THE WASHINGTON POST – Slipping into a well-made bed is a reward at the end of a long day.
But many of us think more about building a great sandwich than layering the right components for a bed that is comfortable and cozy, that looks stylish and inviting – and that doesn’t have the sheets crumpled up on the floor.
Yes, some people seem to be able to fall asleep on everything. “But most of us need comfortable furnishings, and bedding is so important to a good night’s sleep,” said Keith Cushner, product expert at sleepfoundation.org. “When you feel uncomfortable, you just won’t sleep well.”
We asked three experts – a bed designer, a cleaning expert, and an interior designer – to go into setting up and maintaining a stylish, comfortable bed. Here’s what they had to say.
THE BASICS: MAKING AND CARE OF BEDS 101
First things first: do you know how to make your bed? The Chief Cleaning Officer at MaidPro Melissa Homer gave the following tips to help you keep your sheets, pillows and blankets right.
Starting with the fitted sheet, hook the bags over each corner of the mattress until they stop, starting in the hardest corner to reach when the bed is pushed against the walls.
Then lay out the top sheet – if you are still using one – with the patterned or finished side down, as it will give a more finished look when you fold the sheet back.
If you want to add blankets, place them on top of the sheet, then fold back the top of the sheet 6 to 8 inches and tuck it firmly under the mattress on three sides. Spread your duvet, comforter, or bedspread over the bed and smooth it down.
Place pillows in pillow cases, loosen up and smooth out. If you only have sleeping pillows, place them flat on top of the bed. If you have throw pillows, lay the sleeping pillows upright and place the throw pillows in a symmetrical, centered pattern in the front from largest to smallest.
Homer said you can get away with doing laundry twice a month – unless you sweat a lot, eat in bed, or have pets. Then go to weekly washing. “Modern laundry detergents are designed to do great things in cold water, but the ideal temperature is warm,” she said. Always read the washing instructions before buying. “If you have unpredictable household members like pets or children, don’t buy something for your bed that won’t go in the washing machine,” Homer said.
Spring for new mattress covers when you get a new mattress or your mattress shows signs of wear. “This is the most important step in making sure your investment lasts as long as possible,” said Homer. Find one that protects against bed bugs, allergens, vomit, spills from drinking or snacking in bed, and child accidents. She recommended wrapping covers that shield the mattress. “They used to be rubbery and loud, but now they feel like nothing,” she said.
She likes the SureGuard mattress cover for both mattresses and box springs. (Yes, it is a good idea to have your box spring bed covered too if you have one).
Wash polyfill pillows every six to 12 months, Homer said, and use dryer balls when drying.
“Dryer balls hit the bedding gently as it staggered, breaking clumps of down and fillings so they dry fluffy instead of lumpy,” she said.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning memory foam, down, and other specialty pillows, as some can only be cleaned spot-wise. Don’t forget to wash pillow protectors too, Homer said, such as waterproof ones from SureGuard.
If you struggle with a messy bed every morning and love tightly packed sheets, Homer suggested using mattress holders that can tuck under your mattress and anchor multiple layers of bedding at once.
Fun fact: you don’t have to make your bed right after you get up. In fact, it is better not to. “Roll up your bed in the morning and make your bed after breakfast,” said Homer. “Give your bed a chance to ventilate. Open your blinds so that the sun comes in. “
Let moisture dry from the sweat. “This reduces allergens and mite colonies and doesn’t make your bed a breeding ground for things that don’t make it smell that fresh,” she added.
ESSENTIAL BEDDING BLOCKS
“It’s so important that people invest the time and energy to think about how to create and invest in a comfortable sleep experience,” said Ariel Kaye, founder and CEO of Parachute, maker of stylish sheets, quilts, and duvet covers other bedroom utensils. “You will spend a third of your life in bed.”
After a mattress, pillows are the most important element in building a dreamy place to sleep.
There are many varieties including down, down alternatives, memory foam, polyfill, and buckwheat. Extract some so you can adjust the level for your convenience. Many pillows are labeled for firmness, density, or “loft”. Standard size bed pillows are the typical choice; for a king size bed you may want a longer pillow (20 “x 36”).
Kaye said she was a “maximalist” and liked having one medium and one firm pillow. “Then I can layer them depending on which position I end up sleeping in,” she said. Side sleepers usually like a firmer and higher style to relieve the head, neck, and back.
Belly sleepers may prefer a thinner version. “A super plump pillow will force a stomach sleeper ‘s head into a wedged corner,” Kaye said. She likes to add 26 inch European square pillows either in front of or behind sleeping pillows. “They make for a nice, polished look and are handy for reading, watching TV, or working in bed,” she said.
Start with two sets of sheets so that you have one for the bed while the other is in the wash. Kaye likes the classic choice, percale, which she says has “more of a cool hand feel.”
The Parachute line also includes brushed cotton that “feels like a T-shirt”; a smooth satin with a warmer feel; and linen, which is heavier but still breathable. Kaye said thread counts are often just marketing gimmicks. “Anything over 400 is really not necessary,” she said.
Opt for a comforter or duvet if you like more warmth; a blanket or quilt are lighter options, Kaye said.
“I like to change my bed between seasons by adding and removing layers,” she said.
CREATE A WELL DRESSED BED
Dressing up your bed is very much like dressing up yourself, said DC design firm Sanabria & Co founder Melissa Sanabria. Layering is the key.
However, the price for layers adds up. When it comes to bedding, you may need to start with the basics and then add decorative elements like throws, towels, and quilts over time.
“When I was a broke college student, I always invested in the best sheets I could afford as this is the first layer that touches your skin,” said Sanabria. For the top layer, she prefers duvets that can be replaced with new covers. She recommended neutral colors like white or tan for comforters or blankets and added different colors and textures with accessories.
When it comes to pillows, don’t overdo it. On a queen-size bed, Sanabria begins with two sleeping pillows, then two pillows with coordinated shams. Add two decorative square pillows, such as Crate and Barrel’s Eyelash pillowcases or West Elms Cotton Linen & Velvet Corners Cover. Buy pillow inserts that are at least an inch larger than the covers so you get a really full look, she said.
Sanabria recommended completing the top of the bed with a “nice, long, thin lumbar pillow” that you center between the two decorative square pillows.
“The lumbar pillow gives you some visual interest and is also good when you are reading and need extra support. I use mine a lot to prop up my computer, ”said Sanabria. She likes this Hearth & Hand color block version from Target or the Icelandic sheepskin pillow from CB2.
The finishing touch is a blanket, bedspread, or quilt for the foot of the bed. Avoid those marked “litter” because they’re too small and won’t drape all over the end of the bed, Sanabria said, or even cover your feet when you pull it up to take a nap. She proposed the West Elm European flax cover.
“This is a great extra layer, looks pretty, and is another option for color or patterning on your bed,” she said.