Bed Linen Styling Guide: How to Style a Bed Like a Pro

Bed Linen Styling Guide: How to Style a Bed Like a Pro

Have you ever looked at beautifully styled beds in magazines or Pinterest and wondered if you could do it too? Making a bed and styling it is an art - and one that's possible to achieve in your own home with just a few neat tips and tricks. Discover ways to dress a bed like a designer, style beds with pillows and throws, and learn to style single, queen and king beds to make them cosy and inviting. Discover some of the niftiest and most effective bed styling hacks to make your sleeping space look straight out of the pages of a home decor magazine. Let's get started.

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Tip #1: Invest in quality bedding

Wondering how to style a bed? Why not start by getting your foundation right? Bed linen, for instance, is critical for quality rest and sleep hygiene. Bed linen and core bedding pieces like doonas, sheets, pillows and more - can make all the difference between a good and a bad night's sleep. Bed linen is also the fundamental difference between a beautiful and inviting space and one that feels scruffy and messy.

For instance, to get a crisp, clean hotel bed feel, invest in 100% cotton bed linen. Some of the benefits are that these fibres are naturally breathable, they'll regulate your body temperature and keep you from feeling hot and clammy. With a good thread count, sheets and other linen will feel smooth against the skin, helping you feel more comfortable. Check out our bed sheets buying guide and learn how to choose the best fabric for your bed sheets on the hub.

Getting started: Choose a theme or colour palette

Before you get down to bed styling, dressing a bed, or even thinking about how to style a bed, consider the mood or theme you want to create in your bedroom. Your colour palette will inform the type of cushions, throws and accessories you pick. This is a vital first step in the bedroom styling process.

For instance, white on white could be an excellent way to go if you're looking to create a crisp and elegant space. For a summer-inspired style, colours like aqua or orange could work. Looking for something soft and romantic? Blush pinks or soft greys could be a great option. If you have statement artwork in the bedroom, this could also be a great place to draw your colour inspiration.

Pro tip: Even if you choose a neutral palette, making a bed where everything looks flat and same-same is a no-go. Combine textures, prints and other embellishments to create a layered appearance.

Create a coordinated look with colour and patterns

Incorporating colour and patterns into your bed linen styling can transform a plain bed into a visually striking centrepiece. Consider using a mix of solid-coloured sheets and pillowcases with patterned duvet covers for a balanced and coordinated look. Experiment with different colour combinations, such as complementary or monochromatic schemes, to create a harmonious and visually pleasing aesthetic.

Adding in colours like blues and lilacs or charcoals, a soft navy or grey will help promote a sense of calm in your sleeping environment. If you want to make the space more vibrant and add in some colour, tonal pairing is a subtle yet effective way of mixing colours together - for example, try combining rich clay-coloured cushions or throws with a soft green linen quilt cover.

If you want to incorporate even brighter colours, pinks, yellows and bright patterns in your bedding or accessories cushions or throws can create a cheerful vibe. Try not to overcomplicate the colours you choose and stick to tonal variations of your chosen hue. Don't be afraid to mix and match patterns, but ensure they complement each other in scale and style.

Use different textures to create a cohesive look

Mixing in different textures to your bed will add an extra stylistic element when it comes to styling bed linen. Adding a velvet throw at the edge of your bed during winter or an airy cotton blanket in the summer will instantly make the beds in your home look more inviting.

If you don't want to experiment too much with different materials, stick to basic linen blends and add texture by choosing items, such as couch cushions, with embroidery or fringe to make your bed look more professionally styled.

Create more space with white (or light-coloured) bed linen

A staple colour for bedding, white acts as a base to easily mix and match different colours, hues and textures when it comes to styling your bedroom. A white sheet or sheet set will add a tone of softness to the room and also create an illusion that the room is larger than it really is. Combined with white accessories, choosing white bed linen can open up smaller spaces around your home, making them look bigger than they really are. If you prefer to stay away from white, keep within the family of lighter shades and try off-white, beige or taupe.

If you want to stick to coloured sheets, try incorporating a white element somewhere else. Having a basic, plain visual resting point will make it easy for you to update your bedroom in the future.

How To Style A Bed

Bed linen layering techniques (for a luxurious look)

If you want to learn how to style your bed like a designer, you should acquaint yourself with the concept of layering. Layering is the key to achieving a luxurious and inviting bed. Start with a fitted sheet followed by a flat sheet, ensuring they are well-tucked and wrinkle-free. If you're not sure of the difference, check out this article which decodes the difference between fitted vs. flat sheets. Add a doona as the main layer, and then fold it back to expose a coordinating coverlet or flat sheet underneath. This creates depth and visual interest. To add an extra touch of elegance, consider incorporating a bedspread or coverlet over the top to create a polished and sophisticated look.

How many layers should a bed have?

Ideally, you're looking for anything between three to seven layers - including a mattress protector, fitted sheet, flat sheet, duvet/doona/quilt, pillows and a blanket or throw. For the cooler months, you may also wish to incorporate an electric blanket or heated throw into the mix.

Step-by-step guide to layering your bedding and bed linen

To summarise, here's a quick snapshot of the entire layering styling process to help you create an inviting and stylish bed with correctly layered bed linens.

  1. If you use a traditional bed base, choose a valance or decorative bed skirt that will complement the rest of your bed linen.
  2. Start with a mattress protector to protect the mattress against stains and dust mites.
  3. Cover the mattress with a fitted sheet, then a flat sheet to create a crisp hotel bed feel.
  4. Layer with a quilt/duvet encased in a quilt cover, draping it in half or thirds along the width of the mattress.
  5. Depending on your bed size, stack two or three European pillows against the headboard. Then introduce standard-sized pillows to create layers.
  6. Accessorise with cushions in complementing colours, textures and sizes to lend interest.
  7. Lastly, finish with a blanket or throw, placed loosely towards the base of the bed.

How to style a quilt on a bed for that 'fluffy' look

  1. Start with a fluffy quilt: To achieve a high loft look, choose a doona insert that is thick and fluffy. This will help create a cosy look while adding volume to the bedding. Adorn your doona with a quilt cover of your choice that complements the rest of the ensemble.
  2. Fold the quilt in thirds: Folding your quilt in thirds creates a chunkier look, helping to achieve that fluffy, cloud-like effect seen in magazines and on display beds. Fold the doona in thirds so that it covers the foot of the bed and two-thirds of the top of the bed. This will create a layered look and allow the decorative pillows to be showcased on top.

Style With Pillows

How to style pillows and cushions on a bed

Whether you have a bedhead or not, it's always a good practice to introduce height and softness with a styled bed pillow arrangement. This is a great way to inform how to style a bed and frame your space. We recommend two European pillows featuring patterns or textures matching your quilt covers. You see, European-sized pillows offer to create an anchor or visual focal point. They also contrast any patterned pillows or cushions you'll use later to style your bed.

Pro styling tip: Use the hand chop method to create a slight indent at the centre of the pillow.

Pillows and cushions are not only functional but also play a significant role in enhancing the overall appearance of the bed. Begin with the standard-sized pillows, propping them up against the headboard or wall. Add a few decorative pillows of different sizes and shapes in front, allowing them to complement the bedding colours and patterns. Experiment with various textures, such as velvet or silk, to create a visually pleasing contrast. Remember to arrange the pillows in a way that appears effortlessly stylish.

How many pillows does a bed need?

You'll want to style a double or queen bed with four to six pillows. That's two European pillows against the headboard with two to four standard pillows in front. Fluff them up and set them on top of your duvet or quilt. If you're styling a king bed, make it complete with three European pillows at the back. Avoid gaps when styling with pillows. Also, you don't necessarily need always to sit them upright. You could lay pillows on their back to lend a little interest to your bed styling.

Should the pillows be tucked under the duvet or placed over it?

When styling a bed, one of the most common questions is whether you should tuck your pillows underneath the quilt. Ideally, for more visual impact, tuck one pillow under the doona and keep one on top. This creates a finished appearance, making it inviting and ready for sleep when you pull the quilt back.

How many cushions does a bed need?

With your pillows lined up perfectly, it's time to understand how to style a bed with cushions. Layering with cushions is an excellent styling hack to create a presentable and chic bed. But how to dress a bed with cushions, and how many cushions do you need? While this depends on your personal preferences, we recommend choosing between three to five cushions, depending on the width of your bed. Odd numbers between three and five can elevate your bed's appearance. You'll want to start by stacking one cushion on each side, followed by one in the middle. Accent cushions offer a relatively inexpensive way to uplift your bedroom styling while also providing a way to experiment with different colours, prints and materials.

Pro cushion styling tips

  • Feel free to mix shapes. Rectangular, square, and circular shapes are available to experiment with.
  • Use a mix of prints, stripes and abstract patterns to create interest in your bedroom styling pursuits.
  • Textures like quilted, velvet, leather or linen are good to mix.
  • Embellished cushions, like those with piped edges, metallic accents, sequins, button details or pom poms, could be a great way to lend an edge to your bed styling.
  • Create a more cohesive look in your room by drawing the colours from other elements in your bedroom and translating them into your soft furnishings.

How to style throws and blankets on a bed

Lastly, dress the foot of your bed, and finish with a cosy throw. This is an essential finishing touch to create a well-put-together look. Drape it casually across your bed - don't leave it looking too neat and folded. The idea is to create soft textural layers.

Drape the throw loosely across the bottom third of the mattress to strike a balance between structured and informal, laid-back style. You'll also want to change up the throws depending on the season. For example, Autumn-Winter calls for layers of cosy knitted blankets, while a cotton throw is usually comfortable for summer. Opt for materials like faux fur or chunky knits to create a tactile element that invites you to snuggle up. Alternatively, fold a blanket neatly across the bottom half of the bed for a more structured and tailored look. Choose colours and patterns that complement the existing bedding to create a cohesive and harmonious ensemble.

Style With Throws

Make bedding choices seasonal

Making a bed with season-appropriate bed linens is key to sleeping comfort and great bedroom styling.


In warmer months, opt for lighter fabrics like cotton or linen to keep cool and comfortable. Choose lighter colours and breathable materials to create an airy and fresh ambience. Summer calls for fabric options like linen or cotton. Linen is an excellent breathable and cooling fibre that helps regulate body temperature. Conversely, cotton is a natural fibre with cooling benefits and is available in various colours and prints. We've created an extensive guide on linen vs. cotton sheets to help you make the right choice.


As the temperature drops, swap lightweight bedding for thicker duvets or comforters and layer with cosy blankets and throws. Incorporate warmer tones and heavier textures to create a cosy and inviting atmosphere during the colder seasons.

For winter, choose cosy flannelette sheets and extra layers for a cocooning and warming effect. Read all about what flannelette is here, and why it's one of the top choices for your winter bedding ensemble.

When changing up your bed linens to adapt and alternate with the seasons, you'll also need a great storage solution for storing your spare bed linen. Take inspiration from our guide on how to organise and store bed linen creatively.

Bonus tips on how to dress a bed like a designer

  • If you want to dress a bed like a designer, always aim to play with textures and layer bedding and accessories. You want to create a look that appears effortlessly styled without looking like you tried too hard.
  • Attention to detail is key to dressing beds. For instance, details like piped edges on your cushion, and exposed zip, could all go into creating making your bed appear more sophisticated and stylish.
  • Add finishing touches by styling the bedside tables. Invest in accessories like trays or trivets to corral your everyday objects in a more organised way. And while you're at it, don't forget to invest in soft mood lighting to lend ambience and atmosphere to your bedroom spaces. Read our bedside table styling guide for nifty tips and tricks.