How to Make Your Bed, Whether You Use a Top Sheet or Not
Plus a stylist’s take on hospital corners.
Updated May 31, 2023 4:27 PM
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At this point in adulthood, you could probably demonstrate how to make your bed with your eyes closed. It’s a daily task (for some of us) that requires little thought or effort…or does it? There’s actually more to it than hurriedly putting sheets on your mattress, tossing pillows toward the headboard, and calling it a day. Whether you are known for doing a rush job or you can smooth out the most challenging of fitted sheets (but feel like there’s still room for improvement), read on for a step-by-step guide from stylist and floral designer Naomi deMañana.
The Truth About Hospital Corners
“They’re not necessary unless you want a formal look,” deMañana says of the nursing-inspired technique (in fact, she shares a method that’s just as crisp with less steps, below). When you put on your flat sheet, decide if you want the bottom part untucked, a setup deMañana personally finds more comfortable.
Are Top Sheets Always Necessary?
DeMañana likes to use only a top sheet in the summer so she stays cool. For others, not using one is a permanent arrangement. “Some people feel like it just ends up in a heap at the bottom of the bed,” she explains. If you prefer to forgo a top sheet, just remember to wash your comforter more often, because you don’t have that hygienic protection between your body and the top bedding layer.
How to Make Your Bed
- Mattress topper (optional)
- Mattress protector (optional)
- Bed skirt (optional)
- Fitted sheet
- Fitted sheet fasteners (optional)
- Top sheet (optional)
- Comforter, duvet, or quilt
- 2 to 4 standard pillows, depending on how many you use
- 2 to 4 pillowcases
- 2 to 3 decorative throw pillows (we recommend 16-by-16-inch square ones)
Step 1: Put on a Mattress Topper and Protector
These two pieces are totally optional, although we highly recommend the protector to keep out dust mites and dirt, and to prevent damage. Starting with a bare bed, put your mattress topper on first, then the protector over it. Next, slide the bed skirt (if you’re using one) between the mattress and box spring, making sure it hangs evenly on all sides.
Step 2: Add the Fitted Sheet
Some people iron their sheets beforehand for a smooth look, but deMañana has a quicker alternative: “Make your bed when your sheets are fresh out the dryer.” (Wrinkles simply won’t have time to form.) Pull the fitted sheet over your topper and pull it taut at all four corners. If the sheet still fits loosely, clip on the fasteners to secure it.
Step 3: Drape the Flat Sheet
Put the flat sheet on next, leaving enough fabric to reach the top of the bed and equal amounts of material on either side. If you’re using a printed textile or one with a decorative trim, lay it on the bed with the patterned side facing down so the embellishment is on full display when the linens are folded over later.
Step 4: Tuck Your Flat Sheet (or Don’t)
If you prefer an untucked flat sheet as does deMañana, pull it down so it hangs just a couple of inches past the bottom of the mattress. Going for the tuck? Allow for 6 to 8 inches of the fabric to go underneath the foot of the bed. To create clean, crisp corners, start by tucking the bottom of the sheet in, but leave both corners out. Grab one of the loose corners and pull it taut against the side of the mattress, creating a 45-degree fold; tuck in the bottom of the fabric. Repeat on the other corner.
Step 5: Pull on Your Comforter
Whether you’re using a duvet, comforter set, or quilt, the ideal overhang is a personal choice. “I like the end of the blanket and the side of the bed to be even, but some people prefer a floor-length look,” says deMañana. “Adjust it to your liking, particularly if you own a low, modern-minimalist bed like this Floyd frame that doesn’t have a box spring.”
Line up the top edges of the comforter and the top sheet, then fold both layers down halfway to partially expose the fitted sheet. At this point, you can leave things as is or tuck in the sides for hotel bed vibes.
Step 6: Position the Standard Pillows
Insert your pillows into their cases and sit them upright against the headboard. Bonus points if you position them with the case openings facing inward so you’ll only see the clean edges.
Step 7: Toss in Some Decorative Pillows
If you have cushions on hand, arrange them in a neat row in front of your standard pillows. For patterned comforters like this one, you can’t go wrong with a solid textile in a coordinating hue pulled from the motif.
Step 8: Dress Up the Foot of the Bed (or Don’t)
You have a few options here, getting on with your day being number one. But for a little extra something, either fold a throw in half and drape it over the bottom of the bed, double it over into a square and place it diagonally, or fold it in thirds so the top edge of the blanket faces the pillows. This allows you to pull the cover up in one move when it gets chilly in the middle of the night.