How To Design Perfect Bedding For Your Guest Rooms’ Best Guests

Bedroom and custom bedding designed by Carla Aston

Bedroom and custom bedding designed by Carla Aston

Recently, I’ve been combing through VRBO and Airbnb listings, looking for a home to rent on the West Coast this summer. I can’t wait for our trip!

While many of the homes have some beautiful views or features, I’m finding the beds to be really lacking. Actually, it’s been kind of disappointing.

Many of the image galleries I check out – more specifically, each listing’s bedroom pictures – showcase beds that I have no desire whatsoever to sleep in. Saying some of them are less than inviting would be an understatement. I mean really…the last thing I want to do on my vacation is crawl into bed with a bedspread that looks like it hasn’t been washed in a year.

In the words of Jimmy FallonEW!


All of my kids have moved out of the house, so I’ve been redoing / repurposing their bedrooms into guest rooms.

Obviously, seeing as how they will no longer serve their former function, I’ve had to approach this project under a different light. Now they’re going to become spaces where people – other than my kids (who, by the way, don’t come home to visit me as often as I wish they would) – would look forward to staying in.

And while I’ve been keeping my kids’ personalities firmly embedded in each of their rooms — because, I must admit, I’m still in a bit of denial over the fact that I have grown children — I want to create rooms that are inviting, comfy, and appealing to any type of guest. (Yes, even my kids. 😉

And because I now know how uninviting it feels to glance at a room you will be sleeping in, even if only for a few nights, and think “Ew! There’s no way I’m sleeping in that!”, my future guests can rest comfortably knowing that the next time they stay over at my house, they will have a fresh bed.

Seeing as how, as a designer, I have so many great sources available to me, I went custom with my bedding, but you can create a similarly luxurious bed with store bought items. (Well, with maybe just one custom item! – See below.)


Bedroom; custom bedding; lamp; decorative pillow; headboard; mirror; etc. | Interior Designer: Carla Aston

Start with the headboard. An upholstered headboard is such a great go-to for creating a comfy bed. It’s soft for leaning up against while reading, and it gives you so many options for introducing fabric, color, pattern, and texture. I used a tall upholstered headboard with a houndstooth fabric and vinyl welt in my son’s old room to inject a bit of a masculinity. (Reveal coming soon!). And my daughter’s room has the queen sized vinyl headboard (half of the Phoebe bed) I used in my Showhouse room that was done several years ago.

I’ve done lots of upholstered headboards on projects, including one for my mother’s bedroom. You can buy them online or in just about any store; or you could go to a local upholstery shop and have one made just for you. Check out this statement upholstered headboard I recently did:

Click images to enlarge

Bedroom; twin bed; custom bedding, headboard; pillow; lamp | Interior Designer: Carla Aston

Bedroom; custom bedding, headboard; pillow | Interior Designer: Carla Aston


Go with a custom bedskirt (if you can). Really, there’s nothing quite like the fit of a custom bedskirt. Store bought ones typically don’t fit properly and often look like an ill-fitting slip hanging down below your dress. 😦 (I know, no one wears slips anymore.)

RELATED: Click here for more info on how to do a custom bedskirt!


Provide the wonderful feel of hotel-quality sheets. White, clean, and fresh — there’s nothing quite like them. They’re what I’m hoping my vacation rental has on the beds when we arrive. Guess what! I’ve got a great source for finding out what sheets are used in your favorite hotels. Click here to find yours!


Buy some new, fresh pillows. When I started redoing my beds I discovered that some of the old pillows were squashed and stained. Yuck! (Maybe that’s the reason my kids don’t come home much?) To think that my guests would have to sleep on them made me rush out to the store to get new ones. Oh, and I bought some extras, too, to stash away in the closet. (I love when hotels do that.) Plus, because I don’t want a load of bed pillows draped across the head of the bed, I’ve made sure to include plenty of room for some decorative ones.


Use a coverlet. Oftentimes, when dressing a bed, I’ll use matelasse coverlets. We’ll do them lined or unlined, even filled with a little batting (if a client prefers). However, you can get nice coverlets at any online retailer (currently 14% off on, or even just down the street at Target. Just a solid, off-white or some other type of soft color will work great as a base for some colorful pillows. A coverlet is typically light-weight and can give guests options on how much cover they like to sleep with.

Click here to find the perfect coverlet!

Click here to find the perfect coverlet!

Go with a duvet. Personally… I love a duvet — I suppose because of my time living overseas. Plus, I love how the covers can be washed. And when it’s folded at the end of a bed…it feels oh-so plush and comfy. 😉

Match the shams to the coverlet. I did two king shams/pillows on my daughter’s queen bed (it doesn’t look so skimpy) and one king sham/pillow each on the twin beds in my son’s room. The king size provides a wide base for some decorative pillows, and it covers the whole headboard area quite nicely.

Also worth mentioning: When we do custom shams we put a hidden zipper in them so pillows can be easily removed without ripping out the seams.

Top everything off with decorative pillows. Last in our list of must-haves, but certainly not least important, are the decorative pillows! This is where your color and pattern comes in. On my daughter’s bed, I did a long pillow in a graphic fabric; while on my son’s I went with one Euro size pillow on each bed in front of the shams. (I try to not get too carried away. 🙂



Hang tight…

…Alright? I’ll be sharing pictures of each upstairs bedroom real soon, after a few finishing touches are done. 😉

Also coming real soon…

My kids! Back home! (Right, kids? You’ll be coming to see Mom real soon, won’t you?:-)

RELATED: Want to see a guest bedroom I created? Click here to see it! Links to all of the products contained within are also included!


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