Layer Bedding: How to Make Your Bed Like a Professional

Tips to layer bedding in the bedroom

How to layer bedding takes some trial and error, plus some expert tricks, but once you’ve got the perfect bed formula, you’ll have a beautiful haven to retreat at night and catch some zz’s. We’re sharing how to layer a bed with pattern and texture, plus some secret tricks to making the bed so your space looks extra fluffy and comfortable.

There is no one perfect setup, because like Goldilocks, we each have our own unique preferences and tastes, but below we’ll share bedding foundations everyone needs, must-know details of bedding materials, and layering tricks to give your bed a designer look.

Start with the Basics of Layering Bedding

More than anything else, your bed needs to be comfortable. What’s the appeal of a beautiful bed, if it isn’t appealing to climb into.

  1. Start with a Comfortable Mattress
  2. Quality Sheet Set with a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and a set of pillowcases
  3. A Coverlet, Comforter, or Quilt
  4. A Duvet Insert

Putting all of the elements of a comfortable bed together can be expensive, but it’s important to focus on quality in a few key areas, namely your sheet set which will be what you’re sleeping on and in, as well as your mattress and pillows.

Read more: How to Pick the Best Mattress

Understand Materials

When you’re shopping for bedding, don’t be overwhelmed by the options. There is so much to know about bedding materials, and we’re helping you break it down. In our Bedding 101 podcast episode, we discuss all of the different bedding materials, plus our tips to layer bedding, or see our list below:

  • Percale — Percale (pronounced per-keyl) is a classic sheeting material, woven in a criss-cross one-over-one-under construction, so it’s crisp and breathable. It’s like the equivalent of your classic white button-down shirt, but for the bed. If you live in a hot climate, percale is a great choice, but be aware that percale can wrinkle. It’s just part of the charm. Percale also breaks down quicker because of that lighter weave, so you’ll need to replace these sheets more often.
  • Sateen — Sateen has a slightly more formal look than percale because of its sheen. It’s woven with a one-over-three-under pattern meaning it’s denser and sleeps warmer than a percale. It won’t wrinkle as much as a percale and lasts a bit longer too because of the weave.
  • Linen — Like a percale, linen is super breathable, but it’s also very strong and durable, and sustainable. Linen will get softer as it’s washed, but it does wrinkle. Unless you plan to dry clean or iron your linen sheets, you’ll have to learn to love your wrinkles.

Your Ideal Mix for Layered Bedding

The way you want your bed to look and the way you want your bed to sleep can be very different, and it may take some trial and error to find the perfect mix of both. We suggest first thinking about the materials you find most appealing, then begin adding elements, mixing and matching along the way.

First, ask yourself some questions:

Do I sleep hot or cold?
How many layers feel comfortable?
Am I comfortable ironing or dry cleaning my linens?
Can I live with wrinkles in my bedding?
How much time am I willing to make and remake my bed each morning?
Do I want to add throw blankets or pillows that I’ll remove before bedtime?

This can help you parse our which items and materials you’ll need to create your perfect formula as your layer bedding.

Velvet and quilted bedding layered together on a bed from Ballard DesignsCreate Your Perfect Layers

Once you have an idea of which pieces and how many pieces you’ll need to make your bed, you can start having fun with color and pattern. Like the items you’ll use to make up your bed, this is an inexact science. There’s no right or wrong, but we do have some general guidelines we keep in mind when making the beds in our stores or in the beautiful rooms we create each season.

Layer Bedding with Texture and Color

Whether you want an all white bed or you like to layer multiple bedding patterns (or you’re somewhere in the middle), you absolutely want to mix and match bedding pieces. Don’t buy all from one set, just like you wouldn’t buy a suite of bedding furniture.

  • Mix textures on your bed, especially if you prefer an all-white bed. A mixture of sheeting, quilts, matelassé, or waffle weaves will give your bed a more interesting feel and break up such a large mass in the middle of the room.
  • For an easy place to start, pick a simple white duvet and a matching set of shams. Add a patterned quilt, and fold the duvet at the end of the bed so your quilt is seen in the middle. Top with a second set of shams in a different size and material.
  • A solid color throw blanket is a great way to break up a large white duvet cover.
  • To easily layer pattern on pattern, look for multiple patterns all in the same color palette so they work together seamlessly.
  • To add a little interest to a large Euro sham, add a monogram in the center for a graphic touch

There are lots of different materials and patterns, so have fun with it.

Pillow Arrangements on the Bed

Ah, the age old question of how many pillows (and which kinds) to put on the bed. The wonderful and frustrating thing about this question is that there isn’t a right answer. There are lots of beautiful ways to arrange decorative pillows for the bed, creating an inviting focal point. But first, ask yourself how many pillows you’re willing to fluff and arrange when you’re making it up.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • You want your pillows to cover the bottom half to two-thirds of the headboard. If you have a tall headboard, you’ll want to use a taller sham, like a Euro.
  • Mix it up. A variety of trims and textures bring interest to your bed, creating a more dramatic focal point which is what you want in a bedroom.
  • Symmetry is your friend. We love an asymmetrical arrangement of pillows, but when y0u’re starting out, think in pairs.

Read more: How to Arrange Pillows on Your Bed

Arrange decorative pillows on the bedExpert Tricks to Layer Bedding

From our retail stores to the sets where we shoot our seasonal rooms, we’ve had a lot of practice making beautiful beds. Some of our tricks may make sense for your lifestyle, and others may not. Try out these tips to add extra fluff and finish to your bed.

  • Don’t Fully Dry — When laundering your sheets or duvet cover, don’t dry them 100%. Take them out of the dryer a bit damp and immediately make the bed. Smooth out your sheets or duvet cover while you’re making the bed and pull them all tight to remove wrinkles. If your bedding dries smoothed out on the bed, wrinkles won’t form as deeply.
  • Face Your Topsheet Down — When making your bed, place your flat sheet face down so that when you fold the sheet and coverlet down, the finished side will face up.
  • Practice Hospital Corners — If you don’t have a footboard or the foot of your mattress is exposed, you’ll want to use hospital corners on the sheets and coverlet so that you have a crisp and tidy corner. Watch our easy how-to video for folding hospital corners here.
  • Double Stuff Duvets — In our stores and when shooting our seasonal bedrooms, we double stuff our duvet covers with two duvet inserts. This may be too much in the summer, but it’s a great way to add extra warmth in the winter and to make your bed look extra cloud-like.
  • Upsize Your Inserts — When buying inserts for your shams, buy a size up. So for most Euro shams, you’ll want a 28 x 28 inch insert. This will add extra heft to your sham, plus it’ll make the flange stand up straighter, and it’ll smooth wrinkles out of your sham.
  • Fold Your Duvet in Thirds — When making your bed, we like to fold the duvet down in thirds so it looks extra full. You’ll also want to keep the leading edge of the duvet facing the headboard so it’s easy to pull up in the middle of the night.
  • Fluff Your Pillow Feathers — When making your bed in the morning, shake the feathers of your sham into one side of the pillow, then place that side with all of the feathers up. This will make your sham and any flange on the sham stick up straight, rather than flopping over.

Now that we’ve spilled all of our best secrets, there’s no reason you can’t create your own perfect bed by layering bedding. Good luck, Goldilocks!

For more bedding inspiration, browse all of our bedding options here to create a mix and match combination that suits your personality! Or find learn more in the blog posts below:

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Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.


  1. Reply

    Sandy Novak

    February 13, 2023

    I need help hanging pleated drapes one-way over sliding door.

    • Reply

      Kelley Bostian

      March 7, 2023

      Great question! Our writing team is working on a complete guide to drapery blog scheduled to be published in April of 2023. Check back then and let us know if it helps you with your sliding door decorating dilemma.
      Happy Decorating,

  2. Reply

    Patricia Harris

    November 26, 2022

    Love your ideas

    • Reply

      Kelley Bostian

      December 8, 2022

      Thank you for the kind words! We love helping everyone find their inner decorator with helpful ideas like the bedding suggestions here. Glad you found it helpful.
      Happy Decorating,

  3. Reply

    Dinah Seisman

    October 31, 2022

    I am a fan of Ballard Designs and have purchased a number of items from your catalog / website. I am currently redecorating my bedroom and eagerly read your recent blog about layering. However, I was disappointed – again – when I went to the website and found many of the featured items no longer available. It seems there is a disconnect between your blog and catalogs – and what’s available — and that’s disappointing. I would suggest that you consider making sure there is some stock available on feature items before releasing a blog or catalog. Otherwise, you just frustrate and disappoint customers.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      November 1, 2022

      Hi Dinah,
      Which items in this blogpost were you interested in purchasing? I’d love to help you find them.
      We do try to keep things current as much as possible, but we have over 1800 posts on our blog, so it’s impossible to have available products in every single post. That said, we want you to have the best experience possible, so let me know what you’re looking for and I’m happy to help you find it!