This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

The School with Megan Morton - Dressing A Bed

20th March, 2012
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 -

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email