• Leigh Brown

How to Design a Uniquely Ocean Themed Bedroom

Follow this step-by-step guide to design a totally unique bedroom to wrap you in sweet dreams of the big blue sea.

Hand-painted surfboard with blue and white crashing wave, sitting on dresser in ocean themed bedroom

There are a million photos of beautiful bedrooms out there, but finding just the right style to suit your needs is the trick. Good interior design should fit your life and your needs. It's not something you can transplant straight out of a catalog.


Here are the steps to create the perfect bespoke bedroom that you love waking up to.


1) Feeling First, Design Second

What do you want to feel when you walk into your bedroom?
How do you want to feel when you wake up in the morning?
What draws you to the ocean?

Answering these questions is the first and most important step to designing your dream bedroom. This is true whether you want the perfect ocean themed bedroom, a surfer's paradise, a zen retreat, or a tiki hideaway. Knowing what you want to feel gives you a target to shoot for, and will help you make all the following decisions. So, don't skip this step!


Sit down with a notebook and write out the answers to these three questions. Really think about it and let your imagination wander. List out any feelings, emotions, ideas, or desires that come to mind.


Why do you want to bring the ocean into your bedroom? Do you love its serenity? The reliability of the waves? The peaceful colors? Or do you love its wild energy and how it constantly changes with the weather?


This isn't about particular design choices or colors yet, it's really about the feelings you want to experience. Definitely write down everything that comes to mind, including things that aren't feelings, but make sure there are some feelings on the page before you stop writing.


When you're finished writing in freeform, gather all the emotions/feelings together into a list.


Here are examples of this technique done by three different people:

  • calm, relaxed, refreshed, peaceful, awake, mindful, harmonious

  • energized, inspired, happy, fresh, joyful

  • focused, refreshed, powerful, energized, ready for the day

You can see how some items are common between these lists, but they're still very different. Your list of emotions/feelings will be unique to you, and it will guide you to create your perfect bedroom that is just as unique.


Now that we have a compass to guide us, we can dive into design.


2) Symmetry and Balance

The layout of a space can have a big effect on how you feel when you inhabit a room.


For the bedroom, symmetry is especially important to consider. Who sleeps in your bed, and what activities take place in your bedroom?


For couples, the bed is more likely to be placed in the middle of the room, so each person can get in and out of the bed on their own side, without disturbing their partner. This arrangement lends itself to the symmetry of the room, with two bedside tables and two reading lamps on either side of the bed.


According to feng shui, this actually helps to balance the energy of the people in the room and is a very beneficial arrangement for partners. It's also the most practical when sharing a bed.


Symmetry is soothing and calming to our psyche, so it can be helpful if your emotional goals are peaceful and relaxing.


Asymmetry, on the other hand, can be invigorating. If you're looking for energy and inspiration, arranging furniture asymmetrically could help you out.

Tropical beach sunset painting beside the bed in an ocean themed bedroom

Go back to your list of desired emotions and see what you find. Are you looking for serenity, or for an energy boost?


The good news is that you can shift things whichever way you want. Even if your bed is centered in the room, you can create energy by arranging art and other furniture pieces asymmetrically. Choose eclectic bedside tables instead of a matching pair. Place unique lights on each side of the bed. Many little changes will add up to an asymmetric effect.


Conversely, if your bed functions best tucked into one corner, but you're looking for peace and relaxation, you can use balance to achieve those feelings of peace and calm.


Think of the bedroom as balancing on the tip of a pyramid (or mountain) and rocking gently back and forth. You want to arrange the room's elements so that it isn't "heavier" on one side than another. Just like on a scale, several smaller things can balance out one large element.


This doesn't just mean the physical weight of the furniture. A really colorful painting, which draws your attention, can have a lot of emotional "weight", even though it is physically very light.


Getting the right layout can sometimes take a little trial and error. You have to test things and see how they feel. Trust your gut and don't over-think things. If it feels right to you, then it's right.


3) Color Palette

There are endless gorgeous nautical and beachy color combinations out there. The trick is to narrow things down and choose the right one.


Go back to your list of the emotions you want to feel in your bedroom. Which color inspires those emotions? That's your primary color. Start there.


Given that we're dreaming of the ocean, let's use blue as our example. There are hundreds of shades of blue, from navy and indigo, to cobalt and sky, to pale seafoam. So, how do we narrow things down further?


Most interior design pairs a bold color with a neutral color, then adds accents. For example, indigo and white (or pale cream) are a classic color combination that evokes memories of water and waves.


Not everything in your bedroom will adhere to these two colors. Wood furniture, book covers, shoes, any number of personal items won't stick to the plan. However, as long as the main visual elements of the room stick to the main two or three shades, the effect will stay strong and unified.


This is the time for fun visual research. Search for images based on your primary color. Pick out the ones you like and discard the ones you don't. Use the ones you like to narrow your search. Find a pair or trio of colors that make you smile.


When you find a few examples that you think are beautiful, go back to your list of emotions. Which of the beautiful options make you feel like you want to feel in your bedroom? Which ones influence you most strongly?


Congratulations. Those are your colors.


4) Textures

Bedrooms are places that we need to feel safe and protected. This is because our guard is down when we sleep.


Comforting textures are one of the best ways to create this sense of reassurance. Our sense of touch has a very visceral connection to our emotions. Just as a friendly hug can calm us, a soft blanket or cool sheets can subconsciously tell our minds to relax at the end of the day.

Bare feet sticking out of soft blue covers on a cozy bed

Once you've chosen colors, pay attention to the feel of any items you want to bring into your space. Go back to your list of emotions. Maybe you're invigorated by the cool touch of a favorite mug in the morning, or relaxed by the crisp paper of a book. Don't bring anything into the bedroom that doesn't make you feel like you want to feel.


5) Focus

What do you want to be the first thing to see when you wake up in the morning? What should be the last thing you see before closing your eyes at night?


A central piece of art can add a huge impact to the mood and atmosphere in a bedroom. Many people hang a large piece over their headboard, as it can be a convenient location, but that puts it out of sight while lying in bed. Placing a focal point opposite the bed (for symmetry) or on one side of the bed (for asymmetry) means you'll see it before sleeping and after waking.


For ocean lovers, waking to a painting of curling blue waves, or a still, quiet coast, can set a remarkable tone for the day. Art creates and inspires emotion, so a piece that fits the emotions of your bedroom can magnify the atmosphere you're creating. Whether that's the energy of the wild sea or the serenity of calm water is up to you.


Art is an easy way to achieve this focal point, but it's not the only way. A favorite plant or a beloved view out a window are other good options. Find something that makes you feel good (like the emotions on your list) and make it a focal point of the room. Or, at least put it where you'll see it when you wake up.


6) Consistent Details

Our lives are often full of chaos, and so are our bedrooms. This is only natural. Not all the details in your bedroom will stick to the plan. However, the more you can keep your list of feelings in mind, the more of those emotions you'll feel in the room.


It's worthwhile to look at each item in the room and ask yourself if it gives you the right feeling. If not, you might be able to find a home for it elsewhere or just tuck it out of sight.


These are small things, but it all adds into waking up feeling good in the morning, and that can't be underestimated.


Conclusion

No two people are the same, and no cookie-cutter design can fit everyone. Follow these steps to discover and create the perfect bedroom for you. It might be filled with the spirit of the beach, or something completely different, but at the end of the day, it should make you happy.


Ask us any questions in the comments below. We would love to hear your thoughts!


Also, Happy World Oceans Day!

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Looking for more? Check out these other art and design posts:

Capsule Tales: Tiny Stories Painting Your Walls

Why We Partner with 4Ocean to Clean Up the Waves

The Sea, the Body, and the Soul

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