You spend at least one third of your life in bed, and if like many people bed is also a favorite reading or TV spot, that number is even higher. Here’s everything you need to know to create a dreamy retreat.
1. Comfort comes first.
Who cares if a bed is beautiful if you don’t sleep well in it?! In my opinion the most important key to comfort is the quality and weight of your comforter. The best way to shop is to go for a separate comforter (the actual “down blanket” that keeps you warm) and duvet (the washable decorative outer covering for the comforter). That way you can get exactly the quality you want for the functional comforter, and the look you want for the duvet.
I recommend a high-quality down comforter in a fall weight for almost any climate. It’s light enough that it won’t swamp you in warmer months, but still cozy enough for all but the coldest nights (when you can add an extra coverlet or throw on top if you have to).
If you’re skeptical about down because of allergies, know that most people who think they’re allergic to down are actually having a reaction to low-quality feather fillers that weren’t fully cleaned before being sewn into a comforter. Yuk. A great comforter with quality you can trust is an investment, but it will last.
When it comes to the duvet cover, lightweight linen or cotton is best for cuddly warmth that’s never sweaty or heavy.
2. Know what works for you.
A beautifully decorated bed doesn’t have to be classically romantic — unless you want it to be! You can make an equally stylish statement with a more tailored look as well. What matters is knowing what look is most restful and restorative to you.
My favorite spin on a romantic bed is all about soft textures and subtle pattern play for a dreamy, ethereal look. If your vibe is more tailored, you’ll probably be happier with fewer pillows and a simpler approach to layered comforters and throws. For a look that is interesting without being busy, stripes may be my favorite look on a bed. Our newest Hamilton Stripe in washed Irish Linen features a fun variety of stripe widths that really adds depth to your bedding design.
3. Discover coverlets and box covers.
Coverlets are thin, pretty bedding intended to lie on top of a comforter, while blankets are functional layers intended to go underneath. Often you’ll see a coverlet folded at the foot of the bed, ready to be pulled up if needed on a chilly night.
I prefer coverlets over blankets because they add an extra design detail, and serve the same purpose when you’re asleep. One comforter and a light coverlet is standard, but you can even add another great-looking throw on top for the times you need more warmth.
A box cover is just like a fitted sheet that conceals the box spring of your bed, and it’s a key detail (unless you’re using a bed skirt, which serves the same purpose). It’s unfortunate to style your entire bed beautifully, then have the look marred by a visible box spring between the bed rails.
4. Invest in shams.
Shams are decorative covers, usually for large pillows that can anchor your headboard arrangement. In addition to being comfy, large pillows with shams protect your headboard and are much easier to wash than the headboard itself, so don’t skip ‘em.
Square euro shams or large “super kings” are great choices if you like to read in bed. It’s important to get the right sized pillow inserts to fill your shams, or the whole look falls apart. Make sure your inserts fill all the way to the corners so the shams look nice and plush, but don’t pack inserts so tightly that your shams look like sausages.
5. Add a little extravagance.
It’s your bedroom! There’s something so meaningful about investing in extra touches for a space as private and personal as the bedroom. And what’s more indulgent than beautiful pillows?
I like putting at least one very special pillow on the bed, either made with a gorgeous textured fabric, a lovely pattern, or distinctive artistry in the construction. Treating yourself to special design details at home elevates your psyche the same way putting on your best-looking outfit does when it’s time to go out. And that same magic works in kids’ rooms and guest rooms, too.
6. Pick a sweet sheet.
Last but not least… or should I say first and foremost? Even though they’re not the most visible part of a bed, sheets may be my favorite thing. Or maybe not, because in bedding design, everything is my favorite thing!
There’s no wrong answer when it comes to sheet fabric; the choice is 100% personal. Many swear by linen because it’s super breathable and doesn’t have that cold feeling when you first get into bed, but some people find it a little heavy. Percale sheets are crisp and feel really fresh when you slip under the covers. Sateen sheets provide a luxurious, silky feel.
Whatever type of fabric you prefer, shopping for quality does make a difference. In cotton, look for fabrics labeled “long-staple.” This is a measure of cotton quality related to the species of cotton plant from which the fiber was derived. Long-staple varieties, such as Egyptian cotton, create a smoother finished fabric. In linen, which is made from the flax plant, I consider fabrics originating in Belgium to be the best.
Photo by @peacockalley
When you treat yourself to fine materials and design, “making your bed” takes on a whole new meaning. Sweet dreams!