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Style Tips: The Unmade Bed Look

by | Apr 15, 2008 | Domesticity, Style Tips

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Style Tips: The Unmade Bed Look

One of my mentors is Alexandra Stoddard, as many of you know by now (click here for more info on that little tidbit about me). One of the things I remember her saying in one of her books is that she is an advocate of the “unmade bed look.

What this means is not necessarily that you don’t make your bed, but that you allow the layers of your bedding to show in some way. Allowing the details of the sheets to informally peek out from a coverlet or fold over a quilt is simply more inviting and welcoming than covering it all up with a bedspread. Not only does the bed look like it is ready to crawl back into (good idea), but it is not so stiff and formal that it feels untouchable.

  • Showing the layers, including pillows and pillow shams, gives you the opportunity to showcase your personal style through the pieces you have selected.
  • Conversely, the details you like in bedding provide clues to your style personality.

Do you like ruffly sheets? Flowered ones? Striped top sheets and solid bottom sheets? Or all matching yellow sheets? Bright or pastels? Are you drawn to fluffy down blankets or do you prefer coverlets? Stiff pillows or squishy ones? Lots of pillows or few pillows?

Each detail reveals something about you. Even if you aren’t a fan of the “Unmade Bed Look” having a formal bed with relatively stiff covers and few wrinkles allowed says something about your style!

So tell me, how would you describe your style, based on YOUR bed’s look (or better yet, the DREAM look if you could have the look you want?) I can’t wait to find out!

Style Tips: The Unmade Bed Look

My own unmade bed.

I actually DO make the bed every day. I just like the more casual look of a less formally styled bed when it is made.

Photo: Coastal Living online


  1. Irene

    I’m specialised in the unmade-bed-look :)

  2. Crystal

    I love a classic and cozy look…lots of different fabrics and patterns, big fluffy pillows and I always make the bed…not sure what that says about me though. :) Have a happy day!

  3. Virginia

    Oh, Melissa. I now want to return to my bed! I have the creamy, textured coverlet with an English floral bedskirt and the same fabric in 2 European shams. Then more pillows with several fabrics. I always make my bed; BUT it has quite a few fabrics. I have a leopard throw at the foot. I like mixing it up; My room invites me…

  4. Kathleen Grace

    I, like you, have one set of high thread count sheets. My grandmother always had crisp white sheets on her bed and I remember loving the feel of those sheets when I stayed at her house, so I guess myown style is an homage to hers. I like to add beautiful antique embroidered pillowcases for a touch of color and texture, and I have a cream matelasse coverlet on my bed. I think I may add some colorful shams for the summer but havent decided what color since I am still repainting and redoing the room! My favorite thing is to line dry my sheets so they are really crisp and smell like fresh air, ahhhh, with spring here that will happen very soon!

  5. Cindy

    I have three sets of sheets for my bed, one in creamy organic flannel for winter, one creamy high count cotton sheets for summer and one pretty floral print in a high count cotton. I only use the cream colored sheets, the florals were on sale at the cuddledown outlet but I never seem to sleep well on them. Most of the time I wash the sheets and put them back on the bed. For color I have old quilts that I rotate on the foot of the bed, no bedspread, just down comforters and quilts.

  6. rosieswhimsy

    I’m already to crawl back inside my unmade bed! LOL The sun is shining bright but I just can’t seem to get myself moving today. My dark red cotton sheets are calling my name ;-0 Rosie

  7. Diana

    I LOVE the unmade bed look – so comforting and inviting – no frills!

  8. Vee~A Haven for Vee

    Oh noooooo, I love a made bed. It must look soft and cozy and even lumpy, but it must be made.

  9. Melissa

    Hello everyone!

    Vee, I agree. We actually make our bed everyday. I used to be the one to do it but I am so busy now my husband actually does it more often than I do. I cannot function with a literal unmade bed! For years I couldn’t figure that one out, I always felt too busy to make it or thought it was silly since you would unmake it again later. But then I came to realize the value of making the bed every morning. It became a morning ritual. My productivity and energy benefited by seeing it made up (even though I like the more casual look of seeing some coziness, the “unmade bed look” rather than a perfectly made stuffy version).


  10. Little Miss

    I have to make the bed. I get the idea of the sheets peeking out, but with my choices in bed covering, that would mean leaving the bed undone. It makes me feel as if I’ve gone the whole day without showering or dressing. Ewww. I feel undone. I love a nice tidy bed with lots of pillows. I usually have four to six pillows on my bed (and there’s only me) and they mostly go on the floor at night and get put back on in the morning. But I love the look of lots of pillows. It looks cozy. Plus, often, I sit up on my bed with my laptop and coffee and watch TV. You need lots of pillows then too. :) Nice topic.

  11. Melissa

    This is what I love about this topic, our own style comes out in how we make the bed, don’t make the bed, or what we put on our beds! Or how particular we are about the whole process. You really can tell a lot about someone this way, or a lot about yourself if you think about it.

  12. Emily

    I am all about making the bed – it’s a quick easy way to make my room look clean and tidy even if it’s not. Of course, the way the bed is unmade in that photo is NOT how my bed looks unmade! ha ha!

    my bed is just a fitted sheet and duvet. hubby hates a top sheet and i quit fighting him on it since he’d kick it to the floor everynight. soooo unrefined of me.

  13. Jo

    I love your description of your bed. It sounds so nice and inviting. My bed says absolutely nothing about me, except maybe that I am lazy ;-)
    My hubby is so picky that I have given up doing anything in “our” bedroom (I actually don’t like the room much). We only make the bed right after we wash the sheets. Any other time, the covers (dark brown sheets and a green and brown comforter) are bunched up where we left them. If I ever have a chance to make the bed how I want to, I think I would want crisp white cotton sheets (firmly tucked in like my mama used to do for me), and lots of layered quilts and blankets.

  14. Beverly

    I am a huge advocate of an attactive yet cozy bed, but not my mother. She has to have every pillow, sheet and ruffle exactly the way she wants them.

    I, too, have a white iron bed, high thread count sheets, a cashmere cotton blanket and matelasse coverlet. All the linens are a cream color. I get my punch of color from rose tapestry throw pillows. I so love the feel of my sheets when I’m in the bed. I have them in our guest room, too.

  15. Mrs. B

    Fun topic. I love bedding! I am kind of obsessive about making the beds everyday. (It’s one of the few household chores I’m this way about and actually enjoy.) I love how they look when they’re all made. I do usually fold the comforter back so that the sheets and quilt underneath can show. (Does that count as semi-unmade?) I also like lots of pillows. I like a bed that has a mix of textures and patterns. My bed right now is fairly monochromatic (different shades of taupe), but it does have different textures. And I like it to be kind of floofy, not that sort of “hotel” sleek look that seems to be popular now.

  16. megan duerksen

    i am all for the unmade look.
    we just pull up the bedspread in the morning…i mean my just band does…and then i feel guilty so i pull mine up too. and that’s it.
    big soft cushy pillows too. not ones you wouldn’t want to lay on though…just soft and comfy.

    yeah for unmade beds. i think there are 6 in my house right now as it type. :)

  17. hookedonhouses

    What a fun post! I never really thought about this topic before. I have to say my practicality is evident in my need for white sheets, pillowcases, and duvet cover (easy to touch up with bleach pen and wash if the kids climb on with messy hands or something). But I also need the serenity and crisp simplicity of the white in my bedroom visually.

    I don’t mind a (slightly) unmade bed. It looks all the more inviting to fall into if the covers are turned back a bit… -Julia :-)

  18. anne

    I love these pictures. I have to make the bed, I have White duvet covers, one just plain white, and one with burgundy circles on, only small circles, and I have 3 cushions on my bed, one fluffy and one with satin :-)

  19. Mari-Nanci

    Mmmm, well I guess I’m into a not very made look to beds. I prop the pillows in place and pull up what’s covering the bed, in each season. And I do have a pretty, soft, big rosey print on the duvette cover. {I never know if that word refers to the puff it self, or to the cover, on the puff…}

    Easy going, but with that soft pinkness on top. :-)


  20. Fay


    I am an advocate of the not so made bed look.
    It gets the job done and makes the room seem lived in.
    Ya know, I’ve been thinking about new bed linens…cotton, stripes, florals…maybe Ill treat myself this weekend…Thanks for the extra inspiration…. Fay

  21. Courtney

    I totally get you on this, Melissa! In fact, my bedding is totally white and quite casual (just a bit of texture to the white duvet). I have two ancient throw pillows (not good ancient – as in antique – just ancient – as in haven’t spent time or money on my own room anytime recently) that are sort of a taupe Asian-style satin print. But my poor bed is, unfortunately, the poster child for the “unmade” look. I LOVE how it looks when it’s “made” but alas, more often than not, it never gets there. Fun idea for a post, though!

  22. Karla

    Hey Melissa – thanks for stopping by last week! Love your blog – I was going to leave a message – but alas, I hadn’t done any spring fluffing yet, and was left blank…….! So, thought I’d visit today – and it’s perfect – yesterday I just purchased some new sheets for my bed. I love the “un-made” look! It has taken me many years to get my husband to stop making the bed (when he does make the bed…) by pulling the comforter up and over the pillows and then the throw pillows on top of that – – aughhhh!
    I love lots of patterns mixed together on my bed – love the white look, but don’t think I could do it, unless it was a cottage!! Red, taupes, creams and a bit of ming blue is the theme for my bed (inspiration came from Kaari Meng’s bedroom in the “French Inspired Home”).

  23. melissa lewis - off the wall

    I’m so glad to hear that an “un-made” bed is not necessarily a sin, but could even be part of great home decor!!!! Yea! Now, I can let go of all of that guilt of many years of not making the bed every morning.

    I personally, have all white bedding with bright, colorful accent pillows!

  24. Teri

    I iron my sheets and pillow cases and make my bed with hospital corners, which my husband loathes. But I get those quirks honestly! My 103 year old grandmother, insists that a “good house keeper” does four things……..keeps her living room clean, her dishes washed at all time, her floors swept & her bed made properly. I figure one out of four isn’t bad. lol

  25. Pink Dreaming

    I just had to comment because Stoddard is a favorite of mine too!!! With her books, I have really been able to identify what I love and how to incorporate it in my home. Don’t you just hate the fact that you can’t see many pictures of her houses. Her descriptions are just great, i just want a picture! As for my beds, I like to feel like I am on a beachy vacation. I love white, soft airy pillows and all things feminine. I prefer to have the bed made all of the way so that it stays clean and fresh. I guess that is really what I want to feel when I get in to a bed is FRESH!

  26. bj

    I love showing pretty sheets, as well. You saw my very brave posting of my unmade bed after 4 of us slept there and then jumped up and went shopping…Hey…that’s REAL life, don’t ya know!! lol
    hugs, bj

  27. katiedid

    I LOVE my bed. It is a four poster with a caned headboard. I have white shears hanging from all four corners and behind the headboard. All white sheets. White matlisse bespread by Jonathan Adler with an Anthropologie “Chinoiserie” Duvet and Shams for just a tiny bit of color. Sigh…I could stay there all day. And I do make it every day!

  28. Kelli

    I think an unmade bed is cozy and inviting! Like telling you to come under my covers and spend the day with me.

    Your blog is very “inspiring”!! I also love Alexandra Stoddard.

  29. Penny

    I too have only one set of creamy high thread count sheets – and I don’t iron them. I have three quilts on my bed, one is cream colors, one cream with red toile and one red with cream toile. I have two sets of pillows on my bed and one extra throw. I have a sleigh bed that is sort of high off the ground. My bed is very comfy – and the comfort level is what describes me. I want everything around me comfy….no hard lines. I like old, worn comfort…

  30. julia

    Love this post Melissa, I think I will have to post my bed decor soon. Fun idea. I am a make the bed every day kinda girl too, I just cant’ let it go….

  31. Elzie

    I always make our bed. As we only have one floor I think it looks very messy not too.
    And Melissa! You shouldn’t tease us with such a post you did on Monday!! Not nice of you at all LOL.
    Hope you have a great day.
    Love Elzie

  32. Janet~Shabbyfufu

    Glad that you are enjoying the magazine Melissa, my pleasure. Your blog is truly one of my very favorites~so INSPIRING! I sheepishly admit to NOT making the bed every day, as once I am out of it I hardly ever go back into that room until it’s time to climb back in! ~XO~ Janet

  33. sandy mctier

    I have to admit ~ I’m a bed maker – don’t like them unmade. I used to load them up with pillows and shams and you name it it was there but it looked to formal for us so I changed it to a few pillows a turned under duvet cover and that’s about it.
    Hope you are having a great week.
    PS I’m having my 300th post giveaway -hope you’ll pop on over and check it out.

  34. Tricia

    If I did not make the bed I would be tempted to get back in I think;-)

  35. Catherine

    We are a lot alike when it come to bedding. I have one set of sheets, mainly because I live in an old house which doesn’t have much storage for extras. My sheets and matelesse are white too. Thanks for the tips!

  36. cathy

    Let’s see, today my cherry, four poster bed has sage gingam sheets with a co ordinating floral pillowcase, topped with a white cotton blanket and on top of that a cream mateleese scalloped coverlet and on top of that…. a more formal taupe, rose, green floral woven tapestry type comforter that I fold back to see some of the layers, and a beige fluffy afghan on that, with 5 coordinating pillows….love, love, love linens!!! I love a slightly undone look, so I can see the different fabrics peeking out!

  37. Teresa

    I am a tailored romantic, too…I MUST be…b/c I am definetly a wordy person…and I don’t iron my sheets…but I do make the bed…as for pillows…I am particular about the one I sleep on…actually I sleep with two pillows…something I got used to while pregnant…uh…and yea …that was over 25 years ago!! I am currently in the process of designing and building a new home…but the colors I have chosen to use in our new bedroom will be soothing, soft and a haven for relaxation!

    Wanted to stop by and “THANK YOU” for leaving such a sweet comment on my blog about my daughters new business venture into photography…you may want to keep checking her site…or blog…she has added etsy…and I think she will be having a give a way…soon…of one of her vintage or alpha series photos!

  38. Sandy

    Hi Melissa! Yip! I can’t crawl into my bed at night unless it’s made.
    Fun post! Hope you are soaring this week … xo

  39. Terri

    Like you, I love a simple bed made up with fine linens that I wash and put back on! I like some pillows but not too many to be a bother. There is something about me that really likes a plain bed – great linens, great pillows, but one that does not look lavish. Just a nice bedspread pulled up right over the pillows like my Mom used to do. WIth maybe a decorative pillow on top. Extreme beds turn me off!

    Hope you are well! I am so far behind on your (as always gorgeous) posts!

  40. this is glamorous

    I photograph my unmade bed all the time–I love the way it looks with the sunlight streaming through–the photographs always come out beautifully. Of course, I do make it, but I love way it looks unmade. The sheets–extremely high thread-count, Egyptian cotton, extremely “foofy” :) with a duvet, meaning unbridled romanticism, I would guess?

  41. A Fanciful Twist

    HI!!!!! I am well again!! :))) Wellllll, my mom taught me that no matter what, in life, you must always make concesions to have good towels and good lovely bedding. Nice sheets etc. etc. So, I think my most favorite luxurious places in the world are my two beds. One in the city, on in the country. And, I have to say, they are almost always unmade, but don’t bother me, because, I do loove looking at all of the layers…. I LOVe this!!! I am going to bed now!! 7:05 p.m., here I come bed!! hee heee xoxoox

  42. Sally

    We are a “made bed family” I hate going out in the morning if the beds aren’t made. I am very grateful I have trained my children well and they also don’t leave the house with beds unmade. Sally

  43. Annie

    Speaking of beds, what’s the correct recipe for headboards and footboards? If the room is average size, and there are 2 twin beds in it, should footboards be used? Does the bed look finished without a footboard? I’m thinking head and footboards planted on the floor keep the bed from scooting around on the wheels that come on those frames. Know what I mean? This question has held me up for longer than I want to admit, but the time has come to finish up this room. Does anyone have input on this? Oh, and as far as made or unmade…I like to make it and turn it back, so all the pretty layers show, and it’s ready for bedtime.

  44. Melissa

    Hi Annie, I’ll try and answer your question. My son has two twin beds in his room. They were my grandma’s beds and they only have a headboard, no foot board. If I could choose, I would always choose a headboard and some sort of foot board, even if it is short. I do think it makes the bed look finished and keeps the bedding from falling of the end of the bed. I think if the room is not very big perhaps using shorter foot boards makes sense. And, solid headboards and foot boards would also help with that scooting problem.

  45. Sher's Creative Expressions

    Gee, and here I thought my two girls coined the phrase “the unmade bed look.”



  46. Villa Anna

    I must say some beds look better unmade than others lol. Rachel Ashwell is also a speacialist in the unmade bed look.
    I love it. So cosy and relaxing.

    Anna :)

  47. Elizabeth

    I love any bed that looks unlike mine. My morning routine goes like this; get up, swing off bed, turn around, grab duvet, yank high over muddled sheets and pillows, head for shower. Yeah, pretty much anything that looks better than that. :)

  48. Jrizzo

    Oh Good! I’m right in style!
    Jen R

  49. Raised In Cotton

    I just love crisp white sheets that have been hung outside in the Summer breeze. Sprinkled with a little fresh linen scent~sigh~sweet dreams:)


  50. Tru

    Bedroom Style: I must be practical but romantic;
    Everything REQUIRES dark coverings because I romantically cling to two very large dogs living with us in a 35′ trailer. Blessing, the newfy who currently pulls my wheelchair spends most of her indoor time (including muddy-morning paws) on the WELL-COVERED bed because there’s no room on the floor since Hero, who retired from pulling my wheelchair because of severe arthritis, takes most of the room on the “living room” floor. Since there is only 18″ around the bed, we don’t have headboard or footboard. Almost everything is hand-me-down so there’s not a lot of choice in style. But… on the back of the couch is the focal point of our trailer, a beautiful quilt that a friend made me last year when I changed my name to Truthful Loving Kindness, with a pillowcase that my grandmother embroidered protecting the section that the sun shines onto. It would be suitable for a wall hanging if we had a wall to hang it on :-) ! So I show off my wonderful bedding in the living space!
    -Tru, and Blessing, the wheelchair Service Dog

  51. Terri Steffes

    I would love to see more of this look. I have a four poster cherry bed and I think it might not look right to have a more casual look. What do you think?

  52. Melissa

    LOVING this!

    Ok, now, Terri, with your bed situation and the question you posed…I think you could get away with a more casually put together bed even with a more formal cherry four poster! Sometimes it is the mix of the two that makes something so charming! Maybe not literally “unmade” (I don’t recommend that for anyone really, most days!), but sweet ruffly sheets folded over a coverlet, quilts piled at the end, maybe some cottage shams, SURE you can do all of that with a more formal bed! As long as your room looks pulled together it will look intentional and GREAT! :-)

  53. Sweet Cottage Dreams

    I will confess…I have a thing about made beds. It is the first thing I do when I get up. Like another person said, if I don’t make the bed I feel like I haven’t done something I should have during the day. I blame my mother – she would come in and literally rip the bed apart if it wasn’t made just perfectly. Little drill sergeant – yup, she was. I have layers of pillows and like layering vintage bedspreads or crochet pieces at the foot of the bed. I guess I am just opposite – have to have it made just so. Again, blame my mom! She would also write “dust me” on my dresser! ha


  54. M&Co

    I hate the unmade bed look or at least the truly unmade bed look …however this is usually what I end up with…. My husband and I work at different hours, and I have not trained him well enough to expect a made bed when I arrive home ;-)
    My dream bedding would be crisp white, with high thread count and monogrammed letters in dark brown, and a brown quilt throw….I think that would look really nice with my brown walls, dark wooden floor and white window frames….mmm dreaming ;-)

  55. this is glamorous

    p.s. Melissa, did you notice the unmade bed in my Venice post? Really does add to the romantic feel . . .

  56. Jaime

    Well, since you sent me over here I have to tell you that I HATE unmade beds. The first thing I do in the morning when I get out of bed is make it, before I even put my glasses or my pants on. And sometimes, because I hate feeling lost in the sheets, I’ll get up int he middle of the night and make the bed, then get back in it. My boyfriend thinks I’m nuts.

    Jaimes inspiring blog post..Tuna FAIL

  57. Jolie

    I love a fluffy made bed because it feels so fresh when you crawl into it. Almost as if the sheets were washed for you while you were away. Also I think pulling back the covers of a made bed gives more of that comfortable, “Ah, I finally get to go to bed now,” feeling.

  58. Lorilee

    I like the bed made. That way it feels more special to get into again at night!

    Lorilees inspiring blog post..Comforting Noise

  59. Oscar

    Bed: done. Simple cover. Straight. Flat. No pillows. No clutter. Just clean lines. Message: everything’s ok. The day has started with the right foot. Let’s move forward.

  60. century mill

    Hi annie
    Sorry i have to DISAGREE, A bed should be made so it tidy,it can still be inviting.If a beds not made in a morning all sorts of things can get in it during the day LOL…………{}



  1. Master Bedroom Bedding: A Reader Poll - [...] awhile ago, we discussed whether or not you all like the “unmade bed look.” It was fun to read…

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