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Put Your Décor Worries to Bed
London Free Press - March 13, 2010

Other sections may offer advice on having fun between the sheets, but this is a look at how to have fun on top of them, decorating with bedding on a budget.

Three stagers/decorators give tips on getting more bang for your buck with bed linens, creating looks for different seasons or tips on how to spice it up.

"Layer, layer, layer," said Frances Kennedy, owner of The Suite Retreat at Divine Madness in Port Stanley. "Layering is the cheapest possible way to create a lux look in a bedroom."

You can layer with different patterns and solid colours, or by unfolding some of the linens to reveal hidden ones underneath.

The concept is familiar to fashionistas who mix and match clothing separates to get the most versatility from their wardrobes.

Kennedy says the same idea works for the bedroom.

By mixing up a couple of sets of sheets, with a variety of duvet covers, pillows, shams and throws, you can create luxurious looks simply and inexpensively.

She started with a set of blue sheets and white sheets, a reversible comforter, a couple of throws and four pillows, and created at least seven different looks.

"You should be able to change your look for about $30 each season," she says.

The comforter is reversible: chocolate brown on one side, light blue, cream and taupe paisley pattern on the other. Adding a dark brown throw and pillow shams, gives a warm, welcoming winter style. Flipping it to the lighter print, showing the white sheets and switching throws, takes the look to spring and summer. Kennedy also adds bright green pillowcases for a fresh spring look. Replacing the blue pieces with red, produced a Valentine's candy box look with chocolate, cream and red.

"I'm always collecting standard pillowcases," Kennedy said. It's cost-effective. You can stagger them for different effects. You can put one inside another." The "nested" cases can be contrasting colours, giving a fancy border effect, or one with eyelet trim peaking out from a pattern or solid case.

"Take two slips, one lacy and one tailored, and you've created a custom look," she said.

"You can create a boutique hotel look - cleaner, tailored - without having to buy expensive sheets with border trim. You can get the same look by layering white sheets and slips with coloured ones."

Kennedy suggests spending your money on quality sheets because they are what you feel against your skin. Then add less expensive coverlets, throws and duvet covers on top.

"Put your money on the higher thread-count sheets. You can find flat sheets on sale for $10 and cases 2 for $10."

She also advises to look around the house for pillows, throws and fabric. "The things I buy will function as a bedcovering, picnic runner, throw on a chair or shower curtain. Buy fabrics you like. If the colour works with your palette, it will work."

Louise Short, owner of A First Impression Professional Home Staging Services in London, created two looks, one more formal with a winter palette, the other brighter and lighter for spring. "I wanted it to be colourful and fresh," she said.

Starting with white sheets and pillowcases, she chose a comforter and accent pillows with a bold poppy print. The red and black from the print give a pop of energy to the whole room.

"I used lots of pillows for a dreamy look," Short said. "You can embellish existing cushions with beading and fringe or wrap with scarves to create a different look.

"Fold back the comforter to show the sheets and add a throw at the end of the bed for a cozy look."

Short said you don't need an expensive bed frame and headboard.

She used a piece of wrought-iron art to pick up the black from the linens.

"You could also use two medium- or one large-sized piece of art. Just don't hang them too high," she said. "You could also cover a piece of plywood with batting and fabric. Staple the fabric to the back of the board."

Short said it's important to include a bed skirt. "You don't want to see under the bed or the bed frame." She added a feminine touch with an eyelet skirt to complement the floral print.

She also likes to change the bedding to suit the season. "I like earth tones that are warm and inviting in the winter and fresh, bright colours in the summer."

Her winter bedroom uses touches of gold for a sumptuous retreat. "It's more formal, so I added lots of gold to bring a bit of bling to the room, to make it look richer."

The art above the bed links all the colours. Short started with the same white sheets, but the upper layers are in the richer palette.

She also arranged the pillows in a stacked formation instead of piling them against the wall. She suggests doing this in different bedrooms so all your rooms don't look the same.

The bedside tables are actually tray tables, chosen to lighten the room and give a more contemporary feel.

"You don't have to spend a fortune on end tables," she said. Pick three items, of different heights, for each table. "Candles and flowers make the room more romantic and give a peaceful retreat feel."

The black tables she used in the spring room, came from Giant Tiger and are topped with tulips from the Real Canadian Superstore.

"You don't need to go to high-end stores to get a really nice look."

Karen McMillan, owner of Best Dressed Homes, transformed a pretty, but pretty ho-hum look into something fresh.

"I wanted to go from winter blah to spring bling," she said.

She also chose the eye-popping poppy print, but added a bright green for accent. Small pillows in green with wood button trim and a green throw bring a sense of a blossoming garden.

A mix of accent pillows creates interest through a variety of pattern and scale.

The throw can be draped across the end of the bed, folded at the foot or tucked under the duvet and sheets. Extra texture adds to the overall effect, and is a practical accessory.

Duvets and comforters can change like a chameleon with a new cover or a co-ordinating flip side. They simplify bed-making too - shake in place on top and go. Folding down a corner or across the top to reveal sheets or the contrasting side also creates a quick, easy new look.

To anchor pillows at the head of the bed, you need a headboard that balances them visually. You also need colour at the foot of the bed in a throw or folded coverlet.

If you don't have a headboard, hang large, bold pieces of art at the same height as the top edge of the pillows.

A word of caution: don't make a mountain of pillows on the bed. Four are enough, with some toss cushions. Try a playful rhythm of prints to lighten the look.

Janis Wallace is a London writer

Karen McMillan’s look

Floral duvet cover, $60 (Bouclair)
White sheets, pillow cases, $40 Real Canadian Superstore
Green pillows with wood button trim; white pillow with metal studs, $17 each (Bouclair)
Green throw, $20 (Bouclair)

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