big white comfy looking bed with blue accent pillows

How to make your bed luxurious on a budget

LIVE brighter | 2020-05-14

There’s no question, we’re spending a lot more time in bed these days (sleeping in, working, watching TV…). And when you live in a smaller space, having a comfortable bedroom to retreat to at the end of the day is essential. 

So we thought: How can we make up a luxurious, hotel-like bed on a budget? It’s easier than one might think, and so important right now (especially if you have roommates). 

Elements of a luxurious sleep

comfy white bed with teal crushed velvet headboard

There’s a lot that goes into having a restful, comfortable sleep – like the colour of your walls, what way your bed is facing, how soon before you hit the pillow you turn technology off, how active you were that day, how much caffeine you had… the list goes on.

But let’s focus on what elements can be included to make your bed super cozy and like you’re in a hotel (but better because it’s home). Keep in mind you don’t have to do everything at once. Think of it in layers and add to if over time, as your budget allows.  

Here are a few bed elements for the best, most lavish sleeps you’ve ever had:

A mattress that’s actually comfortable and isn’t old – yes, it’s time to invest in a good (not 15-year-old hand-me-down) mattress if you haven’t yet. 

o This is definitely an investment (new mattresses can be pretty expensive), but considering a good one lasts on average about eight years, spread the cost out per year and it feels more affordable. 

o Check this post out for details about the good and bad when it comes to the age of your mattress (and when to replace it).

A mattress cover – if you like a softer bed or have a super firm mattress, get a mattress cover with added plush. It protects it from spills, and can easily be taken off and washed. They also help prevent dust mite allergies from acting up, which sounds good to us!

o These start around $20 (have to love IKEA!) and go up from there. 

o Here are some of the best mattress covers of 2020, rated by The Spruce.

High-quality, high-thread count sheets – good sheets don’t require a lot of money, but they do require some research. We’ll talk about where to get nice, affordable sheets later in this post.

o Make sure you have two sets so you can rotate them weekly (clean bed = better sleep!), and in case you have guests (plus if you’re already paying for shipping, you might as well get two!)

A different bedspread for the summer and winter – not only will this be comfier for you, but in the end, having seasonal bedspreads will save you money and is better for the environment!

o Instead of having a year-around feather duvet (and paying to jack up the A/C in the summer), use a lighter quilt on your bed in the hot months (and vice versa for winter).

o For winter, fold the summer quilt and keep it at the end of the bed in case you need extra warmth on chilly nights. Plus, it’ll make the room cozier and you won’t have to store it.

A good pillow (or two) – does your pillow have stains on it? Time to get a new one. The general rule of thumb is to replace your pillow every one-to-two years (you’ll sleep better, we promise). Check out these 7 ways to reuse and recycle old pillows.

o Affordable, comfortable pillows aren’t tough to find. We love IKEA’s pillows for keeping on budget – and they have so many options when it comes to size, fill, support, material and cost (ranging anywhere from $3 to $60+).

o Later in this post, we’ll discuss how many pillows you should have depending on the size of your bed – guidelines that only the best hotels would follow.

Silk or satin pillowcases – if you want to go for true luxury, this is a small detail that will make a big difference. Silk and satin pillowcases are good for your hair and skin (hint: they help prevent wrinkles), and just feel so nice to sleep on!

Accent pillows and blankets – these give that overall feeling of grandeur. Accent pillows don’t need to be replaced as often as the ones you sleep on each night, and you can change up the covers as often as you want for a different look. Throw blankets are warm and cozy, and are a great way to add new colours and textures to your bedroom.

One final tip? Purchase everything in white aside from the “accent” pieces. This way, everything will match and it’s easy to add pops of colour using pillow covers and throw blankets. Here are some other reasons for an all-white bed:

The most high-end hotels use all-white sheets for a clean, crisp-feeling sleep.

You can then throw all your sheets in the wash with a bit of bleach for an easy, super clean and fresh-smelling result.

An all-white bed will make your bedroom look larger than it actually is. Plus, it’ll feel cleaner, airier and brighter.

Let’s talk about pillows, shall we?

pink and white bed with lots of accent pillows

Image taken from a two bedroom apartment at The International in downtown Calgary

Did you know there’s actually a proper number of pillows depending on your bed size? Of course, it all depends whether you like fewer, bigger pillows or lots of little ones (or somewhere in between). 

First, what are the different types of pillows? You’ve got “Euros”, sleeping pillows and “accent” pillows.

Euro pillows = “European pillows” are square-shaped, measuring 26 inches square. These are typically more decorative in nature, but should be placed behind the sleeping pillows for a beautifully made bed (hotel/designer style).

Sleeping pillows = different sized pillows you use for sleeping. What you choose depends on the size of your bed and personal preference. They include:

o Standard (most common, 20 x 26 inches)

o Super standard (20 x 28 inches)

o Queen (20 x 30 inches) 

o King (20 x 36 inches) 

o Body (20 x 54 inches)

Accent pillows = simply decorative pillows that range in size and shape. These usually sit on top and are typically meant for display purposes only.

bed with traditional headboard and pretty accent pillows

After pillow types come different pillow fills. People choose these based on softness and firmness, price, allergies and preference. While there are a lot of materials used to fill pillows, these are the most common:

Feather – generally goose and duck, these are traditional due to strength and ability to spring back under pressure. However, some people are allergic to feather and seek alternate options.

Down – the natural underlayment of birds that provides warmth and protection; down is soft, supple, and typically mixed with feathers to provide an overall feeling of luxury. However, these aren’t very supportive and also can cause allergies to act up.

Memory foam – became popular because of its ability to contour to our body shape and weight without sacrificing support. However, these can retain heat and make you get hot, faster (we suggest looking for ones with “cooling”). It all comes back to personal preference.

Shredded memory foam – less firm than memory foam, these pillows are easily shapeable and can range in softness levels.

Polyfill – “polyester fiberfill” is a synthetic material made from fine, durable fibres that bounce back into shape well. These are hypoallergenic and affordable, so they’re a great alternative to down or feather fills.

So how many pillows should we have to make our beds look luxurious? Here’s how you should layer your pillows starting from back-to-front, depending on the size of bed that you have: 

Twin bed – one Euro pillow, one Standard pillow (consider one king pillow as it spans the width of the bed), and one or two accent pillows

Full- or queen bed – two Euro pillows, two Standard pillows, and one or two accent pillows

King bed – three Euro pillows, two King pillows, two Standard pillows, and one or two accent pillows (or more)

Layer them with Euro pillows at the back and accent pillows at the front, and you’re all set!

High-thread counts for high-quality sleeps

white dog lying in cozy white sheets

Luxury hotel sheets are usually above 300-thread-count and are almost always cotton (often Egyptian cotton), as those are the most breathable, helping you stay cool and comfy. They’re durable, forgiving (getting softer over time), and stains are washed out easily. 

Why do you want a higher thread count in bed sheets? Thread count refers to the number of horizontal and vertical threads per square inch. The higher the count, the softer and more durable the sheets generally are. However, a sheet of a high-quality fibre (like cotton or bamboo) will always feel softer and wash better than a low-quality fibre, even if the thread count is lower.

Did you know that sheets can climb above 1,000 thread count? Apparently, 1,200 thread count offers the best softness and durability, but anything above that isn’t worth purchasing. 

o In addition, do your research and read reviews before buying expensive sheets (some companies have tricks to inflate thread counts without improving quality).

Tip: For a super luxurious sleep, we suggest staying away from microfiber sheets as they’re not as breathable as cotton. However, they are durable and affordable.

Other common sheet types include:

o Flannel (amazing in the winter, so warm)

o Lyocell (made from wood cellulose, these are growing in popularity because they’re more sustainable and have a cooling factor)

o Silk (perceived as the most luxurious option, naturally hypoallergenic but are quite expensive)

o Polyester (budget friendly but not quite as high quality; they can be scratchy so look for a high cotton blend)

o Bamboo (so soft, durable and breathable, however can get very pricey)

A lot of companies claim to have the best sheets out there – so doing research is always a good idea. Read reviews, blog posts (like this list of affordable, quality bed sheets), and as usual, don’t be afraid to go with tried-and-true companies like IKEA, that offer affordable, cotton-made (and other material) bed sheets.

Bedspread rotation is the key to happy sleeping

cozy bedroom in downtown Toronto

Image of a cozy one bedroom apartment at Niagara West in Toronto

Changing up your bedding seasonally is always a good idea – you’ll sleep better, spend less on heating and air conditioning, and you’ll always have a spare in case a guest stays over.

In the colder months:

Have you ever tried out a nice feather, down, silk or wool (for those with allergies) duvet with a duvet cover? This is the combination that achieves that extra fluffy, cloud-like feel you find in hotel beds.

A common misconception is that duvets are expensive. It really comes down to the fill material and weight, but there are affordable, quality options out there (hello, IKEA). All you need is a duvet (which you can score at IKEA starting at $20) and a duvet cover (starting at $10). $30 total for a cloud-like sleep? We’re into it (also we have used IKEA’s duvet covers – they seriously last and are so comfy!).

Did you know there are summer and winter duvets? It all depends on the weight.

o Summer duvets are rated 2.5 to 6 “togs” (tog rating = how warm a duvet is)

o Winter duvets are rated 12 to 13.5 togs

o All season duvets are usually 4.5 to 9 togs

At the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference. But for that warm, cozy, quality sleep in colder months, we recommend a duvet + cover for the best sleeps ever.

In the warmer months:

As mentioned above, you can always go with a summer duvet in the warmer months – they’re light, still fluffy, slightly less expensive and you can use the same duvet covers you used in winter.  

Other luxury options for a bedspread in the warmer months include:

A quilt – pair with sheets for the perfect weight in warm months. These can be so beautifully designed and can be folded up at the end of the bed for winter.

A comforter – similar to a quilt, but designs are achieved by dying versus stitching. They are similar to duvets as they have a variety of filling options.

Coverlets – these are typically woven, sometimes quilted. They’re usually smaller (falling midway down the bedside rather than to the floor) and light. Super cute!

Your bed is your sanctuary – especially now, when we’re home a lot more and feeling the need for a safe space to curl up in. 

Luxury means something different to everyone, but we’re pretty convinced that the above elements will have you feeling like you’re sleeping in a high-end hotel in no time. Send us a picture of what you’ve done to create your cozy, lavish bed on Instagram