How to Make a Better Bed—and Style It Like a Professional

From adding a bedskirt and learning crisp hospital corners to arranging throw pillows, there are a handful of ways you can elevate your bed's aesthetics.

master bedroom blue-gray and white patterned bedding with double nightstand and lamp sets
Photo: Lauren Pressey

Your bed serves as the focal point of your room, so you want it to look its best. Everything from decorative pillows to how you lay down your top sheet can dictate how effectively your bed elevates your room. If your current setup has the basics needed for comfortable sleep, but you want to transform its appearance, there are a few key elements that can help you do so. With some simple tweaks, your bed (and, in turn, your room) will look and feel like it was designed by a professional.

Start With a Bed Skirt

Do you have suitcases, out of season clothes, and more items visibly stored under your bed? Consider concealing these items with a bedskirt. "Bedskirts, also known as dust ruffles, provide a put-together look while hiding the box spring and anything stored under the bed," says Vera Peterson, President of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. "They come in two styles: a sheet that covers the box spring and hangs over the sides, or a wrap-around style with elastic to hold it to the box spring." Not only are bedskirts ideal for hiding unsightly box springs, but they also add a finished look to your bed.

  1. Determine the size you need by measuring your bed frame height and box spring length and width.
  2. If you have a full sheet, lay it over the box spring like you would a flat sheet, letting it hang over all sides and feet of your bed. (If it's too long, gather any excess fabric at the center of your box spring).
  3. If you have a three-sided elastic skirt, stretch it around the box spring so the skirtless side is at your headboard.
  4. Align the bedskirt's seams with the edges of your box spring.
  5. Place your mattress back on top.

Add a Mattress Topper

No one likes a sagging, clumpy mattress (or how it looks). Breathe new life into your bed by adding a mattress topper to the mix. Although they're not a necessity, these plush additions are a great way to make an old mattress more comfortable or extend the life of a newer mattress. "Mattress toppers are great for adding an extra layer of plushness to a basic mattress for comfort and plushness—particularly with a firm mattress," says Malaika Lubega, professional organizer and owner of Huza Home Concepts.

Lay Down Your Sheets

Don't underestimate the impact of beautiful sheets—the bedding staple serves as a complementary piece to your comforter and brings your entire vision together. To prevent wrinkling, place your sheets onto your bed directly from the dryer (or iron them before laying them down). Lay your fitted sheet down first, ensuring all four elastic corners align perfectly with the corners of your mattress. Tuck any excess fabric under your mattress so the fitted sheet lays flat with no wrinkles or bunching.

Place Top Sheets Pattern-Side Down

Your flat sheet has the ability to make a big visual impact, so long as you lay it down correctly. Contrary to popular belief, the most aesthetically pleasing way to put on your top sheet isn't with the pattern side facing up. "The flat sheet with the pattern should be placed upside down and then folded over just past your pillows in order to see it," says Anna Bauer, organizing expert and owner of Sorted by Anna.

illustration of how to make hospital corners
Grace Canaan

Make Hospital Corners

If the corners of your flat sheet often become unruly, consider making hospital corners. The orderly sheet fold style yields uniform results every time and keeps your top sheet looking crisp and neat.

  1. Lay your flat sheet over your bed.
  2. Tuck the hanging fabric under the mattress at the foot of your bed.
  3. Pull the fabric hanging over one corner of your bed and lift it straight up.
  4. Place the fabric down on top of your bed so it lays at a 45 degree angle (it should resemble a triangle).
  5. Hold the triangle piece in place and use your free hand to tuck the hanging sheet under your mattress.
  6. Pull the triangle fold down and tuck it under the mattress.
  7. Repeat the process on the other corner.

Comforter vs. Quilt

Consider your own personal design aesthetic when deciding which type of topper you want on your bed. No matter which one you choose, you should ensure the topper drapes evenly over the sides of your bed and is folded over so the crease lays just in front of your pillows.

"A comforter is a fluffy bed covering made from synthetic materials, while a quilt is made up of three layers—a decorative top layer, a batting layer, and a backing fabric," says Peterson. A duvet is similar to a comforter in appearance but it comes with two pieces: an insert and a removable, typically washable cover.


If you want your bed to look like a plush cloud, a comforter or duvet is likely the bedding solution for you. While they give beds a fluffy, layered look, comforters aren't just about aesthetics—they're also great for providing warmth. "Comforters are best used during colder months or seasons to add warmth and coziness," says Lubega.


Do you want your bed to really stand out? Consider opting for a quilt over a comforter or duvet. "Quilts are made up of three layers: a top layer of decorative fabric, a layer of batting in the middle, and a backing fabric," says Peterson. "They are often hand- or machine-stitched, creating a unique, decorative pattern on the surface." The only downside to a quilt is that it doesn't offer much warmth during colder months, so it's best to pair the topper with a comforter or blanket.

illustration of different ways to arrange pillows on a bed
Grace Canaan

Arrange Your Pillows

Pillows are your opportunity to really enhance the appearance of your sleeping arrangement. If you prefer a laid-back aesthetic, lay four standard pillows vertically (or horizontally for an elevated, hotel-inspired look) with no decorative elements. Or get creative and layer shams, accent, and lumbar pillows onto your bed in a way that fits your design style. As a general rule though, standard sleeping pillows should always lay against your headboard with shams and decorative elements layered in front.

No matter how you choose to arrange your pillows, you should ensure the openings are facing inwards and towards each other, so you can't see the bare pillows. You should also fluff your pillows to give them a magazine-inspired look. "Typically on a bed, I do not karate chop the pillows because I like them to be full and upright," says Lauren Robbins of Lauren Robbins Interiors. Instead, throw the pillows down onto a firm surface. "This move usually has just the right amount of force to reinvigorate the filling for the perfectly shaped pillow," she says.

Add a Throw Blanket

The final element is adding a throw blanket, which gives your bed more dimension and can be used for added warmth. "Ultimately, the way you arrange your throw blanket on the bed is up to you and what you find visually appealing and comfortable," says Peterson. But there are a few common methods you can try.

  • Diagonal: Drape the throw blanket over the bed in a diagonal direction for a relaxed, cozy look.
  • Straight Across: Lay the throw blanket straight across the foot of the bed for a neat and tidy look.
  • Folded: Fold the throw blanket and place it at the foot of the bed or at the side of the bed for a more structured look.
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