Hear us out: Unmade beds can be photogenic, too. Here’s how to make it happen.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated: May 01, 2019
@potterybarn/Instagram

Learning how to make your bed—even how to make a beautiful bed, in some families—is a rite of passage. It’s a basic morning chore; for many people, it’s the very first action of every day. For others, though, it’s a once-every-so-often type of task. Neglecting to make your bed can leave the bedroom looking scattered and messy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, there’s a way to make your bed look great 24/7, even if it’s unmade.

Not everyone will love the messy bed look. It does have a certain relaxed, boho feel that may not fit into everyone’s preferred aesthetic—anyone attached to a crisp fold and carefully arranged pillows will likely want to stick to their bed-making ways. But anyone who struggles to remember to make the bed in the morning might appreciate a bed that is styled so it can be left as-is and still look fantastic.

The perfectly made unmade bed doesn’t need the most comfortable bed sheets or accoutrements from the hottest bedding websites, though those will certainly make the bed more comfortable. To get the look, it just takes nine simple features, many of which you may already have. Put all these ingredients together to make your bed perfectly messy—your whole space will get a visual boost as a result, whether that bed is made in the traditional sense or not.

#1: A Sturdy Headboard

All the other ingredients need something to lean against. A headboard provides the support a carefully unmade bed needs—even a wall will work, if the bed is pushed up against one. Prop pillows up against it to keep the bed from looking flat, and prop yourself up on those pillows to read, watch TV, or scroll through your phone in comfort. (Don’t worry about rumpling the sheets—they’ll look better that way.)

#2: Some Lift

Making a mattress on the floor look good is tricky, no matter how much you pile on top of it. Ideally, a well-made messy bed will have at least a few inches between the mattress and the floor, whether that’s a pallet, a simple platform, or a full bed frame with an attached headboard. This bit of height also gives blankets, throws, and more room to drape, a very important part of making a messy bed look good.

#3: Linen Bedding

Linen bedding isn’t for everyone, but it does carry a certain lightness with it that makes it perfect for unmade beds. The textured finish helps beds look more natural, unlike the overly polished look sateen bedding can have, and linen carries a certain laidback vibe that helps further the boho-chic goal of the messy bed. Try linen pillows, sheets, or a duvet—whatever is most conducive to good sleep for you.

#4: A Little Fluff

Truly unkempt beds look flat; good-looking, purposely unmade beds have a little fluff that helps the messiness look more intentional. Add a super fluffy duvet or comforter or pile on the full pillows to give your bed the full, rumpled look that still somehow seems put-together.

#5: Varying Textures

Adding bedding and pillows of varying textures helps bring a bed to life—the eventual goal of an intentionally messy bed—by adding depth. A bed with only one material looks like it came straight from a catalog and falls flat and dull; one with a waffled throw, a woven blanket, a cotton sheet, and a knit pillow looks lived-in and comfortable. Plus, with so many different textures, rumples and wrinkles look natural and intentional.

#6: Piles of Pillows

Pillows work with a duvet or comforter to add volume to the bed, helping it to look larger and more full of energy. An odd-numbered assortment of varied sizes adds to the eclectic feel of the unmade bed. The pillows can be knocked on the floor at night and then tossed back on the bed in the morning—the scattered look only increases its beautifully messy appeal.

#7: Lots of Layers

The careful rumples of a truly photo-worthy unmade bed come from layers of bedding. A top sheet crumpled at the end of the bed looks sad and abandoned; a throw blanket on top of a duvet on top of a top sheet looks layered intentionally, no matter how untucked they all are.

#8: Multiple Colors

A monochromatic messy bed is possible, but it can take a lot of layers and texture. An easy way to add that contrast without piling on tons of blankets and pillows is mixing up the colors a little. They don’t even have to be the same color family: A green throw on top of cream bedding can look positively springy. Look for patterns or colors that are soothing or comforting, and don’t be afraid to venture beyond the classic white bedding.

#9: Careful Draping

The final touch for an unmade bed is a blanket carefully strewn on top of all the other ingredients. The logic is a little murky, but a throw blanket draped across the foot of a bed somehow ties the whole thing together. And draping doesn’t need to be difficult—you may be surprised at how easy it is to toss a blanket on the bed and be done with it.

So there’s your excuse for not making your bed. With this guide, the unmade bed is basically art. Next on your to-do list? Learn how to fold a fitted sheet.

Advertisement