How to dress a bed

Your bed is the focal point of your bedroom, but how many mornings do you leave it in a crumpled mess?

A dressed bed can transform the look of a room, and it’s actually been proven that there are benefits to making your bed each morning. If you're wondering how to dress your bed so it looks like the ones you've seen in magazines or on your Instagram feed, we can help. From how to arrange your cushions to how to choose the perfect headboard, we've got all the answers you need.

Start with the base

If you want to makeover your bed, start by looking at the basics, such as your sheets and bed cover. Dressing a bed is all about creating layers but the first layer is just as important as the rest.

Has your current bedding started to bobble, or has the odd hole or tear started to appear? If the answer is yes to either of these, it may be time for a new cover. You should also buy new bedding if your current set doesn’t excite you like it used to.

Before you buy any bedding, think about what you want the overall effect to be. Do you want a combination of bold patterns or colours or do you want a muted, neutral finish?

You could buy plain bedding that you want to dress up with patterned throws and cushions. Or you could do it the other way around and buy patterned bedding that you can add plain, solid-colour throws and cushions to.

You could get both patterned bedding and cushions. If you do this, make sure that the patterns are very different, for example, if your bedding has lots of fine detail on, make sure that the throw has a large pattern that isn’t as delicate - the two will balance each other out. Alternatively, you could go with no pattern at all.

There are lots of ways you can mix and match plain bedding with patterns and colours. Decide on the look you want to achieve before purchasing your bedding.

The pillows

Once you’ve got your base, it’s time to think about your pillows.

It’s up to you how many pillows you have. Some people like to sleep with one and others prefer much more. In the UK, it’s standard to have two housewife pillows on either side of the bed, totalling four. Your pillowcases could match your bedding or they could differ completely. Again, it’s down to personal preference.

If you have a reversible duvet with a different pattern on each side, your pillows could have one pattern and your duvet the other.

The cushions

Cushions aren’t meant to be slept on - they’re there to make the bed look nice. Most designers stick to the number three when it comes to styling. This means, three cushions is ideal. However, it is a personal preference, and if you’d rather things look symmetrical, then use four decorative cushions, like in the photo below.

large bed with a grey headboard dressed with muted cushions and a large throw. Photo by Adam Winger

Cushions can, and should, be bought in all shapes, sizes, colours and patterns. Some people like bold cushions and others would prefer cushions that match everything else in the room.

Throws

The final layer of a well dressed bed is a throw. Throws are so versatile. They can be folded neatly on the end of the bed, draped across the bed haphazardly so that some of the material  pools elegantly on the floor or laid in a straight line like you might find in a hotel room. Dressing a bed is all about creating layers and a throw is the perfect finishing touch.

Your bed should represent your own personal style, so have a think about whether you’d prefer odd or even numbered cushions, bold patterns or muted neutrals, a neat hotel finish or an effortless effect.

How to arrange cushions on a bed

There are so many types of cushions you can buy that it can be mind boggling. There are round ones, square ones, rectangle ones, ones with pattern, ones without pattern, ones with frills. This means there are endless ways you can arrange them.

In the UK, most households use two housewife pillowcases. Alternatively, some people place a standard housewife pillowcase at the back and an Oxford pillowcase in front, then use decorative cushions in front.

The pillows that you sleep on should go on the bed first. Then, use a number of decorative cushions in front. You can line them up in a row or stack them with the larger ones at the back and small ones in front.

Honeycomb headboard in grey and yellow with grey and yellow bedding and a bright decorative yellow cushion Close-up of colorful bed with hexagon bedhead in bright bedroom interior with yellow chair at wooden desk with plants and candles

This bed has a slightly larger cushion placed at the front but its bright colour makes this work, particularly as there are two identical cushions either side of it that blend into the background.

Have a play around and try out a variety of cushion arrangements. Don’t forget you can always return an unused cushion that still has a label on if you don’t like it.

What kinds of pillowcases can you buy?

There are four types of pillowcase that you can buy:

Boudoir pillowcase

  • 30cm x 45cm
  • Used for decoration rather than sleeping on

Housewife pillowcase

  • A standard 50cm x 75cm pillowcase
  • The most popular cushion in UK homes

Oxford pillowcase

  • Same size as a standard pillowcase
  • Has loose material that goes around the hem

European square pillowcase

  • 65cm x 65cm
  • Less popular in the UK
  • Typically goes at the bottom of the pillow arrangement

How to choose a headboard

The headboard is as much a part of the bed’s design as the cushions, bedding and throws. A headboard can be used to create a statement and set the design style of the room. You could choose a French headboard if you want to create a classic decadent look. Or perhaps you’d prefer something modern and funky like the honeycomb effect in the photo above.

The headboard in the below photo adds a touch of glam, which is emphasised by the studded furniture, sequin duvet and opulent cushions.

 

Photo by neonbrand

The matching footstool finishes the whole ensemble  off beautifully.

There isn’t a right or wrong when it comes to dressing your bed. The only important thing to keep in mind is to create layers. However you create these layers is up to you.

 

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