Seven Secrets to the BEST BED EVER!

**Note, this post is not specifically tiny house related but it entertains my other interest in interior design (and  can certainly apply to a tiny house bedroom!)
Simple tips to achieve a beautiful, comfortable bed 

The infamous pottery barn bed…doesn’t it make you feel relaxed?  But, no “real” beds look like this, right?  Guess what – with just a few tricks and tips, your bed CAN look professionally-designed.

This was my bed before:

One day I decided my bed needed a make-over and began researching how to “make my bed look good”.  Soon I came across this bit of advice from Tricia Rose of Rough Linen:

“Virtually any bed looks beautiful if it has a woman lying naked in it, on her side, seen from behind, with a sheet carelessly draped across her bottom.”

…Interesting, but unfortunately for me that’s not sustainable.  So I kept researching.  The more I learned, the more I realized how applying a few tidbits of knowledge can make a big difference.  At the end of this post I’ll show you how I transformed my sad old bed into something awesome.


1) Perfect beds have solid foundations. 

The best beds start with the best foundations – the little things that you don’t immediately get excited about or even notice, but ultimately contribute to comfort and style.
Bedskirt.  This hides the “ugly” underneath the bed and is a great way to tie in colors from other parts of your bed or bedroom décor.  It’s amazing how much more polished your bed will look just by adding a good bedskirt.  Make sure you iron it beforehand and that the material is dense.  For tips on choosing a bedskirt, click here.
This coordinating bedskirt contributes to a neat, tailored look.
A white or ivory bedskirt is versatile.  Ruffles impart a whimsical or feminine flair.
Mattress.  Mattress shopping can be overwhelming, and because different stores have different labels for the same mattress, it’s tough to comparison shop.  Invest in a quality mattress and take the time to research your options.
Saatva Mattress, which is affordable, eco-friendly, and sold online.

Mattress topper (memory foam or featherbed).  This gives your mattress extra plushness and helps achieve that “wanna-dive-in-right-now!” look that showroom beds have.  Some mattresses come with a padded pillowtop layer sewn-in, which sounds great unless the material starts to compress and break down before the rest of the mattress wears out.  The solution?  Get a non-pillowtop mattress (or one with a thin pillowtop layer) and add a featherbed or memory foam topper based on what feels best to you.  A topper can also add comfort to an older mattress or increase the lifespan of a new one.
Mattress protector.  This is a thin (ideally waterproof) layer that fits snuggly around your mattress.  Its purpose is to protect everything underneath.  ALWAYS use a mattress protector!  Your fitted sheet won’t keep sweat, body oils, skin cells, etc. from seeping down into the mattress, feeding all the dust mites that live in there and weakening the upholstery.  If your mattress is stained in any way it usually voids the warranty so cover that baby up!
Alright, now for the fun part!

Secret 2) Thread count isn’t all that matters. 

   You’ve heard that high thread count makes for the best sheets but there’s much more to consider.  The quality of the fiber content, weave type, and finishing techniques all play a role in the feel of your sheets.  Above 300 thread count, higher isn’t always better; in fact, a very high thread count can mean that a) thinner threads were used, which will result in a less-durable product, or b) the manufacturer is counting the fibers that make up the threads, so an “800 thread count” sheet is really much less.   Plus, cramming in a lot of threads can result in a stiff and less breathable product (think denim jeans).

     Pima (Supima) and Egyptian are long staple varieties of cotton, meaning they’ll be softer, wear better, and less likely to pill than inferior, short-staple cotton (often denoted by sheets labeled as just “cotton”).  Avoid sheets that are mostly or all polyester – this manmade fiber won’t absorb moisture or breathe as well as natural ones, leaving you feeling clammy.

Pure linen is a prized material for bed sheets, and sheets made of linen can last a lifetime unlike those made of other textiles.  Linen is temperature regulating, strong, absorbent, and environmentally-friendly (click to learn more).  High-quality linen feels soft yet textured and gets even better with age.  Linen’s reputation for excessive wrinkling is much undeserved.  Sheets made of bamboo fibers can also be very comfortable, boasting high breathability like linen but with a silkier hand initially.

Pure linen sheets and duvet cover from Rough Linen

If you choose cotton sheets, which are the most popular and accessible, there are several weave types that will impact how the sheets feel.  Sateen weave gives the fabric smoothness and luster.  A percale weave produces a matte finish and helps keep you cool.

Many cotton and cotton-poly blend sheets, especially those claiming to be “wrinkle resistant” or “no-iron”, are treated with formaldehyde and other chemicals during the finishing process.  Choose sheets that are Oeko-Tex certified (available at some specialty retailers) for environmentally-friendly bedding free of harmful substances.  
Designers recommend white sheets because they look fresh and stylish and they go with everything.  Pull the flat sheet up to the head of the bed, then fold the top edge back about 1/3 of the way for a crisp look. 


I like Garnet Hill’s Supima flannel sheets, which are the coziest, yummiest flannel I’ve come across.  The quality of flannel can be indexed by the fiber content (again, those made with long-staple cotton will feel better and last longer) and weight, measured in ounces per square yard.  Anything above 5 oz is considered good quality.


Secret 3) Know your bedspread options

Textured rouching on this bedspread is elegant and romantic

     The showstopper for many beds is the bedspread.  A bedspread generally refers to all bed coverings, especially those that extend past the mattress and even down to the floor.  A comforter has a layer of thick padding sewn inside a decorative cover, which cannot be removed.  A duvet is meant to be used inside a duvet cover, which is like a giant pillowcase and can be removed for washing by undoing the buttons or ties at one end.  The duvet is usually filled with down (fluffy under-feathers from geese or ducks) or synthetic filling, although other materials may be used.

Rustic duvet from Rough Linen

Quilts are another option for a bedspread, providing medium warmth and a classic look.  Quilts have a layer of batting in between two layers of fabric, whereas coverlets are usually only 1 layer and non-reversible.  In summer or hot climates, a coverlet or lightweight cotton blanket may be all that is needed.

The bold, contemporary look of this quilt is softened by a timeless ruffled bedskirt.


Secret 4) High fill power down 

To get that really plush look that characterizes magazine-worthy beds, you should invest in a down comforter.  Down is graded based on fill power, which relates to its loftiness or ability to trap air.  Higher fill power down takes up more space per ounce, trapping more air and making it extremely light, lofty, and warm.  For example, 800 fill power down will keep you warmer and look much fluffier than the same amount of 600 fill power down.  While the weight of the down (number ounces in the comforter) determines how warm it is, fill power determines its lightness and loftiness.  High fill power down is also more durable, as the down clusters are larger and more robust to breakage.  Click here to learn more about down.

One trick that decorators use on showroom beds is stuffing the duvet cover with two duvet inserts!  While this is too impractical and hot for actual use, you can get a similar effect by using a high fill power down duvet.  And yes, higher fill power does mean a higher price tag, but it is an investment that will last many years.


Secret 5) Use a bolster 

A bolster is a cylinder-shaped cushion that fills the awful space between the mattress and headboard where the pillows sink down.  It props up your pillows, gives you a firm support for laying back against, and the best part is you just wedge it in and forget about it!


Secret 6) It’s all in the accent  

       Accent pillows in complementary colors weave together the look of the bed and set the focal point.  A bold or funky piece that stands out but fits in with the overall look of the bed or bedroom as a whole will add dimension and interest.  Accent pillows come in a variety of shapes and sizes and are a fun way to personalize your bed and experiment with different textures and patterns.  They also come in handy for providing extra back or neck support while reading in bed. 
Click here for more ideas for arranging pillows
When choosing colors, consider the 60-30-10 rule of design: your main color should constitute 60% of the room (e.g., walls, sheets, furniture) and is usually a light color.  The secondary color would comprise 30% of the room.  The accent color should be about 10% of the room’s color scheme (e.g., a pillow, decorative items).  The accent color is often very rich or bright, like the teal and orange in the room pictured.  

Secret 7) Beds have layers

A layered bed is an inviting, well-structured bed.  A full or queen bed is typically layered with 2 queen-size shams (or Euro shams, which are large and square-shaped instead of rectangular), 2 sleeping pillows, and 1-3 accent pillows.  Top off the bed with a cozy quilt, coverlet, or throw blanket (folded in half or thirds) at the end of the bed for a designer look.  Often it’s best if this piece coordinates with the other colors in the bedding, but a brightly-colored throw can jazz up an otherwise plain and neutral look.
Check out this post for more about layering the bed, particularly how to divide your bed into thirds for an attractive and balanced look.  Or follow this link to read about how to coordinate the patterns in your pillows, duvet cover, and sheets like the professionals do (see picture above).  And here is an easy, step-by-step tutorial for layering a well-dressed bed.
You have the tools to create a bed you’ll love to look at as much as you love to sleep in!  
Below is my very own new and improved bed.  The leopard pillow found a happy home on my papasan chair 🙂



2 thoughts on “Seven Secrets to the BEST BED EVER!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s