20 Ways to Make a Bed

By Kate Riley September 28, 2015

Over the weekend I popped in to see my new baby nephew and also help my brother and SIL upgrade the look of their bedding in their master bedroom, I’ll share a few pictures tomorrow. I prefer symmetry over eclectic styling on a bed, there’s something about order on a bed that brings calm to a bedroom space yet allows for creativity and randomness elsewhere in the room.

Pulling together a great look for bed linens can be a little foreboding when starting from scratch, but when you break it down into essential pieces and study they layering you can find a look you love that works for you. The layers should always make sense: lighter linens in summer and extra blankets in winter, after all comfort is key!

I like to pull together linens from various sources in complementary patterns and textures, also I’m a believer in restraint in the number of decorative pillows. Balance is affected by width as well, what looks good on a wider king may be too much for a slimmer queen. To follow are 20 stylish examples of both simple and bold bed linens demonstrating a variety of ways to layer linens on king and queen sized beds.

1) Matching white hotel linens (duvet, sheets, shams) with dark blanket for warmth in the same color as the thread, plus two high contrast lumbar accent pillows.

hotel linens with accent pillows


2) White cotton hotel duvet, white pillowcases, three 24” decorative pillows in a bold pattern, graphic blanket at the end of the bed.

monochromatic black and white bedroom

rue mag

3) A trio of solid Euro shams hiding the pillowcases and one long patterned lumbar in front with a colorful blanket on the end of the bed.

euro sham decorative lumbar

krista salmon

4) White sheets and pillowcases, two Euro shams in the same fabric as the coverlet, one accent pillow reflecting the same gray and white palette.

gray and white bedding

solomon fergeson

5) Neutral with texture: white sheets and shams, a subtle geometric patterned accent pillows, and that an oh-so-cozy chunky knit throw blanket.

neutral layered bed linens

mark ashbee photography


6) Four white pillowcases and two decorative pillows, a colorful blanket playing off the color in the curtains and a folded white duvet on top.

blue and orange bedroom

smith brothers construction

7) White pillowcases and shams, a tucked coverlet, two graphic patterned lumbar pillows and a throw blanket, all in soft tone on tone neutrals.

layered neutral bedding

heather hilliard

8) A trio of dark Euro shams with decorative trim to hide the plain pillowcases, two accent pillows in front, a dark coverlet and bed skirt to match the Euro shams.

navy and cream bedroom

steven ford interiors

9) Stacked white pillowcases, Euro shams, striped accent pillows, tucked coverlet, blanket in complementary color, subtle striped bed skirt.

blue and white bedding

house and garden uk

10) Euro shams and duvet with colorful trim, graphic patterned pillows, soft throw blanket in complementary palette, bold bed skirt playing of color in headboard.

layered blue and white patterns

liz carrol interiors

11) Graphic print decorative throw pillows are spaced and propped up by matching hotel pillowcases and Euro shams, a bold velvet blanket repeats the color in the X base stools.

euro shams accent pillows

greg natale

12) White hotel linens with matching thread including Euro shams, complementary embroidered standard shams, and a white duvet.

white shams


13) Colorful sheets, layered coverlet on top with wool striped blanket.

colorful sheets layered blankets


14) Variety is the spice of this bedding arrangement, the sophisticated grays are punctuated with pops of orange found in graphic pillows, the navy shams add dramatic contrast to the pale headboard and sheets.

varied linens

better homes and gardens

15) Cotton pillowcases in simple white are layered here with patterned accent pillows for color plus a decorative fur pillow for texture. (Bonus points for the crushed velvet wingback headboard!)

velvet headboad layered pillows


16) Euro shams and duvet cover in matching fabric, white pillowcases and sheets, two colorful lumbar pillows and a bolster in front.

brown and orange linens

monticello homes

17) Layered linens and pillows in a high contrast single hue including dark sheets, mid tone shams, white accent pillows and a decorative accent pillow; a white duvet with dark coverlet and mid tone blanket.

blue and white layered linens


18) A controlled color palette allows for mixing textures and patterns, printed toile and woven geometrics are balanced by simpler sheets with a touch of color and a basic quilted coverlet.

mixed textured linens

better homes and gardens

19) Monochromatic and soft, this bedding includes three white Euro shams, pillowcases and a white duvet, and three silk pale blue decorative pillows.

white duvet blue accent pillows


20) Simplicity reigns with all white bedding, it’s just so cozy and clean looking.

all white bedding


My go to formula for a full or queen is rather simple, it includes standard shams and two 20-24” decorative pillows + one lumbar accent pillow. For a king or California King, I prefer three Euro shams with two 24” decorative pillows and a lumbar pillow in front. I’ve used duvet cover + coverlet and coverlet + blanket variations in different bedrooms, it just depends on the style and the season.

20 ways to make a bed

What’s your favorite look from the list? Is there a particular layering of shams and pillows you prefer on your bed?  Do you have a bedroom pillow or linen pet peeve?


  1. I like the simple basic colors accenting the white bed linens.
    My bedroom is no way as spacious as the ones shown; however, I believe
    It can be just as fabulous. What might be some ways to create the illusion
    Of openness?

  2. There are so many of these options that I love! Sometimes I want the simplicity and other times I want the coziness of lots of pillows with different textures and subtle patterns. Glad you shared these as it shows all of the different ways a bed can be styled.

  3. Sweet Jesus – who has that many pillows/cushions on a bed??? Where do they go when you go to sleep? Lovely rooms but way OTT with the pillows.

    • Mine go on a chair or in the storage ottoman at the foot of the bed. I pared down our bed pillows because making the bed was such a hassle LOL!

  4. If you do the 3 euro shams, 2 decorative pillows, and one lumbar for a king, do you just store your actual sleeping pillows elsewhere? (Maybe a silly question, I know)

    • Most often I place them behind the shams Lauren! Sometimes they’re stored elsewhere, in my bedroom sometimes that’s just the chairs off to the side :)

  5. Oh, the pillow conundrum. Maybe it’s just me, but the pillows we actually sleep on never look ANYTHING like the ones in the photos — flat and well used and NEVER puffy, fluffy and nice. And the everyday pillowcases look … used after a day or three of actually sleeping on them. Displaying them front and center? Or even visible? No flippin’ way!

    And then what to do with all those decorative pillows at bedtime? We throw them on the floor, where they stay until the cleaning woman comes on Friday.

    Just keeping it real, people . . . . .

    • Yep LOL! A lot of people put the pillows on the floor. It’s whatever works for you! They look very pretty though!

  6. Totally agree with Laura J- I hate throw pillows! As for those shams, who sleeps with a sham 1 foot thick anyway? And most of them are of unpleasant material or texture.

    Only one option here looked real and not ‘magazine ready’, and that was #13.

  7. My biggest pet peeve: Standard sized duvets/comforters/sheets are never wide enough and always look too small. We have a King bed so nothing from a store really looks great. Must win the lottery so I can buy enough material to make my own!

    • I feel the same way about my king size bed! Nothing fits and sometimes I *might* be guilty of pulling the bedding to the side facing the door just so it looks better.

  8. Love #5 – that blanket! I wish I had more time to make my bed every day. Although, has anyone seen that article going around about the health benefits of NOT making your bed? Please don’t give me another excuse. :P

  9. *sigh* I “play bed” all the time….I move pillows from the living room, throws over the bench, crystal from the kitchen finds it’s way to our bedroom….it’s ALWAYS a surprise!! I luv my bed. franki

  10. I have a queen bed and hate sheet “sets”. Always need a larger top sheet as what’s provided in the sets are too skimpy. I look for individual pieces and buy a King Flat to go with Queen Fitted. Very hard to find and rarely on sale.

    I agree with comment above that the pillows you sleep with will never look good enough to place on a “made” bed, they need to be hidden.

  11. wow, people are really serious about their beds. :) i personally LOVE mine. queen sized bed. two shams with wide trim from PB, and then in front of them two shams with NO trim, so they look small, and then one 24″ throw pillow. coverlet pulled up, of course. no blankets or anything fussy at the bottom. simple, clean, and elegant look. and yes, i only make the bed when we have company coming, so 90% of the time, the shams are on the side chair. but i love knowing they’re right there when i need them.

  12. I can’t stand all those pillows on a bed. I don’t want to spend 5 minutes clearing off it off before I can get in. We live in Florida, so heavy blankets aren’t necessary. We have a sheet and a duvet cover, minus the comforter that should go inside. It was $30 at Ikea and had the perfect plaid pattern to please both me and the hubby. We each sleep with 2 pillows, so the one we actually lay our head on slips behind the prettier king-size pillow in the morning. That’s as much effort as I can handle with a bed. If forced to choose, I’d go with #13 since it’s the least stuffy-looking of the group.

  13. I couldn’t help but laugh at #5. Do you really need THAT many decorative pillows? That blanket does look awesome, though.

  14. All the beds look great! I’ve always made my bed! The trick is to pull your covers up in the morning before you get out, then slip out sideways. Stack your decorative pillows on the floor next to the bed at bedtime, then just pick them up all stacked right back where they belong. Of course a husband put an end to this method temporarily, but now I have him trained. I feel like my life is a disorganized mess if my bed isn’t made! It doesn’t have to be perfect, just made. And climbing into a bed that is made is much more cozy feeling.

  15. It’s a tie between #5 and #8! Obsessed with that chunky knit throw and the cozy neutral feel of 5 but there is just something about the dark jewel tones of 8 too. It feels a bit formal and looks like it calls for equally gorgeous pajamas!

  16. I love all of them! Do you have any suggestions on sheets to buy? I’m looking for a new set right now and have read so much about linen, but I have no idea if I’ll like them. Any recommendations (linen or otherwise)? There are so many types of sheets, and it can be overwhelming to choose from all of them!

    • I am also wondering about this! Where is a good source for king sheets? I don’t want to spend hundreds but also want decent quality – is this possible?

  17. Kate, these are lovely. Could you do a series on how to make a bed with a pieced quilt? I love handmade quilts–both mine and some from my grandmother–but it’s difficult for me to find pillows to go with them. Any suggestions?

  18. Fantastic post! People always ask me what “the right way” is to dress a bed. And, this post shows that there are many, many right ways! Thanks for putting this great list together.

  19. I adore a beautifully made bed, and the only day I do not make up our bed is if I am sick and stay there all day. Walking into a bedroom that looks pretty and inviting is a special joy of mine. I’m retired now, but when I taught school for 32 years, I always made our bed before leaving at 7:10 am just so I would have that pleasure of seeing a pretty bedroom upon returning in the afternoon.

    As for the pillows we actually sleep on… Yes, they are flattened and comfy, not especially lovely to look at, so I just put them in the very back of the stack. They don’t show at all. When we are ready to turn in, we just put all the decorative pillows on the carpet. They go back on the bed in the morning when I made the bed up again. It’s pretty simple.

    Great ideas in this post! Thank you!

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