’ve clocked out, suggests Suzannah Weiss, sex educator and sexologist for the pleasure-product brand Biird. For example, a freestanding room-divider screen in a warm color can create a visual and mental boundary.

7) Consider Your Other Senses

Much of your design and many arrangement shifts will be visual, but remember that sex is an all-senses experience, so what you incorporate should be too. “Put on some music, and integrate aromas that enhance the mood as well,” says Holm. “That might be essential oils, massage oil, scented candles, or even some fresh flowers.”

Nguyen suggests going for posh bedding — the kind that makes you feel sensual and pampered the moment you slip into bed. “It’s hard to overstate the effect of high-quality bedding and how it can enhance intimate experiences,” she says. “Soft and luxurious sheets and pillows promote relaxation, and that’s key for desire.”

Whatever decisions you make about refining your space, remember that the goal is to increase your comfort and satisfaction (as well as your partner’s, if you’re coupled up). Ultimately, cultivating that energy is an investment in your overall well-being.

“However you choose to be intimate, making the effort to create a relaxing, sensuous space helps you be more present, in both body and mind,” says Roynon. “A space that supports your desire and arousal can be a huge part of feeling healthy.”

Check out all of the content in our sexual health and well-being digital collection.

Illustration by: Anna Godeassi
Elizabeth Millard

Elizabeth Millard is a writer, editor, and farmer based in northern Minnesota.

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