How to Make Your Bed Look Like It Was Styled by a Pro

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One of the first things you notice when you walk into a bedroom is the bed. It's arguably the single most important element in the room. Not only is it the largest piece of furniture, around which most other design decisions are based, but also, most people spend roughly one-third of their lives in bed. A well-made setup is an inviting refuge that you'll look forward to unwinding in at the end of the day. So, assembling a bed that's as comfortable as it is beautiful should be a priority. Plus, it's an ideal opportunity to express your personality and decor style. For example, if minimalism speaks to you, you might want to stick to white sheets and neutral accents. However, if you gravitate toward boho spaces, colorful bedding showcasing a variety of textures and patterns might suit you better.

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"Staying true to your aesthetic in the styling of your bed will ultimately connect your bedroom with the rest of your home. A con of this might be that in pursuing the desired look you may lose sight of comfort. In order to combat this from happening I would recommend investing in quality products and making sure to remember to edit; while you might like the look of 10 layered throw pillows, it might not be the most comfortable or practical setup," says Emma Kemper, founder and principal at Emma Beryl Interiors.

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That all sounds great, but where do you even begin? What do you need to make your bed as a professional stylist or designer would? Read on for a list of must-haves, plus a few helpful tips to create the bed of your dreams.

What Items Do You Need to Style Your Bed?

When it comes to bed styling, the key is to work in layers to add dimension and comfort. And what layers are those? So glad you asked. The following list are the must-haves to make your bed like the pros:

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  • Mattress Pad or Topper:​ This item is more of a preference than a must-have, but if you want to make your bed extra soft and cozy it might be worth considering. They come in different thicknesses to suit your needs.
  • Bed Skirt:​ If you don't have a stylish bed frame, a bed skirt is definitely worth considering to hide a less attractive, standard metal frame. Nowadays, bed skirts come in different styles ranging from modern and tailored to traditional and frilly.
  • Sheet Set:​ A basic starting point is the sheet set, which typically includes a fitted sheet, a top (also known as a flat sheet), and two coordinating pillow cases. Splurge on the best quality you can afford. If you've ever purchased sheets, you've probably come across the term "thread count," which measures how tightly woven the fabric is. Practically speaking, a higher thread count equates to softness, but anything between 200 and 600 is considered well-made.
  • Blanket:​ On top of the sheets, a blanket or quilt is a great way to add warmth, softness, color, pattern, and/or texture. Blankets come in varying weights, so if you share your bed with someone, you may want to take into account any differences in body temperature before deciding on the material and heft. This may also be something designated for the cooler months of the year only.
  • Duvet:​ The main layer of a bed is a duvet cover (which should be placed inside a duvet cover) or comforter. Based on preference, you can either fold this layer down to expose the sheets and blanket beneath or pull it up toward the pillows. Comforters along with sheets and blankets can be tucked into a mattress for a snug-fitting and more formal look, or left untucked for a more casual appearance.
  • Sleeping Pillows:​ An integral part of making a bed look professionally styled, as well as ensuring a good night's sleep is, you guessed it, pillows. Some people prefer one set, while others require more than one set. Either way, this is another place to splurge to ensure you find the perfect pillow for you. Are you a side sleeper or a back sleeper? Make sure the pillows you invest in are going to suit your sleeping style. Another factor to consider is the pillow fill. Do you prefer down or a poly fill? Pillows also come in different sizes and some even have cooling technology.
  • Decorative Pillows:​ These pillows can be layered or stacked in a number of ways depending on the style of your bedroom. For example, for a more minimalist, streamlined look, a bed may only have a single long bolster in front of two stacked sleeping pillows. Or for a traditional or bohemian bedroom, the more the merrier. Opt for a mix of base pillows like standard and Euro shams in front of or behind sleeping pillows, as well as an assortment of small throw pillows.
  • Coverlet or Throw:​ Last but not least, top off the end of your bed with a decorative throw blanket or coverlet. This simple addition will add another layer of color and texture to your setup, but can easily be removed or changed out if you want to switch up the look.

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8 Clever Bed Styling Tips

1. Decide on a foundation.

Bed frames and headboards come in a range of shapes and materials — including upholstered, four-poster, wood, curved, tufted, and metal. From a design standpoint, a bed frame is ground zero for bed styling. The color, finish, and/or material of your frame will impact the overall tone of your bedroom and should play a factor when selecting your bedding. A low-profile, contemporary headboard will look out of place with rows of sleeping and accent pillows, whereas a handful of stacked pillows will add visual and literal softness to a classic metal bed frame.

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2. Don't skimp on the sheets.

It might seem like an indulgence, but sheets with a higher thread count, ideally between 200 and 600 (anything over that is unnecessary), translate to softness and quality. Since this layer is what touches your skin, select a material that feels nice to the touch but is also breathable. Place the top sheet facing down so that when you fold it back, if there's a color or pattern it will be more visible. You can't go wrong with crisp white sheets, a favorite of hotels and designers for their timelessness and the clean look and feel they bring to a bedroom.

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"We spend approximately 33% of our lives sleeping. For me, sensory awareness is always at the top of the list when styling a bedroom. It's important to know what textiles feel cozy and comfortable to the touch so that the foundation of your space allows you to get a decent night's rest. I focus on sheets, pillows, and duvets — from both a color and how it feels on your skin — perspective. And my north star is to always keep things minimal, made of organic fibers, and functional," says Becky Shea, founder and creative director at BS/D.

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3. Slip in a quilt or blanket.

A quilt or blanket placed on top of the sheets acts as a barrier between the skin and the duvet or comforter while adding warmth and another layer of interest to your bedding repertoire. They're available in a variety of materials, weights, colors, and patterns. Consider a tonal look by coordinating a blanket with the sheets, or use it as an opportunity to infuse contrast by selecting a color or pattern that stands out. This neutral bedroom scheme by Chango & Co. showcases a perfectly edited bed that includes various blankets and covers.

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4. Add a duvet or comforter.

Comforters and duvets are available in different weights. Some people swap out winter-weight duvets for a lighter-weight version when the weather warms up. Stylistically, a top sheet can be folded back on top of a comforter, making the sheets more of a focal point. Alternatively, the top edge can be pulled in front of any pillows, or it can be folded back toward the foot of the bed, exposing a beautiful quilt or blanket. To add a bit more drama, and a longer drape, consider going one size up.

5. Welcome cozy layers.

It's hard to resist diving into a bed with a plush duvet and fluffy pillows. Give your setup a hotel-like makeover by layering bedding essentials like a quilt or blanket with a casually draped throw at the foot of the bed for a finishing touch. This bedroom design by Studio Life/Style maximizes softness with a built-in sage green upholstered headboard, one of the most appealing hues thanks to its relaxing effect.

6. Invest in the perfect pillows for sleeping.

It's true that good bed styling includes lots of pillows. While most are added for depth, color, and texture, don't neglect the pillows your head will rest upon. They are the most important factors when it comes to ensuring a good night's sleep. For queen and king-size beds, purchase king-sized pillows. They cover more of the mattress and look elegant. Purchase four total pillows and stack two, one on top of the other, horizontally on each side of the bed. Or, they can be placed vertically, one in front of the other.

7. Start with a base of pillow shams.

Pillowcases with a decorative front or detailed edges, also known as shams, pillow shams, or bed shams, transform standard-size pillows into elevated bed decor. Euro shams, which are traditionally 26" x 26", like the ones Urban Grace Interiors used to introduce pattern to the front of this sumptuous display, give beds a professionally styled feeling while adding height and visual interest. Some designers prefer sleeping pillows to be placed closest to the headboard with the shams and throw pillows in front. Others prefer to place the shams against the headboard and layer in additional pillows from there. The choice is yours.

"I do love to outfit a bed with two to three Euro shams (depending on if you have a queen or king) and one lumbar pillow tucked in the front. These layers make a space feel so inviting and create a sense of calm and warmth," says Shea. "I usually go two directions when it comes to colors in a bedroom, one is very light and airy where walls, ceiling, furnishings, and textiles carry a range of neutral tones. Or very dark [and] moody walls that absorb light and make a space feel like a cocoon. My personal homes have always had dark bedrooms and light linens for contrast because it creates a sense of comfort that is truly soothing to our soul."

8. Throw in some decorative pillows.

Decorative throw pillows are the feather in the cap of a professionally styled bed. Are they necessary? No. Do they make a big difference in the final product? Yes. Decorative pillows are available in a head-dizzying number of shapes, styles, and fabrics. The number of pillows will depend on the size of your bed and your room's aesthetic. Use a combination of shapes and sizes that can be arranged in a random way for a casual feel. Less is more when it comes to contemporary, minimal, and modern spaces so opt for one or two statement-making pillows in a luxurious fabric and call it a day. However, for traditional, farmhouse, or boho bedrooms feel free to add a few extra pillows to the mix.

9. Infuse drama with an extra-long coverlet.

Spotted recently are extra long coverlets or throw blankets. We're into the way they pool around the bed and the dramatic mood they bring to bedrooms, including this one spotted on All Sorts Of. The color, pattern, material, and size will determine its design impact. Coverlets are lighter weight than duvets and comforters and can be used in tandem with those pieces or placed directly over sheets or sheets and a blanket.

"​Comfort is always the top priority. I want to provide a setting that takes as little time and effort to look beautiful in the morning and will have you feeling cozy and sleepy within the hour of laying down. I usually have a blanket or quilt that lives permanently at the foot of the bed as an extra layer in a contrasting tone which adds depth," says Shea.

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