The Holiday Home Times guide to beds – Part 2

Making a bed:

Last time, we looked at the various components that make up a bed. This week we look at the art of making a bed.

Making a bed involves two sheets, pillowcases, and the counterpane. Luxury hotels often use additional bed dressing.

1. The bottom sheet:

The bottom sheet is what covers the mattress or the mattress protector, if you have one. Do get a mattress protector – guest beds are prone to spills and mattress protectors both protect your expensive mattress and offer better hygiene.

You can use either a normal sheet or a fitted sheet for the bottom sheet. Fitted sheets, which are sheets that are stitched into a box shape, with elasticated edges, that fits the top and sides of a mattress perfectly, are ideal for homestays, as they can be put on the mattress quickly and neatly. However, you would need to get sheets that fit your mattresses perfectly. Good bedlinen stores in the big cities in India carry a limited range of fitted sheets. If your bed is queen or smaller, an easy way to make a fitted sheet is to buy a king sheet and have a tailor make it into a fitted sheet.

If you’re using a normal sheet, add four times the height of the mattress to both its length and breadth to get the minimum size for the sheet. If you have an Indian king-sized mattress (76 inches by 80 inches) which is 10 inches high, get sheets that are 96 inches by 100 inches. The extra length and breadth are for covering the sides and ensuring a tight fit.

Fixing a flat sheet to the mattress uses what’s called a “hospital corner”. Instead of explaining this technique in detail, I’ll just link to this page, which has detailed instructions and a linked video.

2. The top sheet:

The top sheet is what the guest sleeps under, which protects the guest’s skin from the blanket or duvet. The top sheet is laid out on top of the bottom sheet, aligning the top end with the top of the mattress, and the extra length is tucked under the mattress at the foot of the bed. The rest of the sheet lies flat for now, till we place the duvet.

3. The duvet, or blankets and counterpane:

Now place the duvet, or blankets and a counterpane (which is a decorative bed cover), on top of the top sheet, and align the top edge six inches from the top. Tuck the extra length under the mattress at the foot of the bed. Be careful to lift the mattress properly when doing this, instead of just pushing everything in the gap. That makes for a ruffled mess, and the sheets come off when the guest gets in to bed.

After placing the bedcovers, make hospital corners at the foot of the bed with the topsheet and quilt or blanket and counterpane together.

Then fold the 6 inches of exposed top sheet over the quilt, and then fold the combined top sheet and quilt at about 18 inches. This will expose two feet of bottom sheet, which is where you arrange the pillows.

Now, tuck the hanging sides of the top sheet and quilt under the mattress tightly.

The one thing that defines a well made bed is the tight tuck of the sheets. Make sure there are no sags and wrinkles anywhere, and that the parts tucked under the mattress don’t form a lump.

Dressing up the bed
Dressing up the bed


Once you have a well-made bed, you can always make it look pretty. Always have at least two pillows for a single bed, and four for a double. Use large pillows with well-fitting pillow cases that match the sheet colors.

You could also spread a matching runner (a band of fabric about 12 to 18 inches in width) along the bottom of the bed. Place a square of chocolate or a mint on the pillows, for that finishing touch.