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How To Make a Bed: A Complete Guide to Bedding Types, Sizes, and Dimensions
In This Article
In this article
When it comes to creature comforts, few purchases are more important than your mattress and bedding. Whether sleeping or simply relaxing, the time you spend in bed should be the ultimate escape. Your mattress should support your body while cushioning your joints and relieving pressure, and your bedding should soothe your skin and keep you at the perfect temperature. You can also add style to your sleep sanctuary through your bedding and bed accessories.
This article explores all the different types of bedding, their purposes, and their dimensions. Together, these guides cover everything you need to know to build the ultimate bed for maximum sleep comfort.
Bedding Types, Sizes, and Dimensions
Depending on the climate, season, and your personal comfort preferences, your ideal bed may have three bedding layers, seven, or somewhere in between. A bed with the bare basics includes your bed frame, mattress, a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, a comforter, pillows, and pillowcases.
To add comfort, warmth, mattress protection, and style, you can add an infinite number of bedding layers. To help you decide what to include in your bed setup, we’ve compiled a list of the most common bedding types and styles. Our list starts with the uppermost layer and ends with the (optional) bed skirt that hides a bed frame.
Shoppers should know that bedding doesn’t come in uniform dimensions. Bedding companies design pieces for specific mattress sizes, but their exact measurements vary from brand to brand.
To give shoppers a sense of each bedding type’s general sizing, we gathered product measurements from an assortment of popular bedding brands. The following charts show dimension ranges for bedding items from Bed Threads, Brooklinen, Casper, Coyuchi, Cozy Earth, Frette, Parachute, Saatva, Tuft & Needle, West Elm, and of course, Nolah's bamboo bedding.
Throw Blankets and Coverlets
Many style-forward shoppers like to top off their bed with a folded throw blanket or coverlet.
This piece serves fashion and function. It adds some dimension to your bed and gives you a single layer to cuddle up in if you’re just lounging and don’t want to mess up the rest of your bedding.
People typically choose lightweight fabrics with unique textures, patterns, or bold colors for this bed accessory. Any throw blanket can function as a coverlet, and you can choose any size depending on how you want to style this decorative textile. When selecting a coverlet, keep in mind the width of your mattress and how far you want the blanket to hang over the edges.
Pillowcases and Shams
Before we can talk about pillowcase and sham options, we have to discuss pillows themselves. We’ll focus on pillow sizing below.
Pillow Size Guide
You can decorate your bed with throw pillows of all shapes and sizes, but you’ll also need regular bed pillows for proper support while you sleep.
Bed pillows usually come in similar sizes, often categorized as standard, queen, or king. The table below shows the width and length measurement ranges for the bedding brands we mentioned at the top of the article that also sell pillows.
Pillows not only vary in length and width, but loft as well. In the pillow business, “loft” refers to the thickness and firmness, determined by the type and amount of filling the pillow contains.
Here’s where pillow shopping gets a bit tricky. Depending on your physique and sleep position, you’ll need more or less loft from your pillow. For example, side sleepers tend to like firm pillows about 4 to 6 inches tall, whereas stomach sleepers often choose medium-firm pillows with the flattest profile available.
What’s The Difference Between Pillowcases and Shams?
Stylized beds typically feature two standard bed pillows that maximize support and two or more decorative pillows. People generally use thin, comfortable pillowcases for their standard pillows and thicker, ornamental shams for decorative ones.
Pillowcases usually match your sheets and come in a set. What is a bed sham? shams match or complement your comforter and may come with that. Since you don’t lie directly on your pillow shams, they don’t need a comfort-forward design and often have frills, buttons, or unique textures.
When shopping for pillowcases or shams, check their dimensions to ensure your pillows will fit within. It is also important to know how often should you get a new pillow and to consider their care instructions (for example, whether or not you can machine wash them).
When shopping for pillowcases or shams, check their dimensions to ensure your pillows will fit within. It is also important to know how often should you get a new pillow and also consider their care instructions and whether or not you can machine wash them.
Comforters, Duvet Inserts, and Duvet Covers
From a design standpoint, your comforter or duvet is the focal point of your bed. For this layer, you have a few options: you can purchase a stand-alone comforter, or use a duvet cover with a comforter or designated duvet insert within. Whichever you choose, this layer should express your style and keep you cozy.
What Is a Comforter?
A comforter is a thick, fluffy blanket, often quilted and stuffed with filler. You can use a comforter by itself or use it inside of a duvet cover in lieu of a duvet insert.
Typically, comforters hang a few inches over the sides and foot of the bed with equal overhang on each side. Meanwhile, you can fold the top of the comforter over, leaving space at the head of the bed to show off your pillows. If you have particular preferences for how far your comforter hangs over the bed, be sure to compare the product’s measurements to the dimensions of your mattress before purchasing.
What Is a Duvet Insert?
Like comforters, duvet inserts have a thick profile and usually contain filling, such as cotton. However, duvet inserts are not designed for stand-alone use—they always belong inside of a duvet cover. This setup allows you to wash the exterior cover without washing and potentially damaging the insert. It also lets you keep the same insert and switch out cover styles whenever you please.
Duvet inserts come in similar dimensions as standard comforters. Make sure your duvet is slightly smaller than your duvet cover if you buy them separately.
What Is a Duvet Cover?
Duvet covers do not have filling but have space inside for a comforter or a duvet insert. Most duvet covers either zip, tie, or button shut, and they have internal tethers to keep the insert in place. Typically, duvet covers use a lightweight, washable material.
When you buy a duvet cover, make sure it’s compatible with the comforter or duvet insert you intend to use. Remember, bedding product dimensions vary by brand. If you plan to mix and match, look at the exact product dimensions for the cover and insert before buying. The cover should be no more than an inch or two longer than the insert on all sides.
Duvet Cover Dimensions
Some sleepers—especially those who live in colder climates—like to sleep with a blanket or two between their comforter and flat bed sheet. This positioning lets you add insulation while keeping your body between your smooth, soothing sheets.
As with other bedding, bed blankets typically correspond with mattress sizes. However, you don’t want your blankets to hang too far over the edges of your bed. Otherwise, they’ll peek out from under your comforter. Make sure you buy blankets smaller than your comforter or duvet for a cohesive look.
Next up, you have your flat sheet, also known as a top sheet. Because you lie directly under your flat sheet, you make the most skin contact with this layer. So, it’s extra important to choose the right material, which we discuss in our Bed Sheet Shopping Guide.
In terms of styling, you want your flat sheet to hang over the edges of the bed. It’s up to you how far you want the sheet to hang and whether or not you want it to extend past your comforter. If you intend to tuck the sheet under your mattress, you’ll also have to consider the width and thickness of your mattress when picking out your flat sheet or sheet set.
Flat Sheet Dimensions
A fitted sheet sits snug against your mattress, attaching at the corners with rounded pockets. This sheet should fit tight, so bedding brands make them the same lengths and widths as the standard mattress sizes or just a pinch bigger.
That said, fitted sheets vary in pocket depth, with most ranging from 14 to 18 inches. The bigger the pockets, the easier to attach. However, you don’t want pockets too deep for your mattress, or the sheet will fit loose and fall off easily. When you buy a sheet set, make sure to check the fitted sheet’s mattress thickness compatibility.
While not a necessity, a mattress protector can extend the lifespan of your mattress, protecting it from sweat, spills, stains, and tears. Depending on the product you choose, your mattress protector may cling on like a fitted sheet, attach with elastic straps, or fully encase the mattress.
We recommend comparing the product’s exact measurement specifications to your mattress’s dimensions before purchasing to ensure a snug fit. High-quality mattress protectors should have a thin profile, but some models may have a bulkier design. If that’s the case, make sure you buy a fitted sheet with deep pockets to accommodate the protector.
Depending on the style of your bed frame, you may want a bed skirt to cover the gap between your mattress and the floor. But if you like the looks of your bed frame and want to show it off, forgo this layer.
Most bed skirts come in one of two designs: 1) they lay flat underneath your mattress with decorative overhang on the sides, or 2) the decorative fabric adheres to a mattress-sized elastic band and attaches to the perimeter of the mattress.
Whichever type you choose, make sure to check the length of the overhang to make sure it’s slightly shorter than the height of your bed frame.
Building The Ultimate Bed
With your bed skirt in place, your bed is complete! With the right mattress and bedding, your bedroom will not only look great, but it’ll support healthy, restorative sleep. If you have further questions about building your ultimate bed, check out these guides: Mattress Shopping Guide, Mattress Size Guide, and our Bed Sheet Shopping Guide.
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