9 Steps to a Beautifully Made Bed
Co-written by Susan Williams
A beautifully made bed is greater than the sum of its parts. The most exquisite sheets in the world placed on an uncomfortable mattress leaves much to be desired, as does a synthetic comforter that is too hot or pillows that hurt your neck.
Get a good night’s sleep in style with these essentials for a well-thought-out bedroom design, from bed frame to decorative pillows.
STEP 1: FOUNDATION
Three elements make up a solid foundation for your bed: the bed frame, a headboard, and a footboard. The bed frame is probably the most important of the three pieces because it provides stability for the mattress. Headboards are decorative pieces that help set the stage for your bedroom's design. Most often, the headboard attaches to the bed frame at the "head" of the bed and comes in all shapes and sizes.
Styles range from contemporary to traditional, rustic to refined—and the list goes on. Whether you want an upholstered, transitional look, a classic iron bed, or an elegantly crafted wood piece of furniture, anything is possible to achieve your look.
Tip: Keeping the design and color of the headboard classic and neutral will give you greater flexibility when selecting bedding patterns, colors, and even textures. It is easier to freshen the look of your bedding than it is to get different furniture.
STEP 2: MATTRESS
Restful sleep is one of the most important things to maintain good health, and your mattress is an integral component for making a luxuriously comfortable bed.
Although options in the marketplace today can be daunting, the three most important considerations when selecting a mattress are the 3 Cs: comfort, composition, and cost.
Comfort: Starting with a firm core is essential in a supportive and restful night’s sleep. The core will give you the support that you need, but it's the additional layers that will provide you with the all-important comfort.
Composition: You spend a third of your life in bed, so sleeping on organic and natural materials will not only benefit your health, but it will also result in a more restful slumber. Make sure you know how and where the mattress is made. A good question to ask: are they actually certified organic, or are they just claiming to be organic?
Cost: Purchasing a mattress is an investment. Investing in your sleep is investing in your life; it is such a critical component to health and happiness. Higher quality mattresses will cost more, but they will also last longer and feel better.
STEP 3: MATTRESS PAD
A great mattress needs protection. A mattress pad does the job simply and easily. Mattress pad options can range from basic cotton versions to wonderfully durable wool ones.
STEP 4: SHEETS & PILLOW CASES
Since sheeting is the most tactile component of any bedding ensemble, this is one area you want to invest heavily in—few things in life are as glorious as a sublime and sumptuous set of sheets.
Choosing the right sheets and pillowcases can be a tricky task, so do your research by feeling different qualities and types of fibers. Thread count should not be the focus, as it is not nearly as important as the fibers being used.
Look for 100 percent Egyptian cotton sheets in order to purchase the highest-quality and longest-lasting sheets. Natural fibers are the best options for sheets, and again, they are chosen based on personal preference. A guidepost if you are just starting out on your quest to purchase high-quality sheets is to consider whether you sleep “cool” or “warm.” Use the sleeping temperature chart below.
If you sleep warm:
- Percale woven sheets provide a crisp, cooler feel because their weave is a simple one-under, one-over, promoting greater air circulation.
- Linen sheets are known for their breathability and durability. Linen absorbs moisture readily and dries exceptionally quickly, allowing it to retain its coolness.
If you sleep cold:
- Sateen woven sheets provide a silky-soft feel because their weave is one-under, five-over. If the quality of the cotton is top-notch, sateen sheets often feel as soft as silk.
- Wood-pulp fiber sheets are made from sustainable cedar trees. This trendy new fiber has taken off because sheets made with it have the same feel as silk but can be cared for like cotton.
- Flannel sheets are typically made from wool or cotton. The fibers in flannel sheeting are brushed, which opens up the fibers, creating a thicker and warmer sheet.
STEP 5: COVERLETS
Coverlets elevate the design of any bed, and adding one is the easiest way to make your bed design special. So, what are the options? A coverlet can be a quilt, a wool or cotton blanket, a matelassé, or any number of fabric designs, of various thickness, that finish the bed design. It typically goes on top of the flat or top sheet with about a foot of the flat sheet folded back over, creating a layered effect.
STEP 6: DOWN
The down is what creates that amazing cloud-like feeling in which everyone wants to sleep. Incredible down pillows and comforters are guaranteed to give you better shut-eye. Again, research here is absolutely key. Sleeping pillows should be selected based on a personal preference and can depend on your sleeping style. What kind of sleeper are you?
Stomach sleeper? Choose a softer, plusher pillow.
Back sleeper? Choose a pillow with medium firmness.
Side sleeper? Go with a thick, firm pillow.
Down comforters can also be a personal preference, and sleeping temperature impacts which weight feels more comfortable. What matters most is the actual down inside the comforters. Given that there are multiple types of down, read labels to ensure that you know the quality of any prospective down comforter.
Some considerations to be aware of are:
- What type of goose down is being used, e.g. Canadian, Siberian, or Polish?
- What is the country of origin?
- How are the animals being treated?
- Can your comforter and pillows be laundered?
Another tip when investing in quality down pillows and comforters is to know and consider fill power. The higher the fill power, the better. Larger clusters of down keep their loft better, while smaller clusters break down more easily and lose loft sooner.
STEP 7: DUVET COVERS
A duvet cover is the sheeting “cover” that envelops a down comforter, which is also called a duvet. A duvet cover is the largest section of fabric showing in most bed designs, so selecting the appropriate style, color, and texture is key.
A duvet cover typically looks best when folded in thirds and is placed at the foot of the bed. This ensures optimal loft of the goose down while displaying the coverlet, flat sheet, and pillows.
However, if you prefer to pull the duvet cover to the top of the bed, a coverlet is not needed. This technique removes an element from the overall design aesthetic, but it creates an easier way to make the bed. To add that element of design back in, try folding a coverlet or throw at the foot of the bed for a punch of color, a great texture, and an extra layer.
STEP 8: DECORATIVE SHAMS
Add king or standard shams to create an additional decorative layer to bed design. Using shams can add more texture or tie-in colors found throughout the bedroom. Two king shams are recommended for a king bed; standard shams are recommended for queen beds.
Place either size sham in front of the European shams. Since decorative shams are an addition to your sleeping pillows, the pillow within a sham can be less than 100% down. Try a high quality 95% down and 5% feather combination to keep its true shape and form; these come in almost any size and hold their structure well.
Step 9: DECORATIVE PILLOWS
Decorative pillows are the finishing touch for a beautifully designed bed. They provide an additional splash of color or rich texture. Decorative pillows are a low-risk way to push the design of a bed beyond your aesthetic comfort zone. Let one or more of these elements stand out and become a “Wow!” piece. Use 1 to 3 decorative pillows to complete a bed design.
Designs show best when pillows of three different sizes are used. Because decorative pillows can be changed frequently, feel free to select a visually interesting and expressive combination of pillows. In other words, have fun with it!
It’s hard to ignore the research about the benefits of sleep for our overall health and wellbeing, as well as the importance of quality design. Putting together a well-conceived bed design that is comprised of high-quality products at each step along the way will create an overall look and feel that will entice your senses for years to come.
Molly Myers is the daughter of The Brass Bed founder, Rosella Louis, and has been learning about fine linens and bedroom design since the day she was born. In fact, as a child, Molly carved her initials into the store's foundation when the concrete was poured. Susan Williams grew up picking out fabrics for her own fashions and has been writing about design for over 30 years. You can reach The Brass Bed at 303-322-1712.
Content for this article provided by The Brass Bed.