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How to make your bed, European-Style

What's a better way to make a bed, using duvet covers or flat sheets? 

It all depends on who you ask.

Historical evidence dating as far back as 14th century Europe shows the bed celebrated as the most important piece of furniture in a household, as well as a telling indicator of the financial and social status of a family. Even beds in ancient Egypt featured elaborate artistry and carvings. It makes sense that even nowadays, people pay close attention to how their beds are made. Some sleepers have found that multiple layers of blankets simply do not compare to a fitted sheet made from organic cotton paired with one or perhaps two top layers. A European-style bedding arrangement has advantages, specifically less laundry and easier bed-making.

European-style bedding layers

American-style bedding layers

Content Tile - European Bed Ivory Pillowcase

Cutting out the middleman

The flat sheet keeps blankets clean, but if you replace blankets with duvets, it might not be necessary to keep a flat sheet on your bed at all. Removing the flat sheet from your bed-making routine can allot precious morning time—you won’t have to worry about tucking in the sheet or making the perfect hospital corners. In addition, it’s one less piece to fuss with when gathering up the wash, and one less layer to get tangled up in.

Making your bed using this European-style arrangement allows you to adapt to changing seasons too. Sleep with a single, summer-weight duvet during warm months, and then simply add a second layer atop the existing duvet during colder ones, creating ample warmth and the opportunity to create decorative texture with multiple duvet covers.

Content Tile - European Bed White Bed

So how do you make a bed, Euro-style?

Follow these steps to make your bed European-style:

1. Begin by placing your deep-pocketed fitted sheet onto your mattress, making sure any excess fabric is underneath the entire mattress.

2. Spread your duvet cover—with insert—over the entire bed. Make sure the side with the button closure is at the foot of the bed.

3. Gently fold the duvet cover backwards towards the foot-end of the bed. You want to make sure the top of the fold lines up with the final layer of pillows. This means that the more layers of pillows you have, the more you should fold back your duvet cover.

4. Place your sleeping pillows adjacent to the headboard, and cover them with two to three euro shams. Keep in mind, two euro shams should be used for Full/Queen beds, while three are used for King/California King beds.

5. Prop two more shams in front of the euro shams. For Full/Queen beds, use the standard size, and for King/California King beds, use the king size.

6. For an extra touch of elegance, place a lumbar sham in front of the standard or king shams, in the center of the bed.

7. Finish by layering an oversized throw across the bed for additional style and comfort points. Of course bed making is completely personal—so while these steps are a great guide, you can opt to vary your bed however you’d like. Some like laying their duvet completely flat instead of folding over the top part. Others prefer placing euro shams as the first line of pillows propped up against the headboard, followed by sleeping pillows, then standard or king shams and then lastly the lumbar pillow. At the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you!

European-style bed ideas

Content Tile - European Bed Woman Smiling

Scandinavian styling: Two duvets on one bed


Have you heard of the Scandinavian method for making your bed? If you fight with your partner over the sheets or duvet in the middle of the night, you may enjoy this variation on the European-style bed.


Scandinavian-style bedding layers

  • Top: Two Smaller Sized 

  • Bottom: One

The idea behind the Scandinavian method is quite genius—place two duvet covers side by side on top of your bed, either folded in half or thirds. Love to bundle up? Need a lighter weight cover than your partner? This method ensures that each person can customize his or her layers just the way they like it.

Rediscovering tradition

Bedding without a flat sheet is a long-standing norm in Europe, most notably in Sweden. When done with organic cotton sheets and duvet covers made of the same material, the comfort level is greatly enhanced through quality and simplicity, and there is less clutter to arrange, tangle with and wash. Fortunately, Boll & Branch offers affordable and beautiful solutions for both styles of sleeping. You can shop for complete sheet sets (our best value!) and flat sheets sold separately for your American-style bed. Or if you prefer to sleep like the Europeans, you can shop fitted sheets sold separately and duvet sets!