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sage green bedroom with white and grey bedding and leather weave bench seat

Your 10 Biggest Bed Styling Mistakes Revealed, with the Easy Fixes to Make Things Right

Brace yourself, team; today I’m unveiling 10 of the biggest mistakes you’re making in the bedroom. We’ll focus on how to style a bed correctly, for the most part. But there’s a few additional issues that are bringing your bedroom decorating game down. And the time is now to curb your wicked ways.

There’s a video below that I filmed for Lorraine Lea that shows you all of the mistakes (and solutions) in action. But for those of you who like some still imagery to reference later, I’ve got you covered too. There’s a stack of photos from this recent campaign you can use as inspiration for your own bed styling.

I’ll also link you to some of the pieces in this bedroom, because I know you’ll be wondering where they’re from and how you can get your hands on them. But for now, let’s delve into your biggest bedroom blunders. I think this’ll be cathartic for everyone involved.

This post is produced in partnership with Lorraine Lea.

sage green bedroom styling with white linen quilt cover set and woven leather bench seat

Bed Styling Mistake 1: Zero Euros

Come on, gang! You have no European pillows at the head of your bed? This is pretty much a criminal act in all states and territories. I’ve put it in the number one spot because it’s the element that really stops your bed feeling as full, plush, cosy and regal as it should.

You want your master bedroom to have a sense of grandeur. Even if it’s not luxe in style, it should still feel like a more mature/elevated version of the other bedrooms in your home. I may let you get away with no Euros in your guest bedroom (depending on how the bed is styled), but in your master they’re a must.

For a king size bed, you need three European pillows sitting against the headboard. For a queen or double bed you should have two (sometimes I squeeze three Euros in if the insert is feather as they push together more easily). And for a king single or single bed, one Euro is essential. 

If you need to stock up on Euro pillows, these are my highly-recommended faves

styling a bed with pillows and cushions white bedding grey headboard sage green vj panel wall

Bed Styling Mistake 2: A Low Cushion Count

In front of the Euro pillows that sit against the headboard, you need four standard pillows (for a king, queen or double bed), and one or two for a king single or single bed. Most of you have these already, which is great. Here’s where the issues may begin for you though; in front of your four standard pillows you need a bare minimum of three cushions. Minimum!

If you take a look at the image above you’ll notice I have five cushions styled on the bed. This is my preference. I do like my bed to resemble a jumping castle though. Or a ball pit. You know those ball pits in theme parks you fall into and can’t get out of? That’s how I like my bed to feel; a giant plush paradise I sink into.

Cushions help give you extra plushness and are a great way to introduce some pattern into a neutral bedscape (yes bedscape is a word – it’s the landscape on top of your bed!). I recommend you use feather inserts for your cushions as they give you the ability to karate chop them (one of my fave pastimes, it must be said!)

Here are some cushions to peak your interest and pop on your bed if you need.

sage green bedroom styling coastal bedroom with rattan bedside table and vj panelling
wall to wall sheers are great in larger rooms

Bed Styling Mistake 3: You’ve Matched Your Sheets

Now, I know traditionally, you’ll go to a store and buy a set of sheets in the same colour. The pillows, fitted sheet and flat sheet on your bed have, in times gone by, all matched. But the times they are a-changin’, and that’s no longer the approach we’re going for. 

Modern bed styling is not only about showing off the sheets (more on that in mistake number 4 below), but having them in contrasting colours. You can see this concept at play in the image directly above. See how we have a fitted white sheet, a grey flat sheet, and then we’ve gone for a white quilt cover? It breaks up the monotony if you do it this way.

I also like to bring in a third colour, like in the charcoal pillows above. It just gives you more tonal variety. It gives you an opportunity to play more with the look of the bed, and to mix up colours to come up with your own unique creation. So my rule: always buy a few different colour sheets sets and mix away!

Here are an array of sheet colours you can get in separates. 

sage green bedroom styling coastal bedroom with rattan bedside table and vj panelling

Bed Styling Mistake 4: The Trapped Quilt

I still see loads of beds where the quilt is pulled right up to the headboard with all the pillows on top of it. Sometimes I cry a bit on the inside when I see this, other times I slide down the wall of the bedroom with streams of tears running down my cheeks like a scene from a movie. In short, this is not the way to go when it comes to modern bed styling.

Let your quilt live a free life, away from your pillow arrangement. When I’m making/styling a bed, I put the sheets on first, then all of the pillows at the head, then I put on my quilt. And here’s the key bit: there should be a small gap between the pillows and the quilt. You want to quilt to sit on the lower half of the bed, folded over itself a bit. 

You can see what I mean in the images here (or watch the video above). Thick roll-back is essential for the quilt. Having it sit on the lower half of the bed also gives you a big dose of draping onto the floor, which is nice (though you can tuck it in under the bed – totally your call).

diamond floor rug in bedroom with woven leather bench seat at end of bed

Bed Styling Mistake 5: No Throws

Like most men who wear Speedos on the beach, your bed needs to be covered up. We have the sheets, pillows and quilt rules taken care of, but don’t stop there. What you have on top of the quilt is equally important. It’s like throwing on a jacket or scarf before you leave the house. It completes the look.

When I style beds, I like to have a larger blanket or throw run across the entire width of the bed. Now, this is impractical in the warmer months, I know, so feel free to abandon this in summer. But you can see how nice it looks and how much warmth is brings to the bed by having it run across it.

It also breaks up the starkness of all-white bedding. And then don’t forget on the corner of your bed you’ll want a lighter, smaller throw, places just-so on top of your quilt cover. People get very stressed about throws. To which I always say: it’s a throw… just throw it on. Your first placement is often the best one. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Here are a selection of gorgeous throws for your bed if you need.

sage green vj panel bedroom with white bedding and macrame wall hanging

Bed Styling Mistake 6: Lacklustre Lighting

OK, so we’re going to jump away from the bed for a moment to touch on a few other elements around the bed styling that need your attention. We’ll get back to the bed in a sec, but let’s talk about lighting.

Overhead light: insomnia’s delight. I really loathe overhead lighting in a bedroom, which is why I always tell people that mood lighting is crucial. Of course you want pendant lights above your bedsides, or wall sconces above them, or table lamps on them. That one’s a non-negotiable. But don’t let the lighting end there.

Think about other pockets you can put a lamp in. Below you’ll see I popped one across from the bed as you make your way into the ensuite. It’s a nice way to continue the style story and not just end it on and around the bed. The lamps on bedsides don’t have to exactly match the floor lamp either. Just have them in a similar style.

coastal three leg floor lamp with round white shade ensuite with brown timber floating vanity

Bed Styling Mistake 7: Hard Flooring Under the Bed

I feel like you’re either a carpet-in-bedrooms person or you’re a hard-flooring-in-bedroom person. I’m in the former category. I know it’s not for everyone, but I love the sense of warmth carpet brings to a bedroom. Without it, I find a bedroom often feels a little sterile, there’s a bit of an echo, and it lacks a sense of completion.

But if you’re a hard-flooring devotee, I’m not hatin’. But what I will say is, you need something soft underfoot when you get out of bed. That can come in two forms: a rug that sits under the bed and comes out either side to the width of your bedside tables (forming a nice border around the bed). Or, you have a runner beside the bed.

To have nothing soft underfoot… I just can’t get on board with that. I’m sorry, I can’t, don’t hate me.

rattan curved console table with round mirror above styled with coastal table lamp and concrete vase

Bed Styling Mistake 8: Vignette Voids

So we know lamps on bedsides are a must, but you need to take the decorating here a step further and create a vignette with at least two more decorative moments. A vase or ornament, a plant, a candle – you name it. I have a full blog post on decorating bedside tables here if you need it

Deck bedsides out, but also keep console tables or chests of drawers in mind too. Playing with vignettes in your bedroom is half the fun, so experiment until you find a look you love. I’m by no means a green thumb, put plants or flowers are a really nice addition to a sideboard in your bedroom if you have the space.

If you can’t keep plants alive, consider some really good fake plant varieties. I have used some phenomenally lifelike ones for clients in the past. Here’s a full list of where we get fakies from.

bathroom with grey terrazzo floor tile floating timber vanity black tapware sheer curtains

Bed Styling Mistake 9: No Ensuite Accessories

If you have an ensuite and you’re not matching the decor to your bedroom vibe, the style story is only half told. You can’t have this gorgeously styled bedroom and then walk into the adjoining bathroom and have it feel like a different space on the decor-front. 

Team with the theme here and ensure pieces in your bathroom match the colours in your boudoir. Cohesion and consistency between rooms is what we’re aiming for, and something as simple as towels in a complementary colour is a good way to do it.

In the bedroom I styled here, green and white were the main tones shining through, so I’ve put towels in the bathroom in the same colours. It’s a small touch, but it makes a big difference.

Here’s a huge collection of towels in loads of different colours for you.

lorraine lea mattress topper protector and underlay for mattress

Bed Styling Mistake 10: The Naked Mattress

To wrap things up, I’m back to the bed for our last bed styling mistake. This one is less obvious though, because it’s about the elements you can’t see. And let’s be honest, it’s often what lies beneath that’s the most crucial. It’s true; if the foundation of your bed isn’t right, your sleep is going to suck.

You want to dress your naked mattress with three pieces before you even pop on your fitted sheet. These are a mattress topper, protector and underlay. 

I go into detail about these three elements in this blog post, so give it a read now that we’ve covered off the bed styling pointers above!

OK, time to fess up! How many of these bed styling mistakes are you guilty of? You’re in a safe space here… spill all in the comments below!


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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15 Responses

  1. Your article made me laugh especially about crying when the bedspread goes right to the end and over the pillows. Makes me cringe when I see that lol. I am only guilty about not having carpet next to bed, I hate carpet, especially carpet squares as I find that they are easy to trip over and shows dirt. Great article and fun reading it. You have great sense of humour.

  2. If I rent a place that has a thousand cushions – as you suggest – they all go on the floor and I get annoyed. Is this for real? Is the look of the bed that much more important than the practicality?

    1. Best post and video! I’m in need if help having completed a house Reno. Now I’m ready to take on the challenge! Thanks

  3. I fess up to no Euros. This is only a recent thing though. I have found they are too bug for my bed. I am going to have to find something slightly smaller where I can fit 3 in a row. I’m going to go with your suggestion of feather inserts.

  4. Wow Chris, I passed your test with flying colours! Amazing! I thought I’d fall short on at least some fronts. So there’s two things that we don’t have in our bedroom that you didn’t mention – a statement art piece and a bedhead!!! LOL Loved this post!

  5. Great post. Learned what I need to do. Did not realize the quilt was folded! So happy to make this correction to make my bed look better. I have all the pillows I need so I will be ready to make my bed correctly. Keep posting for all of us. Thanks Mary

  6. EEEk! I’m embarrassed to say I’m failing on all these counts in my bedroom. King bed with only 2 Euros and 2 cushions (whoops) – I do have the 4 pillows in between though. I have a mattress protector but that’s it (except when I put the electric blanket on in winter). My sheets are not showing enough and I have a quilt blanket at the bottom of the bed instead of two throws. The blanket box shows off a vignette of discarded clothes! Sometimes the ensuite towels match but I also like my pink towels in there which don’t go with the sage green in the bedroom. HELP!

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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