Designer describes four steps to make a dreamy bed

After a long day at work, my bedroom is my retreat. I snuggle up in bed and lose myself in a good book or the latest decorating magazine. The key to turning your bedroom into an oasis that fills you up is to start with a dreamy bed.

Too often, when we decorate we spend all our time and budget making the more public spaces in our home lovely, but then shortchange ourselves when decorating our bedrooms.

I’ve found that waking up in a beautiful bed is the ideal way to start and end your day. Here, are the four steps the Nell Hill’s designers follow when we make our dream beds:

1. Pick a palette you love.

When we design custom bedding ensembles, we always start with a fabric we are gaga about. Right now, I’m obsessed with the orange and navy poppy floral in the photo at right. Once you pick your inspiration fabric, start pulling in complementary fabrics, telling the story of your bed.

One of my favorite mates for this fun floral is an equally peppy navy-and-white stripe. When you have bold patterns like these, it’s important to also include some more sedate solids, like black, white or navy.

2. Start with a great foundation.

Our terrific team of fabric pros and bedding designers have gobs of creativity, a great eye for color and pattern and the ability to translate our dreams into lovable bedding.

When selecting bedsheets, get the best ones your budget will allow. You won’t regret it when you slide into bed each night.

Do you need a bedskirt? If the sides of your bedframe are not finished, the answer is yes. Our two favorite styles are a ruched skirt with a romantic, flowy bottom, and a crisp box pleat.

If your bed slats are attractive, don’t use a skirt if you don’t want to. But, be sure the box spring doesn’t show. Our trick? Cover it in a fitted sheet!

3. Layer it up.

In the winter, we start our beds with a big, thick duvet, then fold several quilts at the foot of the bed. In the spring and summer, we do the reverse.

For our inspiration bed, we paired white and cornflower blue mate laisse quilts. The bottom quilt folds over the top quilt, for a bit of contrast color. We peeked the white on the bed but could easily reverse them. We finished off the bottom layer by folding a bit of the sheet over the quilt.

Next comes the duvet — the design element that pulls the ensemble together. Often, when we create custom bedding, we use different fabric on each side of the duvet. One side says summer and the other says winter, so with one flip you can change the entire look of the bed.

We love our lush layers, so in the summer, we don’t give the duvet the boot. Instead, we remove the down fill and fold the empty duvet at the foot of the bed. If you want to keep that trademark fluffy look in your duvet, here’s a trick: Fold the down fill inside the empty duvet. At night, you can remove the fill and use the duvet as a light layer to cover up with.

4. Add personality with pillows.

Pulling together a mix of accent pillows for your dream bed is a fun and wonderful way to express your creativity, celebrate your style and make your bed distinctive. The number of pillows you’ll want on your bed is completely dependent on your tastes. But we love the look of four distinct layers:

n Layer 1: two 27-by-27-inch euros

n Layer 2: two 24-by-24-inch squares

n Layer 3: two 24-by-24-inch squares

n Layer 4: one 16-by-30-inch lumbar

When picking which fabrics to put on which row of pillows, play around until you have a combination you love. We often repeat the fabric from the duvet in one row of pillows, and when we do, we separate them by at least one row of pillows.

Next comes our inspiration fabric. In most of our beds, we mix in a solid to balance the pattern.

One of custom bedding’s many benefits is that the sky’s the limit, especially when it comes to the finish for each piece of bedding. We might trim one set of pillows with a contrasting cord, do a mini flange with mitered corners on another set, then do a pleat with micro welt on the third set. One of my favorite looks? A monogram, to make it truly personal.

Once all the essential pieces are in place, you can add final accents, like a throw blanket. This is a great way to add a zip of color or touchable texture to the finished look of your bed. Another look I love: Put a bench at the foot of your bed and add a few more pillows. (Can you ever have enough pillows? No.)

The last step? Slip into your jammies, dive in and enjoy your dream bed,

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at She can be reached at

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