How to Make a Bed in 7 Steps (and Have It Look Effortlessly Stylish)

published Feb 28, 2024
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Professional home organizers are fond of saying that the simple act of making your bed every day can go far in maintaining a tidy space. And darn it, they’re right. Even if you still have half the floor covered in dirty laundry, a neatly made bed can transform the look of the room in just a few minutes — even though, yes, you should still consider doing laundry at some point.

Quick Overview

How to Make a Bed

  1. Identify the long and short sides of the fitted sheet.
  2. Stretch the corners of the fitted sheet over the bed. 
  3. Tuck and smooth all four edges of the fitted sheet around the mattress.
  4. Lay the flat sheet on top. 
  5. Tuck the flat sheet at the foot of the bed.
  6. Create hospital corners.
  7. Finish with bedding and arrange pillows as you like.

How to Make Your Bed in 7 Steps

To build the habit of making your bed every day, it helps to start with a properly dressed bed in the first place. Here, Katie Dills, brand president of The Cleaning Authority, explains her process of making a bed, including how to wrangle a fitted sheet without giving up.

  1. Identify the long and short sides of the fitted sheet. Some sheets will have tags that say “top” or “bottom,” but if you’re not that lucky, find the corner that has the manufacturer’s tag sewn in it. That’s the part you need to wrap around the bottom right corner or the top left corner of the bed.
  2. Stretch the corners of the fitted sheet over the bed. Once you’ve identified what side each part of the sheet needs to go on, it’s time to stretch it over. Start on one corner and then move to the opposite corner and do the same. Pull the other corners of the sheet snugly over the mattress.
  3. Tuck and smooth all four edges of the fitted sheet around the mattress. “This step helps to ensure a neat and snug fit, preventing the sheet from coming loose at night,” says Dills. (It’s a rude awakening if you’ve never experienced it.)
  4. Lay the flat sheet on top. Drape the flat sheet over the bed, making sure that it hangs evenly over the sides and bottom.
  5. Tuck the flat sheet at the foot of the bed. Once you’re satisfied with the placement of the top sheet, tuck it under the mattress at the foot of the bed, leaving the sides hanging.
  6. Create hospital corners. For a tight fold for your flat sheet, create hospital corners. Take a portion of the sheet that’s hanging from the corner (at the foot of the bed) and place it on top of the mattress, forming a 45-degree angle. Tuck the part that’s hanging under the mattress. Pull the angled part down and tuck it under as well. It should look like the left side of the back of a closed envelope. Repeat this on the other side.
  7. Finish with bedding and pillows. Add a comforter, duvet, quilt, or other bed covering, all the pillows you wish, and an optional throw blanket.
Credit: Design: Apartment Therapy

How to Place Pillows on a Bed

Is there such a thing as too many pillows for a bed? Not if you arrange them correctly. Here’s how to do it like a pro.

  1. Place standard sleeping pillows in their cases on either side of the bed, one on top of the other.
  2. Alternatively, you can prop the sleeping pillows up against the headboard instead of laying them flat.
  3. Place decorative pillows in front of the sleeping pillows. These might be another pair of standard pillows tucked into shams or large decorative pillows (sometimes called Euro pillows). Whatever the case, these decorative pillows serve to cover the sleeping pillows.
  4. Place any additional decorative pillows, like small throw pillows or a round lumbar pillow, in descending order in front of the other pillows.

Feel free to experiment with the arrangement of decorative pillows in front of the standard pillows. And remember: Karate chopping your pillows is a personal preference, not a requirement.

Alternative Way to Lay Flat Sheets on Bed

Not everyone is a fan of using the hospital corner method, aptly named because that’s how beds are made in a hospital. This includes my husband, who complains the tucked-in flat sheet “suffocates his feet.”

Well, I happen to be very much on team hospital corners. It’s the way my mom taught me how to make the bed and old habits die hard. But to make my husband happy, I tried laying the sheet over the bed and simply adding the comforter without any tucking in. Aside from it feeling just plain wrong, the sheet never stayed put. Every morning, one of us had to basically redo the entire bed.

So I came up with a solution that works for us: I tuck the bottom of the sheet and make hospital corners on my half of the bed. I let his half of the bed “go rogue,” as I call it, which makes him and his feet happy. To make the bed the next day, all one of us has to do — yes, we do trade off on this task — is smooth out the bottom of his side of the bed, which only takes seconds because my side is still tucked in nicely.

Not a fan of hospital corners, either? Not a problem. Dills says they’re not mandatory — especially if you like a more relaxed look to your made bed. 

“The key is to make your bed in a way that feels comfortable and visually pleasing to you,” Dills says. “However, if you love a clean look and prefer to be tightly tucked in bed at night, then hospital corners are an easy decision.”