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The Secrets of a Well-dressed Bed

While furnishings, lighting, art and accessories are all important components of a well-designed bedroom, a well-dressed bed is the focal point.

“Your bed is like your nest.  It should be your refuge, full of luxurious textures and softness that beg to be touched,” said Cindy Radle, manager at Leftovers Antiques in Brenham, a design emporium known in part for its custom-made iron beds and luxurious bedding. “You should be drawn to the bedding because it is full of your personal preferences including the colors and textures.”

Creating a tempting nest is a building process that involves mixing and matching.

“The idea of matchy, matchy bedding in a bag is dated and needs to leave our bedrooms,” said Radle, who designs beds for the showroom and clients. “Today’s designers are mixing and matching elements of all kinds.”

Building the Basics
The foundation elements of a well-dressed bed are the duvet or bedspread, the back layer of pillows and the dust ruffle or bed skirt.

photo by Natalie Lacy Lange, Natalie Lacy Lange Photography

“Generally when I design a bed, I begin with the primary bed covering, the back pillows that will line the headboard and the dust ruffle all in similar tones,” Radle said, noting that she uses oversized pillows such as deluxe (extra-large king pillows) or euro as the back layer. “After that I start to add layers by bringing in additional colors and textures just like an artist would do in a painting.”

The primary bed covering is a matter of personal preference. A duvet offers more loft and creates a softer look than a bedspread. A bedspread lends itself to layering.

“A duvet isn’t better than a bedspread or vice versa,” Radle said. “They accomplish the same thing in slightly different ways.”

Regardless of the type of bed covering, reversibility in a complementary color or pattern expands the design options.

“The reversibility of the bedspread makes it more versatile because you can enjoy a new look by simply turning the cover over,” Radle said. “You essentially get two looks in one.”

For the record, a bed scarf is only decorative.

“A bed scarf isn’t added for its functionality but for a pop of color that ties all of the different elements together,” Radle said.

Picking a Palette
Neutral solids such as white, cream, taupe and gray, as well as muted blues and greens, provide a classic foundation and maximum design flexibility.

“With neutrals you can design a tone-on-tone bedscape, or you can add pops of color with accent pillows and throws,” Radle said. “If you’re using a neutral foundation, you can change the look and feel of the bed by changing a few key pieces instead of investing in a completely new bedding set.”

For instance, using a floral print on accent pillows and a bed scarf at the foot of the bed can add a touch of femininity without overpowering the room with flowers.

“By sticking with a neutral foundation, you can add a favorite pattern or a bold color without fear of an over commitment,” Radle said.

White as a primary or secondary color brings crispness to a look. White or cream used as a secondary color can also break up a “sea of color,” which also adds visual interest to the bed.

Texturizing for Touchability
Different textures hold the eye and tempt the fingers.

photo by Natalie Lacy Lange, Natalie Lacy Lange Photography

“I like to mix several textures,” Radle said. “Chenille, linen, silk and velvet can all work well together to make the

bed interesting to look at as well as to touch.”

Piling on Pillows
Layers of pillows dressed in complementary shams form an appealing cloud of comfort.

“There is no rule of thumb for the number of pillows used to dress up your bed,” Radle said. “It’s a matter of personal preference and what is practical for you.”

Practicality comes into play every night when the layers of pillows are removed and every morning when they have to be replaced and arranged. In Radle’s experience, some people are fine with dealing with four or five layers of pillows, while others only have patience for one or two at the most.

“While there’s no perfect number, I do suggest staggering the sizes of the pillows,” Radle said. “If all of the pillows are the same standard size, you can’t see any of them.”

When she designs a bed, Radle starts with the largest pillows in the back and steps them down in each succeeding layer. A four-layer design might begin with euros, step down to deluxes, then kings or standards, finishing with an accent pillow or two.

Detailing
Tiny details such as buttons on a pillow sham can make a big style statement.

“I like to add little interesting touches to the different layers,” Radle said.  “A unique button or zipper, added to a pillow, can really catch your eye.”

Many of the bedding lines Radle works with use buttons as fasteners on the pillow shams. As she’s layering the pillows, she will turn the buttoned back to the front for one layer to add one more textural element.

“I like to include unexpected things to grab your attention,” Radle said.

Investing in Quality
An investment in quality bedding pays dividends in durability.

Leftovers Bedding-Lange
photos by Natalie Lacy Lange, Natalie Lacy Lange Photography

“Bedding is not inexpensive, but like so many things, you get what you pay for,” Radle said. “High-quality bedding wears and washes well. It keeps its shape and it maintains the fabrics’ original textures.”

And, as people are purchasing their bedding, Radle encourages them to think about the filling for the duvets and shams. The inserts are an important part of the tactile experience.

“An insert made from down is completely different than an insert made from polyester,” Radle said. “Down gives the pillows a plumper, softer look.  It’s loftier. Polyfills can be stiff and rigid.”

Personalizing
The best bedrooms express the personality of the people who inhabit them.

“There aren’t any rules when designing your own retreat,” Radle said.  “Your personal choices make it special.”

There is a place for Grandma’s quilt or Great Aunt’s tatted lace. Of course, they may need to be repurposed into pillow shams or a bed scarf.

“By incorporating things are special to you in your bedroom, you add a layer of meaning,” Radle said. “Ultimately, you’ve added another reason to love the space you live in.”

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by Lorie A. Woodward
photos by Natalie Lacy Lange, Natalie Lacy Lange Photography for Leftovers Antiques

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