Your days are busy, so the place where you spend your nights—your bedroom—may reflect that, with laundry piled high in the corner and last night’s PJs still hanging out next to the bed. But distractions like those can put the brakes on a romantic interlude. For a sensual setting, you’ve got to create an oasis. We asked sex therapists for their top tips to revamp your bedroom into a space where you feel ready to turn up the heat.
Cue your thermostat
"Couples want to have spontaneous sex, but if your bedroom is too cold you won’t want to be rolling around naked in it," said Aline Zoldbrod, Boston sex therapist and author on sexsmart.com.
In the same vein, one that’s too hot is also uncomfortable and reduces a man’s ability to get great erections, she says. The right temperature is based on you and your partner’s personal preferences, but between 68 to 70 degrees is ideal for most.
“Choose a temperature that won’t make you think, ‘oh my toes are so cold,’" Zoldbrod said.
Clean your sheets
Deep down, we’re simple creatures who really don’t need fancy, expensive bedding with a super-high thread count. What matters more is that your sheets are clean and smell good.
“Clean sheets make people feel good, and they’re way sexier than red satin bedding any day,” said Gracie Landes, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York City. “I call it the clean sheets effect.”
Another tip: during the spring and summer when it’s warm, hang sheets to dry outside (if you have the backyard space to spare), which will take the freshness factor up a notch.
Keep a TV in there
You’ve heard that your bedroom should only be reserved for sleep and sex, so many experts recommend taking the TV out entirely. Zoldbrod isn’t one of them.
“You can keep the TV for watching a romantic or erotic movie,” she explained. “It’s nice to have a way to do that in your bedroom and not have to watch something on your laptop.”
Obviously, use your own best judgment. If you think you’ll be too tempted to turn on the hockey game or CNN, then you could use a tablet instead.
Your iPhone needs to go, says Landes. Considering one survey found that 75 percent of Americans say they’re within five feet of their smartphone most of the time and one in 10 check their phones during sex, don’t even keep the temptation nearby. You’ll be able to better prioritize and focus on your partner if nothing is distracting you. After all, no one wants to feel like they come second to the chime of your email, right?
Turn on tunes
Create a playlist that makes you feel sexy, then cue up your stereo.
“Music and sex both tap into a very primitive part of your brain, and that’s why the two go so well together,” Zoldbrod said.
She recommends music with a sexy beat that “gives you a wave-like feeling.” For some people, that might be jazz, for others it’s Justin Timberlake or John Legend. Plus, research has shown that music can stir your memory, so playing a tune from your past as a couple can conjure up good emotions. (“Remember that time when we…”)
Keep a sexy box
If you throw things like sex toys, lube, and condoms in a hidden drawer, you’re less likely to dig around for those things in the heat of the moment. That’s why Landes suggests putting these items inside a discreet container (this could be as simple as a shoe box with a lid) and keeping it in a place where other people (kids, a dog) won’t find it, like under your bed. The easy access can even bring you closer to your partner. In one 2011 study on 2,000 women in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, women reported that their partners were comfortable and happy using a vibrator with them during sex and reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction.
Light a candle
This one may seem obvious, but in the name of setting a sexy scene, many people go wrong. Candlelight is naturally flattering and makes you feel sexy, says Zoldbrod.
“It gives your brain the message that we’re going to do something special,” she said.
But the scent you choose can make the difference between a mood revver and a mood killer. While you might find roses sexy, your partner might want to run the other way. That’s why you should buy unscented candles, and also place them in a container so they won’t get knocked over, suggested Landes. Not in the candle mood? Dim the bedroom lights or at the very least, turn off harsh overhead ones.
Get rid of the dirty laundry
Anything that reminds you of household chores should be banished from the bedroom, suggested Zoldbrod. For women, sex is as mental as it is physical, so you may find it hard to get out of your head if you’re worried about dirty underwear on the floor. Don’t worry: that doesn’t mean you have to throw a load in before getting down, just get it out of the room, added Landes. Maybe ask your partner if he can take care of it later: A 2014 study in the journal Sex Roles found that in heterosexual couples, women report higher marital satisfaction when men equally chip in around the house. Call it foreplay?
Make it feel like a hotel
One of the reasons we feel frisky on vacation: It’s a special getaway that takes us out of the day-to-day hassles. Bring some of that hotel vibe in by putting a nice bottle of water on your nightstand, a chocolate on your pillow, a super soft blanket across the mattress—anything that creates an environment of luxury and makes you feel pampered, suggested Landes. For a long-term investment into your sex life, consider purchasing thick curtains that can block out light and some noise.
“Do whatever you can to keep the outside world out so you can concentrate on your partner,” she added.
Say buh-bye to pets
It’s hard to get your honey in the mood for some lovin’ when you’ve got a furball taking up prime bed real estate.
“I’ve heard of horror stories of people ending intimate encounters because their pets are freaking out in the room,” Landes said.
So throw your pets out during sexy time, and consider banishing them from your bed altogether: 63 percent of pet owners who slept with their pet suffer from poor quality sleep, according to new research. Other research indicates that lack of zzz’s can make you feel hostile toward your partner. Translation: getting enough sleep can