Mix and match bedding to satisfy a mood or vary a room's ambiance. Reds and browns can be blended with neutrals one week, neutrals with white vintage shams another. Velvet is perfect sometimes, but cotton flannel or linen seems right other days. Follow your impulses. The results can be so rewarding.
Stephen Earle, Martha Stewart Living's editorial director, recommends dressing a bed with simple elements. As when you choose a wardrobe, buy items from more than one store. And go to flea markets and antiques stores; they might carry pieces that will coordinate with some of your favorites at home.
For a simple, neutral-toned bed, Stephen and Martha combined a gray wool Swans Island blanket with khaki sheets and pillows -- monochromatic pieces in neutral shades -- focusing less on color than on the texture of the wool.
For a more decorative, patterned look, small boudoir pillows and an extraordinary French antique quilt were added to neutrals, changing the tone of the room considerably. If you see something you like at an antiques shop or a tag sale, buy it. You don't have to use it when sleeping, you can just use it to dress up the bed.
To further supplement the patterned look, Stephen and Martha used white shams with blue ribbons and eyelet edgings. The blue ribbon picked up on the blue in the quilt, and the bed was finished with a fluffy duvet in a sweet cotton print.
When adding new elements to the bed, think about size, and pay careful attention to color. You can incorporate everything from quilts and duvets to little pillows and throws, but they need to be in the right proportion to each other. Like mixing and matching a wardrobe, try as many combinations as you like.
Antique quilts and linens available from Main Street Antiques, Kent, CT, and Barbara McLean, Wilton, CT. Sheets, shams, and duvets available from Calvin Klein. Fine linens available from E. Braun & Co., Frette, and ABC Carpet and Home. Wool blankets available from Atlantic Blanket Company. Pillows and duvets available from Garnet Hill. Sheets, mattress pads, duvet covers available from Kmart. Rugs available from Elizabeth Eakins Rugs. Antiques available from Ron Cacciola, Westport, CT. Prints available from John Derian Company. Framing available from Skyframe, and Max's Art Supplies.