Dressing A Bed

It has been an experience being an American and living in the UK.  I had to get use to differences that I never expected when it comes to interior design.  One of the transactions I had to go through relates to the differences in bedding.  In the US, my favourite way to style a bed was to use a comforter set. Let’s face it, it’s a no-brainer to buy a bed-in-a-bag consisting of a comforter, two pillow shams, bed skirt and sometimes co-ordinating cushions.  I especially use to love the ones from Croscill like this one below:


Just to clarify, a comforter is like a duvet and a duvet cover in one.  It’s not removable.  The filling is stuffed into the patterned fabric.  In the UK, everything is kept separate so you can choose the weight of duvet for different seasons and preferences and also remove the outer fabric (duvet cover) and wash it.



One thing I don’t like about having a separate duvet and duvet cover and that’s it can look a bit messy (see pic above).  Also, peculiarly, duvet sets consist of a duvet cover, 2 pillow cases and a fitted bed sheet.  You have to buy the flat sheet and bed skirt separately and the pillow cases are not shams, they are ones you sleep on. So if you want to hide your pillows behind some shams you have to buy those separately too…from the US because they don’t sell shams here 😦  To clarify again, shams are (usually) quilted oxford style pillow cases with the opening in the middle at the back.  They are for decorative purposes.

Speaking of messy, I have noticed for quite some time now that none of the interior design magazines here in the UK seem to show well dressed beds.  I don’t know if it’s a growing trend or something that only magazines tend to do but all the beds are only partially made.  They deliberately make them look fashionably un-tidy like someone has just gotten out of bed.  Why is that?  Like this ad from And So To Bed (incidentally I love them.  They have gorgeous beds!)


So anyway, lets get down to it!  What are some good ways to dress a bed?

Well you can skip the duvet and comforter idea altogether and use blankets, quilts or large throws (always) with plenty of pillows and cushions.  Such as this example below:

You can go all neutral in tones but make sure to use different textures.

Or have a neutral base and then layer it with some colour and patterns.

Here we see the pillow laid in the sleep position under the bedspread and the pillow sham upright in front of it.  Notice the coordinating colours of different patterns in the bed skirt, cushions and throw.  Touches of glamour with the tassels and fringes and still manages to look unfussy.

How about these lovely children’s beds?  I doubt the children made their own beds here! Using stuffed animals is a great way to compliment a child’s bed but be careful not to over do it.

If you have an interesting headboard or an amazing piece of artwork on  the wall above your bed, you may want to make sure your bedding doesn’t detract from it.  The below picture shows the pillows laid down and the bedding perfectly neat in a complimentary blue to the art above it.

Lots of pillows and cushions perfectly arranged and it still doesn’t look overkill.  I think I see about five pillows and 3 cushions there.

So in a nutshell, the basic ideas are:

  • Be creative and use what’s best for you when choosing bedding.  You can go duvet, comforter, bedspread, throw, quilt or blanket
  • Colour coordinate pillows, shams, cushions and bedskirt to main cover on bed.
  • Use variety of patterns and textures within the accessories
  • Don’t be afraid to use too many cushions but do be careful in the amount of stuffed animals
  • Neatness counts! (in my opinion)

2 thoughts on “Dressing A Bed

  1. I can see the practicality of the UK method, but I prefer the no-fuss, all-in-one package of bed-in-a-bag. Seeing all these lovely beds makes me want to make up my bed a little nicer. Loved your comment about cushion:stuffed animal ratio. 🙂

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