Making a bed is just about the most fundamental part of bedroom maintenance that there is. But sometimes we feel a little inadequate about our ability to make a bed. As in a magazine-worthy bed. The kind where, when we walk into our bedroom, we stand there just for a minute and admire the made bed because it looks so pretty. If you’re like me, you’ve got some pillows and some blankets, sure, but how do we even know what to do with those things to make a bed look nice? How much is too much? What kind of balance speaks to you?
In this article, I’ll show you the basics of bed-making. As you’ll soon see, the possibilities are virtually limitless. But this will get you started in the direction of thinking outside the box and learning to identify what characteristics you like (and don’t like) for your own bed. Most of all, enjoy the bed-making process! Tucks, throws, and all.
Start by throwing on a fitted sheet.
As much as you might love your particular fitted sheet, no one likes the idea of “life” touching the actual sheet that you sleep on, do they? Maybe it’s the mom-of-five-kids in me, but I want that sheet hidden away where no one can sneeze on it or color it with marker. Because germs. To this end, I recommend laying a flat sheet, right side up, on top of the fitted sheet. Pull the edge of the flat sheet all the way up to your headboard. You can fold it over here, if you like, or leave it as-is.
You likely have quite a bit of sheet excess hanging around your bed. If you were to walk away right now, your bed would resemble a Halloween ghost more than a tidy, made-up bed. So don’t walk away right now.
Tuck in the foot of your bed. Even if you like to sleep with it un-tucked. Tuck it for the day. Because it’s pretty.
Fold your duvet in half, and place it on the end of your bed. Options here include: leave the duvet hanging down over your top sheets or align the fold of the duvet with the end of your mattress top. (Learn how to DIY your own customized duvet cover out of some flat sheets here)
Now tuck in the sides of your flat sheet, keeping things crisp by pulling the sheet straight down, then tucking it in between mattress and box spring.
Toss a throw blanket on the end of your bed if you want. I like how a throw breaks up the chunk of color of a solid duvet cover, but if your duvet cover is an interesting pattern in and of itself, you might not want to cover it up much.
(Tip: If your box spring is visible, consider using a fitted sheet (or DIYing your own fitted sheet) to throw over top of the box spring. A fast and easy finishing touch for any bed.
In this first, most basic example, the pillowcases used are those that came with the sheet set. There are only two sleeping pillows, then two throw pillows are used as accents.
The flat sheet is protecting that precious fitted sheet like a boss. I like how the bed feels slightly exposed but also tucked-away tidy here. If your duvet is wide enough, consider tucking that in under the mattress as well for an even tidier look.
This bed is appealing because it’s quite simple and straightforward – not a lot to do each night before going to bed (as far as tossing a bazillion pillows aside to make room for sleeping) or each morning after waking (it takes about 10 seconds to tuck a flat sheet).
This bed does have mixed patterns going for it and a rather clean, crisp (albeit admittedly uninspiring) color palette. One thing this bed does need is a bit of personality, though.
Even something as basic as a modern floral bolster pillow makes a huge difference in the bed’s appeal.
One variation to consider is the position of your throw pillow(s), should you choose to employ them. You can stack them on top of your regular sleeping pillows. This works, even if they’re not the same size or color, because the bolster pillow connects them visually.
You could also position the throw pillows to be leaning against the sleeping pillows, with the bolster pillow in front.
One variation is to add in a second set of pillows and a dark/light contrasting pillowcase combination. This is what the combination looks like with darker pillowcases under lighter ones – just the faintest sliver of contrast.
Here is the same bed with the darker pillowcases on top. The lighter pillowcases underneath blend in, visually, with the sheets, making them almost seem to disappear. If you want your bed to look like it has fewer sleeping pillows than it actually does, consider this strategy.
Here’s the bed with three different pillow sets, a single throw pillow, and a bolster pillow. The bright shock of loose-weave chartreuse throw blanket has been removed from the foot of the bed and replaced with a bold black-and-white striped blanket.
Six sleeping pillows seems a little excessive, to me, but I don’t mind the look of the towering pillow mountain. Maybe because the pillowcases are interesting and coordinated, but not matchy-matchy.
There is definitely a lot of mixed patterning happening here. Although many of them can feel almost like a neutral – the animal print in natural colors and even the polka dot stripe don’t scream out too loudly. Sandwiching the polka dot pillowcases between the other two is a strategic move that actually lessens the polka dots’ visual impact: on top, it would be completely pronounced, and underneath it would extend the impact of the sheet. In between, it’s balanced by the other two pillowcases.
This bed includes all the components I have at my disposal to make this bed with, including the layering of throw blankets. Some might like this look; others would say it’s too much on many levels. That’s the fun part about learning how to make a bed – you can pick and choose what speaks to you.
This bed includes both color and pattern on the foot of the bed via throw blankets. This visual prominence is balanced with darker pillowcases at the top.
You can tell the difference between how finished a bed feels without a bolster pillow when there are sleeping pillows stacked, can’t you? For me, it needs that center element to tie everything together.
Perhaps you’re feeling very cheery and colorful one day. Or perhaps you don’t feel cheery or colorful but want to force yourself into that mode. Maybe try shifting one throw blanket up over the flat sheet, and spreading out the colorful number over most of the bed.
I can see this bed-making method working particularly well in a boho sort of space, with an intricate and/or antique throw spread over the bed.
Here, the duvet itself is folded into thirds, rather than in half, which leaves more of the flat sheet area exposed. In addition, two of the six pillows are used as shams, positioned up against the headboard rather than on the stack.
One way to play around with the bolster is to move it up on top of the stack of pillows (in this case, against the standing pillows). It shifts the central positioning of the bed itself ever so slightly in a more vertical sense.
Here’s the same bed, with the bolster pillow positioned at the base of the stacked pillows in its more traditional setting.
There is definitely a feeling of layered depths here, from the standing pillows all the way to the foot of the bed. The darker pillowcases have been placed on top of the small stack here, as opposed to the lighter pillows in the previous photo.
Notice how there’s some subtle repetition of the stripe theme, with the polka dot bedding showing up in horizontally striped chunks every so often. This is emphasized with the striping of darker and colorful components, too.
Here’s a closer look at the division of thirds in this made bed’s layout – all the throw blankets (plus duvet) comprise a third, the polka dot flat sheet is another third, and all the pillows complete the final third. For the symmetry- or balance-loving bed-maker, this might feel very reassuring.
In this example, two different throw pillows are used as a punctuation mark against each stack of sleeping pillows. The entire layout is tied together with a vibrant floral bolster pillow.
In this setting, those same two throw pillows are once again stacked on top of the pillow stacks. What are your favorite methods or strategies for making a bed? Do you change the way you do it regularly, or do you stick with the same look every day?