Why it's important to get your pillows right.

April 28, 2018

I am utterly delighted to return to the Belle magazine fold, where I began my career back in the 1980s, following a stint at its sister publication Australian House & Garden, to Belle as interior design coordinator where I quickly became interior design editor where I stayed until the mid-1990s when a newspaper career beckoned. I am thrilled to be writing a new Style Etiquette page for the country’s most prestigous lifestyle magazine on the art of living well, starting with bedrooms – the place we begin and end each day. 

Your bedroom is the most private room in the house, and it should be the most personal. Your bed should feel like the ultimate sanctuary and make you happy every time you get into it. 

Show-off-y beds are a thing of the past

You want to create a place for slumber, that looks beautiful, yet also cultivates a state of serenity.

A bedroom doesn’t need much

Just a bed with a proper bedhead, a comfortable chair, bedside tables, and lamps, and enough storage. Pick very few objects and place them exactly.

Look for quality bedding

Feel is everything. Bed linen and quilts have to be irresistibly tactile and soft. Go for practical neutrals in white and off-whites and a variety of natural fibres: cotton, linen and wool, that you can plunge your fingers – and body – into.

Basix Linen lightweigh quilt backed with sable linen by Hale Mercantile Co, 160cm x 240cm, in three colours, Fog, Nox or Ayrton, $799,

Don’t mix too many patterns

Or florals. Unless you want your bedroom to look like a garden.

Get the right pillows

By all means keep your favourite pillow – the flat, squashy one you’ve been carting around since childhood because it lulls you to sleep – but also invest in a pair of beautiful goose down pillows that are plump and make your bed look welcoming.

Should pillows lie flat or not?

Do you lay them flat or prop them against the bedhead. Propped pillows tend to get a bad rap for looking like you fuss too much. Laying your pillows like a stack of flat pancakes is the posh British way; popping them up like soldiers is the American standard. Leading Australian designers tend to use a pair of pillows that lie flat combined with a couple of upright European pillows propped at the front. We agree.

Santa Maria Novella Melograno Terracotta Pomegranate, S90, Dunlin Home, 1800 649 586,

Bin Pillows That Don’t Bounce Back

The ultimate test to find out if you should replace your pillow? Fold it in half and if it doesn’t spring back into shape it’s probably past its prime. Keep only those which are fresh, fluffy, comfy and make you happy.

Fitted sheets are passé

Forget fitted sheets and opt for a big, flat sheet around the mattress. Mattresses are all different depths. Fitted sheets never fit properly and never look good. Buy a flat sheet that’s a size larger than your mattress and tuck it tightly around the mattress. With square hospital corners, that are tight and smooth. The secret is to position the centre of the sheet over your bed.

Top sheet or not?

You don’t really need a top sheet. Consider, stuffing a doona inside a duvet cover and letting the cover do the job of a sheet. By eliminating the top sheet, you’ll be able to make your bed faster, and more easily, in the morning. You can still tuck in square corners.

‘Five Star Hotel’ Egyptian cotton pillowcases, four sizes available, Hotel Luxury Collection, $125 a standard pair,

Let’s talk duvet size

There isn’t a standard size for duvet inserts; you can’t just buy ‘queen’ or ‘king’. Measure your duvet cover, and buy a doona that is atleast 10 to 15 centimetres larger. Big beats small: it will look generous, cosy and serve you well.  

Don’t make a bedroom oppressively feminine

Avoid too many pinks, chintz fabrics and a mountain of cushions of the bed – they scare men. The era of your husband/boyfriend having to throw 17 tiny pillows onto the floor to get into bed is over.

Meridian Lauren bed, POA, Cavit & Co,

Small things can have a big impact

Try a pair of bespoke cushions in a luxe velvet of embossed silk.

Mix It Up

For an added layer of warmth and comfort, consider a lightweight quilt or throw for the end of your bed. A range of sizes is good.

Dim the lights

A dimmer switch is vital if you have overhead lighting, otherwise you can just rely on lamps and candles – which make you (and your bedroom) look beautiful. Soft lighting disguises all kinds of flaws, creating atmosphere, movement and shadows on walls. Magic.

Put Your Odds and Ends in Their Place  

Don’t let your detritus take over your bedroom: stow electronics, loose pocket change, and other odds and ends elsewhere (or in your bedside table); your bedroom should be a clean slate.

YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE COLUMN in BELLE, MAY ISSUE, on sale now (page 59) – where you’ll also see our interior design pal, Lynda Kerry’s latest Sydney house, also written by us. 


related stories


Don’t miss the style set’s fave newsletter

Get Melissa's weekly rundown of where top interior designers source their things and find inspiration - that will instantly transform your pad.

Close and please don't show again