The School with Megan Morton – Dressing A Bed

by Jenny Butler
Tuesday 20th March 2012

After a very warm welcome yesterday (thanks you guys!) Megan Morton is back, today focusing on some of the essentials in dressing a bed. There are so many hot tips and tricks in this post from MM- most of which you could implement today! Can you imagine how much fun it would be exploring this further at The School?!-Jenny x

MUSIC TO ACCOMPANY TODAY’S POST: Guilty by Yann Tiersen. ‘One of my favourite scenes in Amelie is watching Amelie Poulain in her bedroom with divine deep red walls and those wonky bedside lamps that finish at totally different heights. One of my favourite songs of the film is this one. I love the scratchy gramophone.  It seems fitting we can consider our own guilty pleasures when it comes to our linen preference for the master bedroom. We will also learn to pronounce a lovely French term in today’s post too, so I had to play French today!  Speaking of bedrooms and guilty special spaces, I am working on a bedroom for a client that is sooooo special. Four walls of bird and botanical wallpaper with hits of raspberry and grey. I get giddy thinking about it. Guilty.’ – Megan

Beci Orpin’s bed!  Photograph by Jason Busch, styled by Megan Morton / Room Images.

I would like to break this up into winter and summer bed as I am of the opinion, that in Australia you can get away with two different set ups. So this keeps the inner stylist in you happy – you can nab two very different bed set ups without risking too much.  Also, unless you’re in a studio or host loads of people in the bedroom(!), its a major playing room that isn’t seen by the general visiting public.  It’s the place to go somewhere you might not be brave enough to go in other, more public, rooms.  Take it up a notch, or down a ladder rung.

Personally, I have made my own bedroom so well serviced with everything I like/need, I could basically leave the house via my bedroom window. And if it didn’t give the wrong message to visitors/the children, I would have a padlock on my door as well, as I love it in there so much. But I have also had vile bedrooms so I know the difference between a functioning space to sleep and a place to totally escape to and be a better you in.

So now I am going to advise you – and it’s up to you to insert your preferences here (Cool hotel like sheeting? Supima cotton for you then. Waxy and a little bit scrunchy and relaxed? Pure linen for you then). I like to, no matter if they used or not, start any bed off with two Euro’s behind. To my eye, they are a noble statement and for anyone with an Etsy or french eBay fetish, perfect for mock temporary back support when you are pretending you are reading serious matters. I also, personally, like the dignity a bedhead gives. So a pair of Euro pillows helps to visually break up the bed head, especially if it’s in a solid material or colour. Who cares if you spend an extra 30 seconds removing it before you actually get into bed?  Your eyeballs will thank you and make up for lost time with visual pleasantries.  As I share my bed with an English person who went to boarding school since age 7, his bed-making skills are gold sticker standard, so I abuse this and have four standard pillows for him to place neatly in front of the two standing Euro’s behind, for me to come in and slightly tweak and loosen when he goes on to tidy the kitchen.

I like to then have a single feature cushion to throw in the middle. Like a bullseye that has missed, just slightly off the dead centre – this way you can always be on the look out for other round / cute / charming / square feature cushions, as you put them out to lounge or second bedroom rotation when your bedroom eyes are bored with them. And anyone who has a can’t-help-it-cushion-buying fetish will know about this. I actually divide the total RRP of any feature cushion by 4. You can use on the bed, then move to chair in bedroom for usage number 2. Three is for the lounge when you’re done with it in the bedroom, and four is the potential of framing extra special ones when you’re sick of looking at them below waist height all together.

Photograph by Jason Busch, styled by Megan Morton / Room Images.

I have made beds for clients for decades. I actually believe in the power of a restorative bedroom.  I have worked with the best linen money can buy, as well as the sheeting that should be illegal due to its toxic mix and fabrication. I have taken sheets with me to the South of France and photographed them doing things like masquerading as bakery window curtains, flying off mock flagpoles, draped over tee pee’s and the like. In all this time, I have never ONCE found a nice valance. Crazy but true. So what to do?

Well of course, there is custom, but if the client doesn’t want to spend another thousand dollars, I have personally gone to the fitted sheet section and made my own fitted bedskirt. I am a person who favours an ensemble base with a bed head top, so it leaves me with an exposed mattress with those sad little roller wheels. I don’t like ready-to-buy valances that touch the floor and have dust collecting side tuck splits. So instant – Voila!  A fitted sheet is priced significantly lower than a valance or bed skirt anyway.

Last winter I did black and white ticking fitted sheet/valance for a home spun, cosy treatment with matching striped single pillowcases. It was wonderful. This summer I did solid raspberry fitted sheet/valance with a tangerine duvet and a yellow blanket for a situation that can only be described as sleeping in an Italian sorbet. Heavenly. I have recently found flannelette sheeting in celadon green and plan to use it for the winter coming as a treat against new white Frank and Mint top sheet, and grey Castle velvet pillowslips. Oh dear God, can you even begin to imagine how that will look? I need to park that thought – it’s almost too good for words.  Endlessly versatile, the fitted sheet can highlight a contrast or be camouflaged into the bed as a whole, by sticking to a plain white, or neutral. And we can only dream how you could take this further even into ombre* territory, the one colour but variety of its shades from top to bottom.

Let’s get back to the bed and out from under it because we all know the good bit is what you put on the top. Although I am an advocate of the piled high bed and an eiderdown collector (especially in any shades of powder blue), for real life (not styling life) I do think anymore than two layers is a little silly. Even for your winter bed. Instead of piling high the blankets, which is the visual bed equivalent of bag lady, slip a second, thicker doona into the duvet cover. Sometimes in styling land, I slip three in (with large safety pins at ends to keep them all together) for that really puffy sleeping-on-clouds look. Insane, yet true. And sometimes in real life I put three doonas in Giles’ doona cover as a winter surprise for my dear Englishman.

Come summer, I like to sleep in cotton as pure as I can afford, and this is where I turn to hospital corner sides and experiment with gelati style colours, and present the bed sans doona or top blanket.  I defend my position vigorously when people poke fun at my job, or laugh at the seriousness with which I approach professional bed-making. There is a lot of “Are you serious?!?” And to that I say – ‘I am totally (and very!) serious’, as I know that when I come home from a super busy day and see my delectable coloured linen perfectly placed on the bed, my eyes are rewarded and I literally just fall into it.  Making your bed beautifully in the morning is a bit like morning exercise – if you do it, the real rewards are reaped at the end of the day.

I know it may seem hypocritical of me given I style images that sell bed linen as complete sets, but we all know that’s a little bit like wearing head to toe Gorman/Miu Miu/Prada (insert your favourite all time designer here). It’s easy, it requires very little thinking, but it’s also prescriptive. Sure, I like to get around in head to toe Marni any day of the week, but I like it all the more when I consider it with other things of vintage or mixed pedigree. I like to take the base piece from one bed collection, and layer it to fit my fantasy.  This can mean an intermixing of textures, colours and patterns. This is also a great way to build a fabulously versatile linen press. Buy on sale, or whenever the fever strikes and add, edit and subtract a multitude of options.

I will say one thing, try if you can to launder those of the same variety in the same load so they all age/wear together, especially pertinent if you have a thing for grey linen like I do. Two washes on sunny/not so sunny days and a change of washing powder preference and the set is almost unrecognisable.

Megan x

*Ombre is french word meaning shading, so in interior terms that is the presentation of gradual stages of the one colour in the one space. So great. Want to say it properly? Visit here – http://french.about.com/library/media/wavs/ombre.wav

by Jenny Butler
Tuesday 20th March 2012


  • Siobhan 5 years ago

    Not a fan of the complete set! Totally agree – when I make quilts I never never use the same range

  • Jen 5 years ago

    I read this in bed, then went to Castle website, and, how perfect is this, i could see what colours looked best because all around my laptop was my headboard, sheets and pillow slips!
    Mid grey and Yellow velvet. beautiful song choice… i love that scene.

  • Harriet 5 years ago

    Seriously the best guest blogger ever! It’s like we all get to be inside Megan’s head for a moment!
    As a devotee of the Euro (and attender of Euro-pillowcase-hoarding-anonymous), I’d weirdly never thought to put the standard pillows in front of the Euros. Off to switch them now.
    Currently we have a tangerine top sheet, a cyclamen pink cotton hospital blanket and euro covers that I made from a 50s crazy quilt .
    …and I too share a bed and life with the product of an English boarding school, but his hospital corners only come out on special occasions.

  • Monique Germon 5 years ago

    Is everyone playing MM’s music choice whilst reading each post? I’m absolutely melting over this super fusion of word & sound. So very satisfying – the synesthesia folk amongst us will most certainly ‘swoon’. Typical of MM to arouse as many senses as possible……

  • lexi 5 years ago

    I am hungry for more. Ravenous even. But I’ve eaten breakfast. What’s a gal to do? Come back tomorrow for more I guess.

    My question for Megan today is: my husband and I have tussles over the bed. I like a fully fledged properly made bed, with fitted sheet, then flat sheet, then blanket, then quilt/doona. But my husband, well he’s a different kettle of fish. He wants to sleep with just a fitted sheet and a doona. It has been the bane of our bedroom existence for SIX – almost SEVEN years!

    Marriage counselling aside – what to do?

  • Megan 5 years ago

    easy. You enter into a visual farce. So, to the outside world you make bed up with your doona and associated dressings on top, but underneath Mr Lexi’s bedding sits under. Then when it comes to sleep time, your own dressings are sought and both happy. No one will know you are perfect in everyday for one another, except in the bedding department!!!

  • Kate 5 years ago

    This post with the ‘music to play while listening’ is just brilliant so well done I read the whole thing! Of course I read it because it was totally worth it – great advice and easy to read thanks Megan

  • Melissa Simonetta 5 years ago

    I love doing a mix of patterns and colours and prints on my bed too! (and the 2 euro + 4 standard + throws!)
    I have now even trained my boyfriend, when he makes the bed, to mix up the throw cushions he uses so it’s a little happy surprise for each of us when we go to bed!!

  • margie 5 years ago

    gasp! I do something MM does!! The fitted sheet valance thing was a revelation to me… And the mixed linen press… well, I found a home organisation tip from MarthaStewart.com a while back, that suggested storing the linen sets in one of the pillowcases. I thought it was such a great idea, until I looked at my linen and saw how few sets I actually have. Mixology rules!

  • pen 5 years ago

    yay for us!
    two weeks running- a vintage tea towel cushion last week……
    our scarf/wool quilt on lovely Beci’s bed this week!

  • Shelley 5 years ago

    I too have used the fitted sheet as valance but my question Megan is what about the roller wheels that can still be seen? Am I doing something wrong?
    Can you blog everyday? This is the only one I’ve read from top to bottom in a long time. Loved it!

  • fiona 5 years ago

    this made me long for winter days reading in bed… a thick novel followed by a the squish of small bodies and Dr Seuss

  • kathryn 5 years ago

    I’m very interested in the fitted sheet as valance…sounds fabulous….but what happens to the wheels??


  • jane frosh stylist 5 years ago

    Am totally loving the music choice with the post. this should be compulsory!! now I need to go and make my bed again! XX

  • Lisa 5 years ago

    I really love the blanket/quilt in first photo…can I please ask where it is from? You are very clever.

  • Megan 5 years ago

    Lisa, Beci’s charming bedspread is from penny durston at cottage industry in melbourne. To Catherine and Shelley, I preface this with, I ama Virgo. I had my heels moved down so they aren’t so visible. This is why I also love dark floors in bedrooms, as the eye doesn’t register the wheels with the dark on dark.

  • Lucy 5 years ago

    OH MY such great discussion thankyou MM and everyone!

    Alsooo re: the wheels, you can remove them and buy little very small rubber ‘feet’ for your bed which screw in exactly where the wheels were and are nearly invisible… just lifting your base a smidgen off the ground to give you that nice shadow line without the ugly caster (and who wants a bed that rolls around anyway)

    My BF buys these little inventions from furniture hardware wholesalers (such as Hafele) but for everyday shopping I think perhaps Bunnings has them…

  • Amanda 5 years ago

    I am so going to use that divide the RRP by 4 maths whenever it comes to all cushion purchases from now on!
    I have one other tip that I use at home, Virgo that I am too – I have the ‘dressing’ pillowcases, which I’ve trained my husband to remove each night to reveal the ‘sleeping on’ pillowcases. In the morning the ‘dressing’ pillowcases go back on. That way, the pillowcases showing during the day are always looking their freshest, and it gives them a longer life too.

  • beci 5 years ago

    what a surprise to see my bed up here this morning! a nice one of course. loving loving LOVING your genius MM. i wish it were for longer too.

  • Megan 5 years ago

    Oh people, how could I not mention the doona – printed – that I actually think is so beyon great. The LUI at aura. Think diagonal striped in handsome colours and gives that perfect a,lung of quirk to any bed. So great tracie ellis. Gold stars in those wonderful stripes! Grosgrain trimmed too!

  • Lauren 5 years ago

    I love our bed so much that I actually took a photo of it and sent to to mum and those friends that understand too. We just bought a new bed with upholstered bedhead and base in a soft grey/lilac fabric and I bought some HAY bedlinen online which is AMAZING!!! Obsessed with all things HAY. http://www.hay.dk/#/site/products/textiles/colour-block

  • Kate 5 years ago

    Love your energy MM! Your words & music are sublime. Perf timing too coz I’m revamping our bedroom at mo (altho I’m holding off buying sheets til Castle releases her linen spots…) can I ask where you got your oh so perfect faded denim shirt? I’ve been on a so far fruitless journey to find one! Thank you!

  • Megan 5 years ago

    Kate. Oh yes castle has many lovely things in store! My shirt is from uniqlo, in london.I have seen similar at diesel/seed for women. I really love light denim, it’s so daggy but oh-so-good and feels great on skin. Millicent Rogers is one of my hero’s and she wore one with intricate long skirts and loads of Mexican jewellery to great effect.

  • Kate 5 years ago

    Thank you for inspiring answer!!

  • Annabel 5 years ago

    Megan, not only thanks for imparting your great style tips, thank you for making me laugh out loud with your writing. As I sit on the couch with my poor teething baby on my chest you are providing endless pleasure. I love love homelove and look forward to your second book.

  • michelle 5 years ago

    can we have the answers to all your questions from Monday?


  • megan 5 years ago

    Hey Michelle, maybe I am missing something but I just checked the q’s from Monday and I cant seem to see any not answered. please send through what ever it is you would like to discuss. regards, megan

  • michelle 5 years ago

    “My favourite upholsterer? How I get my dark floors so rich and handsome without a tinge of chestnut or noir? Best distance your TV should be from your lounge for optimal viewing?”

    Hi Megan, maybe I missed but I only saw the floors – also do you have a view on a high bench blocking the site line into a kitchen? so bench, 20/30cm of wall, topping bench

    cheers M

  • Megan 5 years ago

    Oh those where suggested questions I put forward not actual! Regarding the kitchen bench – if it was a situation with a messy kitchen I would definitely have it higher. Only a fairly neat household can manage to keep a lower bench visually tidy. I also think that I personally would rather see things on a bench top rather than the more pragmatic things o a

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