11 Bed Staging Tips that Interior Design and Hospitality Experts Swear By

There’s something special about a freshly made bed at a swanky hotel. It’s the kind of clean and cozy that makes it hard to leave, even with waves whistling outside your window.

When you’re selling a home, a hotel suite-worthy bed is can help convince buyers to stay and settle in. “The [main] bedroom is one of the biggest selling points when it comes to staging,” says Tony Mariotti, CEO and owner of RubyHome in Beverly Hills, CA. In fact, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors, the main bedroom is the second most important room to stage for buyers (43%), following the living room (46%).

We spoke with experts in real estate, interior design, and hospitality to learn how to stage a bed like a pro. Whether you’re selling or staying put, these tips will keep the covers calling your name all day long.

An image of a headboard to demonstrate how to stage a bed.
Source: (Adam Winger / Unsplash)

1. Declutter, depersonalize, and deep clean

Professional stagers have their respective processes for how to stage a bed, but if your perfect bed sits smack in the middle of drying racks and stacks of mail, getting your mind to unwind will be tricky.

Before you buy new bedding or browse for a headboard, you have to set the stage. To begin tidying your room, turn to the queen of tidy herself: Marie Kondo. Author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering And Organizing,” Kondo instructs homeowners to walk through a room, pulling out clothing, books, and such, and ask yourself, “Does this ‘spark joy?’” If the answer is “no,” toss it. Store the items you keep neatly in the closet, dresser, or even underneath the bed — the less on display, the better.

For sellers, this tip is imperative; but, Leslie Carver, a top real estate agent in Nevada with 25 years in the business, advises homeowners to take their decluttering one step further.

“The first thing I tell my sellers is when you walk into a room [is to] look at it like you’re looking through the eyes of a buyer and see where your eye falls. If it’s on all your personal property, that’s not good.”

Buyers need to envision themselves living in the room, so make sure you remove personal items like laundry, leftover dishes, personal photos, and such before you list.

Finally, whether you’re staging the bedroom for a buyer or yourself, give it a good clean. HomeLight data from 2019 reveals that nine out of ten agents recommend a deep cleaning before you sell. Follow our detailed guide to deep clean your home, or check out sites like Molly Maid, Angie’s List, or Yelp to hire a quality cleaning company near you.

2. Choose the best position in the room

As the centerpiece of your room, your bed should catch the eye even before you enter. Stagers often position the bed opposite of the door, ideally along the longest wall. However, depending on your room’s architecture and layout, there may be a better location. For instance, if you have french doors, consider arranging the bed directly across from the doors for a grand entrance.

As you contemplate locations, think about your bed’s size as well. King-size beds are popular for main bedrooms, but if they consume too much of the space, it’ll make the area feel cramped instead of comfortable.

To ensure your bed is the best size for the room, consider the “traffic flow.” Think about the natural paths you take in, out, and around the room, as well as details like door swings and window access. If necessary, swap out your king for a queen, or even a full, to make the room feel larger.

Use the following tips to select the best position for your bed:

  • Make sure the foot of the bed is the first thing you see.
  • Position your bed on the wall opposite the bedroom door.
  • Center the bed along the longest wall.
  • If your bedroom has a focal point like french doors, arrange your bed, so it faces them.
  • If every wall has windows, position your bed centered in front of a window.
  • Aim for at least 1 ½ feet to 2 ½ feet of space on each side of the bed.

3. Hone in on a color palette

There’s one detail most hotel beds have in common: white bedding.

A white base for your bed feels clean and luxurious, allowing you to build on the look with whatever colors you like. “We find the bed best viewed as the ‘canvas,’” says Elise Nicpon, outside sales manager for Room & Board Business Interiors. “[You can] bring the important layers of texture and color using pillows, throws, rug, and artwork.”

With white as your canvas, add a pop of color with accent pillows and a textured throw for a playful touch to your design. In fact, research shows small bursts of color create a more positive environment, keeping guests—and buyers—engaged and enthusiastic.

If you’re unsure of how to stage your bed to complement your interior, Kaari Sommer, an interior stylist who manages a home decor blog, The Sommer Home, suggests choosing a piece in your room for inspiration. “I always find a jumping-off point,” says Sommer. “I would either pull colors from an art print or a rug.”

You can also use interior design trends for color palette pairs. According to a study by Joybird, analyzing Google Trends data, bohemian, contemporary, and industrial are among the top style trends in America. Here are some color combos for each:

  • Bohemian: White, sage, and terracotta (eclectic and earthy)
  • Contemporary: White, black, and tan (monochromatic and high-contrast)
  • Industrial: White, gray, and rust (moody and edgy)

Finally, if you’re staging to sell, Behr’s 2021 Color Trends reveal earth tones are currently popular, and real estate agents agree that neutral colors appeal to the majority of buyers. Carver suggests soft neutrals like gray, brown, green, and blue.

4. Build a beautiful base

If you already have a decorative bed frame, you can skip this step and the next. If you have a metal mattress platform, then add you’ll want to soften the look with some accessories. A bed skirt gives your bed a polished look and can also hide any storage you stow underneath. Alternatively, you can opt for a bed frame wrap for a more contemporary appearance.

 

An image of a bed to demonstrate how to stage a bed in a home sale.
Source: (Isaac Martin / Unsplash)

5. Splurge on a stylish headboard

With your interior design style and color palette in mind, choose a stylish headboard as the backdrop for your layered look.

“I think the headboard is a must,” says Carver. The headboard gives your bed a stately look, transforming it from a casual cot to a classy throne. This addition will make your pillows pop, and your bed feel relaxed and ritzy all at once.

Consider the following ideas when selecting a headboard:

If you’re selling your home, no need to fork out the cash for a new headboard; instead, pick an affordable alternative. You can shop secondhand on a site like Craigslist, build your own, or create the illusion of a headboard with artwork or shelving.

For other inexpensive alternatives to a headboard, consider these ideas from One Kind Design:

  • Hang a tapestry behind the bed or curtains on either side.
  • Hang one large art piece or a set of three matching pictures (such as a triptych, a picture presented in three parts).
  • Create an accent wall with shiplap or wallpaper.
  • Use decorative floating shelves over the bed.
  • Attach an old wood door behind the bed for a rustic look.

6. Create a layered look with the comforter, pillows, and a throw

Staging professionals, interior designers, and even stylish brands like West Elm use one, simple technique to elevate beds from bland to brilliant: layering.

Rows of pillows, a casual throw, and even a simple white sheet folded over the bedspread all add a level of sophistication to your bedroom design. “What emotion do you want in your bedroom?” asks Carver. “You want comfortable. You want neat. You want clean. That’s where the layering comes in … [it] just gives it a little feel of luxury.”

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the many components of a comfy, classy bed, Carver has a simple solution: bed-in-a-bag. You can find these sets at a number of large retail stores, including Amazon, Target, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Typically, they come with a comforter, bed skirt, pillow shams, sheets, and sometimes accessory pillows.

7. Add fitted and flat sheets

Lay the top sheet face down (decorative side facing down), then tuck in the sides, leaving 1 foot to 2 feet untucked at the top (you’ll fold this back over the comforter). Make sure your sheets are clean, pressed, and tight to eliminate any wrinkles or creases. “Neat and organized rooms are always attractive,” Mariotti comments. “The same goes for your bed.”

8. Select a quality comforter and neutral duvet cover

Choose a synthetic comforter instead of down for a smoother look. If you want a little texture, choose an understated design like this waffle weave pattern from Pottery Barn. Lay your comforter on the bed, leaving a one foot gap between the comforter and the top of your mattress. Finally, fold your fitted sheet over the top of the comforter.

An image of a bed with a neutral duvet to demonstrate how to stage a bed for a home sale.
Source: (Helen Shi / Unsplash)

9. Pick your pillows and arrange them in rows

Your pillows are vital to achieving the layered look, and professionals like Sommer follow a simple formula: three rows, arranged by size. Sommer styles her beds with matching Euro pillows and king-size pillows,  then a row of smaller, decorative pillows, which she swaps out seasonally.

Here’s an overview of how to apply this method to different bed sizes:

  • For a king: Three Euro pillows with shams in the back, then two king-size pillows (20 by 26 inches), followed by one to three decorative accent pillows
  • For a queen: Two Euro pillows with shams in the back, then two standard-size pillows (20 inches by 26 inches), followed by one to three decorative accent pillows
  • For a twin: One Euro pillow in the back, one standard 24-inch pillow, followed by one decorative pillow

10. Finish off the look with a blanket or throw

A blanket at the foot of the bed is a great way to incorporate some texture and soften the look. Consider a chunky knit blanket for a cozy look or a faux fur throw for a touch of glam. Sommer likes to lay a comforter folded in thirds across the end of a bed; she sometimes tops the folded comforter with an accent throw.

11. Border the bed with complementary furniture and decor

Wrap up your dazzling design with furniture and decor flanking the bed.

“If the room can support [it], we suggest nightstands … to keep the space organized and decluttered,” says Nicpon. “This too evokes a feeling of rest and relaxation.”

Create a tiered visual with your nightstands that’ll make your bed look like it’s just won gold. Top your nightstands with a pair of table lamps, equipped with warm bulbs for soft, relaxing lighting. If your bedroom feels too crowded, flank the bed with a pair of pendants, sconces, or even curtains instead of nightstands. If there’s space at the foot of your bed, Carver recommends adding a bench as well, so buyers can sit and get comfortable in the space.

Finally, finish off the room with some decorative touches. If you’re preparing to sell, select items that appeal to a wide audience. Steer clear of anything religious, political, risqué, or too gender-specific.

Here are a few suggestions for your bedroom decor:

  • Lamps: Place table lamps on top of your nightstands or choose an alternative like sconces.
  • Area rug: This is a fantastic addition if you have wood or tile floors; however, if your bedroom is carpeted and you’re staging to sell, Carver advises you to proceed with caution. “The theory [is] it looks beautiful,” she shares, “but after a couple of showings, it actually looks rough.”
  • A set of three decorative features for the nightstand: Consider two vintage books, topped with a bronze clock, or a vase with peonies or eucalyptus, a candle, and a picture frame.
  • Greenery: A touch of green adds life to your bedroom retreat. Add a small potted plant on the nightstand and a larger fiddle leaf fig or monstera in the corner.
  • Artwork: If your headboard is short (or you don’t have one), place some artwork over the bed. Choose one large piece (slightly smaller than the width of your bed) or a set of three.
  • Mirrors: Decorating with mirrors is an excellent tip for smaller bedrooms, as they can make the space feel larger. Add a mirror over your bed, or lean a larger mirror against the wall.

Header Image Source: (Kaari Sommer / The Sommer Home)