Insiders: How to Design a Relaxing yet Inspiring Bedroom with Emma Ainscough

For our Insiders series, we speak to interiors and hospitality experts who share their tips, advice and inspiration themed around niche topics.

For our first Insiders of the year, we caught up with interior designer, Emma Ainscough who has shared her expertise on how to create beautiful bedrooms that look great but also provide the ideal calming environment to encourage a good night’s sleep.

Named as one of House & Garden’s Rising Stars in 2023, Emma takes a personal approach to her projects, providing a playful touch to everyday life. She has worked on numerous family homes and apartments, but perhaps her most iconic project to date is the design of luxury holiday let, Charlotte’s Folly. We love all of Emma’s designs, but she has a wonderful touch when it comes to bedrooms, injecting her signature playful touch into spaces that also feel calm and relaxing.

Discover more about Emma on her website and Instagram.

Read on to discover her advice for designing beautiful, restful bedrooms.

Begin with considering the layout of the furniture.

When it comes to my process of designing a room, I always start with the furniture layouts before pulling out key fabrics, artworks and rugs which might be a starting point for a colour scheme. I will then design and specify pieces of furniture that will work best in the given layout. For a bedroom, spatial planning is often dictated by how much storage is required, i.e. is there a separate dressing room? I try to keep built-in storage within the bedroom itself to a minimum, which allows for a more serene and spacious feel.

I might then use a softer colour palette for a bedroom, but with earthy, statement patterns for areas such as the headboards and curtains or blinds. Bedrooms are also a great place to play with texture, layering up different soft textures to create a really sumptuous haven.

There are three considerations I always make when designing bedrooms: colour, storage and artwork.

I want the bedrooms I design to look great but also to be restful and encourage a good night’s sleep. It does depend on who you are designing for, but I generally try to achieve the following:


I tend to mix a softer, more feminine colour palette with some slightly more masculine forms, to create a balance and a contrast so that the end result is appealing to both genders and remains interesting & playful.


Organisation and clever storage! For me, a calming bedroom is a space without clutter and so bedside tables and chests of drawers with good storage are so important. I like to keep surfaces as clear as possible to retain that serene atmosphere to start and end the day in a relaxing way. 


Beautiful but calming artwork is a great way to set the tone. I tend to put more bold or thought-provoking artwork in other areas of the house and keep the bedroom feeling serene. Large scale landscape photography and small botanicals work really well in bedrooms.

If you have a particularly small space or awkward shaped room, lean into that, rather than compromising and limiting yourself to furniture that ‘fits’ the space.

The blue bedroom at Charlotte’s Folly was originally a very long and narrow space. I split the room into two (by adding a nib wall and designing the sculptural arch detail) which created a large ‘nook’ bed area to house a super-king bed. I leant into the ‘small and cosy’ vibes whilst keeping it luxurious with beautiful wallpaper and a joyful tented ceiling which allowed the tight bedroom space to feel opulent despite its size. To balance that out, I used one colour and one pattern only, and just played with textures in the soft furnishings.

Lighting, scent and texture are all important considerations for bedrooms.

Lighting design is crucial when designing any room, but is something that is particularly important to get right in a bedroom to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere. Opt for wall lights and table lamps to create soft low level lighting rather than spotlights or pendants - and always try to have everything on separate circuits and on dimmers if you have the chance.

Scent is a small detail that can be overlooked but can add so much to a room. A room spray or delicious candle can do a lot. Diptique is a brand that can do no wrong here in my opinion.

Always make sure there is something soft underfoot in a bedroom. Depending on the space, I’d usually opt for timber floors with large soft rugs that span most of the room - it makes all the difference having something soft on bare feet getting out of bed, particularly in the winter. Bamboo silk is a great, more affordable way to create that super luxurious soft feel in a rug. 

Find out more about Emma on her website and Instagram.

Discover our bed linen collection to complete your own bedroom.

Images: Chris Horwood


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